My apologies to my readers and followers for my taking time off from writing about what has been going on within Lev Tahor. The last time that I wrote about this matter, the cult had just moved to Guatemala. The two girls who were in the care of the Jewish Family & Child Service of Greater Toronto somehow managed to leave care undetected, and were able to enter the U.S. However, the U.S. authorities have not allowed them to leave that country.
I decided that I should maintain a low level on this matter, as I did not wish to endanger the safety of the two girls who at the time were fifteen and seventeen years of age. Also, I was attempting to assist Oded Tuik whose sister and family were in the clutches of Lev Tahor, escape from the cult.
Those relatives were spirited out of Guatemala one night, and were taken to Argentina. While in Argentina they have undergone intensive therapy, and have since returned to live in the U.S. The whole family is now re-united, and reside on the East Coast. Mazel Tov is also in order for one of the two girls who will marry, in the next few weeks, at a more mature age than thirteen. This time it will be to a person of her own choosing, and not to someone chosen by Helbrans or his stooges.
Over the last year, some people have contacted me to learn more about what happened to the girls and the families within the cult. Please accept my apologies for not responding to you as I did not wish to inadvertently divulge anything that could endanger these people.
I continue to follow developments that are taking place. It has now been approximately two years since Lev Tahor moved to Guatemala. Their first stop was San Juan La Laguna where they were “run out of town” because of their disrespectful lifestyle including the shunning of women, and the refusal to greet local residents.
They then fled to the capital, Guatemala City, where they were housed in an industrial building. Last week, Guatemalan police raided their compound apparently due to complaints about child abuse. Over the years, there have been recorded instances by authorities, and evidence specifically in Quebec, about child abuse that has taken place within the cult.
The main reason for the raid was by the request from the Government and Courts of the State of Israel. One of the families that returned to Israel, were ordered by the courts not to leave the country. Nevertheless they defied the court order and left for Guatemala. Now the State of Israel is invoking its right under international law to have the family returned.
Once again, Lev Tahor is playing the same game of screaming injustice when accusations are being made. Time after time, specifically in Canada, charges were laid and court appearance and trials were to take place, they ran rather than provide evidence to refute charges and allegations against them.
There is a strong likelihood that they will pack up again and move on in the next few days to avoid the local authorities. This time it could be to a compound that they are building in Santa Rosa near the border of El Salvador.
They have also continued to engage the services of Guidy Mamann, a high priced Canadian immigration lawyer who has flown down to take charge of legal matters. The following is a lengthy propaganda interview that took place with Mr. Mamann.
I have a number of concerns with what Mr. Mamaan is conveying to the public about Lev Tahor, their practices, the supposed lack of evidence, and his analogies to the Shoah, another term for the Holocaust.
Mr. Mamann makes a number of statements of how Lev Tahor has been victimized. He draws the analogy to the Shoah, and how Jews have not been treated in this manner since that era. I take exception to these types of statements because they cheapen and erode the significance of the Holocaust.
At no time during dark era were Jews subjected to violence, harassment and victimization due to their practices of child rearing. They were targeted for one reason, and one reason alone: they were Jews. If you ask any Holocaust survivor why they were singled out for extermination by the Nazis, their answer will be “because we were Jews”. The issue of child abuse by Jews, or any other group for that matter, never enters this equation. I only wish that there were more survivors alive who would be able to give you this same answer. Mr. Mamann cheapens the significance and importance of the Holocaust and its place in the history of mankind when he makes these untruthful and inconsiderate statements.
Concern about this cult is based on strong evidence that child abuse is inherent to Lev Tahor. One of the girls who now living on the U.S. East Coast recounts to school children how she was held against her will and locked up in a basement for months on end because she refused to marry at the ripe old age of thirteen years. According to the United Nations, this was a form of child abuse that was practiced on this child as illustrated in their definition.
Mr. Mamann, mentioned in his interview that no evidence was ever presented to prove the allegations of child abuse by Lev Tahor. However, he neglected to mention the findings documented by child welfare authorities in Quebec, and the evidence presented to the courts disputing their claims that they were righteous upstanding Jews who only wanted to practice their faith in their own way. What about the incoherent 17 year old girl, who was taken by ambulance to a hospital because she was beaten by members of the cult.
It is about time that the cult and their lawyer face the courts and the allegations of child abuse rather just dismissing them and crying harassment and victimization on the grounds that they are Jews. Face the reality, like it or not, unfortunately, some Jews, do these kinds of things, some are robbers, some are murderers, and some are abusers of children.
Several of my posts on Lev Tahor referred to the fraudulent activities of this cult. Early on, I presented questions about where they acquired their funds to operate and carry out their intimidation against the many followers that were sucked in by their habitual lies and their radical, maniacal and heretical brand of Judaism.
My views of this group are based on the testimonies of former cult members and the families of current members who describe the practice of abuse that is inherent to this cult and their leaders. This includes beatings meted out to those questioning their leader self proclaimed Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans; even upon his wife. Then their are the reported cases involving the drugging of individuals so that they become more passive, separating children from their parents for weeks and months (and not being allowed to speak with their children), beatings, children being forced to sleep on urine soaked mattresses, girls of 12 and 13 years being confined in basements for weeks and months, and sexual abuse.
Not once have the members of Lev Tahor tried to provide evidence to disprove these allegations. The only comments that I have received from them have been denials and name calling, but still no evidence.
In one of my earliest posts, I made mention that in 2012, the Society for Spiritual Development, one of Lev Tahor’s charities transferred $3.3 million to another Jewish charity in Quebec, the Canadian Friends of Holy Land Institutions. I have to point out that previously, when I attempted to investigate the Quebec charity called the Canadian Friends of Holy Land Institutions, I was unable to find very much about them. But I did find the revenues, expenditures, assets and liabilities reported by the Canadian Friends of Holy Land Institutions in 2012 which is illustrated in the following figure.
Congregation Riminov, another Lev Tahor charity was registered as a tax-exempt religious charity in 2001, shortly after Helbrans moved from Israel to Canada. The charity had a rapid rise in its financial performance with the purpose of “the operation of a synagogue and provision of assistance to those in need.”
Apparently, from an initial draw of $114,865 in its first year, Congregation Riminov then brought in more than $1.9 million in 2005, and also claimed land and property assets of $5.6 million in 2006. It is unclear what became of those assets and those donations when Congregation Riminov lost its charitable status in 2007 for not filing mandatory information with the Canada Revenue Agency.
It took some time before Lev Tahor’s other charitable organization, the Society for Spiritual Development, to pick up the slack. It was registered as a charity in 2004, aiming “to create a centre for meditation and prayer, (to) establish schools, develop spiritual and religious ideals (and) provide assistance to needy people,” according to its annual filings with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Now, the QMI Agency has reported that Congregation Riminov has been avoiding the CRA for several years and didn’t provide documentation that the CRA requested in a 2007 audit. The CRA alleges that this charity conducted real estate transactions that had nothing to do with its spiritual vocation but only swapped land north of Montreal for no purpose other than to make a profit.
Congregation Riminov, Canadian Friends of Holy Land Institutions, and the Society for Spiritual Development are all controlled by Shlomo Helbrans.
He commented on one of my posts as shown and stated that the organization’s tax return was filed late. There are many individuals, companies and charities that file their returns late. When this occurs, they are normally penalized with a fine, not by revoking their charitable status. In the case of Congregation Riminov, their charitable status was entirely revoked because they never filed a tax return within a 7 year period. He also stated that “Lev Tahor only received a specific property with a special condition, from a donor in the USA”. In light of the CRA’s position and their investigations, this special condition was to flip the property and create a huge profit. I am not aware that land speculation applies to Canada’s charitable sector.
Both the CRA and I would welcome seeing any audited statements to show that we are wrong.
Then Nachman Helbrans had the audacity to call his group, honourable Jews. Labelling himself as an honourable Jew, is like describing former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as a compassionate humanitarian. Lev Tahor did not pay for damages caused and left by them in Quebec and Chatham, as well as the unpaid bills to lawyers and contractors. In one of his other comments, Nachman Helbran’s admitted that the group “owes sometime, and pays sometime”.
Nachman, you, and the other members of your group are not honourable. You and your group, in fact, are quite dishonourable and dishonest individuals who happen to be Jewish. You and your other cult members use your religious beliefs as an argument to receive special consideration and dispensation to allow you to carry out your evil acts and deeds. The only distinguishing difference between you and other dishonourable and dishonest individuals is your religion. There is an old saying that if you put a tuxedo on a pig, it is still a pig.
Please do not refer to me as being one of your Jewish brothers. If you were my brother, my parents would long ago have arranged for you to be institutionalized in a place for incorrigibles. I am bound to many other “Jewish brothers and sisters” who are honest, decent and honourable, and need help. You, your deceitful father and your cronies are not my brothers!
My last post on Lev Tahor discussed the fact that the Canada Revenue Agency placed a lien in the amount of $4.3 million on the properties owned by Lev Tahor in Ste. Agathe-des-Monts for the nonpayment of taxes.
I received a comment from Orit Cohen whose family came into the clutches of Lev Tahor. The following is the text of her comments written in Hebrew, followed by an English translation.
I wish that I had an answer to Orit Cohen’s question of when the Jewish community will help the children of Lev Tahor. I continue to be very disenchanted with the Jewish community’s response and efforts on this matter. It is as if they are afraid of Helbrans and Lev Tahor. Maybe it is a self-centred attitude on their part.
The Orthodox Jewish cult called Lev Tahor has been called heretics and evil, and is shunned by most factions of organized Judaism in Canada and are known as a cult. Since media coverage of this cult and the many allegations against them from child welfare and law enforcement officials about child abuse, beatings, children forcibly being removed from their parents and being placed with other parents as a form of punishment, underage marriages as young as 13 years, children sleeping in urine soaked beds, poor hygiene, low educational standards, running away from the law and human trafficking Canadian and International Jewry have for the most part shunned them.
I wrote about how they the cult has managed to acquire millions to fund their, if not illegal but questionable activities. Now I would like to discuss how this group of lunatics manages to recruit or suck in their prey.
I have been doing a great deal of research, and I have been asking many questions from members of the families who have lost brothers, sisters and children to the cult about this. As a result, I’m hoping to paint a picture that gives everyone some idea or at least some insight about how they manage to bring new members to the cult.
Normally, all religions pray to a divine entity. Lev Tahor, like other cults prey on the weak, the susceptible, the unsuspecting and the ideologically vulnerable, and they do have some willing sympathizers who may be called willing conspirators.
From the communications which I have had with the families of those that were sucked into the cult, I have been told of stories where members of Lev Tahor, specially in Israel visit Orthodox Hareidi synagogues and yeshivot armed with many copies of the book written by Shlomo Helbrans, the cult’s leader. From what I have been told, this book is very well and convincingly written.
They leave many copies at these synagogues and yeshivot hoping that the easily impressionable and weak minded, who are seeking some form of spiritual fulfillment or satisfaction will read the book. Once they have read the book once, they are encouraged to read it many more times till the rhetoric is firmly planted in their minds and begins to sprout. Once they read the book, they are encouraged to contact Helbrans who spends hours upon hours and days upon days giving his sales pitch which encourages them to leave their thoughts behind and take on his own view of religion and the world. Helbrans has been described as very charismatic and convincing. He was able to fool many individuals including Global Television.
Also, I found out about Keter Malchut, an Orthodox Hareidi yeshiva for girls located in Jerusalem. According to the mother of the two girls that were returned by Canadian immigration officials to Israel several years ago, and then once again tried to enter Canada via Jordan, the principal of Keter Malchut acts as a Lev Tahor recruiter. The school is supported by a hyper-Hareidi movement of women who have discarded most of the ways of the general Hareidi movement including wigs and cover their faces. Their role is to funnel girls to this school for further indoctrination, and their views can best be described as preaching the abandonment of women of day-to-day society and to live as shut-ins.
Finally, there is the role of the matchmaker. Due to a shortage of young girls, matchmakers play a key role in finding girls as young as 13 or 14 years to marry much older men to bare children.
As you know, I have been following the Lev Tahor controversy with more than just keen interest. Lev Tahor has been aptly called a cult by many within and outside the Jewish community as a result of the allegations and evidence of child abuse, poor hygiene, forced marriages of 13 year olds, drugging members, human traficking and many other allegations.
Lev Tahor has now completely fled Canada, and the country’s laws and courts, to establish what they want to call a paradise in Guatemala. No doubt they chose Guatemala in keeping with their questionable customs as the legal age for the marriage of girls is 13 years.
I have been advocating for the rights of these families which have suffered and continue to suffer the loss of their children, brothers and sisters to this cult. Earlier this year the exodus of members to Guatemala began. Two families fled in defiance of a court order that they remain in the Chatham area. Two minors, at the time, a 14 and a 16 year old girl were apprehended in Trinidad while en route to Guatemala, and returned to Canada. Once they were returned, they were ordered to be placed in foster care by Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS). Because suitable facilities were not available in or near Chatham, Toronto’s Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS) would oversee the day-to-day care of the two girls.
Since the cult first surfaced to attention, I have been involved “through thick and thin”. I hosted the grandmother and a family friend when they visited the girls in foster care. I negotiated visits with the girls for them, and arranged for them to spend the Sabbath together.
In Guatemala, the cult has already experienced expulsion from the town of San Juan de Laguna where they were accused of arrogance, intimidating local residents and other matters. Moving from a dirt floor house, they are now living in an abandoned office building in the country’s capital where they lack sanitary facilities, and all of the other necessities for a reasonable existence. It is no wonder that an outbreak of typhus has occurred. So much for their paradise!
Apparently, last weekend, the two remaining girls in foster care escaped from their foster home and took a taxi to the Toronto bus terminal, and then a bus to Niagara Falls where they met their father. Apparently Nachman Helbrans, a cult leader, and the girls’ father aided and possibly arranged their escape.
According to media reports, they were stopped by U.S. authorities where they were placed in the care of Children’s Services of Niagara County, New York. Their case quickly came before the U.S. courts, but the children were both returned to the father who more than likely assisted them in evading Canada’s court and justice system. This was reported in the Montreal Gazette.
CKCS may be unjustly accused of allowing the girls to escape and evade the Ontario courts. Although they may be the responsible agency, it must be understood that JF&CS was involved in supervising the day-day-day and overall care being provided to the girls. These arrangements were made to ensure that the needs of the girls were met with respect to kosher food and to ensure their comfort from a orthodox perspective. Let’s face it, there are few if any Jewish families in Chatham where the girls could be placed, and kosher food is not readily, if at all available.
Therefore JF&CS were given the job and authority of responsibility to supervise the day-to-day foster care, safety and security of the two girls. In fact, it was JF&CS that arranged for foster care and placed them into the foster home.
Based on what has been written and reported in the media, there are many questions that have to be answered by JF&CS:
- How did the two girls manage to leave their foster home without being detected?
- Who had access to the foster home? When I went to pick up the grandmother who visited them for the Sabbath, I was subjected to a very thorough questioning by the security guard at the home.
- As they took a taxi to the bus terminal, and then a bus to Niagara Falls, who assisted them and how were they able to contact the girls?
- As the girls did not have any money, where did they get the money for the taxi and bus fare?
- Knowing that they were not allowed to go anywhere without a male escort, how did the two girls know to go to the bus station? Who assisted them to break the law?
- The foster home was located on an “out of the way street”. No taxi would venture on that street unless it was to pick-up or drop off a fare. Who arranged for the taxi?
- How did the girls get the money to take a taxi and bus?
- How did a foster family in Montreal know before anyone else that the girls had fled? Why did the foster family in Toronto allegedly contact the foster family in Montreal?
But the most important question of all was: did JF&CS did breach confidentiality? On a personal note, I know of two occasions in the past where the agency had breached confidentiality. If true why were these two foster homes allowed to have contact with each other?
As a representative of the grandmother, I immediately called JF&CS. The supervisor denied any knowledge of the incident nor any responsibility for what occurred even though they placed the girls in the foster home or were responsible for their supervision – a totally disturbing and reprehensible attitude on their part.
There are other issues that have to be considered. Why did Lev Tahor’s lawyer allow, and not counsel the father to refrain from aiding and abetting the escape of the girls from foster care against the court order that they remain in care? According to him, he only found out about the girls once they reached the border. But he should have counselled the father to return the girls to Canada.
The two girls were the last members of the cult to leave Canada. A week before the incident occurred, the Hayon family which were the sole remaining family in Chatham made arrangements to leave and return to Israel with their six children. According to the family, Nachman Helbrans, the son of the devious, deceptive and dangerous cult leader, Shlomo Helbrans paid them a visit and kidnapped two of the children – a girl aged 15 years, and a boy aged 18 years.
Once they returned to Israel, the remaining members of the family were honoured with a party. The following photograph shows the uncle of the two girls that escaped from the foster home with Esther Hayon and two of her children. It’s unfortunate that all 6 children could not be reunited in Israel, together.
This is the kind of criminal behavour which is par for course for Lev Tahor.
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.