Lev Tahor in Guatemala – A Story of Squalor, Mental Anquish and the Separation of Families


In the last 2 weeks there have been several significant developments concerning Lev Tahor.

As you know, members of Lev Tahor in defiance of a court order fled Canada to Guatemala. Two months ago, 12 members including 6 children were successful in reaching Guatemala, while 9 members, including 4 children, on route to this destination were apprehended in Trinidad, and returned to Canada at the request of the Canadian government. On return to Canada, these children were placed in foster care.

An infant child and her 17 year old mother were apprehended at Calgary International Airport. The child was released to her teenage mother last week. Now another four Lev Tahor children are being returned to their parents.

A ruling concerning the remaining two children will be made on May 29th.

Throughout this, Lev Tahor continues to maintain its innocence and deny the allegations of forced marriages of 14 year olds, beatings, children being forced to wear small shoes as a form of punishment, and other forms of abuse and neglect. Lev Tahor’s cries of its innocence continue even with the concerns expressed by the courts, and evidence, both proven and unproven, of their abusive behaviour toward their members and particularly, their children.

The cult is being controlled by their leader, self proclaimed Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans who entered Canada illegally, and has been found guilty of child abduction in the State of New York.

Throughout these difficult times, there has been one constant – the unwavering concern of Oded Twik and his diligence in trying to help his sister and her 8 children who are members and victims of Lev Tahor. His sister and her children are victims of the abuse, manipulation and the mind control of Shlomo Helbrans and his henchmen. Oded was interviewed several times in the print media and on television, including the CBC’s Fifth Estate.

guatemala

San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala

As was initially reported by Hannah Katsman in her blog, Oded spent the period from March 27, 2014, – April 30, 2014 in San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala on a fact finding journey first trying to locate his sister, and then trying to establish contact with her. He prepared a brief report describing his observations, findings and feelings, and trying to assess the situation of his sister and her family. His report is found by clicking the link at the end of this post.

Since the arrival of Oded’s sister and the other members, others have followed, leaving Chatham and arriving in Guatemala. They have included senior members of the cult, including Yoel Weingarten (who may have stood by while his father repeatedly sexually abused his sister), Uriel Goldman, Meir Rosner, and Helbrans’ son, Yoel.

From what I understand there are now upwards of 30 members who have left Canada, virtually unobstructed, for Guatemala. Most of these children are Canadian citizens.

Oded Twik goes on to describe his observations, and what he found.

According to his report, when he reached the sect, Raisa Rosner Goldman, a 15-year-old, was about to give birth. The baby was delivered without any professional assistance, while she lay on the dirt floor. A half an hour before Oded arrived, the members of Lev Tahor went to the tiny Chabad centre for tourists in order to request a basin to use during the birth. The center gave them the bowl used to make a Yemenite pastry served by the Chabad centre on the Sabbath.

Raisa Rosner Goldman is the daughter of Rosner and the daughter-in-law of Yoel Goldman, 2 leaders of the cult. Can you imagine 2 senior members allowing their daughter and daughter-in-law to deliver a baby on a dirt floor? I hope that those who have been critical of my portrayal of the behaviour of the leaders of this cult stop for a minute and think strongly about this! Would you allow your child to give birth in this environment?

Oded and Nephew

Oded Twik and Nephew in Guatemala

He then found his year old nephew dirty, hungry and covered with insect bites. There was little he could do; except cry. Oded continues to cry to this day.

The group slept on the bare ground. Only after he arrived, did the members acquire 15 dirty mattresses. The members were sent to Guatemala with little money, so they were forced to beg from tourists on the street. Just remember, Lev Tahor is a cult that has reportedly amassed millions of dollars.

Oded finally was able to meet with his sister. Initially she refused to meet with him, fearing for her brother’s safety. Only after Oded threatened to break into their home, did she agree to meet with him.

Oded found her to be confused, scared, weak and no doubt mentally fragile. It was difficult for her to talk. She appeared to be without any desire or will to live, and worried about the future. The cult was applying pressure on her, so she begged him to leave. He, in turn, begged her to leave with him, and all she could do was say the “situation is not simple!”

So there you have it, a heart wrenching story of mental anguish, abuse, the separation of families, the manipulation of the innocent, and the inability of its victims to escape the clutches of this cult.

To read Oded Twik’s observations of his trip to Guatemala, please click on the following link:  Statement by Oded Twik

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