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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Quebec’

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.

Police Allege Lev Tahor Abuse, Confinement, Forced Marriages (Video)

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Recently released police documents the ongoing investigation into the Haredi group Lev Tahor include allegations of sexual abuse, detention, and beatings with crowbars, belts, whips and a coat hanger, according to the Toronto Star.

None of the material evidence reported in this report has been reviewed in court, as part of an indictment. So far, the discussion over the fate of the group has been conducted largely between the courts and child welfare agencies.

The redacted police documents outline information used to obtain search warrants executed in January on properties belonging to Lev Tahor families in both Ontario and Quebec. They chronicle allegations describing a community whose women and children live in a tightly controlled environment with strictly enforced rules and punishment.

The documents include interviews with members of the community, social workers and unnamed witnesses dating back to 2012. The names of any children mentioned are protected by a publication ban.

Nachman Helbrans, the son of sect leader Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, told the Star in a phone interview the allegations are untrue and the result of a campaign being waged against them by former members.

“Nothing is done by force in our community. Nothing, nothing,” Helbrans insisted. “If this is serious allegations, how come in April 2012 they didn’t come one time to my house?”

“It’s against all the way of life in Lev Tahor to use force for any small or big issue. No one dreams about using force,” he said.

According to Digital Journal, a man named Adam Brudzewsky who spent two years living among the Lev Tahor group in Quebec, is the source of testimony linking them to the alleged crimes.

Brudzewsky, in his late 20s, Danish-born, has been described as someone trying to expose the Lev Tahor for their abuse of children who may also be a liar and mentally unstable.

Back in November, Brudzewsky told a Quebec court a disturbing tale of the two years he spent living with Lev Tahor, including his arranged marriage to a 15-year-old girl, the forced removals of children from their parents and a cult of personality surrounding the group’s spiritual leader.

The testimony added weight to the findings of child-protection workers who had been conducting a three-month probe of Lev Tahor.

That probe was cut short after some 200 Members of Lev Tahor fled Quebec to Toronto in November, reports indicate, where the Chatham-Kent child protective services have been keeping watch on the group. A judge had ordered 14 of the children to be placed in foster care in Quebec for at least a month.

Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, who was convicted of kidnapping a young boy in 1994 in a U.S. court and served a two-year prison term before being deported to Israel, expressed rage at the authorities in Quebec, according to the Toronto Sun. Helbrans accused judges, political leaders, police and child protective services in Quebec of being bigots and antisemites, comparing them to Nazi war criminals. Here’s a video published last Friday, February 14, showing Helbrans before his own final departure From Quebec. Warning – the video and sound qualities are inconsistent.



In this video, shot in November 2013, Yoel Weingarten, a member of Lev Tahor, defended his community, accusing Israeli non-religious family members of being behind the persecution of his community. Weingarten also responds to allegation of neglect, and poor hygiene.



According to JTA, police search warrants paint an alarming picture of life in the close-knit, reclusive community. One man was quoted as saying he was diagnosed with a personality disorder and forced to take medications. Another member told police about beatings with sticks, crowbars, whips and belts. “He was forced to take pills during meal times three times a day,” the warrants state.

A witness (most likely Brudzewsky) said he saw a woman struck in the face because she refused to wear the burqa-like outfit for women that has led some media to deride the group as the Jewish Taliban.

Girls who were 13 or 14 were disciplined by being held in house basements while girls who were 14 and 15 were married to adult men, the police documents said. Children were also taken from their biological parents if the sect’s leader deemed they were not taught properly, the document added.

“There are about 20-30 children who have changed families. [A person who spoke to authorities] said that some children adapt well and return to their families but that others are upset, cry a lot,” the warrants state.

Children from Haredi Sect Must Return To Quebec, Judge Rules

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

An Ontario judge ruled Monday that children from a fringe Haredi sect whose members fled Quebec while the community was being investigated by social services should be returned to the province.

The court upheld a Quebec order to place 13 children from the Lev Tahor sect into temporary foster care, The Canadian Press reported, but the judge placed a 30-day stay on the order to give the families time to appeal.

The children, who live outside Chatham, Ontario, about two hours southwest of Toronto, were ordered into temporary foster care by a Quebec court in November.

Authorities in Quebec, where sect members had lived north of Montreal for several years, said they had evidence of neglect, psychological abuse, poor dental and physical health, and a substandard education regime in the community.

The 13 children belong to three families. A publication ban prohibits identifying them, and the community denies all allegations and has said it is the victim of a Zionist smear effort.

Last week, Quebec police, with the assistance of local officers, raided two homes in the Lev Tahor community in Ontario. Rabbi Nachman Helbrans, son of sect founder Shlomo Helbrans, said the search may have been an attempt to find evidence of illegal child marriages.

A former sect member testified in Quebec that he had personally witnessed seven underage marriages.

Quebec to Tighten Regulations on kosher, Halal Meat Production

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Quebec’s agricultural minister is looking to tighten regulations for kosher and halal meat production.

“We want the slaughter to happen in the most complete conditions of hygiene and cleanliness,” Quebec Minister of Agriculture François Gendron said, in comments reported by Montreal radio station CJAD last week.

The minister said he would announce a plan for new regulations sometime this fall. A spokeswoman for the minister confirmed to CJAD that he still intended to release a plan, though she could not specify when.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, oversees animal slaughter regulations nationally, so Quebec could only regulate meat that is produced within the province and not exported.

Dovid Russ, COO of major Canadian kosher meat operation Mehadrin, told the Jewish news website Bill613.com that new regulations would be unnecessary.

“The CFIA has one of the highest standards of food processing,” Russ said. “Quebec is trying to get more involved for absolutely no reason whatsoever.”

Quebec’s Halal Meat Association told CJAD they supported the new regulations because it could improve the public image of ritual slaughter, but said it found changes unnecessary.

“I think this misunderstanding is related to Islamophobia,” spokesman Mohamed Ghalem told CJAD.

The ruling party in Quebec, Parti Quebecois, drew flack from Jewish groups when it criticized ritual slaughter last year. In a party statement in spring of 2012, the Parti Quebecois said the slaughter of animals for halal meat production “slams directly against Quebecois values.”

“If you read between the lines there is really ethnic bashing, which in my opinion is odious, unacceptable and reeks of intolerance,” Lawrence Bergman, a Jewish legislator from the Liberal Party, told JTA at the time.

Leaked Quebec Plan would Ban Kippot on Public Workers

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

A plan by Quebec’s government to ban “religious symbols,” including the kippa, among public sector workers has elicited worry from religious minorities in the Canadian province.

The bill would seek to ban public employees from wearing large Christian crosses or religious headwear such as that worn by Sikhs, Muslims and Jews while at work.

Richard Marceau, a former politician who now advises the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, wrote responded to the plan in a critical article in the Huffington Post, where he wrote, “How could one believe that a kippah-wearing Jewish librarian is… trying to impose his religion on society?”

The details of the proposed law were leaked to Journal de Montrèal last week, but the Parti Quebecois, which heads the provincial government, has refused to confirm them or answer questions related to the issue.

Montreal’s First Jewish Mayor Arrested in Corruption Crackdown

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Montreal’s first Jewish mayor and a Jewish former alderman were arrested as part of a crackdown on corruption.

Michael Applebaum, who was appointed mayor last November, was taken into custody Monday morning by agents of the anti-corruption unit, l’unite permanente anticorruption (UPAC). Also arrested was Saulie Zajdel, an Orthodox Jewish former city council member who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Canada’s last federal election.

Charges are expected to be announced later Monday.

Zajdel was a Montreal city councilor from 1986 to 2009. He also served as a director of the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation for more than four years.

Zajdel listed his current job as a municipal affairs consultant and real estate broker, according to his LinkedIn page.

Applebaum, 50, won a city council vote in November to serve as interim mayor for only a year, with a promise not to run in the next municipal election. He replaced the previous mayor, Gerald Tremblay, who resigned in a corruption scandal that linked him to graft and organized crime.

A third man, Jean Yves Brisson, also was arrested Monday. Police say both he and Zajdel had previously worked in the local electoral district of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dâme-de-Grace, which Applebaum had represented as either a councilor or mayor since 1994.

All three were being held Monday by Quebec Provincial Police.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/montreals-first-jewish-mayor-arrested-in-corruption-crackdown/2013/06/17/

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