NEW FOOTAGE & PHOTOS: Heavily-Armed Guatemalan Police Raided Lev Tahor Compound; Child Rescue Mission NOT Successful



YWN has obtained footage of a large group of heavily armed police officers at the compound of the Lev Tahor Cult in Guatemala.

As many as 100 officers are reported to have taken part in the raid, reportedly on Monday evening, in an attempt to rescue children of a woman who was ex-communicated by the cult, but was previously attacked with knives, rocks and gunfire when she returned to try to rescue them.

Sadly, the rescue mission was unsuccessful, as it appears that cult leaders had moved the children to a different location in advance of the raid at the cult’s barbed-wire surrounded compound.

Earlier this week, YWN published an in-depth article documenting horrific details of the cult’s activities, including beatings, assorted forms of torture and forced marriage of teenagers.

The horror stories involving Lev Tahor have only gotten worse following the death of the cult’s founder and leader, Shlomo Helbrans, in Mexico in 2017. Since then, the leadership has moved into the hands of his brother Nachman Helbrans, along with Mayer Rosner, Yankel and Yoel Weingarten, who are even more radical and aggressive than the late founder.

YWN has reported extensively on the Lev Tahor cult – with dozens of articles over the years.

Lev Tahor practices include women and girls wearing black head-to-toe coverings day and night, arranged marriages between teenagers, and a violent form of Malkos.

Former members of Lev Tahor (who either escaped or were otherwise expelled) do not recall learning Mishnah or Gemara, nor any Mitzvos Bein Adam LeChaveiro. They spend the majority of the day in deep prayer and are only allowed to study certain sections of the Chumash, with Lev Tahor commentary.

Internal documents of Lev Tahor show that Shlomo Helbrans made his followers swear and sign to uphold the following principles among others.

(1) Everyone must negate his or her mind and mind thoroughly and completely, to the leader of Lev Tahor.

2) They must subjugate soul, spirit, and will.

3) Each man accepts upon his descendants and descendant’s descendants until the end of all generations to be subjugated under the will of Lev Tahor’s leader.. this should be said openly to the leader himself.

4) Everyone must be ready at any time and moment of 24 hours of the day, whether on the Shabbath and Yom Tov, summer and winter, healthy or sick, to do the will of the leader.

5) Whether the person is a young man or an old man, virgins and women they must accept to do the will of the leader.

6) They must agree to throw away all his physical needs, including eating sleep and rest until he fulfills the desires the leader.

7) It is the obligation of each of them at the beginning of the morning prayers to recite and accept upon themselves all of the above with full mouth and supreme joy.

Some observers have written that these are signs of a cult. Indeed, this was the position of an author of an article that appeared in Mishpacha Magazine. Others, however, claim that there is nothing cult-like about the movement. Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter of Ami Magazine met with Helbrans and assured his readership that it was not a cult, even though a previous Ami article stated that it was.

In 2014 YWN ran an article titled “Cults and the War of the Jewish Magazines” in response to Mishpacha and Ami magazines running articles on Lev Tahor. Mishpacha Magzaine had run a fifteen page “expose” on the group, essentially describing Lev Tahor as a cult that has some serious issues involving medicating children, and behaviors that resemble child abuse. Ami Magazing claimed the exact opposite – and ran the following sentence below their headline “The unjust persecution of a group of pious Jews, and the unsettling silence of the Jewish community.”

Originally a citizen of Israel, cult leader Shlomo Helbrans went to the United States where he was convicted for kidnapping in 1994 and served a two-year prison term before being deported to Israel in 2000. He then settled in Canada.

In 1994 he was convicted in Brooklyn for the 1992 kidnapping of 13-year-old Shai Fhima Reuven, a Bar Mitzvah boy he was tutoring, and served a two-year prison term in the U.S. He was originally sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, but in June 1996 an appeals court reduced the sentence to two to six years. Three days later, he was placed in the work release program for prisoners less than two years away from the possibility of parole, where inmates are freed from prison if they have a job. After protests, he was moved back to prison.

The high-profile case drew much attention in the U.S., and gained further attention when Helbrans successfully convinced New York prison authorities to waive their requirement that all prisoners be shaved for a photograph upon entering prison, and to accept a computer-generated image of what he would have looked like clean-shaven instead. After the State Parole Board decided in November 1996 to release Helbrans after two years in prison, the case rose to near scandal with suspicions that the Pataki administration was providing him special treatment.

After his release from prison, Helbrans ran a yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., and was deported to Israel in 2000. He then settled in Canada, where in 2003 he was granted refugee status, claiming his life was being threatened in Israel.

Helbrans and his followers had arrived in Mexico’s southern Chiapas province after spending three years in Guatemala. They had travelled to Guatemala from Canada, where child-protection authorities were moving to seize children allegedly suffering from neglect.

The group had been established on the outskirts of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, for more than a decade before Quebec authorities began paying close attention. As they prepared to move in to protect children in the sect in late 2013, community members left en masse overnight for Chatham, Ontario. Before the next summer, they had moved on to Guatemala.

Court documents used by Quebec police to obtain warrants alleged that Lev Tahor girls as young as 13 and 14 in the community were routinely married off to much older men. The allegations in the documents, which became public after the sect had fled and were never proven in court, included sexual and physical abuse of children.



  1. sick people
    what are they running from
    which normal people would live like this in 2018 when they can live normally in
    skvere kj or any other place
    these people are manipulated and drugged
    shame on anybody that gives one dollar to lev tahor

  2. Time to drug and kidnap the entire group. Parents and children separated while they go through deprogramming. Leaders need to be put away.

  3. the lev tahor is not a cult , they are Kedoshim, the more fun you poke at them , the more schar they will get in Olam Habo.
    In addition, “SOLO2018”, the children are not upset at their living conditions. They are more content with their life-style
    then you are, with all your gashmiyus.
    It says that Tomor merited to have Dovid Hamelech as a descendant because she covered her face in her shvers’ house, see Masseches Megila.

  4. because ami did a write up on them a while back and put them in a very good light
    mr iusebrains
    why dont you move to guatemalea and live in a shack with them

    oh i forgot you actually do

  5. Sorry to say, these children with dirty clothing (not in striped uniforms) and their facial expression of fear (body language) and the paleness of their skin look like holocaust survivors…they look emaciated!!!! We do so much tzedakah so why can’t we rescue these helpless people????

  6. IuseBrains: ….And Yosef stood in front of his mother- Rochel so that Esav wouldn’t stare at his mother. So you could at least see Rochel imeynu’s face!!!!

  7. > IUseBrains

    “It says that Tomor merited to have Dovid Hamelech as a descendant because she covered her face in her shvers’ house, see Masseches Megila.”

    The statement that she covered her face shows that she had a CHOICE whether to cover it or not. As soon as the choice is lost, so is any such reward. But I would like you to answer the following. If you are using her as a model, then what does that say about what behaviour you expect from a female in order to get pregnant. – or do you not even know the actual story in the actual Chumash?

  8. > IUseBrains

    Further to my previous post, I will simplify. They in the Bible did was relevant then and we do what is relevant today. And these Muslim-style clothes is nothing but assimilation to the Muslim culture. And you can look up the Rambam for that, who detested these Muslim things even as the Muslim persecutors forced it on the population.

  9. IUseBrains
    It actually says Yehuda thought she was a harlot cause she covered her face.
    Some ראשונים learn that is referring to in the street as the way of a harlot is to cover up to be hidden and therefore more enticing

  10. Iusebrain how come so many generation of tzadikims wife’s don’t have a tradition of covering themselves that way? Just wondering if that’s what is better why don’t tzadikim do it

    Also where in religion do find not been allowed to have proteins ? Assuming that’s true

    And that woman should have to endure Fungal infections because they can’t take away their shoes ? Seems to be a health issue

    What kind of tzadikim don’t learn Gemara as a shita for the entire group

    And how is making pledges towards a cult leader not a cult ?
    Not having options seems opressive but perhaps not exclusive of this frum group

  11. I use,
    “It says that Tomor merited to have Dovid Hamelech as a descendant because she covered her face in her shvers’ house, see Masseches Megila”

    While tzinus is a great thing. Your source qouted is simply עם הארצות with no connection to what they are doing.

    Nowhere do we find any such concept, the very same gemara in Yoma regarding Kimchus meriting all her sons as Kohanim Gadolim states the reason as having her hair covered, not a face. And no way does any of that apply to single girls. Unless your religion is Islam.

  12. @IuseBrains:
    “Brains” is definitely not your thing!!!!
    These idiots torture their children and anyone who does not obey their sick psycho leader.
    Kedoshim don’t torture kids, nor do they act like these jerks!!!!!

    I wonder what Rabbi Frankfaturs opinion of them is these days?

    I sure hope that the cops get the kids out safely ASAP.
    Canada should have done a better job to close em down.
    Maybe the new leader want to go chap a tveila in the same lake that his father did?????

  13. The children also have a father who loves his children.
    So much lashon hara in these pages, please Yidden, think clearly, do not succumb to lashon hara, gossip mongering.
    Leve Tahor have rights.

  14. This is extremely sad and shocking.
    Look at the precious innocent children!
    The lovely kids are very frightened!
    We have to give tzedakah and do something to be able to rescue them
    G-d’s will G-d’s help G-d’s mercy be upon the innocent Jewish children.
    Please Think if they are your own
    nephews and nieces.
    We should help the innocent mothers (they were very young when they got married, and they are innocent as well) and the kids, all their young, even their men may have been just brain washed.
    If the dangerous theology be true about obeying the leader …… then just the “leader and the head of the cult” who is in charge of the abuse and torture, they should be punished, but the rest young and old of the cult need to be rescued and be “re-educated”. This is a cult, but they are still our Jewish brothers and sisters, we have to help them, not crush them, G-d forbids, G-d forbids, not mocking the poor suffering souls. Yes, the women’s chador (black custome) look like Iranians’ custome from very religious Muslim group in Iran that still some are forced to wear by their very religious Muslim families or their own choice in Iran!!! When I looked at the pictures, at first I was thinking that they are religious Muslim Iranian women!!! These innocent Jewish women need our help. We have to help them, this is our obligation. They are free to wear what they choose to wear to be modest (it is not our business, it is not right that G-d forbids that we dare to call them names as I read in the discussions it was very sad, so much Lashon hara about (the poor suffering women who are our Jewish sisters) in this page, we should repent Tshuvah), their children need good education to be able to survive and good health care. I hope and pray G-d show us all how to help these innocent Jewish community who are under the influence of this
    dangerous cult.
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions that how we could help them.
    We should all pray to G-d for their rescue, especially for the innocent precious children and the mothers whom were kids themselves when married!

  15. How can anyone stick up for them? How can it not be a cult when the will of leaders supercede all? Real rabbonim have midda of anivus.they dont demand respect they earn it! Not learning much but praying 4 hours a day is another proof of cult…nebach..Hashem yeracheim!

  16. Yakov Doe: they sew up their clothes themselves.

    IIRC it’s in an old interview Shlomo Helbrans gave, where he also claimed the women themselves requested this to be more tzanua.

  17. How do a a large group of travelling Jews adhere to an Halachik life? Did they build a Mikveh? And who paskens their Halacha questions? Helbrans Jr based on hearsay from his wacky late father? These are fundamental requirements for a religious settlement and its hard to believe they made sure to have a Mikva LiMehadrin in their camp where there is hardly running water. If they send the women to a nearby lake its very difficult to believe its all done KaDin.
    Call it a cult or no cult its a disgraceful tragedy. We can only hope it gets disbanded quickly before the next generation grows up in an ignorant and zombie lifestyle that is the only thing they know. Then it will be too late.

  18. This Lev Tahor thing is a cult, but more so, an evil abusive cult. The leaders need to be arrested, for starters. If anyone here did what they do, they would be wearing handcuffs. And don;t start the mesira business either. There is frank abuse and brainwashing going on, and these are offenses that halachically require involvement of secular authorities. Abusers cannot be successfully managed within the beis din system.

    Now, can anyone here justify their derech as Torah consistent? Until we hear a true Torah source for pledging allegiance to leaders as they do, limiting Torah study to conform to the wishes of their gurus, I pronounce them evil baalei aveirah. As reshoim, I daven daily for the complete elimination of rish’us. Either they abandon their evil ways, or my tefilos include their demise.

  19. to ready now
    the ultimate in burying things under the rug
    pull out the lashon hara card

    this is a sick cult
    bigger tzadikim then helbrans didnt have their wives or daugters walk around like this
    the only pidyon shvuim here is to get these people out of there
    cannot believe that in 2018 people would live like this

  20. The reason that they are classified as a cult is not because the women and girls wear burka. All accepted rabbonim think it a crazy practice, but the reason they are a cult because they show much more signs of a cult then some new brand of yahadus or “ultra-frumkeit”.

    They were exposed in the mishpacha as a cult, and in a number of documentaries since then.

    A tiny snapshot of what this cult practices:
    * Malkos and physical beatings of the cult leaders on those who disobey
    * The marry off very young girls to adults and minors
    * They learn only the “torah” of their cult leader to the exclusion of all other learning,
    * They are brainwashed that their kashrus is unique they may eat at no other yidden in the world,
    * They’re told that only burka-wearing women will merit moshiach and the rest of us won’t
    * They may not speak to other yidden (except when one of their spokesmen is present), and certainly not with anyone that has left the cult
    * If they leave the cult they will have no contact with their mishpochoh including their own children ever again
    * They are prescribed drugs by the cult leaders – nominally vitamins but actually anti-depressants etc. as found by the Quebecian authorities
    * They have been forced to move around the globe to escape being rightly shut down and now live in Guatemala. With now third-generation Lev Tohor men (not heard to achieve when you marry of girls in early teens) they now have a whole generation of indoctrinated familes who cannot be oved hashem as yidden should.

    As reported in the mishpacha 2 years ago, when some of their children were forcibly fostered into heimish chassidish homes by the Canadian authorities their heimish frum foster carers saw clear signs of dangerous neglect and took ages to convince them they are allowed to eat their food (highest kashrus).

    it is a cult, not because of meshuga frumkeiten but because it smells, looks, acts like, and is one. You may not leave, you are not taught normal Torah yiddishkeit or chassidus, and your entire life is controlled by Helbrans and nowadays by the other cult leaders.

    These children and brainwashed adults will never know the geshmack of gemorah learning, the beautiful clarity of the mishna berura, the ability to see and follow the gedolim that lead us, nor see the wider frum world with all its beauty.

    They are stuck in shacks in some rainforest, deprived of real Torah MiSinai, beaten, starved, punished and deprived. And it’s not their choice. Adults and children alike have been brainwashed and simply don’t understand that the life they’re living is one of actual tinokos shenishbu.

    That Lev Tahor still exists and our brothers are enslaved to this cult is a busha and a cherpa for all of yahadus. I’m embarrassed that funds were raised for them in Stamford Hill, my hometown.

  21. Its a bunch of gossip, i dont beleieve that they beat or tourture, someone who is jealous of their sanctity generated the falsehood in order to get them in trouble.

  22. Iusebrains you have no idea what you are talking about. I’m from Guatemala and know people who were in the cult and left who live in Guatemala still in a separate community. I even visited lev tahor out of curiosity when Shlomo Helbrans was still the leader. People are completely brained washed, they even make them take psychiatric drugs. They give malkos, if someone decides he wants to leave they get his wife against him and tell her he is a rasha and force him to give her a get and leave his children. A common practice is to take children away from a family that didn’t follow some crazy rule and give them to another family. They lock people up for a month or longer without food and can inly eat at nights for not following a rule, now with the son as leader who’s worse than his father I heard there is sexual abuse, no one is allowed to have their own money the cult leaders are in control of it. These are just a few examples.

  23. The frankfurter from ami mag says…..
    how about MBD? what does he think??
    and how about the other publisher, Pinny Lipshits? he’s also a gadol

  24. Georgeg: You are mistaken to imply any criticizm whatsoever of Tamar Chas vesholom. She was a tzadekess and entirely leshem shomayim in the maaseh with Yehudah. The correct response is as I wrote -that you could see Rachel Imeynu’s face, because Yosef had to stand in front of her so she couldn’t be seen by Esav.

  25. *To ASH

    This is a pure cult How do I know? because I have first hand information that this is 100000000% a CULT.
    Their leaders Nachman and… should be put in Jail for life!!!!!!
    **Lets rescue the children BEFORE it’s TO LATE.

  26. I consider it quite ironic that the sign which hung above the pavilion where Jim Jones and nine hundred others took their lives read: “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” While that quote probably had no meaning for Jim Jones and the members of his Peoples Temple, the sign still hung in the most prominent of places on the compound as a prophetic warning to us to act when we see the history of Jonestown repeat itself.

  27. Instead of just spewing opinions and releasing frustrations on here (as I am) I hope someone/s that has the wherewithal can organize a massive trip to Guatemala consisting of Askanim, Rabbonim, politicians and/or whomever can go, in order to call international (Jewish) attention to this tragedy and try to disband this group. “Lo Sa’amod Al Dam Reiacha” we need to at least try! I just saw on YWN a feature on how some of ‘our stars’ traveled to Pittsburgh. How about Guatemala? I certainly would if I could.

  28. No, LEV TAHOR is not a Cult. Forcing women to sleep in tights is normal. Making 15 year old boys get 13 year old girls (8th graders!) pregnant is normal. Getting flogged in public happens every day (under Sharia law) No make up, no G-d, no rules except what their leader says.. This is not a Cult, people! This is normal life! And I’m a goat who was taught how to type but I identify as a horse. Of course.
    Not. A. Cult! #youdontneedbrains