There is a new twist to the Lev Tahor controversy. A new website at www.miriamhelbrans.com was set up by Miriam Helbrans of Lev Tahor.
Miriam Helbrans introduces herself as the second daughter of Shlomo Helbrans, the self claimed Grand Rabbi of Lev Tahor. The website can be described as one set up for the sole purpose of shedding crocodile tears for this so called cult and garnering emotions and sympathy for the group.
Lev Tahor was recently in family court to fight a move by the Chatham-Kent Children’s Aid Society to remove 14 of its children from their families. Last November, the sect packed up and moved in the middle of the night to Chatham, lock, stock and “chumash” (printed version of the Torah), before a Quebec verdict of whether or not children should be removed from their community and placed in foster homes, would come down. The sect is now awaiting a judge’s ruling on the Chatham-Kent Children’s Aid Society decision to remove 14 of its children from their families at the request of Quebec child welfare authorities which was based on evidence of abuse, neglect, poor hygiene and other concerns. The judge’s decision is expected to be made later today, on February 3rd.
No doubt, Miriam Helbrans’ website comes in reaction to the search warrant executed by Chatham-Kent Regional Police and the Quebec Provincial Police which were seeking documents and computer records about the marriages of 13 and 14 year olds taking place within the sect, and a pending Interpol international warrant for the arrest of Shlomo Helbrans.
Having been insulated from the outside English-speaking world, where most of the children do not understand English, I doubt if Miriam Helbrans has sufficient command of the English language to write such a long diatribe. I also doubt that she was able to set up the website (which was established on the Sabbath, February 1st., 2014).
Miriam makes reference to her daughter, Sheia Beila, and to her son, Mendel.
A documentary was made about Aryeh Laver. Aryeh, is a former member of Lev Tahor, who was taken by his mother with his siblings to become a member of the sect. He was subsequently banished from the sect and returned to Israel. Before getting married and starting a new life, and after being separated from his family for 7 years, returned to see his mother who had been brainwashed to turn against him. Part two of the documentary shows Yochanan Laver, Aryeh’s younger brother who happens to be Miriam Helbrans’ husband.
The documentary was made in November, 2012, when Yochanan Laver was 18 and half years of age. According to Yochanan, Miriam Helbrans his wife, was 2 months older than him. I carried out a careful and methodical review of the documentary. Somewhere during the nineteenth minute of the documentary Yochanan Laver states that he got married at the age of 16, and that his son was 2 years old and his daughter was born 3 months ago. He was later corrected by his mother who said that Mendel was only one and three-quarter years old.
However, according to the court documents filed and contained within Miriam Helbrans website, Mendel was born on May 13, 2009 which would make him 4 and half years of age. This would make Yochanan 15 years of age or younger at the time of marriage, and Miriam was only 2 months older.
An excerpt from the documents filed by the CAS is shown in the following:
When you do the Math, this clearly shows that marriage of 15 year old and those younger does happen, is true, and may even be the norm within the sect. So, the concerns of the Children’s Aid Society and Quebec Child Care authorities is indeed legitimate.
Now, Shlomo Helbrans, the self proclaimed Grand Rabbi of Lev Tahor was born to a secular family as Erez Albaranes. The Lev Tahor leader currently calls himself Shlomo Helbrans, the Admor (hasidic rebbe) of Riminov. 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, 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.
There have been concerns about child abuse, child neglect, poor hygiene, low educational standards, and the marriage of children as young as 14 years of age. This last point of 14 year olds, and maybe even younger getting married based on the evidence provided by Lev Tahor, and is confirmed by my findings.
Most segments of the Jewish community oppose Lev Tahor and Helbrans viewing them as a dangerous cult. This includes, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and anti-Zionist Heredi streams of Judaism.
Helbrans studied in Jerusalem yeshivas in his youth. In the mid-1980s, despite lacking rabbinic ordination, he opened the Lev Tahor yeshiva in Jerusalem at age 23.
Based on this fact one has to question Helbran’s authenticity as a spiritual leader. I am reminded of when I studied in the United States, many of the students applied to become Ministers in the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California. This was just after the Vietnam War during which time many people became Ministers in the Universal Life Church as a means of avoiding the “the draft” and getting discounts at events. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.
The only thing, and the last thing that I did with my ordination in the Universal Life Church was perform the funeral and make the eulogy for my daughter’s pet rabbit “Angel” when she died several years ago.
That may be a perfect analogy for Helbran’s credentials and his ordination or “smichas” as a Rabbi. By the way, for an additional $50.00 I could have been ordained as a Bishop in the Universal Life Church, or even become a Universal Rabbi.