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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Lev Tahor’

Tensions with Catholics Force Lev Tahor Out of Guatemala Village

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Members of the controversial Haredi sect Lev Tahor left a Guatemalan village after religiously tainted disputes with its Roman Catholic Mayan residents.

Over 200 members of the community began leaving Thursday after local leaders said they would cut services to Lev Tahor members.

The move is one of many recent disruptions for the group, which has been targeted with child abuse allegations in Canada.

Lev Tahor had maintained a small presence in San Juan La Laguna, a village about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, for about six years, but it expanded considerably in March after a contingent arrived complaining of persecution by Canadian authorities.

Tensions appear to have flared after the newcomers arrived, and leaders of the village told news agencies that the group sought to impose its practices on the indigenous peoples.

Miguel Vasquez Cholotio, a member of the elders’ council, told Reuters the sect members refused to greet or have physical contact with anyone outside their community.

“We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs,” he said. Vasquez Cholotio told AFP that the villagers “need to conserve and preserve our culture.”

Uriel Goldman, a spokesman for Lev Tahor, told Reuters that the group had friendly relations with the locals, and was the victim of charges by a minority among the village’s leaders. He said the group would seek another site in Guatemala to settle.

Lev Tahor Cult Quietly Leaves Canada

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

The Haredi Lev Tahor cult is leaving its community from Canada to Guatemala, where other families of the group fled earlier this year.

Approximately six families still are in Chatham, Ontario, where the cult was based after having escaped last year from Quebec, where it faced various criminal charges of child abuse and child custody disputes with welfare officials.

Several children and adults fled Ontario last March, and some of them reached Guatemala while others were returned to Canada by immigration authorities.

Five or six families still remain in Ontario, the London Free Press reported Friday. Most of the 200 cult members who left Quebec are in Guatemala, and a few have moved to the United States and Israel.

“This story is going to end not with a bang, but with a very loud fizzle,” Lev Tahor’ lawyer Guidy Mamann told the newspaper.

“I don’t think anybody is planning on staying.”

Mamann said that there are not enough men remaining to hold a minyan for daily prayers. “The yeshiva more or less closed down. They have only six guys left,” he added.

Extremism in Defense of Tznius

Friday, June 6th, 2014

People often ask me what I consider extreme Charedism. The answer is not really that simple. I’m tempted to use Supreme Court  Justice Potter Stewart’s response to a similar question about pornography:  I know it when I see it.

The reason I find it difficult to define is because extremism is sometimes defined by context. In one environment a certain activity might be considered normal while in another it would be considered extreme.  So when I use the term extremist or extremism, it has to be taken in the context of the post.

But as the retort by Potter Stewart indicates, there are times when extreme behavior is such in any context.

One of the things I constantly advocate here is normalcy. I am a firm believer in leading one’s life in ways that are considered normal by two measures. One is Halacha. And the other is by societal standards. Obviously Halacha comes first. But often Halacha has broad interpretation. And it is sometimes interpreted by societal standards. One Halacha that is a prime example of this is Tznius. Or more precisely modesty in dress.

I believe that modern psychology accepts the notion that there are generally (there are always exceptions) differences in how men and women are sexually aroused. Without getting into long detail, men are aroused by the visual.  Women… not so much. Halacha recognizes this. So men are commanded not to gaze at women for purposes of enjoyment. Women are asked to dress in ways that will not initiate thoughts of arousal in men. That is what the laws of Tznius are based upon. One can see expressions of this not only in Judaism, but in the 3 major faiths. The most extreme example of this is Islam. The more religious sects ask their women to wear face covering Burkas that are basically tents that cover the entire body.

Where does Judaism come in on this? Well that’s where local custom comes in. There are basic laws that require certain parts of the body to be covered up called Erva (nakedness). The rest depends on the culture in which one lives. For practical purposes, then,  Iran or Saudia Arabia might require a Jewish woman that lives there to wear a Burka in accordance with the modesty customs of those countries. In the United States, I think it is safe to say that the modesty standards do not go beyond the minimum standards of Erva.

I should add that there is a requirement for a married woman to cover her hair because  ‘Erva’. But the Erva in the case of hair is a horse of an entirely different color. The reasons for which are beyond the scope of this post. But the accepted Halacha is that the uncovered hair of a married woman is considered Erva. And most if not all of it must be covered.

So how should Jewish women in this country dress in order to fulfill the laws of Tznius? One would think that no matter what faction of Judaism one is from, the customs should be the same. But that is far from the case. If one travels to Williamsburg, one will see one style of dress for Orthodox women. And if one travels to Teaneck, one will see another.  But I think it is safe to say that in the vast majority of cases there is a lot of overlap. Most Orthodox women in America dress by covering just below the neck line, covering their arms at least 3/4s of their length and wear skirts that cover the knees .  And most cover their hair.  Those are the basics. There are of course variations of this theme

Canada Arrests Seven Lev Tahor Sect Members Arrested In Raid

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

A dozen Canadian border security officials raided the compound of the fringe Haredi Orthodox sect Lev Tahor Wednesday and arrested seven members believed to be in violation of immigration laws.

Two families in the Lev Tahor community are at the center of an ongoing child custody case, including one family who fled to Guatemala, the Canadian Press reported.

One Lev Tahor man was seen being driven away in handcuffs. One witness said she saw immigration officials trying to enter a building where Lev Tahor children are believed to be housed. “I can hear the children crying and praying,” the source said.

Last month, 14 children and several Lev Tahor adults fled Canada ahead of an appeal of an Ontario court order mandating that the children be placed in the care of children’s aid in Quebec. Eight of the children made it to Trinidad and Tobago, where they were taken into custody and returned to Canada. Two more children taken into custody in Calgary also were removed from the sect.

The rest are in limbo in Guatemala, their original destination.

This week, a lawyer for one Lev Tahor family removed himself from the case.

About 250 members of the community fled Quebec last fall just before officials could seize some of the children. Child welfare officials said they had evidence of abuse, squalid living conditions, underage marriages and substandard education.

Lev Tahor members maintain they are being persecuted for their strict religious beliefs.

Six Lev Tahor Children May Remain In Guatemala, Judge Rules

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Six children from the Haredi Lev Tahor sect who fled Canada will be allowed to remain in Guatemala with their parents, but with conditions, a Guatemalan family court judge ruled Tuesday.

The Lev Tahor members from two families can stay in the Central American country, but they must check in with the Canadian embassy within three days, the Toronto Star reported. Sect members must return to the town of Solola, where they settled after fleeing Canada earlier this month, with the proper paperwork from the Canadian embassy, the judge said.

A violation of the order will lead to criminal charges, according to the newspaper.

Fourteen children and several Lev Tahor adults fled Canada two weeks ago ahead of an appeal of an Ontario court order mandating that the children be placed in protective custody.

Eight of the children traveled to Trinidad and Tobago, where they were taken into custody and returned to Canada. Two more children were apprehended in Calgary and also removed from the sect.

Child protection officials in Ontario and Quebec say they have evidence of abuse in the community, including physical beatings, underage marriage and substandard education. The community has denied all allegations and claims it is a victim of religious persecution.

A spokesman for Guatemala’s Ministry of Immigration confirmed Monday that the Lev Tahor members are under surveillance by the country’s national police force, the Star reported.

Canadian Judge Orders Law Enforcement to Apprehend Lev Tahor Children

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

A Canadian judge has ordered child protection officials to use law enforcement agencies to apprehend 14 children in the haredi Orthodox sect Lev Tahor after most of them fled the country.

On Wednesday, the judge was supposed to hear an appeal of an earlier ruling to seize the children and return them to Quebec to be placed in foster care. No members of Lev Tahor showed up, and reports surfaced that several sect members had fled to Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago.

The judge ordered child protection officials in Chatham-Kent, Ontario to use the resources of local, provincial and federal police, and the Canada Border Services Agency, to locate the children and return them to Canada to be placed in the temporary care of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services. The order applies to three families.

Police said that 12 of the children under the order have left the country. The location of the other two remains unknown.

Earlier this week, authorities in Trinidad and Tobago stopped nine sect members of the sect — three adults and six children — at the airport as they were en route to Guatemala. They were offered a flight back to Toronto but refused, insisting they go to Guatemala.

According to a report in Trinidad media, the nine are “not detained” and neither are they deemed “fugitives.” They were stopped because of “inconsistencies” in their answers to questions and have hired a local lawyer, the report said. They remain at the airport, having spurned offers of a hotel.

Canadian embassy officials met Thursday with authorities from Trinidad’s security ministry, which handles immigration.

Another six children are already in Guatemala, reported the Montreal Gazette.

In an interview Thursday with the Gazette, Canadian youth protection official Denis Baraby said he’s concerned the remaining members of Lev Tahor are planning another exodus and that the rest of the children have to be seized soon.

“I think the community is preparing a mass move,” Baraby said. “If we want to protect the children that are in the community, we need to start working on the exit of the 114 other children.”

Some 250 members of Lev Tahor fled Quebec in November just ahead of a court order to seize 14 children and place them in foster care. Authorities said they had evidence of physical abuse, neglect, underage marriage and the forced ingestion of drugs.

The Lev Tahor settled in southwest Ontario, where the Quebec order was upheld last month. The affected families were told not to leave Canada pending the appeal. Baraby said the adults who took the children out of the country could be charged with kidnapping.

Canadian Court: Lev Tahor Sect Must Surrender Children

Friday, March 7th, 2014

A Canadian court ordered the fringe haredi Orthodox Lev Tahor sect to turn over as many as 13 of its children to authorities after some of its members appeared to have fled the country.

Police officers and children’s aid workers visited Lev Tahor homes Wednesday night in Chatham-Kent, in southwest Ontario, with the landlord helping them gain access to residences where no one was home, the Toronto Star reported.

Officers told sect members who answered the door that they were there because of a “court order” and that they were looking for children. The officials refused to answer reporters’ questions.

A court official told the Star that a judge had issued an order for the children after Lev Tahor parents failed to show up in court on Wednesday. The parents were scheduled to appeal a decision to have the children returned to adjacent Quebec.

Some 200 members of Lev Tahor left Quebec for Ontario last fall just before authorities could execute an order from a Quebec court to place 14 children in foster care following allegations of physical abuse, neglect, underage marriages and forced medications in the community.

The affected families were forbidden from leaving Canada. But on Wednesday, nine sect members — three adults and six children, according to the Star — were detained in Trinidad and Tobago. The group was en route to Guatemala when immigration officials at Port of Spain’s Piarco International Airport stopped them, the Trinidad Ministry of National Security said in a statement.

The Lev Tahor members were denied entry because they gave inconsistent answers when questioned by immigration officials, the statement said.

It was not immediately confirmed whether the children detained were those named in the Ontario court order.

However, Stephen Doig, executive director of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, told the Globe and Mail newspaper, “We now apparently have those children missing in defiance of that court order. We would certainly have some concerns about the welfare of those children.”

A Lev Tahor spokesman did not comment on whether the two families targeted by the court order had indeed left for Trinidad. Asked whether the 14 children were still in Chatham, he said, “I don’t think so.”

On Wednesday, another Lev Tahor member told the Toronto Sun that the children who left “are on a trip, on a vacation.”

The rest of the sect remains in Ontario.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/canadian-court-lev-tahor-sect-must-surrender-children/2014/03/07/

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