Jerusalem – An elderly Israeli rabbi who was granted an early release from prison to undergo cancer care received a post-Pesach bikur cholim visit from Israel’s Minster of Health, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2pC1tSa) 80 year old Rabbi Eliezer Berland, a prominent leader in the Breslover community, was several months into an 18 month prison sentence when an Israeli parole board agreed to allow him to serve the remainder of his term under house arrest in order to receive advanced cancer treatments.
Head of the Shuvu Bonim yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Berland had eluded officials for years before being extradited to Israel where he was convicted on two counts of sexual assault, ultimately accepting a plea bargain deal that left him with the relatively light sentence.
Rabbi Berland was released from prison two weeks ago after serving five months in prison and has been living at a convalescent home at Hadassah University Hospital’s Mt. Scopus campus (http://bit.ly/2oVqqXT).
Criticized by some for the visit, a spokesperson for Rabbi Litzman noted that the health minister had previously refused several requests for a bikur cholim visit with the elderly rosh yeshiva, and that the Isru Chag visit on Wednesday morning was part of the health minister’s official duties.
“As long as he was under arrest it was different,” said the spokesperson. “This visit does not legitimize his crimes, if they were committed.”
Deputy Education Minister Menachem Porush has also visited with Rabbi Berland since his release.