Four men from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect have been charged in the kidnapping of two children in early December.
On December 8th, Yante Teller, 14-years-old, and Chaim Teller, her 12-year-old brother, were taken from their home in Woodbridge Village in the state of New York.
The four men who took the siblings range in age from 20 to 45-years-old. The four men were working with others to bring the children to the Lev Tahor community in Guatemala. The children's mother had fled the community six weeks earlier.
Lev Tahor is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect founded in Israel around 1988 by Shlomo Helbrans. The group only has about 200 members worldwide. The group has had to move around quite a bit due to controversy over their practices, notably, frequent charges of kidnapping, sexual abuse, and child abuse. Currently their main communities are in Guatemala and Mexico.
Adherents of this sect practice a very strict form of Judaism. They eschew modern technology (except when using jets to move kidnapped children, apparently). Women in the sect are forced to wear head-to-toe black robes. The group also adheres to strict dietary laws.
On Friday, the children were found in Mexico. After being abducted from their home, they were taken to a small airport near Scranton, PA, and then flown to Mexico, where they were taken to a town called Tenango del Aire.
One of the men arrested is Nachman Helbrans, the son of Shlomo Helbrans, the sect's founder. Nachman leads the group now that his father drowned in Mexico in 2017 during a ritual.
Nachman Helbrans, is reported to be even more radical and aggressive than his father, according to reports.
Nachman and two of the other suspects, Mayer and Jacob Rosner, were deported from Mexico and arrested when they arrived in the United States.
The fourth man charged, Aron Rosner, is a Brooklyn resident, and has been arrested for providing funding to the group.
I hope these two children will be safe now. Given this cult's reputation, it is possible that the children have been pretty brainwashed by this small sect. They may need quite some time in order to be able to fully integrate into a less fundamentalist community.