Guatemalan police raided Lev Tahor’s homes and removed children Israeli media reported citing unconfirmed Guatemalan reports. The raids were conducted by the Public Ministry and personnel from the Attorney General Office’s following allegations of child abuse in the ultra-orthodox cult, reported The Jerusalem Post.
For Lev Tahor, which translates to ‘Pure Heart’, this is not the first raid. Previously they were forced to abandon Israel, the U.S. and Canada after authorities began investigating their contentious practices. In 2014 they fled Canada and moved to Guatemala after social services moved in to seize children following allegations of abuse and child marriage, Canadian media reports.
That same year, about 230 Lev Tahor members were voted against and driven out of San Juan La Laguna, a small town in Guatemala, following religious disagreements between the Roman Catholic Mayans in the city, Arutz Sheva reported.
A fear years ago Mishpacha Magazine published a lengthy article exposing the Jewish cult, and describing their child abusing tendencies, such as medicating children. In response, another orthodox paper, Ami Magazine, defended Lev Tahor calling it, “The unjust persecution of a group of pious Jews, and the unsettling silence of the Jewish community,” Yeshiva World Network called this feud “Cults and the War of the Jewish Magazines.”
The anti-Zionist group, created by Israeli citizen Shlomo Helbrans in the 1980s, moved to Williamsburg in the early 1990s from Israel. Helbrans himself was convicted of kidnapping Shai Fhima Reuven, a 13-year-old boy whom he was helping study for his bar mitzvah, and served two years in U.S. prison. Upon his release, he opened a school in Monsey, NY, however upon speculation and growing scandal concerning Helbran’s short prison sentence, he was deported back to Israel in 2000 by authorities. He later moved his community to Canada according to The Yeshiva World. Until they fled to Guatemala two years ago.