Sholomo Helbrans, Leader of Lev Tahor Sect, Drowns

According to multiple media reports, Shlomo Helbrans, the leader of the Lev Tahor sect, drowned on Friday in Mexico while toiveling in a river before Shabbos. He was 55 years old.

According to local media reports, Helbrans’ body was pulled from the river by rescue forces on Friday afternoon after he was swept away by strong currents.

Lev Tahor, the ultra-religious sect he led, has been dogged by controversy for decades.

Originally founded in Israel by Helbrans in the 1980s, the group moved to the United States in the early ’90s after complaining of persecution by the Israeli government due to his anti-Zionist views. The group settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

While living in Brooklyn, Helbrans was convicted and served time in prison for “kidnapping” a boy – the boy had been sent to study with him in preparation for his Bar Mitzva, but the boy was personally convinced to reject his family and join Lev Tahor. Helbrans was released after serving two years. He then ran a yeshiva in Monsey, New Yorkand was eventually deported back to Israel.

Soon afterwards he moved to Canada, which allowed him political asylum based on a refugee claim he had made, under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, that he would be persecuted or killed by Israeli authorities for his anti-Zionist teachings and his teachings about the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

The group settled in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, but in 2013 the group left Quebec for Chatham-Kent, in southwestern Ontario after Quebec Child Protective Services tried to seize all of the group’s children due to alleged lack of proper hygiene and state-mandated secular education.

In 2014, after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice effectuated a ruling of the Superior Court of Quebec as to the disposition of their children under Quebec child-protection law, the group fled to Guatemala, where they lived for the past three years, until fleeing once again to Mexico fearing persecution from Guatemalan authorities.


  • Horrible person

    Usually in death we praise. This man was a horrible person. Vashem has his strange ways of dealing with terrorists like helbrandt. Let’s not forget his brainwashing and kid napping techniques.

  • hm

    Honestly, I can’t say I’m sad about this. This man led a cult and brainwashed who knows exactly how many people.
    And doesn’t the Gemara state that not teaching your children how to swin is akin to teaching them how to steal?

  • BD"E

    He was a Yid after all, albeit a very confused person.
    I hope his “followers” will return to normalcy and live like orthodox Jews who follow Shulchan Aruch, and not “culties” with all his warped ideas.

  • Wow

    I don’t wish harm to any Jew. This is very sad, but this cult he ran is abusive and immoral. Hopefully, good will come out of the accident in that the cult will disband, but I would imagine the devotees will need some intensive therapy to help them get over all the trauma they have experienced… culminating with Helbrans’ death.

  • Sad

    It is sad that this happened to a fellow Jew. It is unfortunate that he lead the life he did.
    Moshiach now.

  • גמ' מפורשת

    מיום שחרב בית המקדש אף על פי שבטלו סנהדרין […] דין ארבע מיתות לא בטלו […] ומי שנתחייב חנק או טובע בנהר או מת
    כתובות ל ע”א

  • Tzvi Binyamin

    I feel very sorry that he was niftar, but I don’t in anyway shape or form agree with this man’s crazy moronic cult that he built, u wana be extra frum & all that, great for u, but don’t push your views on others, making the ladies dress like Arabs with the burka, come on man, get real, even in Satmar both in Wb (Williamsburg) & KY (Kiryat Yoel, Monroe) no 1 & I mean No 1 does this, there were other crazy & I mean crazy Moronic things that these Moron Kooks did, it’s been all other the news, I hope BE”H the Mexican Gov breaks it up & stops them immediately, so that they children & young adults could have a normal life, hey, u wana be Super Frum, move to Wb, Bp ( Boro Park) Monroe, Monsey or Skver, but this is beyond the most ultra ultra Frum !! This is Insanity, Moronicness, & great Stupidity, I feel very very bad & sorry for anyone in this “Cult” get out now & save your life !! But yes, I’m very sad to hear that this yid has passed away, please if you are gonna go to the Mikvah @ the ocean or a river, be very very careful, ty

  • Not a Chabadnik

    It was not a sect. It was a cult. There were dozens of families hurt by this man – including several that were from Chabad.
    Hashem has his cheshbonos.

  • To #3 & #8

    We are No one to Judge why this man passed away, yes u brought a Gemara but even with the Gemara that says that the 4 Misos still exist, we are nobody to say why this man died, it’s like those Gedolim who give reasons why the Holocaust happened, there is nobody & I mean nobody who is allowed to say or give reasons why the Holocaust happened, we never ever heard reasons from the Rebbe, we are “No 1 to Judge” the same thing is with this man, yes he did Terrible, Horrible things to these children & young adults but that doesn’t give us a right to say that he deserved to die, that is so wrong, again I’m not sticking up for the things he did or saying that it’s ok, definitely it was wrong, horrible nasty, disgusting, sick, terrible, abusive etc, yes he did these things, he needed to do Tshuva, that’s what he needed to do, but don’t say that he got what he deserved, we are not the Rebono Shel Olam, again not sticking up for him & his causes & Moronicness, but still we are nobody to say wy he should or shouldn’t have died, ty

  • Maybe not Judaism, but..

    Are we making a double standard here? What’s the big deal about his views and lifestyle, plus his followers? Muslim women also dress that way, and nobody takes them to task over it. You think they don’t beat their kids?

  • To #12

    You wrote “What’s the big deal about his views and lifestyle” hey dude why don’t u go on the frum websites & check out the crazy moronicess about this lunatic, then come back on this website & make your comments, here is the link it shows u all of his conditions & ways of controlling ppls minds & everything else, 1 of the conditions is that u have to subjugate your whole self being to whatever he says & wants, there is more, if you understand Hebrew you’ll understand everything it says over there, here is the link copy & paste it, now after you read the whole thing come back & say” What’s the big deal about his views and lifestyle” Im sure that once u read it, you will retract your comments you made, this man was a Serious Control Freak, Maniac, Waco, Moron, Lunatic, that’s what he is, & you say ”what’s wrong with his views & lifestyle” Dude, everything is wrong & majorly messed up with his lifestyle. Go check it out

  • To 13

    Yes, he was a ego/megalomaniac, meshugana, and not the Jewish way! But, then, you have religious persuations in this country who demand the same of their adherents (Tahor==Mohammed). So, if you want governments (which they did) to go after Tahor, they should do the same to other faiths of the like.

  • Sad

    I find it very hard to believe this man toiveled his own pots and dishes, stooping over by a river no less. I’m sure he had all sorts of errand-doers. He set this up?

  • yyx3

    I hope there are no more reasons for people to get whats “coming to them”, but its time that evil and sick people get straightened out or whatever.