Inside Lev Tahor: Jewish sect is traditional and radical, but is it illegal?


SLM
#1
Inside Lev Tahor: Jewish sect is traditional and radical, but is it illegal?




CHATHAM, Ont. — Head down, hand on his wide-brimmed hat to hold it in place while his robes flap, a Lev Tahor man steels himself against a stiff winter wind.
The gusts howl down the long laneway at Spurgeon Villa, a collection of modest older duplexes outside Chatham, surrounded by frozen corn fields.
The man ducks into a small office building that’s been converted into a makeshift synagogue and school for boys.
Lev Tahor, a controversial ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, whose name means “pure heart” in Hebrew and is led by the radical Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, is making do here in a remote corner of southwestern Ontario, where it fled from Quebec in November.
On Monday, an Ontario Court judge will decide if local child protection workers can act on a Quebec order to seize 14 Lev Tahor children and put them in temporary foster care.
Quebec authorities believe the kids were physically and psychologically abused at their former settlement north of Montreal in Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., the sect’s home for a dozen years.
Lev Tahor argues this is just another in a series of attacks on their religious freedom, with a secular state holding them to educational standards that go against their teachings and using their children as weapons in a battle to destroy them.
Dubbed the “Jewish Taliban,” the group has been maligned in Israel for its anti-Zionist stance and pegged as a cult.
In Chatham, local child-protection authorities have kept a close watch. Last week, Quebec police officers swooped down on the settlement armed with criminal search warrants for two homes.
After a two-hour search, they left without making an arrest.
An exasperated Mayer Rosner, 37, a director in the community and spokesperson, said the children haven’t been hurt by their parents but “are being abused by the ongoing investigations.”
“Each time they’re coming, we have to take a deep breath,” he said. “They’re looking for problems.”
They deny the laundry list of allegations told to a Quebec court a week after they left, including beatings with sticks, sedating children with drugs, arranged marriages for girls as young as 14, neglect and poor education standards.
Lev Tahor say it’s all persecution, and the wider secular world doesn’t understand them.



Rosner, Lev Tahor’s media point person in Chatham, is anxious to show the progress the group has made in just two months.
School is going well, he said, as he whisks from room to room in the old empty offices to show off boys dutifully reciting their lessons based on religious texts.
Rosner walks back to his small two-bedroom home, forgoing an offer of a ride, explaining he can’t be in a car alone with a woman.
At the house, his wife, Malka, is cooking for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, with their five daughters. All wear long black robes and head scarves.
They have nine kids. Their oldest daughter, 17, was married a year ago and lives with her husband.
The couple say they’re coping after leaving an established settlement in Quebec, 800 km away, but it’s tough.
“We had our own bakery, our own grocery, our own school, our own synagogue, our own houses,” his wife says.
Rosner denies every allegation placed before the Quebec judge, including accusations the group is a cult, that it’s moving to Iran and has a suicide pact should things not go their way.
“It’s not brainwashing,” Rosner says, pointing to one of Helbrans’ massive publications.
“This is the real way. Right now, we are a small seed. But a seed can grow.
“The world today is going down, down, down. He’s just saying he has the solution.”
. . .






Quebec’s education policies, the group says, are the real reason for the unwanted child welfare probe.
Malka said she was upset when a judge was told the teachings were well below standard.
“I was very insulted ... I was working so hard.”
They refuse to compromise on their curriculum. Any instruction about evolution or sex education is refused. In Quebec, the children weren’t taught French.
“Why teach the history of Canada?” she says. “We are Jewish people. We are proud to live in Canada, but we are not proud Canadians.”
Whatever way the court rules Monday, it’s not the end of Lev Tahor’s journey.
Rosner says they’re checking out other properties in Ontario for a permanent settlement. Helbrans is expected to move to Ontario.
Rosner says that while Chatham has been friendly and sympathetic, nerves here are still frayed they are tired of the outside prying.
“We might close our doors (on) them soon,” Rosner says of child welfare authorities. “The feeling we have now is, enough is enough.”





ABOUT LEV TAHOR:
— Ultra-orthodox Jewish sect led by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, 52, who served two years in a U.S. prison for kidnapping a 13-year-old boy he was trying to convert.
— Helbrans’ teachings reject the state of Israel, believing it should never have been established until the coming of the Messiah.
— Followers believe in strict adherence to the Torah: They reject modern life, wear traditional dark clothing, follow a strict diet, marry young and speak Yiddish.
— Homes are undecorated, without most modern conveniences, men are authority figures. Women are concealed in black robes.
— After his U.S. prison term, Helbrans was deported to Israel in 1996. Weeks later, he was in Quebec claiming his life was in danger. He won refugee status in 2003.

WHAT OTHERS SAY:
“Child welfare law applies — whether you are a Jew, a Catholic, a Muslim or a snake charmer ... If you’re (suspected of) violating the basic tenets of child protection, then the state has to step in whatever your religion.”
- Marvin Kurz, general counsel, B’Nai Brith Canada

“My clients say religious intolerance drives the investigation ... they are saying that the actions of the Quebec children’s aid society were motivated by an intolerance to their religious belief.”
- Windsor, Ont., lawyer Chris Knowles, representing Lev Tahor

WE ASKED: Is Lev Tahor’s quick exit from Quebec linked to that province’s drive for a secular state, including its proposed Charter of Values that would ban public workers from wearing religious symbols?

“Certainly, here it’s believed that it’s closely related. On the other hand. it’s one of those cases where it’s brought some people to support the charter,” because of allegations — not proven in court — surrounding the treatment of children. “That’s sort of the way the issue is being seen here -- these are crazy people who use their religion to bully their children.”
- Desmond Morton, historian, McGill University, Montreal

It’s not clear where the truth lies about the child-protection issues versus freedom of religion in this case, but Quebec’s proposed charter is sending a message. “Regular people that feel that religion has a particular role they want it to play in their lives, and that manifests itself in some physical way, are being communicated a particular message which is, ‘We don’t want that here.’”
- Cara Zwibel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association


Inside Lev Tahor: Jewish sect is traditional and radical, but is it illegal? | Ontario | News | Toronto Sun


I keep seeing this cropping up in the news here. I'd never heard of them until now to be honest. It's kind of interesting seeing this play out. Definitely need to determine whether the allegations regarding the children have any merit, if they do it would make them not altogether different from the folks in Bounty. And being a secluded group who eschews modern convenience might make them odd to the rest of us but that alone doesn't make them 'radical' or dangerous. I mean the Amish are a secluded group that eschews modern convenience but I wouldn't consider them a threat.

Definitely interesting to see how this plays out.
 
tay
#2
Authorities in Quebec are expected to meet today to decide what to do about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that left Quebec last week and moved to southern Ontario.

Quebec social services say they're investigating members of the group, known as Lev Tahor, for alleged child neglect.

Some of the families were due to appear before a Quebec judge last week for a hearing to ensure child welfare officials had regular access to their children.

But the group, which totals about 200 people, packed up and moved to Chatham.

The director of youth protection for Quebec's Laurentians region says officials have concerns about the children's health, their hygiene and their home-schooling.

Denis Baraby says the children aren't capable of doing basic math.

New details emerge of alleged child abuse in Jewish sect
 
darkbeaver
#3
They look fat and happy, the progressive twits should leave them alone, don't give them any money just leave them alone.
 

Similar Threads

9
Inside illegal dog-fighting
by Blackleaf | Apr 21st, 2007
no new posts