Jewish Group Forced Out of Guatemalan Village

Ultra orthodox Lev Tahor community faced opposition from villagers

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2014 6:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – An ultra Orthodox Jewish group trying to put down roots in a remote Guatemalan village is on the move again after villagers gave them the boot, reports Reuters. The group of about 230 Lev Tahor Jews began boarding buses yesterday for Guatemala City after village elders threatened to cut off their water and electricity, and maybe worse. “We have a right to be there, but they threatened us with lynching if we don’t leave the village,” a representative tells AFP. Members of the group have been in San Juan la Laguna for six years, but a recent influx of members from Canada appears to have rankled village elders.

One such elder says that the group—which practices what the BBC describes as an "austere form of Judaisim"—was too extreme, and that it was the Mayan villagers who felt threatened. "We felt intimidated by them in the streets," he says. "We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs." The group sprang up in the 1980s and has run into trouble since then in the US and Canada on allegations that it carries out underage marriages, reports the Toronto Star. Leaders say they hope to find a tract of land in Guatemala on which to settle.

File photo of a bus in Guatemala City. The Jewish group Lev Tahor is headed to the capital for now.
File photo of a bus in Guatemala City. The Jewish group Lev Tahor is headed to the capital for now.   (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
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