A Jewish group presumed to be members of the orthodox Lev Tahor group, who arrived in BiH in December last year has been attracting a lot of public attention for days, however, the non-resident rabbi of the Jewish community in Sarajevo, Eliezer Papo, told N1 on Thursday that they are a small, peaceful and completely irrelevant group of some 40-50 families and around 1,000 members world-wide.
“There is no reason to worry. These people are simply looking [for a place to settle], they probably got the impression that BiH is a bit dead state. They are just looking for a place to settle so that no one interferes in their internal affairs,” Eliezer Papo said adding:
“In all the countries where they had problems, the problems were related to the social services of that country and the internal organization of the community. There are no conflicts between that community and the surrounding population. It is a community that is absolutely not interested in the outside world, they do everything for themselves. States intervene and say that parents have no right to harass children with long prayers, strict requirements for dressing girls and so on.”
He also said they are much more like Muslims than other religious groups.
“And while Jewish ultra-Orthodox women cover their heads, the covering can be done with a wig, a scarf, a hat, these women do it with a cloth, just like women do in Iran. For all other Jews in the world, covering the head is obligatory for married women, but that is not the case here,” said Rabbi Papo, adding that Lev Tahor means a pure heart.
He also stated that it is a very modern group with anti-modernist tendencies. It was founded by Solomon Helbranc, a child of secular parents, and in the mid-1970s, as Rabbi Papo says, he had a change of heart and then became “turbo religious and then super turbo religious.”
“If they are left to themselves, they just exist, if not, they will leave. As they went from Israel to America, from America to Canada, from Canada to Guatemala, I think this group came from Guatemala,” Papo stressed, noting that these people are about staying in any cellars or sadomasochistic scenes.
“They support themselves with aid, voluntary contributions from relatives and larger groups whose members still work. Their leader recently drowned during a ritual bath in Mexico, so they are currently quite ‘beheaded’,” Papo told N1.