Inside Lev Tahor: Jewish sect is traditional and radical, but is it illegal?

Lev Tahor director Mayer Rosner sits with his youngest son at his home near Chatham, while...

Lev Tahor director Mayer Rosner sits with his youngest son at his home near Chatham, while discussing child protection issues and controversy swirling around his Jewish group that fled their community in Quebec late last year. (JANE SIMS/QMI Agency)

Jane Sims, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 PM ET

CHATHAM, Ont. — Head down, hand on his wide-brimmed hat to hold it in place while his robes flap, a Lev Tahor man steels himself against a stiff winter wind.

The gusts howl down the long laneway at Spurgeon Villa, a collection of modest older duplexes outside Chatham, surrounded by frozen corn fields.

The man ducks into a small office building that’s been converted into a makeshift synagogue and school for boys.

Lev Tahor, a controversial ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, whose name means “pure heart” in Hebrew and is led by the radical Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, is making do here in a remote corner of southwestern Ontario, where it fled from Quebec in November.

On Monday, an Ontario Court judge will decide if local child protection workers can act on a Quebec order to seize 14 Lev Tahor children and put them in temporary foster care.

Quebec authorities believe the kids were physically and psychologically abused at their former settlement north of Montreal in Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., the sect’s home for a dozen years.


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