|Tanakh and heart - photo by J. Stahl|
If you are unfamiliar with Lev Tahor, you may want to start with part 1, part 2 and part 3; where I previously blogged about the community and their ongoing hearings in Canadian courts.
For now it seems that the Lev Tahor taken a page out of the Twelve Tribes' book and two of their girls are missing from foster care and have been seen in Brooklyn, New York in the care of their father. There are questions as to custody, and due to the girls only speaking Yiddish, they must have been assisted in leaving the country, arranging transportation and arriving in their father's care.
Those in Lev Tahor who suddenly left Canada seeking refuge in Guatamala, are now being driven from their homes. No news as of yet if they've found another home or where they will be going from here.
Please know that the news articles are not being shared to gloat or somehow goad on the members of the sect, but to collect the news together where everyone can see what is happening. Feel free to add any additional news articles in the comments if I missed something.
Here are the latest updates:
“Most of the town wants them to leave,” said Vice Mayor Domingo Gusman Ujpan as he rattled off a list of problems the group has brought to the overwhelmingly Mayan — and Christian — town. He said that Lev Tahor women scold their local counterparts for not having more children, as they say God commands, and that members do not contribute to the local economy because they do not work. He also alleged that group members often fail to pay taxi drivers and landlords.
“We have a constitutional right to protect our village and culture,” Ujpan said. “If they’re going to violate it, the people of the town have to make some decisions.”
August 29th - Al Jazeera: Guatemala villagers try to force out ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect
The Lev Tahor community packed its bags on Friday in San Juan la Laguna around 150km west of Guatemala City, to board buses bound for the capital after weeks of friction with sections of the local population.
The town's Elders Council voted last week to force the group to leave because they say some members of the sect have mistreated indigenous residents and tourists in the area, the AP news agency reported. Verbal abuse, threats to cut off power and eject them by force were, say the Jews, the last straw for the group who began arriving in March from Canada, where the Lev Tahor group's strict religious ways had clashed with authorities.
August 30 - Al Jazeera Jews expelled from Guatemala village
Lev Tahor had maintained a small presence in San Juan La Laguna, a village about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, for about six years, but it expanded considerably in March after a contingent arrived complaining of persecution by Canadian authorities.
Tensions appear to have flared after the newcomers arrived, and leaders of the village told news agencies that the group sought to impose its practices on the indigenous peoples.
September 4 - Intermountain Jewish News - Lev Tahor not welcome in Guatemalan village
...“We will remain in Guatemala because the seed is fertile and it has to germinate,” Rabbi Uriel Goldman said in the lobby of the building he now calls home..
...Speaking with a calm voice, Goldman said he and his people have no hard feelings toward the council of indigenous elders and municipal officials who expelled them from the village. But they do not want to go back.
September 7 - The Times of Israel - Extremist Jewish sect seeks new home in Guatemala
Lev Tahor’s alleged behavioral norms are an affront to the rule of law and human rights. Although the cult was apparently expelled from the village in Guatemala due to anti-Semitism, its members fled both the Canadian and the Israeli authorities to evade prosecution.
And yet for all of its alleged moral depravity and criminal behavior, that fact is that Lev Tahor’s treatment of its girls is certainly no worse, and in many respects better, than the treatment that Islamic societies mete out on their girls and women. And the sad truth is that for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women and girls in the West, their residency in human rights-protecting societies has failed to protect them.
Breaking Israel News - The Dilemma of the Jewish Leftist
...Adam Brudzewsky... fled in 2012 with the help of a local Orthodox rabbi, along with his pregnant wife, after he questioned edicts of the group’s leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, who reportedly runs Lev Tahor with iron discipline.
...Documents say Brudzewsky told police he was instructed to hit children to enforce discipline... forced to fabricate false documents for the Ministry of Education... [and] that during the prayers at the synagogue in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, people were locked in the building ... the doors were locked with a key so that no one was able to leave,” police wrote in the documents.
September 10 - The Star - Lev Tahor: Court documents reveal a glimpse inside the troubled Jewish sect
According to the Sûreté’s affidavit in support of the search warrant request, the police suspected that Lev Tahor members falsified documents, including passports, birth certificates and marriage licenses.
The documents were released following a media request. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
September 15 - The Canadian Jewish News - Lawyer rejects latest Lev Tahor allegations
Rabbi Uriel Goldman, one of Lev Tahor's leaders, insisted that his group, so strict that it refuses to recognise Israel - which it declares has no spiritual validity - had been on friendly terms with most locals in San Juan La Laguna. But one of the village elders, Miguel Vázquez Cholotio, said: "We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs."
For their part, Jewish community members claimed they had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
September 18 - The Jewish Chronicle Online - Expelled Guatemala group is 'extremist sect'
...Seven children were apprehended and placed in care, while six others are believed to be in Guatemala.
An Ontario judge later ruled that 13 children who are part of the group do not have to be sent back to Quebec, saying they shouldn’t bear the consequences of their parents’ legal fight....
September 19 - The Star - Two girls from Lev Tahor sect have left foster care in Ontario
...Child welfare authorities in New York did not object to the two girls living with their father...
A publication ban prevents identification of the 14 children and their family members.
September 23 - CJAD 800AM News-Talk-Radio: Lev Tahor teens disappear from foster homes, flee to US
George Berger — an advocate for the family of the girls in Israel — said he visited them in their foster family back in April. Berger, a Toronto resident, accompanied their grandmother when she visited them on her trip to Toronto from Israel. The family in Israel had wanted to adopt the girls and their six siblings.
Berger said there was a security guard stationed outside the house in North York 24 hours a day, and whenever the girls left the house, they did so with an escort.
September 24 - The Gazette - Two girls from Lev Tahor manage to flee country
The teenage girl members of Lev Tahor who fled their foster home in Toronto earlier this month could not have managed the stunt on their own, says an advocate for their family in Israel. On Monday, The Gazette reported that the girls — age 15 and 17 — left their foster home on Sept. 12 and fled across the border to New York state. They were reunited with their father and have been staying in Borough Park, in Brooklyn, N.Y., at last report. They had been living in foster care since March after they were apprehended in Trinidad and Tobago, fleeing Canada on their way to Guatemala. ... The sect’s lawyer, Guidy Mamann, said the father returned to Canada to reclaim them, but he was not granted custody.
September 24 - The Gazette - Gazette Midday: Quebec settles with docs but holds hard on Bill 3
September 24 - The Gazette - Lev Tahor girls who fled Canada were helped, family advocate says
Just days before members of the radical Jewish group Lev Tahor fled Quebec for Ontario, child protection authorities received a list containing the names of underaged girls in the community said to have given birth to children fathered by much older men.
It was the second time in the same week that officials responsible for child welfare in Quebec had heard detailed allegations of underaged marriages and possible sexual misconduct...
September 26 - The Star - Police learned of underage marriage, sex abuse allegations before Lev Tahor fled
Documents from a Sûreté du Québec investigation into the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor contain an allegation that a 14-year-old married girl was “bought.”
Parts of the affidavit ... dated Nov. 18, 2013 are redacted. And that includes the portion of text immediately following the allegation about the married girl. It says she had been “bought by a” and the rest of the sentence is blacked out. The identity of who married the girl also isn’t revealed.
The police documents also allege kidnapping of children under the age of 14 from the Lev Tahor community, human trafficking and use of a computer to produce false documents...
September 27 - The Gazette - Court documents suggest 14-year-old bride was “bought”