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Dozens of streimels discarded at Lev Tahor cult's Guatemala compound

A journalist from Kikar Hashabbat recently visited Lev Tahor's compound near Oratorio, Guatemala and discovered dozens of valuable streimels and other hasidic clothing strewn on the floor. The clothing were in somewhat poor condition due to exposure to the elements and they appeared to have been used by cult members. Streimels typically cost between $500-$8000.

Judging by items trashed nearby, the streimels were likely left behind when cult members fled Guatemala seeking a new home where they can continue to mentally, physically, and sexually abuse men, women and children under the guise of religious fundamentalism without facing the scrutiny of outsiders.

The strewn streimels indicate a further distancing from mainstream hasidism in terms of how they dress. Initially, they required all women to wear muslim-style chadors. Then after the death of Shlomo Helbrans they gradually changed their clothing from standard hasidic bekishes and streimels to distinct hooded brown coats made from material purchased in India and sewn by Guatemalan women. These garments are now reportedly being worn by both men and boys belonging to the cult.

A member of Lev Tahor told Kikar Hashabbat that the changes in clothing are based on "research" done by Yoil Weingarten as to how Jews "originally dressed." Weingarten did not share any sources or evidence to support his theory.

Cults often take on extreme religious views (particularly related to a distinct look) to distance their followers from mainstream society (in this case similar-looking hasidic Jews) and to be able to use the excuse that anyone critiquing them is out to get them because of their religious views (as opposed to their abusive behavior).



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