Is Lev Tahor A Cult or Not?

Within the last month, about 200 members, of a reclusive ultra-imagesYSVI0ALForthodox Jewish sect called Lev Tahor, which included 130 children, headed west to the “promised land” of Chatham, Ontario to escape the persecution of the Quebec government. In doing so, in the middle of the night, they boarded buses abandoning their homes for the past twelve years in Sainte-Agathe des-Monts, to escape from what they call a lack of religious and educational freedom in Quebec.

Being closer to the truth, their reason for moving to Ontario may be the fact that they are the subject of a child-protection probe being carried out by Quebec’s ministry responsible for education and family services. Since moving, the Quebec government issued a summons for Lev Tahor members to appear before a Quebec youth court on allegations of child abuse.

According to Quebec’s ministry responsible for child services, accusations include unkempt houses surrounded by garbage where children slept on beds with urine-soaked sheets, cases of children being forcibly removed from their homes and made to live with other families, poor dental hygiene and substandard health care, and a home-schooling regime that failed to meet provincial standards.

Women of Lev Tahor Dressed in Black from Head to Toe

A little bit about Lev Tahor. The Israeli media has labeled them as the Jewish Taliban since women are known for wearing dark clothing covering every part of the body except for the face. They are led by self pro-proclaimed spiritual leader, Rabbi Shlomo Elbarnes or Helbrans who does not have any proof of his rabbinical ordination. The group opposes Zionism and the state of Israel, claiming that the Torah instructs Jews to remain in exile until the coming of the Messiah.


Shlomo Helbrans, Head of Lev Tahor

Helbrans made news when he was convicted in 1994 of kidnapping thirteen year old Shai Fhima, a New Jersey boy who came to study with him before his Bar Mitzvah, two years earlier.  After serving his prison sentence, Helbrans was deported to Israel in 2000 but relocated to Canada three years later, claiming his life was being threatened in Israel.

In Canada, Helbrans was granted refugee status. The following was the ruling of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.

[17]             As mentioned by the Board, the evidence revealed that the respondent believes and teaches that the existence of the State of Israel is an insult to the teachings of the Torah (the Bible); that the State must cease to exist because it should not have become a nation before the coming of the Messiah; that Arab domination of the land must be accepted by Jews and that they must leave Israel or perish.
[18]            Given the State relation with Arabic citizens and given the fact that the respondent preached that the Arab domination must be accepted, I understand why the Board concluded that state protection would not be available. After carefully looking at the evidence adduced, I cannot conclude that the Board committed a patently unreasonable error in concluding that even though Israel is a democratic country that the Israeli government would not have offered protection to the respondent. His religious belief and opinion are against the mere existence of Israel as an independent country.

One has to question the merits and reasoning of the Immigration and Refugee Board ruling in light of the thousands of Ultra Orthodox and anti-Zionist Jews residing in Israel, and receiving the myriad of social benefits as all other Israeli citizens. Based on his 1994 criminal conviction for kidnapping, why was Helbrans admitted under Canada’s Immigration Act?

Is Lev Tahor a cult, or is it just an eccentric sect of Orthodox Judaism? To answer this question one has to analyze Lev Tahor in relation to the characteristics exhibited by other cults.

Janja Lalich and Michael D. Langone have identified the common characteristics which are indigenous to cults. These characteristics are applied to Lev Tahor.

Firstly, as in all cults, Helbrans disciples display excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to him and regard his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, and as law? He claims to be on a special mission to save humanity or at least Judaism. They consult with him on just about everything and always accede to his authority.

Generally speaking, in all cults, as with Lev Tahor, the leader dictates in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel. Members must get permission to date, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth.

Helbrans is no different. There have been reports of Helbrans and his assistants using violence, physical and mental manipulation to control his followers, which include forced marriages and divorces between community members, arranged marriages between minors as young as fourteen and children being subjected to ruthless beatings.

Marriages are arranged by Helbrans at age twelve or thirteen and because of the young age at which marriages are performed they are not legally registered with the Canadian government until the age of eighteen.  Refusing an arranged marriage is a serious offense and according to one source, a fourteen year old girl who refused her “intended” was punished for an extended time with in a basement where temperatures hovered at twenty below zero.

You ask how can this be since marriages of those under 18 years are illegal in Canada? Some couples comprised of minors are sometimes sent to Missouri, in the United States, where marriage is permitted from the age of 15, with parental consent and consent of a judge.

Other harsh punishments used to enforce compliance include forcing people to wear shoes that are too small, separating parents from their children at the age of just six months and the forced use of psychiatric drugs. Babies are only allowed to have their diapers changed twice a day. If this does not constitute child abuse and neglect, what does?

Women are only permitted to leave the complex to give birth and even then they are accompanied by a female community member who ensures that no extraneous conversation takes place with medical personnel. Helbrans names every baby in the community and has been known to change the names of adult members as well.

According to reports, both parents and teachers are known to routinely punish children by striking them with their hands, belts and even wire hangers.

The truth be known, in 2008 the Israeli female leader of the cult, Bruria Keren Keren_Bruria01022008was sentenced to four years in prison for beating her mentally retarded son. Some of the punishments included dripping water on the children to forcefully wake them up in the morning, beatings with belts, sticks and electric wires, and cutting the girls’ hair as retribution for bad behavior. Keren reportedly tied up one of her children, stomped on another’s foot and put out a match on another child’s chest.

As with all cults, questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Malka Helbrans, the wife of Shlomo Helbrans was forced to flee back to Israel after she was beaten to near death by her husband’s followers for voicing her opposition to the treatment of children. She stated:

 “I heard men violently knocking on the door of the women’s synagogue,” … I saw eight to ten men with plastic white chairs charge at me and they all started beating me with the chairs. I thought I was dying. I screamed. I did not understand what was happening. I did not understand why. They chased me home. They threw snow at me. The knocked down my door and beat me and beat me, and beat me… They accused me of closing the door to the women’s section… The main reason for my sufferings is the fact that I dared to voice opposition to the punishments that are being used in the village.”

In all cults, subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group. Lev Tahor is no different.

Physical abuse is characteristic of Lev Tahor. A serious allegation leveled at Lev Tahor in the past had to do with the use of corporal punishment. Publications of the Va’ad Shomrei Mishmarot Hakodesh in New York said that in his yeshiva quoted students as saying:

“Helbrans gave beatings to Hasidim who are his servants, causing them to pass out and to shed blood and more.”

A 2004 article in the Haredi newspaper Besha’a Tova, reported that:

“Helbrans himself goes to the extreme, adopting this way in all areas of life. Especially in the area of repentance for sins… on every day of the year, he adopts the custom that was practiced by Shlomei Emunei Yisrael on Yom Kippur Eve, to receive lashings, as a means of repentance. The community practices this throughout the year, and their daily prayers are also similar to that of the High Holy Days and more. His disciples regularly fall to the ground to absorb whippings, in order to repent for their sins”.

Cults also prey on the weak-minded. With respect to Lev Tahor, many members are baal teshuva, secular Jews who are looking to return to Orthodox Judaism and acceptance within a religious environment. Others come from difficult situations and the charismatic Helbrans showers them with warmth and attention until they sever all ties with their families and only then does Helbrans warn them that they will lose their share in the next world and suffer all the curses described in the Torah should they choose to leave the fold.
Nutrition is another issue at Lev Tahor. Helbrans has deemed chicken and eggs to be unkosher, due to the genetic engineering where chickens have been altered to such an extent that they no longer can be considered chickens and are therefore are not kosher.  Only peeled vegetables may be eaten out of a fear that perhaps the peel may have touched something not kosher. Recently, Helbrans decided that both corn and soybeans were kosher.

No doubt, the reaction of the Quebec government to a concern for the cult-like behaviour of Lev Tahor, as well as issues including hygiene, children’s health, and allegations that the children weren’t learning the Quebec curriculum, could not do basic mathematics, and other physical abuses led to summons being issued to 14 parents in the group to appear before a Quebec youth court. Instead a lawyer appeared on their behalf, and the judge ordered that the 14 children be placed temporarily in foster care, undergo medical exams and receive psychological support. Also the order compelled the children’s parents to turn over their passports.

All things being said, a strong case can be made that Lev Tahor is a dangerous cult of lunatics and fanatics. Helbrans even told his group that Hitler and Stalin were good teachers. How revolting!

The vast spectrum of Judaism views this organization as extremist. Be they ultra-orthodox, orthodox, conservative, reform or anti-Zionist, all have consciously disassociated themselves from this cult. Even the Ultra-Orthodox Anti-Zionist Satmar sect issued a flyer stating that Helbrans is:

“ the biggest scoundrel in Jewish history. Let us put an end to the darkness. This same man who was born in impurity in the kibbutz of the Zionists shall preach no more. Please help before it’s too late!”

I have heard that the Orthodox family of a rabbi in Toronto had an encounter years ago with Lev Tahor. The result was the re-kidnapping of three members of the family from the clutches of this cult, and countless months of deprogramming to counter the effect of Lev Tahor brainwashing.

Lev Tahor has now left Quebec in search of religious freedom.

The problem is now of a jurisdictional issue since the Quebec courts ruled that the 14 children be placed in foster care, after they had left the province and are now residents of Ontario. The courts in Ontario will now how to rule if the verdict of another province is binding in Ontario, or will it require its own ruling on the children.

Also will Ontario allow them to not teach their children the sciences which include evolution and an old earth and the Big Bang? Will they ensure that their children are able to understand or be understood in the community around them?

The standards in Ontario for home schooling are lax.

I just hope the Ontario government can do, and does something to help the children even if it means breaching “so called” religious freedom. At stake, is the need to protect the most vulnerable in society – women and children. This is the rationale for government, and is a matter that should override any issue of religious freedom.

Hopefully, local family welfare officials in the Chatham area are monitoring Lev Tahor, to ensure the welfare of the children.


5 thoughts on “Is Lev Tahor A Cult or Not?

  1. $4.3M from an unnamed charitable organization?

    It was a real-estate deal that was masterminded as how to launder the money and use it to purches some properties, for others!!! same time by doing that (using their tax exemption) they avoided the taxes that was due to the Canadian goverment, that had Rachmonus and took in this monster Shlomo Hell-branz into Canada. The person who they did this laundering for, gave them a nice cut $$$$$$$$$$$

    This might be shocking,because after all this cult is very holy, but Nachman (the son of the gangster who led this elegal project) knows it’s true!!! this is not made up, Cult leaders when you get caught you will feel the pain that you have caused to so many inisint women and children.
    “Lev Tahor’s Rosner refused to say who provided the $4.3 million but confirmed it was for an unspecified development that “didn’t work out.” thats a lie Rosner is looking for a way out of this. why would he refuse to name the contributer? because they broke the lay by “money laundering”.

    • The leader of this Cult: Solomon Arez Hell-branz and his son Nuchman are control freaks! “Arez Shlomo was convicted” in Brooklyn NY Supreme Court of felonies and then deported. They are cult-leaders a bunch of phony frauds as they have always been known to be. Child abuse has been going on there since the beginning of times.

      Lev Tahor cult’s spokesman is: Yoil Weingarten the son of the famous “convicted pedophile” Mr. Israel Weingarten, a man who raped his own daughter repeatedly over many years.
      Every single organization on earth has been rebuking this cult, even in public, as this is no different than the David Koresh cult in Waco, or the Jones-town cult.

      We should be keeping a spotlight on this fraudster as much as possible and call it what it really is: “A CULT”. Cult leader: Solomo Arez Helbrans is accused of hitting children with tire irons, forcing loving couples to divorce, forcing little girls into marriage with old men, forcing children to wear small shoes, forcing people to get nude so he can give them 39 lashes, placing people in solitary confinement, denying people of food, issuing monetary fines, placing little children with strange families against the wishes of parents for periods of two years or more from the age of six months, and forcing people to take psychiatric pills without being diagnosed by doctors, sexual abuse.

      Their cult “leader” shlomo and his evil son Nuchman are two VERY dangerous man, who uses mind-control techniques to pray on the weak minded. Plus child and women abuse. Especially Nuchman his son cannot be trusted, he is a big huge lire without even a drop truth.

      Every cult or obscure sect with a central charismatic figure is usually allied with some religious denomination or another. Hiding behind religion regardless of the offenses committed, is a most effective way to avoid prosecution, as every cult leader in history has instinctively known.

      Believe it or not, it is VERY easy to start a cult if you want to. All it takes is a few lost souls as Lev Tahor has done, who are willing to have a boatload of children for you, and you are in the CULT business.


      A 14 page affidavit filed by Quebec provincial police to obtain a search warrant (called an Information to Obtain document), which contains written testimony by two former members of Lev Tahor-known as a CULT, was unsealed and obtained by News Agencies on Wednesday and the allegations in the document reveal that Quebec provincial police suspected Lev Tahor cult of human trafficking and forging documents.

      The document, which was signed by Sgt. Normand Dion of the Surete du Quebec, also describes forced prayer services, drugging and food deprivation. The affidavit also details that the suspicion of forged documents led Quebec provincial police to obtain a search warrant on January 29, 2014 in Chatham, Ontario, after Lev Tahor cult had fled from Ste Agathe to Chatham in the middle of the night. Among the items confiscated were hospital cards, laptops, marriage licenses from Missouri, bottles of medication including treatment for seizures (divalproex) and an antipsychotic medication (perphenazine), and a medicare card. The document was dated January 28th, a day before the search in Chatham.

      The affidavit also mentioned a CD containing documents from 2010 and 2011, which included a forged passport and power-of-attorney documents asserting control over members of Lev Tahor cult in case of incapacity. The CD had been given to the SQ by a rabbi who had received it from a former member of Lev Tahor Cult.

      The list of charges in the warrant issued in January include detailed allegations by former Lev Tahor cult members — including Helbrans’ own son Nathan — of physical force, braking his legs, use of psychotropic drugs, forced marriage of juveniles and sexual assault in a very bad way, according to Canadian reports.

      Read more:

      In the interview section of the affidavit, a former member alleged that children were beaten with a hanger in the Shul, Ministry of Education documents had been forged by the former member of Lev Tahor cult on direct orders from the men running Lev Tahor cult, children were removed from their families and placed with other families if the parents didn’t follow Lev Tahor Cult rules, members of Lev Tahor cult were ordered to go to the doctor with a list of symptoms and ask for specific medications by name, children were brought in to Lev Tahor cult from other countries for arranged marriages, and mandatory use of medication (one witness said that he had been “forced to take pills with my meals three times a day.”) The witness also alleged that Lev Tahor cult leadership conducted violence of many natures (physical, emotional, etc), and did not allow children to be educated. Another witness added that when 13 and 14 year old girls disobey Lev Tahor cult rules they are tied up in basements, and that all money coming from the government must be handed over to Lev Tahor Cult leadership.

      More allegations came from a January 2014 interview with One who fled Lev Tahor Cult in 2012 together with his pregnant wife after questioning the ethics of Shlomo Helbrans, leader of Lev Tahor cult. According to the affidavit, he told the SQ that he was given instructions to beat children with a belt and that children under 16 were married. He was also forced to forge documents for the Ministry of Education.

      He also told the SQ that on Shabbos morning everyone was/is forced to Daven Shacharis for 6 hours followed by an hour of meditation. “he indicated that during the prayers at the synagogue in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, people were locked in the building … the doors were locked with a key so that no one was able to leave,” was written in the affidavit, according to the Toronto Star.

      The affidavit also reports that in August 2013 police and child welfare officials went to the community where they had to wait over an hour before going into the homes and saw very suspicious things, including a man going door to door carrying a paper bag. When they were finally allowed into the homes, they interviewed some members. One person told them that he had been separated from his family by force upon first arriving in Lev Tahor Cult. Placed with strangers, he had nothing to eat and had to beg. He also shared the story of a Lev Tahor member ordered to slap a woman in the face for refusing to wear the burqa Lev Tahor cult women wear. He also said that any income must go straight to Lev Tahor cult leadership.

      Lev Tahor Cult, who fled to Guatemala, denied all the accusations. CBC Windsor met Lev Tahor cult member Evil Munster Nachman Helbrand ימ”ח (who is also known as a lire) in Chatham as he was collecting things a family had left behind. He told them that the reason Lev Tahor cult left Canada is because they felt their religious freedom rights were violated.

      It is important to note that while Lev Tahor cult members dress like Chassidim, they are not considered Chassidim, let alone Orthodox Jews, by the majority of the Jewish world. they are a “cult” and cold blooded people just like the Nazis, In fact, All Chassidim in Montreal united to support and protect families who had left Lev Tahor this horrible disgusting cult.

      We object to using the term Haredi or Orthodox regarding these people. They are simply a crazy manipulative sect. They do not accept Torah Sheba’al Peh, the Oral Tradition, therefore they are simply “Apikorsim” and do not follow the Torah of Hashem. Why did the Monster, child abuser, Helbrans move away from Jerusalem? Because if he stayed he could isolate his group with himself and manipulate them, they would have been excommunicated even by the Haredim in Jerusalem….

      • I thank you for your comments which are extremely pertinent and support the mainstream views of what Lev Tahor represents. The unfortunate thing is that most of the members of the public who know about this issue, feel that Lev Tahor is some part of the organized Jewish hareidi and Chasidic movements. The reason I say this is that there has been very little if any public outcry or an aggressive or vocal or continual disassociation of Lev Tahor by mainstream Judaism , be it Chassid, Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, or Reconstructionist Judaism movements. I have found that most of mainstream Judaism is virtually afraid of taking a stand against them. They may, in fact be afraid of this cult. Even the haredi community refuses to develop a strategy against them. They even continue to fund them covertly. Until they take a stand, and cut funding to them, they will be a menace to society and particularly Judaism.

  2. No doubt you are right! Thank you for your comments.

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