Yet another pool of underage girls for The Boss

You’re wondering who Shlomo Helbrans is, unless you followed the link. The link was to last night’s episode of The Fifth Estate, which was about yet another of these pretend religions that are really just games of “let’s go back to the far far past and play at being old-fashioned people with old-fashioned customs” combined with an excellent system for giving one man lots of nooky. This one is sort of kind of hyper-Orthodox Jewish, but only sort of kind of, and the more official hyper-Orthodox Jewish authorities frown on it with disdain. But meh – I don’t see how theirs is any better just because it’s not new. But still, the cult in question is the personal creation of Shlomo Helbrans.

Life in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Lev Tahor is supposed to be simple: the rules for dress, diet, schooling, marriage and worship are clearly defined and closely followed. But last November, in the middle of the night, about 200 members of the sect fled their homes in Quebec to start a new community in Chatham, Ontario, amid allegations of child neglect.  Now the sect is fighting to keep more than a dozen children that a Quebec court ordered removed from their families. Recently released search warrants show Quebec provincial police have been investigating allegations of unlawful confinement and physical abuse of children within the sect, as well as marriage of underage girls to much older men.

Does that sound familiar? Hell yes it sounds familiar.

Their ongoing legal battles are raising an old dilemma: when does a group’s right to religious freedom get trumped by society’s obligation to protect children?

Every time.



  1. says

    Their ongoing legal battles are raising an old dilemma: when does a group’s right to religious freedom get trumped by society’s obligation to protect children?

    I would answer that, “Nowhere near often enough.”

  2. Gordon Willis says

    and old dilemma: when does a group’s right to religious freedom get trumped by society’s obligation to protect children?

    I assume that this is a serious question. I say “assume” because it seems to me that some people really do ask this in all seriousness. Are they insane? My child, your child, anybody..? Yes, clearly they are, completely insane. Anybody who can ask this question should be legally prevented from having any contact with children until they have been scientifically declared free from psychosis. The writer even thinks it’s a dilemma!

  3. Katherine Woo says

    “Every Time”

    A chilling and damning truth.

    People left, right, and center can freely question the limits of free speech, gun ownership, grand juries, etc. with regard to the Bill of Rights, but the minute you question our standard of ‘freedom of religion’ as it applies to children, you are Stalin and Mao incarnate.

    Even among atheists it is a taboo. Worse the sort of atheists I am referring to know how absurd it is, so they constantly wrap it up their religious accommodationism as ‘opposing racism.’

  4. Dunc says

    From the headline, I thought this was going to be something horrible about Bruce Springsteen…

  5. Jenora Feuer says

    This group has been in the papers up here in Toronto for a few months now, albeit not front page news most of the time. There have been people in Ontario keeping an eye on them since they moved here to get away from the Quebec justice system.

    This is not going to be pretty, but the whole ‘fleeing across the border to escape justice’ part of it is definitely not going to help the Lev Tahor case, nor are some of the stories that have leaked out. I doubt they’re going to get away with this… but it’s already taken far too long for many of the people within the group.

  6. bwells says

    I live less than a kilometre from this group’s houses (I can see them from my backyard across the cornfield) and in the country news travels fast… My neighbour called this afternoon to say that seven cop cars were blocking the entrance to the housing units.

    It seems these persecuted families are on the move again…. The Chatham Daily News is now reporting that the 13 children who were due to be taken into protective care today and their parents have now fled to the Caribbean to frustrate justice AGAIN.

    Just last week, I drove past a Lev Tahor “Peace Rally” (Seriously. A Peace. Rally.) that was set up to show support for the group. The rally organizer claimed that members of the group have been spat on and verbally harrassed and that the rally was to show that “everyone has human rights”. Of these claims, I have little doubt that they did occur, and from a humanist standpoint that is intolerable.

    But then again, I wouldn’t think to organize an entire peace rally for Scientologists or Branch Davidians because they were spat on.


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