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Aching hearts

On Motzaei Shabbos, October 13, ten people piled into two vans and left Guatemala City, heading toward Guatemala’s Santa Rosa Department, four hours away. Among them sat Sara Feige Teller, 29, the sister of new Lev Tahor leader Rabbi Nachman Helbrans and the wife of Rabbi Aron Aryeh Teller, rosh yeshivah of Lev Tahor, the extreme sect that made headlines five years ago when it evaded Child Protection Services in Quebec and Ontario and fled to tropical Guatemala. Mrs. Teller was extremely distraught. She was living a nightmare. “My husband and children must be saved. The rebbe is sick!” she cried, referring to her brother’s newest takanos. “He’s talking about preparing for suicide should the Zionists come inside. The parents might kill all the children!”

Less than 48 hours earlier, on Friday morning, Mrs. Teller had escaped from the Lev Tahor compound in the Santa Rosa Department with her two youngest daughters. She sought refuge in Guatemala City at the “safe house,” a large building located within ten minutes of La Aurora International Airport and administered by Yojeved and Moshe Avrum Santos, former Lev Tahor members who are part of a local community of Guatemalan geirim — a story in itself — who were initially attracted to the group before breaking away. The Santoses had welcomed the exhausted, distressed mother and her children with open arms. Now, she was returning to the compound to rescue her four remaining children from what she said was a life of extreme privation, punishment, and abuse.



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