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JUSTICE SERVED: 3 Lev Tahor Cult Leaders Sentenced To More Than A Decade In Prison

Three brothers from Monsey, leaders of the Lev Tahor cult, were sentenced on Tuesday to lengthy prison terms for their roles in the kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl and her brother six years ago. The court found that the brothers orchestrated the abduction to return the children to their community, aiming for the girl to resume an underage marriage.

U.S. District Judge Nelson Roman handed down sentences of 14 years for Shmiel and Yakov Weingarten, and 12 years for Yoil Weingarten. Interestingly, the victim, referred to as Jane Doe, expressed support for the brothers in court and urged leniency, describing them as rescuers rather than kidnappers.

The victims, Jane and John Doe, were among six children of Sara Helbrans, the daughter of Lev Tahor’s late founder, Shlomo Helbrans. The children had been living in Guatemala with the Lev Tahor community, which had relocated there after fleeing child welfare investigations in Canada.

The kidnapping plot began when Sara Helbrans objected to her 13-year-old daughter’s marriage to 19-year-old Yaakov Rosner. Unable to prevent the wedding, she eventually escaped Lev Tahor with three of her children and moved to Brooklyn. Later, when her husband took three of the children to Mexico to obtain new passports, authorities intervened and sent the children back to their mother in New York. Sara obtained a Family Court order granting her custody and prohibiting contact from the father.

Despite unsuccessful legal challenges, the Weingarten brothers persisted in their efforts to retrieve the children. On December 8, 2018 – in middle of Shabbos Chanukah – they kidnapped Jane and John Doe from a home in Woodridge, NY. The children were taken to a hotel, changed, and then driven to an airport in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Nachman Helbrans accompanied them on a subsequent journey to Mexico where the children were hidden in a house until December 18, 2018, when the property was raided, and some kidnappers were arrested.

However, the children remained missing until authorities located them nine days later and arrested Shmiel and Yoil Weingarten. Yakov Weingarten later attempted another kidnapping, which was thwarted.

Judge Roman’s sentencing took into account the serious nature of the crimes, yet recognized the harshness of potential sentences. The prosecution recommended sentences of more than 12 years for each brother, citing their roles in the kidnapping and subsequent actions, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

Speaking in court, the brothers remained unrepentant. Shmiel Weingarten described the prosecution’s efforts as an attack on Lev Tahor, while Yoil and Yakov reiterated their twisted belief that their actions were sanctioned by the Torah. The victim, Jane Doe, also pleaded for their release, asserting that their imprisonment was causing her ongoing suffering.

Prosecutors, however, emphasized the dangerous precedent set by the brothers’ actions and their lack of remorse, arguing that they posed a continuing threat. Specifically, they expressed concerns that the Weingartens would resume arranging child marriages and kidnapping escapees from Lev Tahor upon release.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

6 Responses

  1. Lev Tahor is a vile and disgusting cult and I am happy Hashem has rid this world of those minim. That said, what happened to these individuals should give us pause. We all know now that sometimes the scales of justice are weaponized against people who are unliked by those more powerful. How did this nasty custody dispute turn into decades in prison? Is that what always happens in nasty custody disputes? I do not cry for the vile dreck but I cry for the injustice.

  2. The fact is that the Torah does allow a Father to forcefully marry his young daughter, to any man that he wants. Nobody can force that husband to do Geirushin. It doesn’t sound right to us, but so what.
    We love to use this western mentality to guide us.

  3. And we know that this is justice the highest ravenical Torah Authority…
    Just as you were right with social distancing, Covid Vax, and everything else….

  4. Why only 10 years? Poor Rav Osher Eisenman: if this jerk were his judge he would get compensation for all the anguish and aggravation the state’s corrupt prosecutor caused. This isn’t even a slap on the wrist, as I see it.

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