Lev Tahor: All Is Not Right in Paradise


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Lev Tahor Members Loading on to a Bus Leaving San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala

It seems that there is trouble in paradise for Lev Tahor. After fleeing Quebec in the middle of the night last December for Chatham-Kent, and then defying a court order not to leave the Chatham area, the cult any way fled to the idyllic village of San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala where they sought refuge. The remaining few families left Chatham quietly for Guatemala over the last few weeks. From what I understand, 2 of the girls placed into foster care by the Ontario courts have now been abandoned by their parents.

They are now being “run out of town” lock, stock and Chumash. According to reports, village elders threatened to cut off water and electricity to the cult if they didn’t leave.

Some boarded buses during the last few days of August in search of a welcoming Guatemalan community which will allow them to build 30 homes. The rest will follow in the next few days.

Once again, the cult leadership, is conveniently playing the role of the poor victim. “I don’t understand why they don’t want us. We’re doing nothing bad here,” Uriel Goldman, a spokesperson for the community wrote in an e-mail, “They also warned us they would remove us from the village by force.”

One community resident was quoted saying that several members of the group had upset residents because of their arrogant attitude. He went on to say that several times members of the Lev Tahor community would go into stores and pay whatever they wanted for the products rather than the marked price. They also bothered tourists where on one occasion there was a tourist taking pictures of a hill and the Jews thought he was taking photos of them and they clashed.

After reading what residents have said, it is easy to come to a conclusion that it’s absolute poppy-cock!  Even if one of the members did say that there were people who liked them and cried when they left, where are his/her witnesses? Statements like this mean nothing without proof. So if any resident of San Juan de Laguna wants to come forward and say that he/she supports this cult, I welcome them to do so. But be prepared to provide your real name and proof that you are a resident.

What bothers me is that there are still Jews who continue to conveniently cry anti-Semitism instead of looking within themselves. Just listen to the following interview by Uriel Goldman where he accuses the Canadian courts of planning genocide against the cult.

Rabbi Shalom Pelman, who leads the Chabad Lubavitch congregation in Guatemala’s capital city, said it is the type of activity that brings to mind the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. He went on to say: “This is not typical in the world I live in. Even in Iran, Jews are not expelled.”

As a child of holocaust survivors, I feel that Rabbi Pelman is cheapening the holocaust when he equates the cult’s eviction with Nazi Germany. During the reign of Hitler, the Jews of many of the towns and villages lived if not in harmony, at least in co-existence with gentiles. It was only with the emergence with Nazism were Jews deported. By the way, at that time they were deported to concentration camps.

I wonder if Rabbi Pelman spoke to his colleague at Chabad in San Pedro, Guatemala which has served San Juan de Laguna since 2010. Is this Chabad House being forced to close down because of anti-Semitism and harassment from the local community?

Shame on you, Rabbi Pelman! Did you go to San Juan de Laguna and investigate? Did you speak with any of the locals?

The answer here lies in the arrogance of the cult according to locals, and their refusal to conform to societal norms. It was seen in Quebec where authorities determined that society’s minimal standards of education were not being met. The CBC showed how children could not add numbers.

There may even be a sense of entitlement by the cult and its leaders. What respectful individual would go into a store, and tell a store keeper how much he will pay for an item, when the price is posted? Central America is not eastern Europe where anti-Semitism has been entrenched for centuries upon centuries.

It’s a holier than thou art attitude that is practiced by Lev Tahor and other Hareidi sects. It’s one thing to practice your religion and culture freely. But it is another thing to practice your religion while invading the norms of general society and mocking society and everyone else’s beliefs.

As a Jew, Lev Tahor has little tolerance for me, and they have called me many names. I have news for them. At the end of the day I can go to sleep with a clear conscience knowing that I have tried to be respectful of others and their beliefs. However, I draw the line at others who commit child and spousal abuse. From what I have been told, and from what I have seen, Lev Tahor practices both types of abuse.

In the case of Lev Tahor, it’s called RESPECT. Without showing respect for others, and in the case of this cult, I doubt that they will be welcome anywhere.

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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.

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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?

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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