Nachman Helbrans, the son of Lev Tahor's leader Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, in an Ontario hotel room with unidentified Lev Tahor children late last month
The Toronto Star reports:
Ontario child-protection authorities have taken two children into protective custody from the reclusive Jewish group Lev Tahor, the Toronto Star has learned.
A lawyer for the group has confirmed that officials with the Chatham-Kent Children's Services seized two children from one family last Thursday evening.
Lawyer Chris Knowles said in an email that children who are seized from their families must appear before a judge within five days.
The circumstances around the seizure are not known, but the Star has been told by a source that the children taken into custody are not connected to a Quebec court ruling last month that 14 children be taken into foster care. A second source said that the children are a brother and sister, around three or four years of age.
The original case in Quebec targeted children from two Lev Tahor families ranging in age from two months to 16 years. About 40 families from the ultra-orthodox Jewish group fled to Ontario on Nov. 18, a few days before that ruling was handed down. After two weeks of silence, it emerged that Chatham-Kent child-welfare authorities had sought a warrant on Dec. 4 to seize all the children. An Ontario Justice of the Peace denied that request. An appeal of that refusal is to be heard on Dec. 23.
Quebec authorities have documented what they say is evidence of neglect, psychological abuse, poor dental and physical health and an education regime run by the community that falls below provincial standards.
Critics of the group say that Lev Tahor's spiritual leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, exerts strict control and discipline over his followers. An Israeli parliamentary hearing last month documented cases of physical abuse and said the heretical sect is a dangerous cult.