Posted to Op-Ed on

Op-Ed: The Cantonist Decree in 21st Century Canada

by Anonymous

When I read the news this morning that two teenage girls of the Lev Tahor sect are undergoing a hunger strike after being separated from their parents by Canadian authorities, I came to the conclusion that I could no longer remain silent in the face of such a grave injustice. After all, if we don’t speak out for them, who will speak out when they come for our children?

As the proud father of several beautiful children, who are my world and from whom I could never bear the pain of being separated, I realized that the same flimsy evidence used by the authorities to rip those children from their mothers’ and fathers’ arms could be used against me, as well as a majority of Frum families in Crown Heights, Borough Park and Williamsburg.

Quebec Child Protective Service workers went into the Lev Tahor community several months ago looking for evidence of child abuse, based on allegations from some of the group’s detractors. They found none. Instead of apologizing for the intrusion and leaving empty handed, they asked a Quebec judge to allow them to remove the children of three families based on their claim that these children were perceived to be lacking in education, hygiene and nourishment.

Allow me to address all three allegations, and how meaningless they are.

Education: My 12-year-old son learns in Oholei Torah. He is a budding Talmid Chochom, and I am thrilled with his education Al Pi Taharas Hakodesh. In my opinion, my son is very well educated, but the Quebec authorities might beg to differ. My son cannot name the Prime Minister of Canada, and has very little knowledge of geography, arithmetic, science or American history. To them, he and all of his classmates are uneducated.

Hygiene: My children are very active, Boruch Hashem, and like to play outside often. They come back 85% of the time looking like coal miners. Am I or my wife able to make sure they are always perfectly clean? No. What are the odds that if a random inspection was held in my house, they would find some of my children dirty and “unhygienic”? In the Lev Tahor community the odds were about 12%. I wouldn’t give myself such good odds.

Nourishment: Some kids are obese, some kids are skinny, and some are in between. The Lev Tahor community has very strict dietary guidelines that are based on a stringent interpretation of the laws of Kashrus. They eat mostly homemade and non-processed foods. (Imagine a Lubavitcher Pesach all year round – now you get the picture). Despite this, I have seen many pictures of Lev Tahor children and not one of them looks to be malnourished. In the midst of all the hysteria about childhood obesity, I find it ironic that these parents are being demonized for keeping their children’s weight in check with a healthy diet.

Lastly, even if all of these allegations were absolutely true and reasons for concern, the trauma of a child being separated from his or her parents, and the known failure of the cold and uncaring foster system to provide a healthy and loving environment for children in their care, far outweigh any perceived improvements in the education, nutrition and hygiene of these children. This should give pause to any intelligent human being who thinks the government is acting with these kids’ best interests at heart.

So why is this group so demonized and hated, especially by the Orthodox Jewish community?

Many of us tend to smugly separate ourselves from this group by giving them the arbitrary label “cult,” because they seem so foreign and different to us and our traditions. Notably, the fact that the women in the group wear Muslim-looking hair coverings somehow ignites some sort of primal hatred for them among many in the Jewish community.

While I don’t agree with their insular and extreme way of life, I wouldn’t dare suggest that I have any right to tell them how to live – the same way I would not accept a secular American telling me that I was too insular and extreme and that I had to change my way of life.

We have to remember, and I cannot reiterate this enough, the non-Jews cannot tell the difference between us and Lev Tahor. The slight difference in dress is meaningless to them. We are all “extremist fanatics” to them, as the recent controversies regarding Shchita and Metzitza B’Peh illustrate.

And to those who insist that the group is a “cult,” I ask: What makes them a cult? Is it because they follow every word their leader says with unquestioning devotion? If yes, then Lubavitch (at least until 27 Adar, 1992) falls under the same category. Is it because they dress differently? So do we. Is it because they are insular? So are we.

Let’s also not forget that the Alter Rebbe was demonized and hounded by the mainstream Lithuanian Jewish community in the late 18th century because of the changes he and his followers were instituting to what was until then mainstream Jewish tradition. They labeled him and his Chasidim a “cult,” and had him arrested by the Czar’s soldiers. These Jews sincerely believed that they were saving Judaism from the threat of a group of wayward heretics.

Here’s a thought exercise: Picture for a moment what it would feel like if government authorities showed up at your door and declared that they were taking your children away so that they could be “properly” educated, fed and cared for according to approved government standards.

Now channel that feeling and do something for these poor Jewish fathers, mothers and children – our brothers and sisters – who are about to be torn apart by the cruel and indifferent bureaucrats of Quebec’s morally corrupt government, who are notorious for their continued oppression of religious minorities.

Write to the Bev Shipley, the Minister of Parliament representing Chatam-Kent: and to Chatham-Kent Children’s Services Board of Directors: Write to the Quebec Child Protection Services: Tell them that the days of Jewish children being stolen away from their parents for “proper education” were supposed to have ended with the repeal of the Cantonist Decree in 19th Century Czarist Russia, not reoccurring in 2014 Canada.


P.S. I have submitted the following update to my op-ed in response to some of the comments. Here are a few points that I believe need to be clarified:

To those claiming that the children in Lev Tahor are physically abused:

There is zero evidence to support any of these accusations, and trust me the CPS authorities were looking for it. There is a concept of innocence until guilt is proven, which seems to be lost on some of the people commenting here.

Furthermore, even if some reports of abuse in the community are true (and I don’t think they are), what does that have to do with these particular children? Their parents were never accused of physical abuse. Do you mean to suggest that the whole community bears collective guilt? That is a dangerous concept and absolutely foreign to any modern-day justice system (outside North Korea).

Do you think children aren’t abused in Crown Heights? I have some sad news for you about that. Does that make you responsible as a member of the community?

So if you think that the accusations being thrown around justify the removal of these children, let’s pretend for a moment that I’m a New York CPS official. Here’s how our conversation would go:

“I hereby accuse you of abusing your children. I have no proof, but it’s well known that there is some child abuse going on in the Crown Heights community. No need for any court case or due process. I’ll just be at your door to pick up your kids at 4:00.”

Are you OK with that happening to you? If not, don’t be OK with it happening to others.

To those who say Lev Tahor is a “cult:”

You keep throwing that word around as if it has some magical powers that make people’s right to religious freedom disappear.

Please explain to me, what makes them a cult? How are they any different than Chabad in its early history? Let’s see… charismatic leader who everyone follows unquestioningly? Check. Dress differently and more modestly than most other Jews? Check. More stringent than other Jews regarding the observance of Mitzvos? Check. Unique customs? Check. Everyone else calling them a cult? Check.

To those who say Lev Tahor is acting against Halacha:

First of all, since when is that grounds to have your children removed in Canada?

Second of all, in what alternative universe is being more stringent with Mitzvos and dressing more Tzniusdik against Halacha? Are Lubavitchers who don’t use sugar or oil on Pesach violating Halacha? And where in Halacha does it say that Jewish men must wear a black Fedora and frock coat? Must be a violation.

It reminds me of the saying: “Whoever is more religious than me is a fanatic, and whoever is less religious than me is a heretic.” It would be funnier if we weren’t talking about the separation of young children from their loving parents.

To those who say I should have published my name:

It’s amazing how you don’t see the irony in the fact that you yourself haven’t posted your name.

Publishing anonymously is perfectly acceptable when dealing with controversial and sensitive subjects. Many important historical documents, such as the Federalist Papers, were published anonymously for this reason.

Demanding that an author reveal his/her identity is just an intimidation tactic, meant to scare dissidents into silence.

To those who are saying it’s OK because the children will be put with Frum foster families:

Let’s put aside for a moment that you are completely missing the point here, namely – that removing these children is traumatic for them and heartbreaking for their parents, and that neither the children nor their parents deserve this.

Are you so completely self absorbed that you see nothing wrong with other people’s children being seized as long as they are brought up with your values? Do their values matter at all? Who decided that your way of life is better than theirs?

If your children were taken away and placed with a “frum” family that didn’t keep Cholov Yisroel, would you be OK with that?

To those who keep repeating that the leader of Lev Tahor is a convicted criminal:

First of all: So was the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe and the Frierdiker Rebbe, to name a few.

The teenage boy who Rabbi Helbrans allegedly “kidnapped” denies that he was ever kidnapped. He willingly left his non-religious parents and joined Lev Tahor. He had every right to do that, and Rabbi Helbrans was under no moral obligation to force him to return home.

Dina D’Malchusa Dina only applies to laws that don’t contradict Torah.

Second of all: none of this has anything to do with the children who were seized. They are not Rabbi Helbrans’ children, and there is no place for “guilt by association” in a modern day justice system.

In summary:

I do not endorse Lev Tahor’s way of life. I don’t agree with them about their interpretation of Jewish law. I’m merely defending their inalienable right to live in peace and not be persecuted for their religious practices – a right that many people in my community seem to take for granted.


  • 1. CodsWallup wrote:

    Goverment is doing the biggest mitzva protecting childrent from Real abusive parents who have sold thir souls to an alleged abusive cult leader,
    Using Psyco Meds, Physical Abuse, etc. etc.
    The leader allegedly being a criminal phsyco,

    are you just acting ignorant ?

    • 2. Montrealer wrote:

      Even tho the leader is off kilter, the Quebec Gov’t is ruthlessly antisemitic. They pick til they gleefully find something to blow out of proportion. They just love this.

    • 3. aguila real wrote:

      los abucibos son los gobiernos antisemitas como no pueden con los padres.con los niños es mas fasil eliminar su fe y enseñarles una cultura pagana, noes mas que el espiritu de amalek y haaman los que quieren elin minar a los judios pero no tendran exito

      nosostros solo cumplimos con los mandamientos del Creador del universo

  • 4. agree wrote:

    dont judge this case because they are lev tahor judge them by whats going on, if they were a chabad family what would we do?

    • 7. so? wrote:

      So let’s say they are a cult, why is that a reason to say the author is dead wrong?!

  • 8. Anonymous wrote:

    Author, you’re probably oblivious to what’s going on. They are a cult! So do not compare us to them. Paaalleeessseee.

  • 9. you know i was wondering wrote:

    I have not seen any real hard evidence against these guys. I certainly do not agree or adhere to their ways but people have free choice and what did they actually do that’s wrong?? I do not see or hear anything besides allegations that’s it.

  • 10. Montrealer wrote:

    I have a close friend who left lev tahor and joined lubavitch. He was taken away by the quebec depratment of youth protection before his bar mitzvah. He gave me the straight dope on this cult. They are a cult, use severe abuse (physical, mental, and sexual), They remove children from the mother if the rabbi so feels it’s necessary, as punishment. When they left Quebec, it was front page news in Montreal. A non Jewish friend showed me the article, and I was embarrassed. I had to explain to him that they are a cult and not to project Judaism from this group. As a proud Jew, this makes me sick

    • 11. Montrealer wrote:

      I saw the person you are referring to in a documentary about this . He is a compulsive liar. We need more words than his, believe me.

  • 12. Against Halacha wrote:

    a) the rabbanim said dressing women like that is against halacha.
    b) your comparison to your children: You forgot one important detail. Yours are probably full of life! You can see on a child face if he’s illuminated. Something is dead wrong when children are lifeless.
    c) I just hope that they relocate children with frum families.

    • 13. zalman wrote:

      So not following Halacha is now grounds for having your children taken away from you in Canada?

      Illuminated faces? What on earth are you talking about?

  • 14. Brooklyn Boy wrote:

    Unpunished and ongoing sexual abuse of children.
    Transmission of herpes virus during brit milah.
    Limited “real world” skills that would allow a young person to be a productive member of a greater society and not a recipient of government handouts.
    It seems as if you should not be so quick to “open your doors”.

  • 17. Absolutely disagree wrote:

    I don’t understand how you can compare them to us because the secular world sees no difference. All that means is that we need to teach the secular world to see the difference.
    You write “why is this group so demonized and hated, especially by the Orthodox Jewish community?…because they seem so foreign and different to us and our traditions.”
    You answered your own question. People can’t come along and make up halacha and say “this is yiddishkeit”. Lev Tahor is no more Jewish than reform. The Torah and the gemora and the Rabbonim who paskened on it for centuries prohibited some things and not others. Not following halacha by going too far in one direction is no better than not following it by going too far in the other direction, and it doesn’t make you “more frum”. It’s not a “higher standard”-it’s stam not a Torah standard. So if they “seem” different from our traditions, from the traditions of the frum world including the whole chareidi and chassidishe worlds (that aren’t known for being maikel), it’s because they are.
    The comparison to the Alter Rebbe is also unfounded. Did the Alter Rebbe require women and even little girls to wear sheets? Did the Alter Rebbe rewrite the halachos of kashrus to ban things that are permissible? The disagreement the misnagdim had with him is the not the disagreement we have with Lev Tahor.
    I agree with you that we must defend yiddishkeit from secular repression. But we shouldn’t fight for things that are not yiddishkeit.

    • 18. Another Montrealer wrote:

      You realize some of the things you say apply equally to Chabad and other chassidim and chareidim right? And that some of those also say “This is Yiddishkeit” to the exclusion of Torah stam?

  • 19. Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t know how you can be so proud that your son does not have basic knowledge of secular studies-especially arithmetic.How will he be able to function in the real world?

    • 21. real chosid wrote:

      Hey, you there. Go back to yeshiva to learn Rebbe’s sichos about what the real world is! Neboch case. Real is only Hashem!

  • 22. Mendy wrote:

    This is such garbage the author didn’t want it associates with their name. There is clearly a difference between the abuse the Lev Tahor children receive and the way we raise our children

  • 23. Yossi A wrote:

    How sick are you to agree with them!!!
    Does your son SPEAK english??
    Does your son interact with the outside world??
    ie; go on the Rebbe’s mivtziom.
    Do you allow your son to remove his socks at night???
    Do you give your son drugs to swallow each morning before going to OT??
    All these are PROHIBITED at lev tahor.

    BTW I take offense what you write about 27 Adar…

  • 25. tamar wrote:

    Jews, whats wrong with you?! Who are we in the world to judge at all? Don’t we have enough of our problems which seems nobody is able or want to fix! They are jews as we are, this is what Hashem wants them to be. If you still have any rachmonos on US, please open your heart and help them!!!. Back in Russia orthodox jews were exactly in the same situation and goishe world wanted and they did exactly the same maneuver with children. They were taken from families at the age of 7-8 to the army? Do you understand being taken to the army at that age! They were able to be a soldiers? Liars. Pure liars. There is only hatred to us in any forms, in any “sects”. Look how many cults we have here, real ones, who try to brainwash us. My grandfather was in the Russian army for 25 years from when he was stolen, he was 8 years old. You, an american jews, get your life easy. Please, stop ignore your brothers pain – open your eyes. Its so obvious!!!

  • 26. our own wrote:

    Once again lev tahor may have their faults and massive problems but we in crown heights have our own machasheifa who prides herself to be a big mishichist and stands in street and calls the citg to take kids away from their mother bec she doesnt agree on her way of chinuch. She should check her own chinuch if youd see it youd call city on her.

  • 27. רבינו ירוחם wrote:

    מען דארף זיי אויסלייזן! ווייל ווען מען איז ארום גוים צו פיל, קען מען ח׳ו קומען צו טרינקען חלב ע׳כום ח׳ו

  • 28. Anonymous wrote:

    We have to remember, and I cannot reiterate this enough, the non-Jews cannot tell the difference between us and Lev Tahor. The slight difference in dress is meaningless to them. We are all “extremist fanatics” to them, as the recent controversies regarding Shchita and Metzitza B’Peh illustrate.

    This is ABSOLUTELY 1005 true. It doesn’t matter that we can tell them till we’re blue in the face that “oh they’re different. We’re not like them”. That’s NOT how they see it. You also don’t provide a secular education for your kids, you also sometimes give them melatonin to sleep, you also sometimes don’t clean under their fingernails or whatever. They see you as exactly the same extreme fundametalists as lev tahor.

  • 29. chaya wrote:

    the way you judge ppl , that is how hashem will judge you . maybe they are right and maybe they are wrong . But to take kids away from parents , its the worse thing you can do to a child.
    And remember that ppl will do their best to bad mouth other pll because that what sells !!!

  • 30. medel wrote:

    how would you likie growing up forced to wear black shmates? how would you like to be forced to live in a tense atmosphere , no toys allowed….forced to live under this helbrans character.(btw whom seems to love and watched the godfather movie) its a cult and a dangerous one, if the charadii community doesnt give a hoot, its good someone cares…

  • 31. Henya wrote:

    Anonymous (I assume you do have a name) – you did not do your homework. This group has been investigated for years. If they had nothing to hide why do they keep running from the authorities in the middle of the night?

    Did you know the ‘leader’ of that group, Hildebrand is a convicted felon and spent time in jail. And that much of reason for beginning the investigation came from people and children who were able to escape and talk to authorities?

    May I suggest that you call Federation in Montreal who’s social workers spent hours with these people. They will fill you in on whatever facts they are able to disclose.

    Anonymous, it’s easy to fire off an letter from emotion. Much harder to do some serious work finding out the truth.

    • 32. Montrealer wrote:

      The social workers were in their home. They ran away not to hide anything but because a judge ordered the children removed. The social workers have no power, they must convince a judge. Lev Tahor did not show up to the court date so the judge only had the social workers word to go on. These youth court judges do not always side with the social workers. Removing children is a last resort. The judge usually orders the parents to take parenting lessons, take their kids to a regular doc checkup and such.

    • 33. batya wrote:

      Henya, I agree with everything you wrote above but I just want to clarify the head of Lev Tahor is Helbrans not Hildebrand..

  • 34. TOTALY RIGHT wrote:

    every word said is true.
    thanks for putting my thoughts down here.

  • 35. Research It wrote:

    This is not a simple case. There is crazy abuse going on in their community. Much worse than Satmar.

  • 36. YMSP wrote:

    1,000 yasher koachs for this very true op-ed. When people start to realize the true nature of these child “protective” workers yemach shemom, Hashem Yishmereinu meihem, maybe they’ll wake up.

    No fan in any way of Lev Tahor but also put little stock in the complaints of disgruntled loons, especially since even the vicious media won’t touch these claims (except for Jewish media, shamefully and sadly so) – especially since “child welfare” were found in court to have falsely presented marker stains as bruises and, when caught, had the gall to ask the judge for a publication ban on the fact that they lied (a request that even the judge who had agreed to their every other whim denied).

    It used to be unanimously held that ripping a Jewish kid away from their parents was the worst crime imaginable. It also used to be unanimously held that ripping a child away from their parents of any kind, absent provable and documented physical risk, was the worst crime imaginable.

    But today we live in a time when government kidnappers are greeted as heroes (those who worked for Tzar Nikolei, pizar atsmosov used the exact same line of “reasoning” to destroy thousands of Jewish children R”L), parents who want to give their kids an ehrlicher chinuch are castigated on this thread, frum people are held in derision by the “Modern-Orthodox” (lit. means the “Freieh-Frum”), husbands who want to save a marriage and don’t acquiesce to gittin on demand (which may well be invalid) are called me’agenim and those who want to protect Torah in Eretz Yisroel (which saves Jewish lives) are accused of harming Israel and it is suggested that they are the cause of hatred against frum people (by people who obviously don’t understand how the human mind works).

    Today we live in a generation where people who don’t know anything about Torah and even less about morality dictate leftist pop-psychology and all must bow to their views. May Hashem who saved us from Haman and the Rebbe who saved us from Stalin Y”S, save us from them.

    • 37. Another Montrealer wrote:

      You do realize that the practice in Lev Tahor is to take babies away from their mothers to be raised by a different Lev Tahor family for two or three years right?

      Lev Tahor systematically rips away the kids from their parents, so why do we only yell when its the social workers doing it?

    • 38. YMSP wrote:

      What I’d realize is how little much changes. Montreal is known for its concern about others and as a group that care about Shulchan Aruch. But hand in hand with that, maybe partly because of that, there’s a wild amount of rechilus, wild hotzaas shem ra and just running with wild stories or looking down at people for no reason – to a point that is not readily found elsewhere. And that’s in its own community. How can you talk about them when you know little about that group and accept wild rumors, rumors that were largely disproven by the investigation itself?

      Like the writer said, had these rumors had any validity to some of the outlandish claims, they would have been front and center in the allegations put forward by the child “welfare” workers and the media. Yet they didn’t even touch this allegation. Only the modern-orthodox leaning Jewish papers ran this in the name of a person who even they described as unstable (what Jews do to each other is unbelievable…).

      Even the nasty media hit pieces – which the media does against every frum Jew who they can (I’ll send you a link to attorney Benjamin Brafman’s talk on this to chassidisher askanim in NY if you’d like), reported that the kids played with markers (the ink stains of which were falsely reported as “bruises”, resulting in the same lying workers begging the judge to put a publication ban on their lies, which he denied. You can read about that particular travesty here – These same vicious reporters also reported that kids were only allowed kosher stuffed animals (similar to us and probably for the same reason). Yet poster after poster sees fit to write that “all toys were forbidden,” despite even the hate-filled media documenting otherwise. So when people run with claims like children being moved from families, claims that not even the child welfare crazies stated, they need to be countered, not heeded.

      Those in the Montreal Anash community who give credence to wild rumors, something that has hurt many people in your community, need to really take a look at themselves, how they act and how that conduct has even hurt several youth, aside from anything to do with Lev Tahor.

      Nothing herein should be taken in any way as directed at the fine, outstanding and special Mtl Anash members who have nothing to do with gossip and rechilus/tale bearing. But the many who do have caused more harm to themselves, to others and to their community than can be written. So no, I won’t judge this case based on wild rumors that fly in the face of logic and of documented court papers.

  • 39. you wrote:

    You, whoever you are, (Milhouse??) repeatedly harp on this same sad topic. Using the same scary comparisons. The same fear mongering.
    You repeatedly want us to imagine that in its most primal state, lev Tahor is us. And what happened to those precious kinderlach could happen to ours. Chass vesholom.

    You make this all sound like the child protection services are doing this because the kids (and parents) look different.

    You are wrong. And you’re logic is warped.
    My heart breaks for these precious sweet children who don’t know another life.
    But ask this?
    How many black clad chassidim live in Canada? Plenty.
    How bout Moslem families whose mothers also dress similarly??
    Has there ever been a hint of a threat to take away their kids to foster care?
    Why? Don’t the real chassidish chassidim dress very differently than the average Quebec non-jew?
    Of course they do
    They wear long coats, dresses and eird hats etc.
    The answer is:
    This guy Helbrans (who wasn’t born frum, as you well know) is a control freak and cult leader.
    The manner of dress and conduct stinks to high heck. The stories that persistently come out of various abuses don’t stop.
    If they would raid Tosh town, or the other chassidi of outremont, and take away the kids I would understand your point,
    But they never ever dreamed of that.

    Why does the very farfrumt and insular satmer type chassidim distance themselves from them??

    Get real. And stop with the insane comparisons to your OT kid or the cantonist. And ask yourself what if the allegations are takeh true??
    The forced marriages between a young teen and a 40 year old??
    The other abuses?

    What will you say then??

    This is a TRAGEDY of immense proportions! Taking a child away from parents is the worst pain imaginable.
    But what if the kids are suffering physically and mentally?? Is it right to leave them there??

  • 40. Andrea Schonberger wrote:

    Actually I would find it somewhat odd that an intelligent 12 year old child couldn’t name the leader of their country and has very little knowledge of geography, arithmetic, science or history. What gives?

  • 41. A shliach. wrote:

    Please note that the children are being placed in frum homes.
    This is a cult. Someone I came to know well was there and escaped. It is beyond the realm of normalcy and makes satmar look very tame.
    U can’t compare in any way Lubavitcher kids, or even satmar kids to what goes on there.

    • 42. YMSP wrote:

      Seems from your words like Satmar would be sort-of, kind-of, your next target. Sad for what passes for a shliach today. You the one from California who was trashing them on the last thread?

      Glad you’re falling for the social services play games. They knew there’d be an uproar if they didn’t find a frum home. When it’s a regular frum family they look for modern-orthodox (new freih). Are you starting to see the picture?

  • 44. beautiful custom wrote:

    I know this might sound strange, but I think it’s beautiful the way the girls and women in Lev Tahor dress. I’ve never hear that this is against halacha. In fact, my relatives from Russia used to dress like this. Against halacha? What about the way we dress in Crown Heights?

  • 46. motti wrote:

    To call this a cantonist decree is ridiculous. It is not about secular studies it is about the abuse of the children by the Lev Tahor cult. NO RABBONIM are supporting them. Doesn’t that tell you something? All of you writing about judging etc. what would you do if your child was being abused? This is a chillul hashem of major proportions and this op-ed is just as big a chillul hashem. If you seriously think the OT situation is the same as Lev Tahor go watch the videos about them on youtube and ASK YOUR ROV/MASHPIA if you should be supporting them…
    And I hope none of you are in positions of trust involving children or vulnerable people

  • 47. they are breaking hlachah wrote:

    These people have institutionalized the breaking of halachah and are no different than what the reform did hundreds of years ago. Saving their kids in a legal manner is a matter of hatzalas nifoshos.

    Do Rabonim not have a responsibility to thr countles yiddin that were lost to our faith because of the institutiinalized chumras? Finaly Rabonim courageously put a stop to this madness and you have the chutzpah to justify behavior that has put them outside the pale of Orthodoxy. What next, you are going to justify the J for j because they so called keep “mitzvohs”?!.

    Ach, ma haya lanu

    • 48. YMSP wrote:

      People like you, people who think like you, make me sad. Your opinions make Lev Tahor seem normal by comparison and am not sure where to begin to show how off any derech and off any level of humanity your opinion is.

    • 49. YMSP wrote:

      They are breaking halacha so take their kids? Reform (haskala) kidnapped kids from parents who didn’t follow them. So you should have no problems with “reform” of “hundreds of years ago.”

      Now to be sure, Helbrans is crazy and the sect is craziness. But it’s not crazy enough to take away kids by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not as crazy as many Muslim teachings or leaders and to take children in such a situation for who knows what in foster care is exceptionally cruel.

      We used find kidnapping immoral. Oy, meh haya lanu.

  • 51. Montrealer wrote:

    You clearly have not researched enough on the topic. The population of Lev Tahor are mentally disabled, and I would never bring their situation in any comparison to a frum family, even the most extreme. What they are doing is against halacha, against Torah, and against the government.
    These children are sick in their heads, have been brainwashed to think what their leader thinks. And who is their leader? A man who is SICK.
    They need help, and that’s where the government stepped in. They are doing the right thing.

  • 52. DAVID wrote:


  • 53. Yossi A wrote:

    Thanks is is truly a good documentary to,see what is really going on there.

  • 54. unbelievable wrote:

    They are a very dangerous demented group. Met Helbrans when he used to live in Monsey. The man is a narcissist and egomaniac. He literally brainwashes simple yidden, usually sefardim. The way they treat their women during nidda is beyond..
    Whoever wrote this article is a tipesh.

  • 55. DO YOUR RESEARCH wrote:

    I understand you wanting to defend a fellow Jew, but you simply have no idea of what you are talking about. You can’t make a decision based on all what you read in the media.

    I lived right next to them for several years and witnessed terrible things being done to the women and children. I am not sure what is happening is a solution, but the people there are in SERIOUS DANGER.

    I was threatened by them quite a few times when trying to get close to some of their members.

  • 57. Chassidisher Yid wrote:

    Rabbi Yoel Morgenstern of Kiryas Yoel and Rabbi Blum Rav of Kasho is good enough for me to go by when they say what they say about This ‘Rabbi’ Helbrans and his operation their with his group. Its enough to know that this Herbrans is very very bad when I learned what he did with his son’s wife and children. They are a cult and things there are not being done AL PEE TORA. Yes, they are abusing these children in a very sadistic way. The authorities there are executing according to evidence and Law. Wait and see. There are lawyers working for Helbranz who will ask for a fair trial. There you will hear and see in case you want to see it done in a court of law. For yourself you should know this is not what Yiddishkeit is. This is abuse on a very high level. Many things there are extreme not human.

  • 58. YMSP wrote:

    Congrats to the writer for seeing through wild smears that offer nothing other than “he said this, this guy who has nothing to do with them said that and this kid who left them said that.” Your facts and humanity are far stronger than any gossip on this board.

    No fan at all, at all of Helbrans and find their whole philosophy to be extremely strange. But to destroy the kids lives and rip them from their parents/and parents from kids one has to have a very special stone in place of a heart.

    To the others: Yes, despite media reports that they played with markers, (kosher) stuffed animals, etc., the kids were not allowed any toys. Guess if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes Goebbelseque truth.

    And yes, despite months of random investigations conducted at all hours by (govt) sickos of far worse ilk than Helbrans turning up no physical abuse, these kids were horribly beaten. Helbrans the Magician must have made all those bruises disappear whenever those kind Child Welfare workers came to the door. (And you complain that they ascribe cult-like powers to their “leader”).

    You do realize that the Quebec Child Welfare Cult has ripped thousands of kids away from their parents, often being overturned and scolded by judges who usually march in lockstep with them (absent anything short of documented fraud or insane negligence), right? You do realize that if the allegation of Lev Tahor doing the same it would have been the leading paragraph of every article against them and properly sourced, right?

    Just saying…

  • 59. Bad bad article! wrote:

    This is a poorly thought through article by someone with a larger mouth than brain, just to mention some points:

    “Hygiene: My children are very active, Boruch Hashem, and like to play outside often. They come back 85% of the time looking like coal miners.”

    Obviously that is not the standard that child protective services uses! Otherwise every child would end up in the foster system.

    “Nourishment: Some kids are obese, some kids are skinny, and some are in between.”

    I’m sure this is not what malnourishment means!

    “We have to remember, and I cannot reiterate this enough, the non-Jews cannot tell the difference between us and Lev Tahor. ”

    Of course they can!

    “Let’s also not forget that the Alter Rebbe was demonized and hounded by the mainstream Lithuanian Jewish community ”

    “To those who keep repeating that the leader of Lev Tahor is a convicted criminal:

    First of all: So was the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe and the Frierdiker Rebbe, to name a few.”

    Both of these “thoughts” are dumb. First, our rebbeim were exonerated, but besides that the fact that one person is wrongly accused (or convicted) doesn’t make guilty people innocent!

    Their great “leader” married underage women to older men, and people cannot simply pick up and leave, as opposed to our chabad cult that people get sick of the hypocrisy and pettiness in our leadership and pick up and find inspiration in anything else they want.

    If you are really interested in forming an opinion you should watch this documentary on lev tahor, specially how nervous the “great leader” becomes in the interview.

    My distaste for this article being said, the author brings up a good point, which is what is the definition of a cult and how does freedom of religion apply to brain washing cults?

    Also, the ever growing power of the government, telling citizens how to educate and feed their children.

    • 60. YMSP wrote:

      Watched the crazy video last week so that I could see where in the world some of you were coming from. Figured I’d regret it and was wasting my time, especially since I turned off the Purim 5732 farbrengen to do so.

      I was wrong.

      Watching Mrs. Rosner (?)’s reaction to the terrible decree was a profound, but tragic, lesson in and of itself. Her gasp of true pain at the suffering of another and her instinctive feeling as if it had been, Ch”V, Hashem Yishmor, her child, was a deep lesson in ahavas yisroel. Her and many of the others seem like fine people who have a mistaken set of shitos, but are fine people and good parents nonetheless.

      Their shtick, which I’m 100% against, is nothing compared to the beliefs that it’s ok to rip kids away from parents based on media over hyped trash.

      If every Jew had the compassion for another that was shown in Mrs. Rosner (or whatever the name)’s gut reaction, the world would be a better place and Moshiach would be here a long time ago.

      Helbrans is a numbskull and has no social skills but he doesn’t seem nervous, just moronic. A lot of the people there come across a lot better.

      Bottom line: Taking the kids is an avla sheain komoihu and that’s being really, really mild.

      Worse: Rabbi Goldstein below is 100% right. It’s a gateway to the frum community, these “workers” generally have an ax against all frum Jews and all religious people but know that they have to tow the line, and are probably laughing their heads off at the reaction of supposedly frum Jews who are naive enough to think otherwise, throwing away ikrei Torah and much of their own human decency in the process.

  • 61. sjliach wrote:

    The one who found the families in Guatemala is a reporter for The Star, and wrote that he acted on a tip from “an English speaking local rabbi”. Sounds like a shliach to me.
    Who caused the chilul shabbos and more?

  • 62. chava levy wrote:

    I agree with the author of this article 100%! And I say to him …Mazal Tov people like you we needed at the time of the holocaust! Toda Raba!!!

  • 63. Rabbi Goldstein wrote:

    Totally in agreement! people do not get the fact that persecuting these people is a door to the rest of frum people,,,,,think harder and let emotions and reactionary outburst aside!

  • 64. Yiddele to author wrote:

    I agree!! I am so glad to See that there is still People with seichel out there, to those who think they know whats going on, just read all this article, and meditate, this case is only an opportunity for non jews to put all jews in the same bag, to persecute us without making any difference in how you dress…

  • 65. Rabbi Fried wrote:

    Why is that there is too much more patience for non-frum people than for extreme frum people? where is the ahavas Isroel on that? stop the Hypocrisy!!

  • 66. Rabbi Goldstein wrote:

    I have been in contact with my friends in Guatemala where some of them fled. They tell me that the Guatemalans investigated and interviewed the children with great detail and found the kids well fed no signs of abuse what so ever. Canada insisted and pleaded with the Guatemalan authorities to send them back. I find all these very suspicious. In Canada all you need is allegations to keep children away from their parents If the kids themselves go on hunger strike because they have been removed from their parents how in the world can you side with those who want them removed?
    I also spoke to my friends that met then and found them to be nice people that their only crime is the jealousy and intolerance of other people that make their super religiousness uncomfortable.

    Le us remember that there are plenty people that want kids to adopt (such as these little tzdikim) :( … some people wont mind the kids being removed for any reason. We are to be careful with this situation because we will be setting a dangerous precedent. (remember shichitah and circumcision). Hashem yirachem!


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