I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

06 February 2014

Lev Tahor Homeschooling Case - part 2

Tanakh and heart - photo by J. Stahl

If you are unfamiliar with Lev Tahor, you may want to start here where I previously blogged about the community and their ongoing hearings in Canadian courts.

Here is the follow up from January 20th forward:

The girls study a limited Jewish curriculum, not nearly as extensive as the boys’. As a result, “the girls do better with secular studies,” said Goldman, the father of six girls. “They’re not as obligated to [do Jewish] studies as the boys.”

“Lev Tahor boys receive much less secular education [than] the girls, because they have [a] bigger burden of Torah studies,” explained Nachman Helbrans, one of the group’s spokesmen.
“We’re more old-fashioned,” Goldman acknowledged. “We go to the sources. We don’t believe in any compromise. We think it’s authentic Judaism. We want to go backwards. We understand that our great-great-grandparents were smarter than us.

“We can see in the old literature that the people were very, very clever. They saw that to serve HaShem, there’s no need to make a compromise.”

On the 29th of January, Ontario police and provincial  police raided the sect again for further information. source  According to an officer from Sûreté Du Québec, search warrants were issued Wednesday night with assistance from Chatham-Kent police and OPP. source  Shortly after 5 p.m., cars carrying eight Quebec police officers, and two Chatham-Kent cruisers, arrived at the Lev Tahor settlement with two warrants and no explanation about what they were looking for. source

Legal counsel for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect told The Canadian Press that investigators arrived at the residences in the evening, searching for computers and electronics in connection to an ongoing criminal investigation. source The raid comes days before an Ontario judge is set to decide whether 14 children ages several months old to 16 years old, can remain with their parents in Chatham, or be placed in foster care in Quebec... source

No information was provided by either Chatham-Kent police or the Quebec authorities due to the sealed warrant. source

Quebec youth protection authorities allege the group forces 14-year-old girls to marry men over the age of 30, feeds children anti-psychotic drugs and isolates its members. source

The community denies any mistreatment of the children and says they were already planning to move out of Quebec. source  “It is simply discrimination and we are screaming to the world, ‘SOS’ ” said Rosner. He said late Wednesday that the officers removed baseboards in the home. He said that officers told him an Ontario court approved the search order. source

Before the court case that was due to be heard on February 3rd, there was a great deal of talk about one of the issues being heard in the court case involving a child who had been seen at the doctor's office with bruising on her face.

Chatham-Kent Children's Services apprehended the children on Dec. 12, 2013 when one child was seen by an ER physician for what appeared to be a bruise on her face. source

The lawyer for Lev Tahor is gathering medical documents to explain bruises discovered on two children from the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect. source

We then received news that the court case had been adjourned until April due to seeking this medical information.

A temporary care hearing was expected to continue Friday, but was adjourned to allow sect lawyer Chrisopher Knowles time to collect medical information, Knowles tells CTV News he’s been waiting for medical records from a Montreal doctor...

However, we also received news that the ruling was still expected to go ahead on February 3rd, and that there was a mother in the community that had written an open letter to media outlets and the community.

The ruling was expected Feb. 3. Also last week, a mother from the group who had two of her children, both under five, removed for five days and returned, sent an open letter to media outlets decrying harassment by authorities.

 A mother in the Lev Tahor community who is the subject of a child protection proceeding sent a letter to media outlets Friday afternoon decrying the actions of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services and calling out for help.

 The letter discusses the family’s struggle since leaving Quebec in November, amid an investigation into alleged child neglect. The woman also talks about alleged religious persecution by the children's services workers.

I also discovered a story buried in the papers about a neighbor describing her attempts at making acquaintance with the community.
Penney recalled the weekday in November when her eyes first fell on the strangers she still doesn't know.

"I didn't know what to think when the two Greyhound buses and a school bus arrived."

People, all in black clothes, poured out of the vehicles carrying pillows, blankets and green garbage bags, she said. "There were no suitcases."

In the meantime, the spokespeople for the community and their lawyer went on the offensive about the allegations of child abuse and educational neglect.
“There’s no reason why children have to be taken away from the parents if there’s no concerns, no evidence in an investigation that started two years ago. We’ve been under microscopes for six months. There’s no evidence at all, nothing, zero,” says Lev Tahor spokesperson Uriel Goldman. “Why should they take away children? Especially to send them back to a hostile organization that was really, really against us just because we’re not the same as them.”

“We do claim, again and again, all the allegations against us are false. We’re talking about an investigation of 18 months with very serious allegations,” says Lev Tahor spokesperson Uriel Goldman. “Allegations like this have to be proven on the first visit. After so many months of months, hundreds or thousands of hours spent by officials, why has nothing been found? Everybody is very angry. It was understood from the beginning that we have a fight.”
Child protection services spoke out as well.
Child protection authorities in Quebec have documented what they say is evidence of neglect, psychological abuse, poor dental and physical health and a substandard education regime. Three social workers testifying in a Quebec court described a community ridden with foot fungus because of strict limitations that force the women to wear socks at all times.

 The community was under investigation for issues including hygiene, children's health and allegations that the children weren't learning according to the provincial curriculum.

Social workers from Quebec's Youth Protection Department had also described how one of the children targeted to be removed was married at age 14, two years younger than the minimum legal age in Canada.

Evidence at a hearing spoke of feet funguses, beatings with sticks, mental illness, arranged marriages for girls as young as 14 and less-than-adequate education standards.

Then the news broke after the court decision was made.

An Ontario judge has upheld a Quebec ruling ordering 13 children in the Lev Tahor sect to be surrendered to child welfare authorities.

However, the children will remain in Chatham-Kent with their families pending a 30-day appeal period.

But Ontario Court Judge Stephen Fuerth ordered Monday that the children — with the exception of a 17-year-old who is also married and a mother — be returned to Quebec to the care of child welfare there.

"It would be impractical at best and potentially harmful at worst if the society were now required, in the context of the need to protect the children, to conduct a separate and new investigation into all of the issues currently before the Court of Quebec...simply because the parents have decided as a tactical manoeuvre to absent themselves from Quebec in order to frustrate the process of justice that had started," Fuerth said in his decision.

Justice Stephen Fuerth said the move to Ontario was “consistent with flight” and “fuelled by fear of apprehension of the children.”

The judge has put a 30-day stay on the order to give the families a chance to appeal, during which Chatham child protection workers are allowed to randomly visit the community to check on the children.

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

 The decision means the 14 children will be sent back to Quebec child services. The order is stayed for 30 days so an appeal can be made. During that time, the children will stay with their families and cannot leave Chatham-Kent.

Another appeal is set Feb. 20 in Quebec of its order to apprehend the children, which the Chatham court was asked to enforce.

If no appeal is filed, the children will be removed and placed in foster care.

Knowles said he is not sure there are grounds for appeal at this point, but he said his clients will consider all of their options.  "We just received the judgment, there’s a lot in there, so we need to decide whether there are any appealable issues," he said.

In addition to all of these updates, there was a story that ran in the Montréal Gazette about two members that have since left Lev Tahor. Definitely give that a read when you have a chance.

A struggle to adapt to life outside the Lev Tahor sect

1 comment:

  1. Lev Tahor is like Twelve Tribes on Crystal Meth. I came across an article recently about the North Korean Gulags and the story of one survivor who is now in his 30s but was born inside the concentration camp. IN order to survive he had to assimilate completely. That meant that he routinely reported other inmates so they were executed, by that - as he knew - he could ingratiate himself with the wardens and get extra food. He helped to torture others, and he had completely internalised this topsy-turvy value system, when the N. Koreans released him. First thing, he ran to South Korea. Apparently, it took him years to learn that being enthusiastic about murder, torture, theft, assault etc. are not the highest virtues a human being can have. It is amazing what cultural programming can do to people.