An Israeli sex offender and rabbi, Eliezer Berland, has been raking in profits from his outlandish claims that he can revive those declared brain dead, according to a new report from Israeli Channel 12 news.
The price of the charlatan’s blessings? Only $5,400 (or 20,000 shekels).
The claims by the 81-year-old leader of the ultra-Orthodox Bratslav Hasidic sect, which has thousands of adherents and is said to resemble a cult, were exposed as fraudulent after the press learned of Berland’s offers of life-saving kabbalistic benedictions known as “pidyonim” in return for the aforementioned “donations.”
Channel 12 journalists seeking to expose the rabbi’s “miracles-for-cash” operation fabricated the story of a 35-year-old (non-existent) patient named “Yael” who had supposedly been declared brain dead.
Upon contacting Natan, an aide to Berland, they were informed that the rabbi was confident that he could restore her brain functions and that “at least once a week, the rabbi revives the dead in all sorts of ways in the hospital.”
When they were finally connected to Berland himself, the rabbi stressed that his services would result in a “total” miracle for Yael if those requesting his services could expeditiously make their donation. In a transcribed conversation published by The Times of Israel, the rabbi emphatically negotiates:
“Bring NIS 20,000 within an hour, at 1 a.m. I’ll be at Rambam [medical center in Haifa],” the rabbi tells them.
“Wait, but Rabbi Berland, the doctors said she’s brain dead,” interjects Channel 12 reporter Yoav Even.
“The rabbi knows this,” replies Natan the aide.
“Yes, I can revive her. I’ve already revived people who were brain dead, who were totally paralyzed, people with cancer… against which they didn’t stand a chance,” Berland says, adding that he performed “total miracles, total miracles.”
“If you bring me NIS 20,000, she’ll wake up. There will be a miracle. Her brain will start to work, you’ll see her brain starting to work,” said Berland.
The journalists were later informed by Natan that Berland would “offer the blessing remotely” after the money-transfer was made, but wouldn’t actually appear in-person at the hospital.
Members of Berland’s sect later informed the television station that it’s not the religious services that cost money but that “there is a matter of pledging money to charity during a time of suffering,” and that the money is “immediately distributed to the needy.”
“The rabbi himself blesses and prays and doesn’t deal with money at all,” his associates said, adding:
“We are witness to hundreds and thousands of stories of people who were saved by the blessings of the rabbi, which are supernatural.”
The rabbi has long bilked his followers to the tune of thousands of dollars, and members of his sect have hit rock-bottom in exchange for Berland’s dubious “blessings” – often selling their homes in order to meet the extortionist demands of the domineering holy-man.
In a recording acquired by The Times of Israel, Berland brags to followers about how he exploited a woman who mistakenly paid tens of thousands of dollars for his benedictions. Mocking laughter from the rabbi’s followers punctuate his boasts.
A controversial figure denounced by other Jewish religious leaders, the self-proclaimed “messiah” fled Israel in 2013 after being accused of sex crimes by his female followers. After fleeing to the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe, the rabbi was eventually extradited to Israel in 2016 where he pled guilty to two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault.
He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in November 2016 but curiously, Berland’s prayers and faith healing couldn’t enable him to serve his time. The pious fraud was released only five months later on the grounds of “ill health.”
It seems like a total miracle will be needed to save Berland from the disgrace stemming from this latest exposé.
Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]