An insular community of perhaps 250 people that was founded in Israel before moving to New York, then to Canada, Lev Tahor faces scrutiny as some of its members are under investigation by Canadian child welfare officials. The local affair has become an international incident after several families tried to flee with their children to Guatemala. One family of eight plus one adult are, for the moment at least, living in the vibrant Guatemalan tourist town of Panajachel, where they draw curious stares with their traditional garb. Other families were intercepted trying to leave Canada.Traditional? I'm not sure that sums it up well. Backwards is more like it if we consider the niqab-style outfits they force the women to wear.
Lev Tahor, which is anti-Zionist (its members believe that the Torah instructs Jews to remain in exile until the coming of the Messiah), dismisses the current drama as the latest form of persecution they say has bedeviled the sect since it was formed in the 1980s.Well at least the magazine is honest about their hostility to Israel's existence, stemming from a false claim about the Torah, without even providing any verses to back it up.
Uriel Goldman, a spokesperson for Lev Tahor, says Canadian authorities are bent on destroying the religious sect. “They hate the community,” he says, adding that Canada is buckling under political pressure from Israel to quash the group because of its anti-Zionist position.There that disgusting man goes again, sobbing about hate, hate, hate, never willing to admit that's just what Lev Tahor is dumping on the children in their clutches.
They say they are puzzled by the scrutiny and deny the abuse allegations. “The maximum thing they found was a child with a bruise,” says Goldman. He says the group has acquiesced to Canada’s requirements for teaching mathematics and English to the children. However, he grew agitated when describing pressure to add evolution and sex education to their curriculum.They found girls infected with fungus, is what, and that barbarian has the gall to deny it? Sick.
Lev Tahor is far from the mainstream of Judaism, says Menachem Friedman, a Jewish historian at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.Newsweek's description of the niqab-style dresses fails to acknowledge that, while a lot of Haredi clans insist on "modest" dress, niqabs and abayas are not common among Haredis. But then, I guess it figures they'd insult even Haredis with more decency than Lev Tahor will ever have.
In appearance, the group’s members are not dissimilar to other ultra-Orthodox Jews, according to Friedman: men dress entirely in black, their payot streaming from hats down below their shoulders, and spend much of the day immersed in prayer and learning the Torah. Women cover their bodies in shapeless, long black dresses. They often marry during their early teenage years, have many children and then tend exclusively to their families and household chores. The two genders rarely interact outside the family.
“It is very much outside the consensus,” Friedman says. “There are almost no other extreme religious groups that tolerate such behavior. It’s very isolated.”
A court there ruled on March 17 that the family entered the country legally on tourist visas and is allowed to stay for three months with the possibility of one extension for the same duration. Guatemalan authorities say they expect to hear from the Canadian embassy or to receive an international arrest warrant.This is not encouraging. Justice delayed is justice denied, and if Guatemala continues to let them remain - and flee later - they'll only be prolonging the suffering of the children, both physically and mentally.
Even if the international appeals come in, the case would have to be reviewed by Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office. “Until that abuse is proven in Guatemala, Canada cannot proceed to take them back,” says Ana Ines Carpio, spokeswoman at the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.