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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans’

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.

Haredi Sect Blames Zionists, Persecution, for Seized Children

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Ontario child welfare authorities have taken two children into protective custody from the Haredi group Lev Tahor, the Toronto Star reported.

The group’s attorney, Chris Knowles, told the Star that the case will be heard by a judge on Tuesday morning. Knowles plans to ask for dismissal of the case, and for the return of the children.

“We obviously feel that the whole thing to begin with is ridiculous. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Knowles said.

The Star quoted a source saying these two children are not connected to a Quebec court ruling last month that 14 children be taken from their parents and placed in foster care.

Chatham-Kent Children’s Services refused to comment.

The Canadian Lev Tahor cult of about 200, 130 of whom are children, is headed by Shlomo Helbrans, an Israeli returnee (his secular name was Erez) who left Israel with his followers in 1990. They settled first in Brooklyn, where complaints about their anti-social behavior mounted in the Borough Park community.

The cult has followers in the U.S., and in Israel (mostly Beit Shemesh), where it is known by the nickname “Jewish Taliban.”

Throughout the years, there have also been complaints against Helbrans of child abuse, the kidnapping of children from their families in Israel, forced marriages of under age girls with adult men, and the use of psychiatric drugs to quell resistance among group members.

Helbrans claimed that he was part of the Satmar chassidic movement, but the movement was ambiguous about whether or not it approved his style or his Jewish path.

Shlomo Helbrans. Photo credit: vosizneias.com

Shlomo Helbrans. Photo credit: vosizneias.com

Helbrans was convicted of kidnapping in 1994 and served a two-year prison term (the original sentence was for 12 years). He was deported to Israel in 2000. He then settled in Canada, where he was the leader of the Lev Tahor settlement of some 45 Jewish families in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec.

CBC News reported last November that authorities in Quebec had alleged that the 14 children from two families affiliated with Lev Tahor were living in dirty houses that were full of garbage, and that the children, who were home-schooled, could not do basic math nor speak French or English. They produced documented evidence of neglect, psychological abuse and poor dental and physical health.

On November 27, a judge in Quebec ordered that 14 children belonging to the sect be placed temporarily in foster care, undergo medical exams and receive psychological support. The order also compelled the children’s parents to turn over their passports.

The group, complaining of religious persecution by the authorities, left Quebec for Ontario.

The Chatham-Kent, Ontario child welfare authorities sought a warrant on Dec. 4 to seize all the Lev tahor children. An Ontario Justice of the Peace denied the request, and an appeal of that decision will be heard on Dec. 23.

According to Nachman Helbrans, Shlomo’s son, the whole thing has been a smear campaign by Israeli Zionists, because of the group’s anti-Zionist position.

“We are afraid but there is no way to fight with action resulting from libels and unfair justice by running away. The same people that want to destruct you will do the same libels,” he told the Star. “Now is the time to fight it with all legal venues, to cry out for a fair trial and fair justice that we can have the opportunity to answer.”

His English appeared just fine…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/haredi-sect-blames-zionists-persecution-for-seized-children/2013/12/17/

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