Date: April 04, 2019 05:41PM
Formed in Israel in the late 1980s, the Lev Tahor group sits on the extreme edge of the Jewish tradition; the 200 or so members have a white-knuckled embrace on an uncompromising interpretation of religious doctrine, one that allegedly includes child marriage.
Their strict practices have put them in conflict with authorities in four countries, prompting the members to hop the globe for safe haven. Recent court documents allege children in the group have been the targets of “physical, sexual and emotional abuse." According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the country’s press has dubbed Lev Tahor the “Jewish Taliban.”
The Lev Tahor — which translates as “pure heart” and stems from a passage from Psalms — was created by founder Shlomo Helbrans in the late 1980s in Jerusalem. Born to secular Jews, he eventually embraced a strict interpretation of Orthodox faith that, according to Haaretz, “aspires to attain the utmost purity by shedding the corrupting influences that, [Helbrans] says, pollute mainstream ultra-Orthodox groups, let alone other forms of Judaism."
The strain of religion Helbrans preached covered everything from an extreme take on kosher food (no chicken, no vegetable skins, lettuce only on Passover), prayer (longer and louder than traditional services), and dress (women in the Lev Tahor group are required to wear black robes from head to feet).