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Jerusalem - Lev Tahor A Dangerous Cult, Says Israeli Judge

Published on: April 26, 2017 12:01 PM
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FILE - Members of the Lev Tahor community stand on a street in the village of San Juan La Laguna August 24, 2014.REUTERSFILE - Members of the Lev Tahor community stand on a street in the village of San Juan La Laguna August 24, 2014.REUTERS

Jerusalem - A controversial Chasidic sect has now been officially classified as a cult by an Israeli court, a move that will hopefully give others who might be considering joining the group reason to reconsider.

According to the Times of Israel (http://bit.ly/2pgEzwR), Judge Rivka Makayes classified Lev Tahor as “a dangerous cult that severely damages the physical and emotional well being of the children of this community.”

Mayakes’ decision, based on previous court rulings and testimony of groups that have investigated the group in the past, comes seven months after a September 2016 raid of the Lev Tahor compound found no evidence of child abuse reported Canadian Jewish News (http://bit.ly/2q5vycN). 

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Uriel Goldman, a spokesperson for Lev Tahor, described the raid as traumatic, noting that police, doctors and child care workers spent an entire day in a fruitless search for non-existent evidence.

“They expected beaten children,” said Goldman. “They didn’t find anything.”

But relatives of Lev Tahor members disagree with those findings, saying that children in the group are subjected to extreme behavior and physical abuse.  Lev Tahor children are reportedly separated from their parents, denied a formal education and married off as young as 14 and 15 years old to spouses that can be two decades their seniors.  Those who disobey the rules can be punished with lengthy fasts and eviction from the Lev Tahor compound.

The controversial group has moved from place to place on several occasions, moving from Quebec to Ontario in 2013 and then relocating to another location in Ontario shortly thereafter amid allegations of human trafficking, kidnapping and falsifying documents as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2ouhSrM). 

Lev Tahor, which also had members in the United States and Israel, has since moved to Guatemala where allegations of child abuse and other issues have dogged them, forcing relocations from the Mayan village of San Juan La Laguna to Guatemala City and finally to Oratario, located in Eastern Guatemala.

Under Mayakes’ ruling, children who are living with the sect are considered to be at risk minors and the judge called on Israeli authorities to return children who were taken illegally by Lev Tahor to Israel. Because Mayakes’ decision carries no legal weight in Guatemala, the request is considered to be symbolic at best, but family members of Lev Tahor members hope that it will deter others from joining the group.



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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 26, 2017 at 12:24 PM Poor kids Says:

It has to be that these children are abused in some way.
I have children, and you'll never see them standing still on the street with straight faces.
You'll see them jumping around, smiles, talking loudly to themselves, climbing.

The children in the Lev Tohar pics always look so still and sad. They don't look like regular children at all.

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 Apr 26, 2017 at 01:06 PM Butterfly Says:

There are other pictures of these kids on line, whether in Canada or Guatemala. They never smile. You are right. Also, some of them are very thin, maybe undernourished.

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 Apr 26, 2017 at 02:22 PM georgeg Says:

> Chasidic sect

From where is this designation "Chasidic sect" taken? The founder of Lev Tahor came from a SECULAR family. What was meant was "extremist" and "Chasidic" should never be confused with "extremist".

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 Apr 26, 2017 at 02:42 PM georgeg Says:

A little background. The case in Quebec (Canada) started in 2012 when Nathan Helbrans, adult son of the founder Shlomo Helbrans, transmitted a list of allegations to the Quebec police about the group (and thus why he left earlier than year). Within two weeks a case worker removed a girl from the community after she met the girl in the hospital and the girl told the case worker she did not want to return because she was "promised" to a man for marriage. At the end of 2012 a 17-year-old girl was "was taken from the community by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital in Montreal. The girl told nursing staff she was physically beaten by her brother, sexually assaulted by her father and married at the age of 15 to a man who was 30" While isolated cases of abuse is one thing in a large country of 30 million people, even just two cases in a group of no more than 200 people (total of men, women and children) is a different matter. At least four former members gave reports of abuses (out of a community of 200).

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