Lev Tahor, an anti-Zionist hareidi cult based in Canada, is once again in the news. Last November, the group picked up and fled Quebec for Ontario to escape an investigation of child abuse and insufficient education. Some members of the cult have now tried to flee further -- to Guatemala.
Several members of the cult flew from Toronto to Trinidad and Tabago, where they were to continue on their path to Guatemala. Their escape didn't quite go as planned; currently they are being held at the airport by immigration authorities who would like to send them back to Toronto, according to Shalom Toronto.
The escape attempt occurred on the very day that several families of the cult were to appear at an Ontario court ruling placing 13 children under foster care, thereby upholding a Quebec court decision. The ruling followed reports pointing to rampant child abuse, underage marriage (at 14) and a lack of adequate medical care in the cult.
According to the reports of cult-like behavior, group leaders imprisoned children in basements when they misbehaved, and physically and psychologically abused them. Additionally, children allegedly were sexually abused and forced to take psychotropic drugs.
In December it was revealed that the cult had received millions of dollars to its charity organizations. One such organization, Congregation Riminov, held $5.6 million in assets in 2006 according to records.
Another organization of the cult, called the Society for Spiritual Development, was registered in 2004. In 2011 it suddenly received a $4.3 million donation from another unnamed society. In 2012 the society transferred $3.3 million to another Jewish charitable society in Quebec, the Canadian Friends of Holy Land Institutions.
According to a former member of the group, each of the cult's senior figures has "one or more facade congregations which they…collect for, thus avoiding negative association with Lev Tahor."