Leader of extremist Charedi sect Lev Tahor arrested in Guatemala
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Leader of extremist Charedi sect Lev Tahor arrested in Guatemala

Guatemalan authorities arrested Yaakov Weingarten of Lev Tahor on the first day of Passover

Screenshot from Youtube of the Lev Tahor sect in Guatemala
Screenshot from Youtube of the Lev Tahor sect in Guatemala

A leader of an extremist Charedi Jewish group was arrested Sunday in Guatemala.

Guatemalan authorities arrested Yaakov Weingarten of Lev Tahor on the first day of Passover, the Orthodox news site Yeshiva World News reported. According to the Israeli news site Kikar Hashabbat, Weinstein was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping children.

The late Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans founded Lev Tahor in the 1980s in Jerusalem, with the small group eventually taking root in Canada and then Guatemala. Some have deemed the sect a cult. It’s been referred to as the “Jewish Taliban,” as women and girls older than 3 are required to dress in long black robes covering their entire body, leaving only their faces exposed. The men spend much of the day in prayer and studying only specific Torah portions.

Lev Tahor subscribes to an ultra-strict version of kosher laws. Members do not partake in chicken because they believe that genetic engineering has rendered modern-day chickens nonkosher. Marriages between teenagers and older members are common.

Sect leaders have faced a long list of kidnapping charges over the years. In 2019, four members were indicted for kidnapping two children whose mother had escaped with them, wanting to return the children to Lev Tahor. The group had fled Canada to Guatemala in 2014 after coming under intense scrutiny by Canadian authorities for alleged child abuse and marrying off children.

Guatemalan authorities have been monitoring leaders of Lev Tahor leaders in recent years. Members of the group, which is anti-Zionist, have applied for political asylum in Iran.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments