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Sister of the father of the "runaway family" speaks: "Wake up"

Orit Cohen, sister of the father who was arrested in Jordan in an exclusive interview to B'Chadrei Charedim • "My brother was caught into the cult "Lev Tahor" • "the haredi public must condemn the cult and leader Shlomo Halbernetz
Yoel Koritz, B'Chadrei Charedim, י"ז סיון תשע"ג 26/05/2013 19:54
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בני המשפחה בגבול. צילום: רש"ת רש"ת



"If social services will not intervene, disaster may ensue" Orit Cohen, sister of the father of the "runaway family" warns during a special interview with B'Chadrei Charedim.

So far, all attempts to alert the social service authorities on the state of the family have not helped, she said,. "They created a false impression as if we are against my brother," she says in an exclusive interview to B'Chadrei Charedim and warns: "The attempt to smuggle the family to Canada will be repeated."

On Thursday morning, Orit heard through the media that the ultra-Orthodox family from Bet Shemesh crossed the border with Jordan, to flee to Canada to join the Lev Tahor cult. She realized immediately that it is her brother, his wife and their six children who are detained. "I was not surprised. We warned that countless times, but no one cared."

Orit and her family for the first time discovered her brother's relationship with the cult Lev Tahor, ON Rosh Hashana two years ago. "We got a call from a Haredi woman," she says, "She told us that my brother is in trouble and joined Lev Tahor. Immediately I looked for information about the cult online and I was appalled. I couldn’t believe it. He is a good and rational person. I tried to deny the reality, that it is a mistake, there is no reason he should stumble into such a cult."

But Cohen quickly realized their misfortune: "We couldn't talk to them, they were hysterical. He heard that Shlomo Halbernetz called them and told them that Israel will be destroyed and they have to run, and they actually thought that's what needs to be done."

Cohen discovered that her brother plans to fly two of his daughters to Canada. "I realized that we had a few hours to operate and if I do not do anything, the children will live at great risk."

The next day she hurried along with some members of her family, to the court. The Judge approved exit delay for the family. The two girls were already on the plane to Canada, but the orders were issued, the Foreign Ministry intervened and turned the Interpol to restore the two girls. Immediately after landing in Canada they were returned to Israel.

"We did not know how the story will continue to roll," she said two years later. "Throughout this period I spoke with people in the U.S. and Israel - with those who left the cult and those who planned to go to it, and I realized that this group is delusional one that abuses children, marries them off at 14 and expels them by mood, a cult which rules families physically, mentally and intellectually."

Also attempts to talk to her brother's heart did not help. "He would not talk to us. They told him at Lev Tahor that we are the devil."

Denounce the cult leader

"We turned to the social services; we told them that something is improper. We set them the full picture and explained to them that this is a normative family who fell to the cult network. I explained that my brother is a good person, but was tempted by a delusional leader and we need to act and to give them special treatment."

But she claims the authorities have only caused her brother and his family to think that she and others are working against him. "The social services do not understand the meaning of such a cult."

• What have the children gone through during this period?

"We do not know," she says. "My brother is a good man who got caught in something bad that everyone can stumble upon it. Individuals need to be careful. Just like there is awareness to drugs and alcohol we should be aware of cults. Haredi community should stand up and denounce Halbernetz at any price. Many more may fall within this network."

Cohen uses the interview and asks to alert again, "This family may in a month to try to escape again. We must take care of it. He fell as a victim; his children are at risk and we need to save him and them."

Tomorrow the father will be brought for a remand hearing in Eilat Magistrate's Court, where he will be indicted. On Friday the mother was released to full house arrest, and apparently her children will return to her authority. Decisions are subject to the supervision of the welfare authorities.

Beit Shemesh municipality said in response: "social services of the Beit Shemesh Municipality are treating the family in recent years with great dedication and most professional manner. Because of the right to privacy we are unable to expand and elaborate, but this is a very complicated case which is treated thoroughly and at the highest level.

"Every move in the matter was made after discussions and consultations with national welfare office and in accordance with the decisions of the court in Rishon Letzion on the topic, whilst listening to the claims of the lawyer representing the family and the lawyer representing the relatives."




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  1. Here we go again!!!!!  

    Levi Yitzchock USA

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