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South Africa: Rabbi Berland's Gabaim Decry his Conditions

In an exclusive interview with Bchadrey Charedim in South Africa the gabbaim share details of Rabbi Berland's suffering- and his strength.
Itzik Man, כ"ח ניסן תשע"ו 06/05/2016 11:00

הרב ברלנד

In an exclusive interview with Bchadrey Charedim in South Africa the gabbaim share details of Rav Berland's suffering- and his strength.

They fully devoted to him, working tirelessly to help him and now for the first time they are talking: Nachman Shitreit and Natan Bezenson, tireless gabaim of Harav Eliezer Berland in an exclusive interview from South Africa.

"Visiting hours are once a week- only the Rebbitzen is able to go speak with him then. Up until Shvei Shel Pesach we had a permit to bring him food regularly. Now we don't have a permit so the lawyer has to schedule appointments for us to bring him kosher food. Yesterday the Rav hadn't received any food for a day and a half. We thought that on Tuesday they'd let us give the Rav food after his hearing- but they didn't let us. The Rav was returned to his cell at 8:30 without having eaten.

"Yesterday we went with Harav Yotzchak Dovid Grossman and the lawyer to the jail… when we arrived they brought the Rav kosher food- it was a miracle that they gave it to Rav Berland. Rav Grossman explained that the Rav needs kosher food. They told us the next time we could bring food is Friday.

"You have to understand that the Rav does not touch the food the jail provides. Sometimes he goes to bed without having eaten. It is crazy. Conditions there are terrible. It is one of the world's worst jails. At least the other prisoners haven't tried to hurt the Rav.A number of the wardens and prisoners are shocked that an 80 year old man is imprisoned in such deplorable conditions. The other prisoners really respect Rav Berland, but the fact that the Rav is being held with murderers is terrible...we aren't sure if the Rav was given a bed or if he is sleeping on the floor.
What is the Rav's current medical condition?

"Not good. He appears alert but his health is terrible. In the beginning he was released intermittently to continue treatment in the hospital- but now he has recovered.

Could you have prevented his imprisonment?

"No we knew that the day would come when he'd be arrested. We were taking legal action before the arrest to work things out but the police got involved and ruined it.
Why don't you agree to have him extradited to Israel?

"The Rav has given us instructions to fight the extradition, to prove the justice that the charges have been dropped and above all to prove his innocence. The Rav has a kehilah here and has followers here. The Rav would like to continue living here. It is his decision whether or not to return to Israel. Today we hired Atorney Anton Katz- Africa's number one lawyer. He has gotten involved and we home to present an appeal to the supreme court tomorrow.



What does the Rav say about the claims .against him?

"He doesn't mention it. He asks that we strengthen our Avodas Hashem and that we pray that it comes to an end and that the truth comes to light".




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