Mexican officials assisting the International Criminal Police Organization have arrested a number of leaders of the Lev Tahor cult that has tortured and abused hundreds of Jews since it was founded, Yeshiva World reports.
The individuals taken in by police personnel include Mr. Nachman Helbrans, Mr. Chaim Y. Rosner and Mr. Mayer Rosner.
Two other Lev Tahor abusers, Yankel Nochum Weingarten and Yoel Weingarten, are still operating and have not been taken into custody.
First founded by Shlomo Helbrans (Erez Shlomo Elbarnes) in the 1980s in Yerushalayim, the lev Tahor cult, which fled Child Protection Services in Sainte Agathe, Quebec, and Chatam, Ontario, to Guatemala, has continually abused and tortured its members under the guise of Yiddishkeit. The senior Helbrans died in drowning incident in Mexico during the summer of 2017, supposedly while be toivel in a river.
The cult has been accused of kidnapping, having connections to anti-Zionist Islamic groups, torturing children, and enacting “takanos” that severely restrict the lives and wellbeing of its adherents.
On a recent Friday night, members of the Lev Tahor sect kidnapped two children, a boy and a girl, who had fled the cult and settled with their families in the Catskills. Desecrating Shabbos, the kidnappers took the children away in a vehicle. New York State authorities then launched an investigation into the kidnapping of the 14-year-old and 12-year-old children. The children’s families were in the Catskills with a number of other people who had fled from the Lev Tahor cult.
This came a few weeks after a girl who managed to leave the cult was kidnapped in New York but returned to her mother a few days later.
Before and after the death of Lev Tahor founder Shlomo Halbrans, Matzav.com has documented the horrific testimonies and hair-raising descriptions of women, boys and girls being subjected to abuse and torture by the Lev Tahor crazies.
A couple of months ago, a campaign was undertaken to extricate six children of the Teller family from the extreme cult. Those children were transported to the United States by their mother, Sara Faiga Teller, who is a sister of current Lev Tahor leader Nachman Helbrans.
Mrs. Teller’s 13-year-old daughter was forcibly married to a 17-year-old son of Mayer Rosner
The senior Helbrans, an Israeli citizen, moved to the United States in the early 1990s and settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While there, Helbrans was convicted and served time in prison for kidnapping a 13-year-old Israeli boy who was sent to study with him in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. Helbrans was released after serving two years, reportedly due to pressure from the local community. He then ran a yeshiva in Monsey, New York and was eventually deported back to Israel. Soon afterwards he moved to Canada, which allowed him political asylum under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, that he would be persecuted by Israeli authorities for his anti-Zionist teachings.
Helbrans and his followers settled in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, but in November 2013, the members of the group with children left Quebec for Chatham-Kent, in southwestern Ontario, amid allegations of child neglect. Quebec child-protection authorities sought to place the children in the care of Jewish-Quebecer foster-care families, and had been taking steps to prevent the 127 children from leaving Canada.
On March 5, 2014, after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice effectuated a ruling of the Superior Court of Quebec as to the disposition of their children under Quebec child-protection law, nine members of the group, including six children, left for Trinidad and Tobago in an attempt to flee to Guatemala. They were returned to Canada days later. The six children were taken into foster care, four of them were later returned to the group, while the hearing for the other two children was scheduled for May 27, 2014. A majority of the group’s members subsequently settled in the tourist town San Juan La Laguna on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. The group refused to send their children to local schools or participate in the community, according to a local resident. In August 2014, a group of elders of the indigenous population issued an edict stating that the group was not welcome to stay, citing a need to protect the local culture, which is protected under the Constitution of Guatemala. A spokesman for the indigenous council said, “We act in self-defence and to respect our rights as indigenous people”.
Lev Tahor has been accused of child abuse, brainwashing, drug use, and forced marriages of teenage girls to men as many as 20 years their senior. The group has been referred to as “Jewish Taliban.”
The abuses allegedly involved girls as young as 13 who were imprisoned in basements and girls aged 14–15 who were married to old men in the group. One woman said she was struck with a belt and a coat hanger and a pregnant 17-year-old girl said she was beaten by her brother, abused by her father, and married by force to a 30-year-old man when she was 15. On November 27, 2013, a Quebec court ruled that 14 children of the group must be placed in foster care, and arrangements were made for the children to be placed in Yiddish-speaking foster homes. On February 21, a Quebec court ruled the group did not have the right to appeal the previous ruling of Quebec court, because they failed to file the appeal within a 30-day period, and soon Canadian authorities began to seek custody of children of Lev Tahor members.
On March 3, 2014, about 15 members of the group took a flight to Guatemala. A group of nine people was intercepted at Trinidad and Tobago. The following day, at least two adults and six children from the group arrived in Guatemala. On March 6, an Ontarian judge ordered that the 14 children of the two families that fled be placed in foster homes in Ontario, while they waited for the appeal to be heard in court. Two days later, six children of Lev Tahor from two families, their parents and another adult, were repatriated in Canada after fleeing to Trinidad and Tobago. The following day, a mother less than 18 years old tried to flee to Guatemala with part of her family. She was arrested in Calgary and brought back to Ontario with her baby. On March 14, three adults and six children that fled to Guatemala appeared before a judge in Panajachel. The judge decided to leave the children with their family. On March 17, a judge in Guatemala ruled that six children who had fled would be allowed to remain in Guatemala, provided that they check in with the Canadian Embassy within three days. This requirement was later overturned on appeal on March 26, allowing the group to stay without conditions for up to three months.
On April 2, 2014, seven Lev Tahor members were arrested in a raid performed by Canadian border security. Three of those members were ordered to be deported to their native Israel, but were given the option to appeal and apply for a stay during the appeal process. On April 27, the young mother was reunited with her baby in foster care. Ten days later, four other children were reunited with their parents.
In September 2016, a committee called “The International Rescue Committee to Save the Jewish Families of Lev Tahor” was launched. The committee’s board consists of Jewish and non-Jewish individuals.
Today, after months of investigations, reportedly with the FBI playing a key role, at least 4 Lev Tahor abusers were arrested in Mexico. Additional arrests could be possible.