The horrors of the Lev Tahor cult know no bounds, and they will do anything – including Chillul Shabbos – to maintain their stranglehold on its members.
Authorities in Upstate New York are currently investigating an alleged kidnapping of two of the recent escapees from the Lev Tahor Cult – which occured on Shabbos.
Sources confirm to YWN that two children of the Teller family that recently escaped from the cult in Guatemala were spending Shabbos in the Catskills, when the incident occured.
Our sources tell us that on Shabbos morning, a 14 year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy were discovered missing.
Police were called, and an investigation is underway.
It has been confirmed that the two children were seen entering a vehicle on Friday night (early Shabbos morning) at around 3:32AM.
The family had been spending Shabbos with professional therapists in the Catskills, along with other previous Lev Tahor escapees.
The missing girl was kidnapped several weeks ago as well, but was later found and reunited with her mother.
As YWN has been reporting, the Teller children arrived in the United States last month, following an intense international effort to rescue them from the Cult, currently located in Guatemala.
The children are the 4 daughters and 2 sons of Mrs Sara Feige Teller, a sister of current Lev Tahor leader, Nachman Helbrans. She is married to Rabbi Aron Aryeh Teller, rosh yeshivah of Lev Tahor.
Rebbitzen Teller escaped the cult several months ago, and had been thwarted on several attempts to rescue her children, on one occasion even being attacked by cult members armed with guns, knives and throwing rocks.
A massive raid by over 100 heavily armed Guatemalan police was unsuccessful in rescuing the remaining three children as cult leaders had likely moved them out of the compound prior to police arriving outside the compound’s barbed wire fence.
Then, Rabbi Teller and the 3 girls, accompanied by a woman who posed as their mother, were arrested as they attempted to cross the border into Mexico with false passports.
Bechasdei Hashem, Askonim were successful in bringing the children to the United States, joining their mother and three siblings who had arrived the week before.
Tragically, it appears the saga is not over and the Lev Tahor Cult is continuing to inflict horror on the lives of the these children.
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. Lev Tahor only permits certain fruits and vegetables to be eaten, as well as whole wheat flour made into bread with a stone press.
Former members of Lev Tahor (who either escaped or were otherwise expelled) do not recall learning Mishnayos 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 Magazine 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.
(Charles Gross – YWN)