As you know, I have been following the Lev Tahor controversy with more than just keen interest. Lev Tahor has been aptly called a cult by many within and outside the Jewish community as a result of the allegations and evidence of child abuse, poor hygiene, forced marriages of 13 year olds, drugging members, human traficking and many other allegations.
Members of Lev Tahor Outside Typhus Infested Abandoned Office Building in Guatemala City
Lev Tahor has now completely fled Canada, and the country’s laws and courts, to establish what they want to call a paradise in Guatemala. No doubt they chose Guatemala in keeping with their questionable customs as the legal age for the marriage of girls is 13 years.
I have been advocating for the rights of these families which have suffered and continue to suffer the loss of their children, brothers and sisters to this cult. Earlier this year the exodus of members to Guatemala began. Two families fled in defiance of a court order that they remain in the Chatham area. Two minors, at the time, a 14 and a 16 year old girl were apprehended in Trinidad while en route to Guatemala, and returned to Canada. Once they were returned, they were ordered to be placed in foster care by Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS). Because suitable facilities were not available in or near Chatham, Toronto’s Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS) would oversee the day-to-day care of the two girls.
Since the cult first surfaced to attention, I have been involved “through thick and thin”. I hosted the grandmother and a family friend when they visited the girls in foster care. I negotiated visits with the girls for them, and arranged for them to spend the Sabbath together.
In Guatemala, the cult has already experienced expulsion from the town of San Juan de Laguna where they were accused of arrogance, intimidating local residents and other matters. Moving from a dirt floor house, they are now living in an abandoned office building in the country’s capital where they lack sanitary facilities, and all of the other necessities for a reasonable existence. It is no wonder that an outbreak of typhus has occurred. So much for their paradise!
Apparently, last weekend, the two remaining girls in foster care escaped from their foster home and took a taxi to the Toronto bus terminal, and then a bus to Niagara Falls where they met their father. Apparently Nachman Helbrans, a cult leader, and the girls’ father aided and possibly arranged their escape.
Father of the Two Girls (left) with Lev Tahor Henchman, Nachman Helbrans (right)
According to media reports, they were stopped by U.S. authorities where they were placed in the care of Children’s Services of Niagara County, New York. Their case quickly came before the U.S. courts, but the children were both returned to the father who more than likely assisted them in evading Canada’s court and justice system. This was reported in the Montreal Gazette.
CKCS may be unjustly accused of allowing the girls to escape and evade the Ontario courts. Although they may be the responsible agency, it must be understood that JF&CS was involved in supervising the day-day-day and overall care being provided to the girls. These arrangements were made to ensure that the needs of the girls were met with respect to kosher food and to ensure their comfort from a orthodox perspective. Let’s face it, there are few if any Jewish families in Chatham where the girls could be placed, and kosher food is not readily, if at all available.
Therefore JF&CS were given the job and authority of responsibility to supervise the day-to-day foster care, safety and security of the two girls. In fact, it was JF&CS that arranged for foster care and placed them into the foster home.
Based on what has been written and reported in the media, there are many questions that have to be answered by JF&CS:
- How did the two girls manage to leave their foster home without being detected?
- Who had access to the foster home? When I went to pick up the grandmother who visited them for the Sabbath, I was subjected to a very thorough questioning by the security guard at the home.
- As they took a taxi to the bus terminal, and then a bus to Niagara Falls, who assisted them and how were they able to contact the girls?
- As the girls did not have any money, where did they get the money for the taxi and bus fare?
- Knowing that they were not allowed to go anywhere without a male escort, how did the two girls know to go to the bus station? Who assisted them to break the law?
- The foster home was located on an “out of the way street”. No taxi would venture on that street unless it was to pick-up or drop off a fare. Who arranged for the taxi?
- How did the girls get the money to take a taxi and bus?
- How did a foster family in Montreal know before anyone else that the girls had fled? Why did the foster family in Toronto allegedly contact the foster family in Montreal?
But the most important question of all was: did JF&CS did breach confidentiality? On a personal note, I know of two occasions in the past where the agency had breached confidentiality. If true why were these two foster homes allowed to have contact with each other?
As a representative of the grandmother, I immediately called JF&CS. The supervisor denied any knowledge of the incident nor any responsibility for what occurred even though they placed the girls in the foster home or were responsible for their supervision – a totally disturbing and reprehensible attitude on their part.
There are other issues that have to be considered. Why did Lev Tahor’s lawyer allow, and not counsel the father to refrain from aiding and abetting the escape of the girls from foster care against the court order that they remain in care? According to him, he only found out about the girls once they reached the border. But he should have counselled the father to return the girls to Canada.
The two girls were the last members of the cult to leave Canada. A week before the incident occurred, the Hayon family which were the sole remaining family in Chatham made arrangements to leave and return to Israel with their six children. According to the family, Nachman Helbrans, the son of the devious, deceptive and dangerous cult leader, Shlomo Helbrans paid them a visit and kidnapped two of the children – a girl aged 15 years, and a boy aged 18 years.
Once they returned to Israel, the remaining members of the family were honoured with a party. The following photograph shows the uncle of the two girls that escaped from the foster home with Esther Hayon and two of her children. It’s unfortunate that all 6 children could not be reunited in Israel, together.
This is the kind of criminal behavour which is par for course for Lev Tahor.