GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES! Two Lev Tahor Cult Leaders Face Life in Prison after Jury Finds Them Guilty of 2018 Kidnapping

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Nachman Helbrans (R) and Meyer Rosner (L)

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Two leaders of the Lev Tahor cult have been found guilty by a jury on all charges pertaining to the 2018 Shabbos kidnapping of two children who escaped the cult, and now face life in prison.

Nachman Helbrans and Meyer Rosner, two Lev Tahor officials who were involved in the kidnapping, were found guilty on all six charges they faced, including conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and conspiracy to commit international parental kidnapping.

“The defendants engaged in a brazen kidnapping of a minor girl in the middle of the night, taking her across the border to Mexico in order to reunite her with her adult ‘husband’ to continue their sexual relationship. These charges send a clear message that the sexual exploitation of children will not be tolerated,” US Attorney Audrey Strauss said when the cultists were charged in 2019.

Several other Lev Tahor cultists have been arrested in connection with the case, including brothers Yoel, Yaakov, and Shmiel Weingarten, who were picked up by Guatemala authorities earlier this year.

They are expected to be extradited to the United States to face charges and a trial.

Three others in the United States are reportedly cooperating with authorities.

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Reports indicate cult leaders have suggested death as better alternative than life outside the cult.

YWN has been at the forefront for more than 10 years fighting the Lev Tahor cult – with dozens of articles over the years.

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.

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. Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter of 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.”

DOJ statement:

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that NACHMAN HELBRANS and MAYER ROSNER were convicted in White Plains federal court of child sexual exploitation offenses and kidnapping following a four-week jury trial.  The defendants, leaders of an extremist Jewish sect called Lev Tahor, masterminded a scheme to kidnap a 14-year-old girl (“Minor-1”) and a 12-year-old boy (“Minor-2”) from their mother in Woodridge, New York.  The defendants then smuggled the children across the U.S. border to Mexico, where they reunited Minor-1 with her adult “husband” to allow him to continue his illegal sexual relationship with Minor-1.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Nachman Helbrans and Mayer Rosner brazenly kidnapped two children from their mother in the middle of the night to return a 14-year-old girl to an illegal sexual relationship with an adult man.  Today’s verdict makes clear that our Office – and our law enforcement partners – will not be deterred from achieving justice for victims of child sexual exploitation.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment, other court filings, and the evidence presented at trial:

NACHMAN HELBRANS and MAYER ROSNER are U.S. citizens and senior leaders of Lev Tahor, an extremist Jewish sect that has been located in several different jurisdictions, including New York, Israel, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala.  HELBRANS became the leader of Lev Tahor in or about 2017 and ROSNER served as a top lieutenant.  After HELBRANS and his leadership team took over, they seized tight control over the group and embraced several extreme practices, including child marriages and underage sex.

In or about 2017, HELBRANS arranged for his then-12-year-old niece, Minor-1, to be “married” to a then-18-year-old man.  They were religiously “married” the following year, when Minor-1 was 13 and her “husband” was 19, and immediately began a sexual relationship with the goal of procreation.  They were never legally married.  Lev Tahor leadership, including HELBRANS and ROSNER, required young brides to have sex with their husbands, to tell people outside Lev Tahor that they were not married, to pretend to be older, and to deliver babies inside their homes instead of at a hospital, to conceal the mothers’ young ages from the public.

In or about October 2018, the mother of Minor-1 determined that it was no longer safe for her children to remain in the Lev Tahor community in Guatemala.  The mother escaped from the group’s compound and arrived in the United States in early November 2018.  Also in November 2018, a Brooklyn family court granted her sole custody of the children and prohibited the children’s father, a leader within Lev Tahor, from communicating with the children.

After the mother fled and settled in New York with her children, the defendants devised a plan to return Minor-1, then 14 years old, to Guatemala and to her then-20-year-old “husband” so that they could resume their sexual relationship and procreate.  Then, in December 2018, they kidnapped Minor-1 and her brother in the middle of the night from a home in upstate New York and transported them through various states and, eventually, to Mexico.  The defendants used disguises, aliases, drop phones, fake travel documents, an encrypted application, and a secret pact to execute on their kidnapping plan.  At the time of the kidnapping, Lev Tahor leadership was seeking asylum for the entire Lev Tahor community in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Following a three-week search involving hundreds of local, federal, and international law enforcement entities, Minor-1 and Minor-2 were recovered in Mexico and returned to New York.  Then, in or about March 2019 and March 2021, members of Lev Tahor again tried to kidnap the children.

NACHMAN HELBRANS, 39, of Guatemala, and MAYER ROSNER, 45, of Guatemala, were convicted of (1) conspiring to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; (2) conspiring to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; (3) two counts of international parental kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison for each count; and (4) one count of conspiring to commit international parental kidnapping, to unlawfully use a means of identification, and to enter by false pretenses the secure area of an airport, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  HELBRANS was also convicted of an additional count of international parental kidnapping in connection with an attempt to kidnap Minor-1 in March 2019.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office, United States Customs and Border Protection, the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, the Village of Spring Valley Police Department, Special Agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Department of State, the Transportation Security Administration, and our law enforcement partners in Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, and Israel.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Sam Adelsberg, Jamie Bagliebter, Jim Ligtenberg, and Daniel Tracer, and paralegal specialist Shannon Becker, are in charge of the prosecution.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC) 


39 COMMENTS

  1. YWN is not more righteous than the rest! This is a tremendous chillul Hashem! May Hashem have rachmonus on us all all may these sick bad people find their way to tshuva. Or may Hashem take them out if midthst and may they be revealed to the world who they really are!

  2. Good riddance. Now the system needs to insure that these two criminals who are among the basest of baalei aveiroh cannot conspire to perpetrate additional abuses and attacks on anyone. They should be kept apart with no communication. The rest of these thugs should be brought to justice, and may their elimination from our midst be part of the geulah in which evil is banished and exterminated from our midst.

    Ready, are your whereabouts known to authorities? Don’t know whether you are among those actually perpetrating these heinous crimes. But you are clearly a supporter who has no problem wallowing in the filth of dishonesty to protect criminals and to advocate on their behalf. Removing you and your ilk from among us is something we daven for daily (וכל הרשעה כרגע תאבד).

  3. A mamma, the only ones making a chillul Hashem are the radical cultist with their many human violations including kidnapping, minor forced marriages, and child abuse. Exposing their atrocities when others are whitewashing it takes great bravery and any stable and moral person should appreciate that. Your words are actually hypocritical because you take YWN’s coverage to task while praying the cult leaders are revealed to the world for who they are.

  4. and let the pidyon shvuim campaign begin big time!!!
    we need an expose on these bums and the people that come and collect for them
    used to be Cong Riminov
    guess people caught on
    there needs to be an expose on their faces and the charities they hide behind
    otherwise one may be supporting them unknowingly

  5. Wouldn’t be surprised that all their fellow Israel haters like Satmar And Neturai Karta, will arrange huge and successful PIDYON SHVIYUM parties.
    with Frankfurter using his rag to whitewash these monsters, and implore his readers to donate money money to that holy cause.

  6. When ever these religious looking Jews and rabbis are found guilty of Sins against the Torah, it is such a chillul hashem. it makes us lose trust in real rabbis, too, unfortunately.
    I think YWN should please stop publishing these and similar stories about rabanim. it is seriously a chilul hashem. its 50% of what we see here…….

    PS: I mean, obviously , if you give me a 15% cut for all the adds you get to sell because of it, then continue plz

  7. ENOUGH OF THESE RESHOIM GEMURIM! How can any serious yid justify them @a mama?? You try and shift the blame on to Yeshiva World News because you know you’re just like one of them! You’re a fool and a disgrace to yiddishkeit. These lev tahor goyim are not yidden in fact they will be our slaves when Moshiach comes bimhero veyomeinu. These rats have no right to grace themselves with peyos and cappels and tzitzis. They are a humiliation to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and so are you! Disgusting, filthy, animalistic people. And guess what, if you don’t like Yeshiva World News, then get out of here.

  8. They will each have at least 10 years maybe their entire lives to help with minyonim if sent to a Federal prison that has other Jewish inmates. Unfortunately, the young girl may never recover fully from the trauma resulting from the actions of the cult leaders and members.

  9. I agree that they are criminals or at least OUTCASTS! However, can YWN explain the SIMCHA that you have whenever you can report about them. Isin’t it bad enough that we have rotten apples among us, do we need all the publicity???????

  10. Put them in general population. They just might finally actually get the idea that what they did was wrong.

    Can’t wait until the rest of leaders and facilitators are convicted too.

    Perhaps it will deter future cults like this. Speaking of which (other cults), Berland’s hoped for murder charges/convictions will hopefully also help in this regards.

  11. Lev Tahor has done nothing against Torah Law.
    The people who spread evil rumors against Lev Tahor will be judged.

    The goyim spit on Torah, has v sholom. Eisav sonei es Jaakov.
    Further, the laws of the USA allow toeva, homosexuality.
    The judges are not fit to judge, and it is “bad law”.

    The evil people who hate the Torah in their hearts, who spread evil lashon hara against Lev Tahor, are now revealed in many of the above posts as being safek Jews, a great safek, a great doubt.

  12. How on earth can anyone defend these sick demented people. They’re no different than Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan (perhaps even worse) and they’re a stain upon Judaism and humanity in general. Lock these serial abusers up forever, and may their names be blotted out from history.

  13. thanks so much for publishing this article. Whenever they are convicted of anything I am so happy, I make a kiddush in shul to celebrate the punishment these ruthless creepy reshaim are getting. Chaval theres no death penalty like the way yenne bh died from drowning

  14. My dear friends:

    The imprisonment of these wicked cultists is a gift to the entire community of shomrei mitzvos. There is NO inyan of Pidyon Shvuyim. Every day they are incarcerated is one where we have some cause to celebrate. When the rest of the thugs and their supporters follow, the simcha for Klal Yisroel only increases.

    I do hope to encounter any of these avaryonim collecting for pidyon shvuyim. Then I would publicize them and warn the public to not support the apikorsus and the human violations by contributing to them a single cent.

  15. Putting all emotions aside:
    does she need a get? Maybe we could say she was forced and therefore the kidushin is pasul, is that a svara?

    Maybe we should kidnap the husband and force him to give a get….

    Let me know what you think.

  16. I agree to ready now, 99 per cent of what is said about LEV tahor is simply not true, they only do good things

    Head to toe coverings should be commended

    Tamar covered her face in the house of Yehuda

  17. Chaylev Halyah:
    She cooperated fully with her “kidnappers”. She wanted to return to her husband. Btw they weren’t sentenced yet. Where did YWN get that they’re getting life in prison?!!!

  18. IUSE:

    Sorery, but no brains here. This is an evil cult, and we are fortunate to see the beginning of their downfall. Hashem should merit us with the rest of the resho’im being caught, convicted, and incarcerated for life.

    As for the truth, the cult has been lying about the worst, including that they are followers of Torah. The costumes they wear are intended to hide their serious aveiros. B”H the secular authorities have jurisdiction, as our batei din cannot carry out the consequences that this evil cult deserves.

    If head to toe coverings are the Torah way, they would be seen everywhere in the frum community. But they are not. And no one among the abusers, kidnappers, and ovdei avodah zarah of Lev Tahor can claim to even approach the tzidkus of Tamar. I daven for the continued prosecution and imprisonment of the resho’im. And I celebrate every time another one is arrested and held, as well the convictions and the removal of these cancerous apikorsim from our midst.

  19. The posters who say evil against Lev Tahor are ignoring Torah, they are siding with secular law and secular judges who spit on Torah.

    They in turn will be judged.

  20. Ready & Brainless:

    For the record, I’m not advocating secular law. It happens to be in charge now, and what the court did was even lighter than our Torah would have done. So, I agree to settle for incarceration for life. In Torah Law, there might well be misas beis din.

    I will not waste my time arguing with you. I have nothing against either of you personally. I will declare war against Lev Tahor, as it is a cult that is anti-Torah, masquerading as something holy when it is much the opposite. The cult has a torah that bears little resemblance to the real one, with omitted mitzvos, a host of fabricated ones, and a persistent pattern of lying. I have spoken to escapees, and the witnesses say so much that challenges the cloak you use for your costume.

    So I am very prepared to face the Beis Din Shel Maaloh, and my opposition to your blasphemous cult will count as one of my zechusim. All my life, I adhered to the truth, seeking it when I didn’t know (as I did here with speaking to escapees). I will be moseir nefesh for kiddush Hashem, and that includes the expunging of these evil cults from endangering members of Klal Yisroel.

    Our Torah contains 613 mitzvos, many of them excluded from LT. We follow prohibitions stated inthe Torah, and we do not fabricate our own. We follow Gedolei Yisroel, Talmidei Chachomim, and Tzaddikim. We do not cower to thugs that abuse, kidnap, and create their own religion. And while we do not advocate use of secular courts, we do, as per Shulchan Aruch, support the enforcement of laws that maintains the morality of society. Maybe you don’t know that, as you have your own code of laws. Maybe your yelling about lying, motzi shem rah, and lashon horah only exists when protecting your heathen cult.

    I await the sentencing of these animals, and might prepare a kiddush to celebrate when I know we have taken a welcomed first step in ridding our community of such vermin.

  21. Ready and the other aliases:

    You keep posting denials that LT does nothing against Jewish Law.

    Whose Jewish Law? Your purported system, or that which was given on Har Sinai?

    In light of the convincing comments from me and others that your cult follows a rule set that is anti-Torah and masquerades in a costume that you thugs call Torah, please explain to us why you feel your approach is correct. If your version of Torah is real, why did Hashem give us all 613 Mitzvos? Why are there Mitzvos Bein Odom Lachaveiroh if they are not to be taught, learned, or followed? Why is chilul Shabbos permitted? Why is your cult constantly running from authorities, with a trail of horrific accusations in many countries? What makes you think that clothing without a shred of Yiras Shomayim impresses anyone? And if you people are so “frum”, what in heaven’s name are you doing on the internet? I would think that the tzaddikim you claim to be would be huddled in a beis hamedrash somewhere deep in divine meditation, studying Shas, poskim, and producing reams of chiddushei Torah. And maybe even works of Kabbalah.

    Instead of the babyish statements that “We do nothing against Jewish Law” (that are blatantly untrue), try to convince us that there is something about Avodas Hashem that is at least remotely related to LT. So far, your denials are lame and childish.

    Do you wear tzitzis? Tefillin? What are your laws of kashrus? Do you share the words of Chazal at a Seder on Pesach, or have you stripped that Torah shebe’al peh from your repertoire? Do you build mikvaos? Do you eat chulent on Shabbos? How about eruvin? Have I enumerated enough? The burden of proof is on you. I am not chasing you, not persecuting you, and am not taking anything from you. We have all managed to learn about how your cult adopted the label of Judaism, yet does nothing to support that. I posed real life questions, and we all await your efforts to respond.

  22. Ready:

    No answers to my questions? You don’t need to be a posek to rule that it is forbidden to eat chazzer. No “authority” is needed to recvognize that a cult that creates their own version of Torah is not Judaism, and is guilty of blasphemy.

  23. They do not eat chazzer! stop misleading, you spreader of lashon hara.Don’t judge, you have no authority, and stop the evil of your lashon hara, against Lev Tahor.

  24. Ready:

    Are you that intellectually limited? I did not say anyone eats chazzer. I did say that just as a poseik is not needed to rule on that, one does not need to be an authority to recognize that the truncated and abridged torah is not Judaism.

  25. Ready:

    You are not fit to accuse. Your cult has abridged Torah, and the current religion you espouse is blatant, flagrant apikorsus. I posed a series of questions to you, and all you can do is call names. I sleep well, B”H, and am fully confident in my Avodas Hashem (which I am constantly seeking to raise to new levels). I am appreciated wherever I go, by hamon am and by rabbonim and Gedolei Yisroel. Can you say anything about yourself and your ilk that is remotely similar? Stop your babyish denials. I gave you enough questions to answer. Share your replies, and let’s see if you get any Torah true Yidden to believe that your system has any resemblance to true Torah Yiddishkeit.

  26. I’m getting sleepy reading your stupid accusations. I asked you some direct and simple questions. My grandchildren of any age would have no problem answering such simple questions, and none of them have interfered with Torah to customize it to their own taavos. Just answer questions, and then wqe can continue to dialogue. Until that time, stop wasting your time. I daven with good conscience 7 days a week, and ask וכל המינים כרגע יאבדו.