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Friday, July 04, 2014 

Lev Tahor leading to friction with Guatemalan townsfolk

Much of Lev Tahor's cultists have been fleeing from Canada to Guatemala as they realize they're no longer welcome in the prior country. But if their actions in the next are any suggestion, they're running the gauntlet of hurting the Jewish community's image in central America too, and the worst part is that they likely don't care:
MONTREAL — Following reports of anti-Jewish sentiment in the rural Guatemalan village where members of the ultra-orthodox sect Lev Tahor have settled, Jewish leaders in the Central American country are reaching out to their Canadian counterparts for help.

Just back from a trip to Guatemala, David Ouellette of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ Quebec office said the recent arrival from Canada of more than 100 Lev Tahor members is testing the longstanding good relations between Guatemala’s small Jewish community and its Christian majority.

“I think there is grounds for concern. There is tension in the village,” Mr. Ouellette said in an interview Thursday, referring to San Juan la Laguna, where the Lev Tahor members have settled.

Representatives of Guatemala’s Jewish community, which Mr. Ouellette said numbers just 800 people, contacted the CIJA last month following reports in the local press that the arrival of Lev Tahor families had sparked anti-Semitism. [...]

Mr. Ouellette travelled to San Juan la Laguna, speaking to locals and to the mayor, to get an idea of how los hombres de negro — the men in black, as the locals refer to Lev Tahor — are perceived. People he spoke to repeated the teachings of their priest that “He who curses the people of Israel will be cursed himself.”

But there were also signs that the Lev Tahor customs were a source of irritation. Lev Tahor men turn their back to local women when doing business in town and the group’s women rarely leave their homes. One local mechanic was forced out of his place of business when a Lev Tahor arrival offered the landlord a much higher rent, Mr. Ouellette said.

He said the tension has caught the mainstream Jewish community off guard. “They have really harmonious relations with different religious leaderships, so they’re just not accustomed to being the centre of any negative attention,” he said.

In fact, Mr. Ouellette said it is common to see the Star of David adorning businesses in the country, such as the Jerusalem tortilla shop he passed on his way to San Juan la Laguna. Guatemala has long enjoyed warm relations with Israel, dating back to the 1940s when Guatemala’s ambassador to the United Nations was instrumental in pushing for recognition of the Jewish state.

“This is a country where people tend to have an idealistic perception of the Jewish people, and then the only Jewish people they actually meet are the members of a bizarre cult,” he said.

He advised the country’s Jewish leaders to draw a clear line between their community and Lev Tahor: “I told them it was very important for them, as we did here in Canada, to explain to non-Jews that this is a cult, that these people are not representative of any normative current of Judaism.”
And he's right, a line must be drawn in the sand, and all Jews in Guatemala who don't want the general image tarnished by these creepy cultists should be the first to protest their offensive presence in the country. The cult is taking advantage of terrible laws there that allow for marriage at 14, IIRC, and that too is something that must be raised in discussions on how to deal with the problem.

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