Yaakov Weingarten, one of the leaders of the Lev Tahor cult who is suspected of kidnapping and child abuse, was arrested by Guatemalan security forces on the first day of Pesach, YWN has confirmed.
Many of the other cult leaders have already been arrested for kidnapping and child abuse and are already serving prison sentences. The leaders’ cruel practice was to kidnap children from their parents on Shabbos to make it more difficult for them to be pursued.
Weingarten’s case will be heard in a Guatemalan court on Wednesday, according to local media reports.
Kikar Shabbos reports that due to the Guatemalan authorities’ pursuit of the cult leaders, they have decided that they have no other choice but to flee to Iran. “We already tried in the past to flee there,” one of the Lev Tahor members reportedly said. “This time we have no other choice and we’ll have to do everything we can to move to Iran.”
There are currently multiple Lev Tahor cult leaders in Federal prison awaiting trials. Among them are Nachman Helbrans, 36; Mayer Rosner, 42, and his son Jacob Rosner, 20; Aron Rosner, 45, of Brooklyn, Mayer Rosner’s brother. A fifth man, Lev Tahor member Matityau Malka, and Mordechai Yoel Malka.
YWN has been at the forefront for more than 10 years fighting the Lev Tahor cult – with dozens of articles over the years. Violent beatings, abuse, rampant pedophelia were and are still common in the cult that currently remains in Guatemala.
They were facing various charges including kidnapping, identity theft, (use of fake passports) conspiracy to defraud the United States and international parental kidnapping. Four are being held without bond (due to flight risks). Aron Rosner was released on a $10 million bond to home confinement and electronic monitoring.
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.
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.
Reports indicate cult leaders have suggested death as better alternative than life outside the cult.
Lev Tahor was founded and led by Shlomo Helbrans, from the 1980s until his drowning death in Mexico in 2017. Since then, the leadership has moved into the hands of his son Nachman Helbrans, along with Mayer Rosner, Yankel and Yoel Weingarten, who are even more radical and aggressive than the late founder.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)