What is the Lev Tahor sect that is making waves in Mexico?

This ultra-orthodox Jewish group, as well as what it is and where its headquarters are located in Mexico, came to widespread public attention after the Lev Tahor event in Chiapas.

What is the Lev Tahor sect that is making waves in Mexico?
The Mexican public has taken an interest in the Lev Tahor cult. Photo by shraga kopstein / Unsplash

According to the INEGI, approximately 98% of the people in the census are Catholic; however, there are other religions such as Christianity and Judaism, and within these, there are sects, such as Lev Tahor, which attracted attention due to an accusation of abuse against minors in Chiapas, but what is this group and in which states of the country or countries is it based?

Judaism, according to INEGI, is a religious culture of the Jewish descendants of biblical Israelites; its foundation is the belief in God the Father, the Divine Law or Torah, and the immortality of the soul. It is a cultural framework that embraces all aspects of individual and communal existence.

This religion has been reinvented over time, and there are now three forms: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism, of which the Lev Tahor sect is a part. Lev Tahor is classified as an ultra-orthodox sect, which means that it adheres to this form of Judaism extremely.

What exactly is Lev Tahor, and where does it do business?

According to analysts, the Lev Tahor sect originated in Jerusalem, and the Israeli tabloid press dubbed them the "Taliban of Judaism" due to their resemblance to this religious group that requires women to wear black from head to toe.

"Lev Tahor is a pious, perhaps too devout, Jewish community. The Taliban have been connected with using tremendous violence and destruction to impose their ideals on the people under their authority "Elon Gilad, an expert, and writer for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz stated in 2014.

There is currently no information on how it moved from Israel to Latin America, where it primarily settled in Mexico and Guatemala in 2017 and 2014, respectively. Although its path on the continent is concentrated in the 1990s in the United States and Canada.

The sect garnered notoriety for the case of juveniles in Chiapas, but in 2019, it sparked controversy when a group allegedly kidnapped minors in New York and rescued them in Tenango del Aire, Mexico.

The accusations leveled against the group include allegations of child abuse ranging from forced marriages to incest.

In October 2021, Guatemala approved the extradition of one of the Lev Tahor sect's leaders, Yakov Weingarten, to the United States, where he faces charges of crimes against children.

Yakov, the leader of Lev Tahor, has assured the public that the investigations and charges against his sect are the same persecution that Jews have faced for hundreds of years because his group is lawful.

Menachen 'E.A.' and Moshe 'J. R.' of the Lev Tahor cult were detained in Chiapas for crimes against kids, while 17 other members were transported to the DIF and later escaped.