‘Pogrom‘ in Breslov synagogue, Rabbi Berland followers beat worshipers

Rabbi Eliezer Berland‘s followers disrupted worshipers in the Breslov synagogue in Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem on Wednesday according to Ynet.

"It was blasphemy, a real pogrom inside the Great Synagogue of Breslov," one worshiper described the scene, Ynet reported.

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The tensions within the Breslov community became violent during the last few months between supporters and opponents of Berland.

According to the report, Berland supporters broke furniture, cut electricity cables  and caused great damage.  They also broke into the offices of the synagogue and took away computers.

Berland supporters blame the media for presenting only one side of the story. "[You are only] showing the videos and photos that are convenient," said an associate of Berland. "No one shows how on Yom Kippur the rabbi prayed there with 2,000 worshipers despite the attempts of some extremists to interfere."

The synagogue, known as the "Shul" is a central place of worship for the Breslov Jews and has been the focal point of violence between Rabbi Berland‘s followers and other members of the community.

Rabbi Berland is the head of Shuvu Banim, a Hasidic sect, and was released from prison in April after being . Berland had fled all around the world after her received the allegations, from Morocco to Zimbabwe and finally to South Africa where he was apprehended and sent to trial in Israel.

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Berland was the leader of one of the largest communities belonging to Breslov Hasidism. But since serving a prison sentence, his power significantly weakened. However, he and his followers have been working hard to obtain re-recognition among the ultra-Orthodox community, with an emphasis on the Breslov Hasidism. These efforts often encounter fierce opposition from the rabbi‘s opponents, both within and outside the Haredi community.

Yet, despite Berland‘s conviction he still has a core group of followers. “If people tell me that cats and elephants are dancing now outside, of course I will think they are crazy,” says Yaakov Salma, one of Berland’s students. “This is exactly what I think when all sorts of people tell stories about the rabbi. It simply cannot be. Not possible,”  Haaretz reported. 

 Rabbi Yom Tov Heshin claimed that internally Berland‘s followers didn‘t deny the allegations when the scandal broke, but rather “They claim that he is allowed, [that] he is God," Haaretz reported.

A few hours before the Sukkot holiday, during the final preparations, the Shuvu Banim decided to build a sukkah, but this blocked the street and the neighbors objected to it. As a result violence broke out.

City inspectors and police forces arrived at the scene to ensure order.

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