Lev Tahor: Timeline Canada.

Note: All sources have now been archived in anticipation of instability caused by editing and removal of online resources. All links were live when checked at 8:26 p.m. on 31/03/2014 with the exception of the two articles listed below:

1. This article which was published by the Montreal Gazette and referenced on this Timeline as Source 60 and 63 at 2013/11/28 and 2013/11/27 is no longer available at the Montreal Gazette. It has, however been archived by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine and has been preserved at that site:

SEE: Quebec, Ontario officials discuss fate of Lev Tahor children. 14 have been ordered removed from the community, but enforcing ruling could be a challenge. By Jason Magder

2. This article which was published by the Montreal Gazette and referenced on this Timeline as Source 61 at 2013/11/27 is no longer available at the Montreal Gazette. It has, however been archived by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine and has been preserved at that site:
SEE: Judge orders foster care for 14 Lev Tahor children. By Jason Magder.
14 have been ordered removed from the community, but enforcing ruling could be a challenge - See more at: http://web.archive.org/web/20131212215852/http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Quebec+Ontario+officials+discuss+fate+Tahor+children/9225055/story.html#sthash.YvQ0KrG3.dpuf
14 have been ordered removed from the community, but enforcing ruling could be a challenge - See more at: http://web.archive.org/web/20131212215852/http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Quebec+Ontario+officials+discuss+fate+Tahor+children/9225055/story.html#sthash.YvQ0KrG3.dpuf

Note: I became aware of this case on March 5, 2014 so I am in the process of filling in the timeline before that date. This timeline will be constantly updated. This timeline does not include events outside of Canada after the exodus of Lev Tahor.
TIMELINE:  2001 - To the Present

2014/09/17 - The two female Lev Tahor children who had been taken into foster care after being returned to Canada by Trinidad and Tobago, have been released to their family.  SOURCE 

2014/09/09 - Chatham, Ontario - The executive director of Chatham-Kent Children Services reports to the Windsor Star that with none of the families or children in the Chatham jurisdiction, all Lev Tahor files CKCS owns will be closed. SOURCE

2014/08/27 - Chatham, Ontario -  - The executive director of Chatham-Kent Children Services reported that the five remaining Lev Tahor families, along with approximately 30 children, had left the municipality in the early hours of the morning on Aug. 27. SOURCE

2014/08/07 - Chatham, Ontario - Follow-up settlement conference on Aug. 7.

2014/07 - Chatham, Ontario - Court proceedings begun on 29th May have been postponed to July.

2014/05/29 - Chatham, Ontario - The fate of the two other children who remain in custody will be decided.
- The parents of the two children are now in Guatemala. [The father has since returned to Canada.SOURCE  The children would have arrived there to join their parents two months ago if they had not been returned to Canada by Trinidad and Tobago.

2014/05/22 - Ontario - A Lev Tahor member who had flown to Guatemala in March with six of his children returned to Canada today without incident ahead of the court date where the custody of his two other children in foster care in Canada will be decided. Both Canada Border Services Agency and the Ontario Children's Services had been notified that he was returning. SOURCE

2014/05/15 - Quebec - It is announced that Quebec's Human Rights Commission will begin to study what went wrong in the handling of the case of Lev Tahor. The study will include examining whether police, youth protection officials, the school board, the health sector and the legal system in Quebec had the proper tools to deal with the situation. SOURCE
Quebec researchers also have a meeting scheduled for mid-June with Ontario’s Human Rights Commission [Correction: Ontario’s Advocate for Children and Youth] to address the aggravation expressed in Quebec that Chatham-Kent Child Protective Services, the police and the courts were unable or unwilling to act swiftly when the Jewish group defied a Quebec court order and sought refuge in Ontario.SOURCE

-Also reported that the lawyer for the group, Guidy Mamann is requesting that Quebec lift an order for the apprehension of all the children of Lev Tahor to allow the group to travel freely outside of Canada. Mamann said since the order won’t ever be enforced, it must be lifted, because keeping it in place could force some families to leave the country without their children. Most of the adults of the group are Israeli or U.S. citizens, and are in this country on temporary visas. Although they have been renewed in the past, Mamann said recent events lead him to believe the government will probably deny future requests. “They’re going to risk being arrested and deported without their kids, and that’s crazy,” Mamann said. “This order that was meant to protect the children may end up harming them if their parents are deported and they end up here on their own, risking being placed in foster care. That makes no sense.” Mamann said the group is looking for a new place to live because it seems to have worn out its welcome in Canada. Several members have recently relocated to Guatemala in Central America. Isabelle Dugré, a spokesperson for the Department of Youth Protection in the Laurentians region confirmed by email last week the apprehension order is being maintained, but refused to elaborate on the reason. The department’s director has declined an interview request.SOURCE

2014/05/07 - Chatham, Ontario - After today's session in court another four Lev Tahor children are being returned to their relieved parents. Lawyers for Chatham-Kent Children’s Services and the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect came to an agreement this morning. The media is banned from accessing any court documents outlining the terms of conditions of the agreement. The four children were among the six placed in Jewish foster homes in the Greater Toronto Area after being apprehended in Trinidad and Tobago two months ago. The children and their parents fled the country after a judge ruled 14 children would be sent back to Quebec and placed in foster care. A ruling on May 29 will decide the fate of the two other children who remain in custody. SOURCE  Ontario Court Justice Paul Kowalyshyn paid compliments to the parents, their counsel and lawyers for the children and CKCS after reviewing their motion. "I compliment all parties and counsel in court for the appropriate, thorough and well-thought-out consent," Kowalyshyn said. The judge urged all parties to continue their "notable spirit of co-operation." Terms of the order were not read into court records. While the judge allowed media to be present for what was to be a temporary care and custody hearing, Kowalyshyn made it clear media was to have no access to court files or documents relating to the matter. Nor will media be allowed to attend the follow-up settlement conference on Aug. 7. SOURCE

2014/05/06 - Canada - Julian Sher, Senior Producer of CBC TV's The Fifth Estate, tweets about more Lev Tahor members having arrived in Guatemala and mentions "unconfirmed news" of clashes with locals. SOURCE

2014/04/30 - Quebec City, Quebec - Quebec’s newly elected Education Minister, Yves Bolduc, announced that he will stop government subsidies of illegal Hasidic Jewish schools. “We have to close them, they are illegal, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
What is important is that the students have to have a very good education, and they must acquire the knowledge that is necessary.” SOURCE

2014/04/28 - Chatham, Ontario - An Ontario court judge [Justice Paul Kowalyshyn] allowed a 17 year-old mother, who is a member of the Lev Tahor community, to have custody of her child again, after the infant was placed in foster care in Toronto. The judge imposed conditions, one of which forbids any contact between the baby and her father. The court case for the 17-year-old mother to determine if she will keep custody of her infant will resume in July. SOURCE The now six-month-old baby, was stopped at the Calgary International Airport last month along with its 17-year-old mother. They were flown back to Toronto and both mother and baby were placed in the care of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, according to Peel police. The young mother was initially part of Quebec’s Youth Protection Services order in November 2013 mandating that a group of young people among the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect be placed in foster care. An Ontario judge later ruled that because of her age and the fact that she was also a parent, she should not be included in the order requiring the children be placed in foster care. SOURCE

2014/04/24 - Chatham, Ontario - Greg Holden of CK Review News reported that Canada Border Services Agency again visited the Lev Tahor compound around noon today. It was reported that their intention was to apprehend a Lev Tahor member but that member was able to produce proof of his Canadian citizenship. The Lev Tahor spokesman stated that the person they wanted was not even a member of Lev Tahor and that is was a case of mistaken identity. No one was taken away. Seven adults had been removed from the community during a CBSA raid on April 2. According to Nachman Helbrans, only one of those members has been allowed to return and she is a mother who is to be deported but needed to be released to make arrangements for the care of her children who are Canadian citizens. SOURCE

2014/04/16 - Chatham, Ontario - Blackburner News reported that Chatham-Kent Children’s Services will not act on Quebec apprehension orders for all 128 Lev Tahor children. “If the children are in need of protection in Ontario that would be up to an Ontario children’s aid society to determine,” said CKCS Executive Director Stephen Doig, who noted that the organization is not legally bound to do anything but investigate complaints. “We cannot act on the Quebec court orders. We are mandated to respond to any allegations of child maltreatment, regardless if it’s in the Lev Tahor community or the general community.” SOURCE

2014/04/14 - Chatham, Ontario - Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton has ruled that 14 Lev Tahor children subject to a Quebec court order no longer have to return to that province, where they would be placed in foster care. Judge Lynda Templeton ruled Ontario Court of Justice Judge Stephen Fuerth erred in his original Feb. 3, 2014 decision that upheld the Quebec order. Her ruling means the children may stay in Ontario, but she directed the Ontario Court of Justice to address the question of what will happen with the seven children who are currently in foster care. SOURCE

2014/04/10 - The Star reported that lawyer for Tev Tahor says families have been denied access to the Quebec court orders, which concern more than 100 children and were discovered after some were denied passports. "More than 100 Lev Tahor children have effectively become prisoners of this country as a result of secret court orders that prevent them from obtaining passports and crossing international borders."... “Quebec knows what they’ve issued: they’ve issued warrants for committal, it looks like for every child in the community, but they haven’t told us, nor did they tell the court,” said Mamann. The families have been refused access to the court orders. Mamann said one of the families demanded to see the orders, which were obtained in Quebec in November, and was told to file an access to information request. SOURCE
Quebec’s Department of Youth Protection for the Laurentians region revealed that shortly after the community fled in November, it was granted a court-ordered apprehension order for all of the children in the sect — about 100 of them. DYP director Denis Baraby told CBC news he was frustrated his Ontario counterparts didn’t try to get an Ontario court to try to uphold those court orders as well. SOURCE Blackburn News puts the number of children for which apprehension orders were ordered at 128. SOURCE

2014/04/09 - 
The appeal hearing in the child custody case resumed at 10:00 a.m. today. SOURCE Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton opened her remarks at the resumption of an appeal of a Quebec child-protection order of 14 Lev Tahor children expressing extreme concern. She said that she had found unsolicited mail in her mail slot of two Jewish Family Weekly magazines containing stories about Lev Tahor. "I'm extremely disturbed ... I see this solely as an attempt to influence justice," the judge said. The judge also denied a media report that she read a nine-page letter regarding the case and refused a call from someone purporting to be a paralegal who wanted to attend the hearing. "I did not take the call," Templeton said, noting child protection proceedings are not open to the public. SOURCE Justice Lynda Templeton concluded today's appeal hearing stating, "I will endeavour to have my decision (in writing) by Monday afternoon." ..."You will not see me in court again."..."There are a number of silent invisible human beings in this courtroom ... I will now re-focus my thoughts and efforts to the children not here today." SOURCE
At the heart of the issue is whether a Quebec court decision ordering the children in the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect into foster care will stand and the kids need to be sent back there, or if the issue falls under the jurisdiction of Ontario authorities. SOURCE
-Justice Lucy Glenn had refused on Tuesday 09, 2014 to release any of the documents filed with the court that day. It was not known exactly what the record contained, but one element filed by a lawyer for some of the children was an affidavit from a “clinical investigator.” Today, a lawyer for the Toronto Star will fight for access to the court record. SOURCE

- Denis Baraby, director of Quebec's Youth Protection Services said, “If we got involved it’s not because we wanted to persecute. We had worries for these children, the way they are brought up, the way they are taken care of. There are health issues at stake here, if the community was showing intent or making things better for the children we would step down or step back,” He noted if the kids are placed in foster care it would be beneficial to send them back to Quebec. “We have a longer history with this community and we know very well what the problems are. We have more resources and access to Jewish services in the Montreal area.” SOURCE

The parents opposed, arguing that an Ontario court lacked jurisdiction to enforce a Quebec order and their right to freedom of religion, security of the person and and their right to move freely within Canada were being denied. The lawyer for the parents argued Hodgson-Harris used the wrong legislation to gain custody of the children and enforce the Quebec order. SOURCE

Loree Hodgson-Harris, the lawyer representing Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, argued that Fuerth’s order should be upheld and that the Quebec youth protection agency had the best interests of the children in mind. “There is nothing in the evidence that would suggest that the Quebec child welfare authorities have either not acted in the children’s best interest or could not continue to act in the children’s best interest. Nothing,” said Hodgson-Harris.

Earlier, Marnelle Dragila, counsel for the Lev Tahor parents, argued that returning the children to Quebec would place them at risk of harm. “Moving this matter back to Quebec is really about holding the parents accountable for their hasty move, but in reality it punishes the parents on the backs of the children. It’s not about protecting the children or ensuring their best interests, and I submit for this reason it is the wrong choice,” she said.

Gerri Wong, a lawyer acting for one of the young parents in the action, agreed with Dragila’s position. “In my submission it is now a reality that if your honour upheld Justice Fuerth’s order and the society took steps to enforce it, we have complicating factors which really do impact on the best interests of the children,” she told the court Wednesday. Dragila originally intended to file affidavits with the court that may have shed more light on the situation of the children in care, but withdrew that motion Wednesday, saying in court that there were “a few errors and misunderstandings” with regard to the ongoing process. The affidavits remain in the separate Ontario Court of Justice process, where Justice Lucy Glenn is hearing arguments over the current situation of the children in foster care and determining to what extent the parents can have access. She has sealed the court record. SOURCE

- AMI Magazine, in an issue featuring on Lev Tahor, reports in an article by Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter that Rabbi Helbrans on a trip to England with three members of the community two weeks earlier had been returned to Canada by English immigration after arriving at an airport there. There is no court order against any of them which prevents them from leaving Canada but they were refused entry into England.  SOURCE

2014/04/08 - Justice Lucy Glenn denied a request for two Lev Tahor children to spend Passover with members of the community, citing a concern over flight risk raised by the lawyer for Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, Loree Hodgson-Harris. Justice Lucy Glenn ruled instead that the two children could have access to the other children in care in Toronto and visits from their parents, but would not be returned to the community for Passover. Glenn also ordered that the parents of the children be allowed eight hours per week of supervised visits. Chatham-Kent Children’s Services agreed to pay part of the cost required for the parents to travel to Toronto where the children are in care. Glenn refused to release any of the documents filed with the court today. It’s not known exactly what the record contains, but one element filed by a lawyer for some of the children is an affidavit from a “clinical investigator.” A lawyer for the Toronto Star will fight for access to the court record Wednesday. SOURCE
- Glenn decided to have one of the access matters return to court on April 28 and the other two come back on May 7. She also ruled the only way media could access any documentation in this case, which falls under the rules of the Child and Family Service Act, is by way of a motion to the court. SOURCE
- According to Immigration Lawyer Guidy Mamann, three Lev Tahor members in Canada on religious worker visas are fighting deportation to Israel. “People who are here on religious worker visas are not considered to be doing ‘work’ because it’s of a religious nature,” says Mamann. “They’re actually issued a visitor record that allows them to work in a religious setting for years on end.” As it stands, Yochana Lavar, a 19-year-old father of three, will be sent back to Israel on April 10. Avraham Kashani, a 40-year-old father of ten, and Odel Malka, a 31 year-old mother of nine, have both also been ordered to leave Canada. Mamann said additional Immigration Review Board hearings are scheduled for Friday. Seven Lev Tahor members have immigration issues. Six were apprehended by the Canada Border Services Agency in Chatham-Kent last week. One has since been sent back to the United States and is banned from returning to Canada for one year. The two others have been released. SOURCE

2014/04/4 - It is reported by Miriam Helbrans of the Lev Tahor community that one of the children of the community had to be taken to hospital as a direct result of the trauma suffered during Wednesday's raid. "The son of ----------- is in hospital after crying and shivering the whole day when he saw in his own eyes, his rebbe, Yosef Biniamin, being handcuffed and eventually deported from Canada. He is 3 years old, he cannot breath well, and he has High temperature." SOURCE

2014/04/4 - Chatham, Ontario - The hearing of the appeal of the child apprehension order by Justice Templeton at a Chatham, Ontario courtroom had been postponed to 10:00 a.m. today, Friday 4th April, 2014. At the same time three members of the Lev Tahor community who had been arrested Wednesday 2, 2104 are to appear at a detention review in Toronto. A lawyer for the Lev Tahor community said that the immigration crackdown at the sect’s Chatham, Ontario community two days before was an unnecessary intrusion timed to disrupt the group’s preparations for this important court appeal. “Someone made a call knowing full well this would derail the community two days before a huge appeal,” Guidy Mamann said. “It looks like they wanted us to wobble into the court on one leg.”
I guess somebody lost patience and decided to go through with the operation on Wednesday,” Mr. Mamann said. “If they would have waited a day or so, none of this would have been necessary. I don’t agree they needed to spend the resources they did on this.”   SOURCE
- Justice Lynda Templeton ruled against a Lev Tahor request today for an adjournment, saying the case is turning into a "procedural nightmare." The judge said the court must move forward "cautiously and as quickly as possible" to determine whether the children should be reunited with their parents. SOURCE Templeton said she would listen to all the arguments and make a decision in writing next Wednesday 9th April, 2104. In the meantime, the judge ruled that the 17-year-old who is both a child and a parent involved in the custody case can return home to her parents in Chatham. However, her infant child is to remain with his foster family in Toronto. The judge then turned her attention to the parents of two families and said she had serious concerns about them leaving the country, but allowed them to have access to their children under supervision. SOURCE
 - Three members of the Lev Tahor community who had been arrested Wednesday 2, 2104 in an immigration raid appeared at a detention review at Canada Border Services Agency’s Immigration Holding Centre in Etobicoke, Toronto. SOURCE Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada spokesman Charles Hawkins said the review was a public proceeding. SOURCE The Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that a member of the Lev Tahor sect arrested earlier this week should remain in detention because the man is not likely to leave Canada as ordered if he is released. SOURCE The three have been ordered deported to their native Israel. SOURCE
- The Lev Tahor parents of six children named for temporary foster care who fled to Guatemala have sent a letter to an Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton pleading to be left alone. The nine-page letter sets out to refute the allegations of physical abuse, neglect and inadequate education standards. SOURCE

2014/04/02 - Chatham, Ontario - Seven members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect were arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency over suspected immigration issues, the local Children's Aid Society said.  Chatham-Kent Children's Services co-operated with the Canada Border Services Agency [CBSA], who arrested seven Lev Tahor members "who are believed to be in violation of Canada's immigration policy/laws," Stephen Doig, the Children's Aid Society's executive director. Members of the community told local radio station Blackburn News that those arrested are Israeli citizens and their visas had expired. They had been working with a lawyer in Toronto to be able to stay in Canada. The seven people are known to have 28 children and some of the children have been taken into care. SOURCE  The 10 a.m. raid took place at the same hour that the group’s leaders were away in Toronto meeting with immigration officials. SOURCE
- Once the CBSA is done examining detainees they must appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board within 48 hours. As of this afternoon the board had not received information from CBSA, so the earliest a hearing would happen is Friday, but more likely Monday, said an official. CBSA can also release detainees without a hearing, if it chooses. SOURCE
-About a dozen children were briefly taken by the Children’s Aid Society. However, as of 6:30 p.m., CAS had returned all children to their families. SOURCE

2014/03/31 - Guatemala - Newsweek reported that Ana Ines Carpio, spokeswoman at the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Even if the international appeals come in, the case would have to be reviewed by Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office. “Until that abuse is proven in Guatemala, Canada cannot proceed to take them back. SOURCE

2014/03/30 - Chatham, Ontario - As of this day the Lev Tahor community is to be represented by veteran lawyer and lead counsel - Mr. Guidy Mamann, of Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell LLP. Except upon the advice of their counsel, they will make no further public comment on the cases.  All questions regarding the cases may be directed to Mr. Guidy Mamann. SOURCE

2014/03/26 - Guatemala - Uriel Goldman, the spokesman for the Lev Tahor group living in Chatham, Ont., confirmed that the family no longer has to go to the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City as a condition of its stay in Central America and that they are now permitted to stay in the country for up to three months with no conditions, as stipulated by the Guatemala’s immigration and visa rules. SOURCE1 The group members are allowed to retain their passports and Guatemalan officials have made no attempt to restrict their movements. SOURCE2

2014/03/25 - Chatham, Ontario - Chris Knowles, the lawyer for a Lev Tahor couple requested that his name be removed as the solicitor of record during a child welfare hearing at the Chatham courthouse. He told The Chatham Daily News that he could no longer represent his clients under rules of professional standards. SOURCE2.1

2014/03/20 - Guatemala - On this day a Spanish translation of Judge Lynda Templeton’s emergency order for the apprehension of six Lev Tahor children was scheduled to arrive in Guatemala, according to Stephen Doig, executive director of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services. SOURCE3  Later Chatham-Kent Children’s Services said that it had sent Spanish-language paperwork to Guatemalan courts but it was unclear whether it was received or to which court it was sent. SOURCE4 The Star reported that even if the appeal is not successful, the family has other routes. Guatemalan law contains a mechanism known as amparo, which is a unique legal process that a person can invoke if they feel their rights are being violated. If the amparo is deemed legitimate, it can halt other court processes until it is resolved.  SOURCE5    The Star also reported that the family had hired lawyers and were looking for accommodation outside of the hotel in Guatemala. SOURCE6

2014/03/19Panajachel, Guatemala - The day before the court imposed deadline to check in with the Canadian Embassy, the Lev Tahor family in Guatemala filed an appeal of the Monday ruling to visit the Canadian embassy. The appeal argued that the family and children “are not under investigation, nor have they been charged with a criminal offence and entered Guatemala legally.” The judge was to decide on the appeal on Thursday 20 March, 2014 and it was expected that this could open up the process for more deliberation. SOURCE7 

2014/03/19 - Ontario, Canada - Lev Tahor secret court transcripts were partially unsealed and made public after lawyers for the media petitioned for access.  Although the Ontario Court of Appeal recently ruled that access to court exhibits includes the ability to make copies, Judge Lynda Templeton then placed a ban on making copies of the court transcripts. No reporter seeking the transcript, available to media at the London and Chatham-Kent courthouses Wednesday, was permitted make a copy of the document, which totals more than 80 pages. Templeton provided a copy of the transcripts to media lawyers — meaning reporters outside of London or Chatham-Kent did not have to travel to access them — but also placed the same restriction on copies. Iris Fischer, a lawyer representing the Star and other media outlets commented,  “Access to court transcripts is a key part of openness and ensuring accuracy... You should be able to have copies and take them away.”    SOURCE8

2014/03/17 - Solola, Guatemala - A Guatemalan family and child judge ruled Monday that six Lev Tahor children could remain with their parents, but had to visit the Canadian embassy within three days of his ruling. The judge let the family keep their passports and made no provisions, other than the order that the family vist the embassy. They were required to return to Solola court with paperwork signed by Canadian embassy officials saying they would be allowed to stay. SOURCE9

2014/03/15 - Panajachel, Guatemala - A temporary court ruling by Judge Mariela De Leon blocked efforts by Canadian and Guatemalan authorities to seize child members of the Lev Tahor sect who left Canada two weeks ago with three adult members of the group.  The ruling allowed the children to stay with the adults until the following Monday, when they would go before a family court judge. That temporary ruling found that Canadian officials working with the office of Guatemala’s Solicitor-General had not provided sufficient evidence to proceed with a removal order. Judge De Leon had also based her ruling on the lack of a rescue order from Interpol and the fact that many aspects of the case were outside her jurisdiction. She said, “Without further evidence, I see no grounds [for removal],” SOURCE10

2014/03/14Panajachel, Guatemala - A spokesperson for the Lev Tahor refugees reported that Guatemalan officials went to meet the families in a hotel room and listened to their story. They were referred to a human rights group. It was her understanding that Guatemala was waiting for “proof” from the Canadian government. SOURCE11

2014/03/11 - Toronto, Ontario - Some Lev Tahor children apprehended by Chatham-Kent Child Services were reported to be on a hunger strike until they are returned to their families. This was according to an email sent by someone acting as a “media coordinator” for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. The hospital to which three of the children were reportedly admitted to be forced fed, Toronto’s SickKids Hospital, made no comment. It was reported that included among the children to be force-fed, was a 14-year-old girl reportedly rushed to hospital on the night of 10th March after she lost consciousness due to lack of food. SOURCE12

2014/03/09 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Two more members of Lev Tahor, that left Canada after an Ontario judge ordered the removal of 14 children, were apprehended at the Calgary airport. Calgary Police confirmed that their officers had assisted officials with Chatham-Kent Children’s Services in apprehending a 17-year-old female and her five-month-old daughter as they stepped off a flight arriving at Calgary International Airport at 3:30 p.m. They were to be flown back to Ontario. SOURCE13

2014/03/08 - Trinidad and Tobago - Shortly after 5:00 p.m. local law enforcement officials handed over the Lev Tahor members to Canadian law enforcement and immigration officials at Piarco International Airport for their return to Canada. It was reported that some members of the group did not go quietly. They were escorted on to a small chartered aircraft by officials of the National Operations Centre (NOC) and the Port of Spain and Northern Division Task Force. The Central Authority Unit had been liaising with its counterpart in Canada and had been advised that the children were subject of a Child Protection Order in the province of Quebec in Canada. SOURCE14
The Guardian Newspaper would report the next day that a van had been seen leaving the hotel, and the newspaper had contacted the group’s local immigration lawyer, Farai Hove Masaisai, who would only say that he was currently working on an injunction to stop that exact development. Masaisai was too late, as just 20 minutes later, the group was moved to an unmarked white plane and removed from the country. SOURCE15

Spokesman for the group, Lee Bolton, would later report to the T&T Guardian from Canada  that around 5:00 p.m., Canadian law enforcement agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Chatham Kent Police, Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Border Police, had boarded a flight to Trinidad to escort the group back to Canada. She said that on Wednesday 5, 2014, the court had given the child protection service in Ontario the green light to return the children from Trinidad and Tobago.  SOURCE16

- Toronto, Ontario, Canada - The Lev Tahor members being transported from Trinidad and Tobago arrived at Pearson International in Toronto at 10:30 p.m. On arrival in Canada, the six children were placed in the care of the Children’s Aid Society/Chatham-Kent Children's Services. The three adults were processed by the Canada Border Services Agency. SOURCE17 

2014/03/07 - Trinidad and Tobago - Local lawyers lodged an appeal of the Immigration rejection order against Lev Tahor with the Chief Immigration Officer, Gerry Downes, in accordance with Section 21 (2) of the Immigration Act. SOURCE18
Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downes sought the Attorney General's legal advice on the matter and it was found that the nine appeals were not filed within the time prescribed by the Immigration Act. SOURCE19
- The Attorney General, Trinidad and Tobago would confirm that the application was dismissed because Lev Tahor members filed it almost five days after they were notified by the immigration officer on duty that they were going to be denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago. SOURCE20
As reported by the Express Newspaper, on the day of their final appeal, the members were already in detention in the Piarco International airport. The hotel was described as being under hea­vy security, the front door was locked and persons arriving at the hotel were being questioned by security. SOURCE21 TV6 news reported that the members were prevented by security from being interviewed by their crew. One of the members was only able to communicate with the television crew using their attorney's cellphone.VIDEO SOURCE22  Detained were Ester Hayon, 50; Azar Hayon, 59; Avrohom Dinkel, 22; Yeshivia Hayon, 15; Tehila Hayon, 13; Yehodit Nechama Soleimani, 16; Mariam Soleimani, 15; Shira Hayon, 11; and Moshe Yochanan, nine. SOURCE23

- Immigration authorities in Trinidad met with Canadian Embassy officials to inform them of the ongoing developments regarding Lev Tahor and "to advise with the consultation of the Canadian authorities on the way forward," said Marcia Hope, a spokeswoman for that country's Ministry of National Security.  SOURCE24
- CBC News reported that Denis Baraby, the director of Quebec’s Youth Protection Services had told Radio Canada's Daybreak Host, Mike Finnerty, that he had not been surprised when he heard that the Lev Tahor members had left. “I think that we were all [fooled] by the people in that community, who manipulate their environment quite well,” he said in another interview, with Radio-Canada. SOURCE25

2014/03/06 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - The police reported that most of the Lev Tahor children at the centre of the custody case had left Canada. SOURCE26

2014/03/06 Quebec, Canada - In an interview, Denis Baraby, the director of Quebec's Department of Youth Protection for the Laurentians region, said he was concerned that the Lev Tahor group was planning another exodus. He revealed that there was a contingency plan in place and that they needed to start working on removing the other 114 children. " But I can't discuss that contingency. Obviously, it would no longer involve families." He said the children would be placed somewhere in the Laurentians. David Ouellette, Associate Director Public Affaire, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Montreal, revealed that there was a plan in place to accommodate all the Lev Tahor children if a judge were to order them removed from the community. SOURCE27

2014/03/06 - Ontario, Canada - Lawyers for the Toronto Star and other media outlets announced their intention to fight the secrecy order before the Ontario Court of Appeal in the coming week. SOURCE28    Paul Schabas, who works for the firm Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP, was one of the lawyers representing the Toronto Star, CBC, the Globe and Mail and CTV. He filed the notice of motion which requested that the matter be heard on an urgent basis. In it, he noted that access to court is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and called the exclusion order “an extraordinary restriction of the open courts principle.” SOURCE29

2014/03/06 - Trinidad and Tobago - The Corporate Communications Unit of the Ministry of National Security, Trinidad and Tobago, published the following media release. "The Hasidic Jewish Group was rejected entry into Trinidad and not allowed to travel onto their port of destination Guatemala. They were in-bound out of Canada. The group consists of 3 adults and 6 children. The authorities in Trinidad and Tobago are presently liaising directly with the authorities in Canada via the international liaison officers of the Canadian High Commission. The Trinidad and Tobago authorities are awaiting further information from Canada which will determine the decision regarding the departure and final destination of the group. At present the group has as part of international protocol, been handed over to the care and management of the West Jet International representatives and are being accommodated in a hotel of their choice. The Ministry would like to categorically deny any claims of ill- treatment of the Lev Tahor group." SOURCE30 Marcia Hope, director of communications for the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad and Tobago, bristled at the suggestion her country is detaining the families. “Detained is a strong word,” Hope said Thursday. “I wouldn’t use the word detained. We follow an international protocol and we are just basically working with the Canadian authorities to sort out how we treat these individuals.SOURCE31

2014/03/05 - Trinidad and Tobago - Local lawyers representing the group sought a writ of habeas corpus which was was denied by Justice Vasheist Kokaram following an emergency court hearing at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain.

Their lawyer wrote to the Minister of National Security, the Prime Minister, the Chief Immigration Officer, the United Nations and Amnesty International on the situation. He said that when he contacted Immigration officials to determine the whereabouts of the Lev Tahor nine he was told that no one was there. In his letter he stated, “In an effort to ascertain the truth I then took the decision to personally visit the Piarco International Airport and it was with my own eyes the conditions in which the above mentioned individuals were kept in was witnessed.” He said he saw “weary children and adults who had not eaten or been allowed to bathe”. “They were sitting in the cold airport and in a strange country with no one there to render any form of assistance,” he stated. “I was told of incidents where they were threatened by Immigration officers and they were fearful for their safety here in Trinidad. The manner in which they were treated personally brought me to a fundamental low and made me heavily embarrassed and ashamed to call myself a Trinidadian.SOURCE32

2014/03/05Chatham, Ontario An appeal of the order that 13 Lev Tahor children be turned over to child protection authorities in Quebec to be placed in foster care was due to take place but instead a lawyer for the local children's aid authority, Chatham-Kent Children's Services, brought an emergency motion, which prompted a closed-door hearing with the judge. The actual appeal was rescheduled to be heard April 4. SOURCE33
Templeton said the emergency motion brought by the Children's aid society is "separate and apart from the appeal, however falls within the umbrella of the same proceeding, but concerns different issues than the appeal, from a legal perspective." SOURCE34

Superior Court of Justice Judge Lynda Templeton's secret hearing resulted in an order to immediately apprehend the 14 children of the Lev Tahor community. She excluded the media and the public from the proceedings, so the rationale for her order and any evidence presented are not known at that time. SOURCE35 She stated, “I am entirely satisfied that the extremely unusual circumstances created solely by the appellants (Lev Tahor families) themselves require, as I’ve indicated, immediate intervention of the court.SOURCE36

2014/03/04 - Guatemala - Lev Tahor members arrived in Guatemala after leaving their homes in Chatham, Ontario. It would be later confirmed that three adults and six children were staying at a hotel in the tourist town of Panajachel, a few hours west of Guatemala City. SOURCE37 They were due to appear in court in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, on the following day to appeal a February 3rd order validating a November 27 Quebec court ruling that the children, ranging in age from six months to 15 years, be removed from the community and placed in foster care. SOURCE38

2014/03/03 - Trinidad and Tobago - The nine Lev Tahor members arrived in Trinidad around 5:00 a.m. SOURCE39 and were halted at Piarco International Airport. They were denied entry and not permitted to fly on to Guatemala. Their passports were taken away by Immigration officials and given to a WestJet representative.

2014/03/02 - Toronto, Canada - Nine Lev Tahor members arrived late at Pearson International Airport, Toronto, and missed their scheduled flight to Mexico. They were advised by a friend to travel to Trinidad instead, en route to Guatemala. SOURCE40

2014/2/21 - Quebec, Canada - The Superior Court at the the Palais de Justice de Saint-Jérôme Quebec, ruled in favour of the Centre Jeunesse, Laurentians and  denied Lev Tahor the right to appeal the Court's jurisdiction over 14 children of three families of its community. SOURCE41  Justice Luc Lefebvre decided that leave to appeal could not be granted because lawyers for the sect had filed too late. Lev Tahor had 30 days to file after the Nov. 22 decision, that is by Friday 20th December, 2013, but the documents were received at the St-Jérôme courthouse on Monday 23rd December. The bailiff said a snowstorm had prevented him from getting to the courthouse on time. Lev Tahor wanted to argue that a Quebec court no longer had jurisdiction in the case because the community had moved to Ontario on  18th November, 2013. The Youth Protection Department had tried to block any appeal. SOURCE42

2014/02/06Toronto, Ontario, Canada - In the public interest, lawyers for the Toronto Star, along with several other media organizations, applied to unseal search warrants and information used to obtain them in connection with a January 2014 search of homes that belong to members of the Lev Tahor community. The application called on the Quebec court, which issued the warrant, to make the information that led to the search warrant public. It also requested a list of seized property. SOURCE43

2014/2/3 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - Ontario Court Judge Stephen Fuerth upheld the decision of the Quebec Court ordered that the children — with the exception of a 17-year-old who is also married and a mother — be returned to Quebec to the care of child welfare there.   Fuerth said in his decision, “It would be impractical at best and potentially harmful at worst if the society were now required, in the context of the need to protect the children, to conduct a separate and new investigation into all of the issues currently before the Court of Quebec…simply because the parents have decided as a tactical manoeuvre to absent themselves from Quebec in order to frustrate the process of justice that had started.”  Judge Fuerth put a 30-day stay on the order to give the families a chance to appeal. SOURCE44

2014/01/31 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - A mother in the Lev Tahor community who is the subject of a child protection proceeding sent a letter to media outlets decrying the actions of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services and calling out for help. The letter also includes hundreds of pages of court documents filed in her case. The woman had two of her children temporarily removed after social workers discovered what they said was a bruise on the face of a child. She maintains it was permanent marker. The children, a boy and a girl both under five years old, were kept in a foster home for five days and returned. The matter was briefly heard Friday where it was adjourned until April. SOURCE45

2014/01/29 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - Quebec police drove 800 km from Quebec to search two homes in the Lev Tahor settlement in Chatham, Ontario.The Stratford Beacon Herald reported that, "Shortly after 5 p.m., cars carrying eight Quebec police officers, and two Chatham-Kent cruisers, arrived at the Lev Tahor settlement with two warrants and no explanation about what they were looking for." Sources indicated it was for a criminal investigation focused on immigration issues. No arrests were made. SOURCE46

2014/01/20 - Jerusalem, Israel - Canada's Prime Minister Harper on the occasion of the first Canadian leader to address the Israeli Parliament, declared that he believes expression of anti-Zionism to be on par with anti-Semitism. SOURCE47

2014/01/10 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - The hearing was adjourned until January 10, 2014, because one of the children targeted by the court order is also a parent herself and thus will request separate representation from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. SOURCE48

2013/12/23 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - A judge in Chatham adjourned the hearing until January 10, 2014 of the child services case involving Lev Tahor. Earlier that day a ban on the media was lifted by the judge who stated that the matter was of public interest. He also ruled in favour of allowing media access to Lev Tahor court filed documents, under the stipulation that names of witnesses and children go unreported. Chatham-Kent Children’s Services opposed the motion. SOURCE49

2013/12/17 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - A decision was made at a Chatham-Kent courthouse to return the two Lev Tahor children, with conditions, to their families. They had been taken into custody by Children's Aid Society on December 12, 2013.  SOURCE50

- Under the law, the child welfare authorities must appear before a judge within five days of the apprehension to make arrangements for the child until such time that a trial can take place. The issue was set to be heard in court again on January 31st 2014. SOURCE51

2013/12/12 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - Despite the order against removal by the Justice of the Peace, Children's Aid Society removes 2 Lev Tahor children from a Chatham home. SOURCE52 The Star reported that the circumstances around the seizure are not known, but it was told by a source that the children taken into custody were not connected to a Quebec court ruling last month that 14 children be taken into foster care. SOURCE53

2013/12/11 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - Children's Aid Society, Chatham, in a court hearing appealed the denial by the Justice of the Peace of permission for them to remove children from the Lev Tahor community and sought permission to enforce the Quebec court order to seize 14 children from two families living in the Lev Tahor community — including a 17-year-old mother of an infant child, making her both a child and the mother of a child included in the protection proceedings. The case was adjourned until December 23, 2013. SOURCE54

2103/12/11Quebec, Canada - The National Post reported Isabelle Dugré of Centre Jeunesse des Laurentides, child-protection services in the Laurentians, Quebec saying, “Child services here has no power in Ontario. We are still waiting to see if the Quebec judgment will be enforced by Ontario. We are still waiting for the ‘if’ and the ‘when.’”  SOURCE55

2013/12/10 - Professor Yaakov M. Rabkin shared his personal involvement in the long planning stages of the ultimate relocation of the community from Quebec, as he stated: "To avoid controls stipulated in the Quebec Public Education Act, they began planning a move to Ontario several months ago. They spoke to me about this when I visited them last summer with a PhD student in anthropology from Brazil." Exhibit E - Affidavit (General) dated January 30, 2014. SOURCE55.1

2013/12/7 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - A Justice of the Peace in Chatham denied the request to issue a warrant of apprehension against the families and remove children from the Lev Tahor group's homes.  SOURCE56 

2013/12/4  - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - A Justice of the Peace in Chatham was asked by Children's Aid Society to issue a warrant of apprehension against the families without notifying them. SOURCE57

2013/11/29 - Quebec, Canada - The Toronto Star reported "Officials have said they were unable to find any evidence of direct child physical abuse." SOURCE58

2013/11/28 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - Chatham-Kent Children’s Services investigators met with Lev Tahor members, but there was no decision made about how or whether to comply with the Quebec court order. SOURCE59
Quebec, Canada - Youth protection officials were in a daylong conference call about the fate of 14 children ordered to be removed from the radical ultraorthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor. SOURCE60

  - The Montreal Gazetter reported another member of Lev Tahor explaining that the community members had left Quebec because the province's home-schooling regulations are too strict. He denied that there was any neglect suffered by the children. He said the whole ordeal has been orchestrated by authorities in Israel who persecute the group, because it denounces the formation of the state of Israel. He maintained that "(The youth protection director) was under tremendous pressure to find something in our houses because he got hundreds of phone calls and faxes from those people who persecute us for nothing," he said. SOURCE61

2013/11/27 - Quebec, Canada - The day after the Israeli parliament convened an urgent hearing into allegations of child abuse inside the Lev Tahor community The Director of Youth Protection, Denis Baraby, in the absence of the parents, successfully obtained a court ruling from Quebec Judge Pierre Hamel ordering that 14 children ranging in age from 2 months to 16 years, be removed from two families into foster care for thirty days. He said in his ruling that he believed the children were at “serious risk of harm” after hearing testimony from three child-protection workers as well as a former member of the sect, who related what he endured while living in the community and how he ultimately fled the group. SOURCE62

- The judge ordered the community not to contact the children, and contact with the children’s parents had to be supervised by youth protection officials. The children had been ordered to be examined by physicians and psychologists. Among the children slated to be removed was a 16-year-old mother and her infant. SOURCE63
2013/11/26  - Jerusalem, Israel - The Israeli parliament convened an urgent hearing into allegations of child abuse inside the Lev Tahor community being labelled a “cult” after MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu) , a member of Israel’s governing coalition, brought forward a motion last week to hear testimony from government officials, child welfare organizations as well as representatives of Interpol, the global crime-fighting network, about “claims of child abuse.”  SOURCE64
MK Yariv Levin  berated the State Prosecutor’s Office for proceeding slowly with the investigation. “Every day that goes by is a horrendous crime,” he said. Haredi MK’s expressing their disgust at the cult, with MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) recommending that police special units raid the sect “and load them all on trucks.”  In one report, Deputy state prosecutor Galit Greenberg did not say whether Israel had asked Canada to investigate the matter. SOURCE65 but was reported by Arutz Sheva as saying that "Israel is working with Canadian authorities to address the issue" SOURCE66 .

2013/11/26 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - The local police checked in on the community and reported that they were monitoring the situation. Const. Renee Cowell of the Chatham-Kent police said in a statement: "An initial assessment of the children's well-being has been conducted with the assistance of the Chatham-Kent Integrated Children's Services and at this time there are no concerns." SOURCE67

2013/11/24 - Chatham, Ontario, Canada - “We didn’t leave because of the youth protection investigation,” said Mayer Rosner, one of Lev Tahor’s directors Sunday. “We are smart enough to know that the files will be transferred, so that’s not a reason to leave. The only reason is the regulation of education, which changes from province to province.” Chatham-Kent Children’s Services have received files that have been transferred from Quebec on the group, and Nachman Helbrans said they have already met with representatives from the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society. “We are more than happy for the investigation because we know our own innocence,” said Nachman Helbrans. SOURCE68

2013/11/22  - Montreal, Quebec - David Ouellette, public affairs director at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Montreal, said Jewish community services had been active in exposing concerns in Lev Tahor. “They are a sect,” he said. “They are not reflective of Judaic values or any stream of Judaism. They are completely out of the norm.” SOURCE69

2013/11/19-20 - Israel - It was reported in the Times of Israel that the Israeli Foreign Ministry and police worked through the night Tuesday to get information about the safety of the children in Canada. This, according to Oded Twik, an Israeli whose sister and eight children are Lev Tahor members. SOURCE70

2013/11/18Chatham, Ontario, Canada - 40 families from the Lev Tahor group left their homes in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec and relocated overnight to Chatham, Ontario. SOURCE71

2013/11/15Chatham, Ontario, Canada - Deborah Bokh was contacted by the Lev Tahor group by phone to ask for her 12 two-bedroom units. She said that they had visited in early October to examine the property ahead of their planned move. SOURCE72

2013/11/14 - Two Lev Tahor families were due to appear in court with their children.

2013/10/__  - Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, Canada - Six children were removed from the community after their father, who had abandoned the sect and moved to Israel, reported they were suffering neglect. SOURCE73  Lev Tahor claims that the children were taken from their mother before civil court proceedings began. They are now in a Montreal home in the care of an Orthodox Jewish couple. Their father is allowed to visit them every day. SOURCE74 
The Canadian Director of Youth Protection has since ruled that the children would not be returned to Lev Tahor. Lev Tahor appealed, claiming the evidence heard by the court was  not reliable.

2013/10/14 - Tel Aviv, Israel - Relatives of Lev Tahor members and supporters attended a demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv on October 14. the demonstration was organized by Orit Cohen, The brother of a Lev Tahor member still in Israel. VIDEO SOURCE75.

2013/08/07Quebec, Canada - The Quebec Department of Youth Protection’s original intervention began on this date  Aug. 7, 2013 and continued until November 17, 2013. SOURCE76

________ - Quebec, Canada - Nathan Helbrans returned to Montreal and with the support of Ometz (“Bravery” in Hebrew), a Montreal Jewish social services agency, he reported to Canadian authorities that his children were being neglected.

2012/06/_ - Israel - Nathan Helbrans returned to Israel in June after alleged death threats by his father and his followers. He was taken to Israel by Oded Twik, at whose home he has stayed for two months after leaving Lev Tahor. SOURCE77

2012/04/_  - Quebec, Canada - Nathan Helbrans, the son of Rabbi Helbrans, left the Lev Tahor community, leaving behind his wife Hana Helbrans and their children. She had refused to leave the community.

2011/Spring - Quebec, Canada - Canadian authorities at a Montreal airport, intercepted two teenaged girls sent by their parents from Israel via Jordan to join Lev Tahor. A relative in Israel had obtained a court order to have the girls returned based on fears they would be harmed by Lev Tahor and forced to marry. SOURCE78
- Mr. Baraby later said that his office began paying closer attention to the group after this incident. But it was a specific complaint channeled through a Jewish community social services agency in Montreal in 2013 that prompted intervention in August of that year. SOURCE79

2005/10/05 - Quebec, Canada - A Federal Court ruling upheld Rabbi Helbrans' refugee status in Canada after it had been appealed by the federal Minister of Citizenship. The judge found that Rabbi Helbrans could not be considered safe in Israel, in part because his "religious belief and opinion are against the mere existence of Israel as an independent country." SOURCE80

2003-2004 - Quebec, Canada - Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans was granted refugee status in Canada on the grounds that he would face persecution in Israel for his anti-Zionist views.  SOURCE81

2001 - Quebec, Canada - Lev Tahor leader, Shlomo Helbrans arrived in Canada on a temporary visa and his followers moved to Ste. Agathe, about 100 kilometers north of Montreal. Rabbi Helbrans  petitioned the Canadian government for refugee status, claiming persecution in Israel for his anti-Zionist opinions. SOURCE82

Lev Tahor: "Fear can cause unwise actions."

The letter "Fear can cause unwise actions." which I have pasted at the bottom of this page was written last Sunday to the editor of the Chatham Daily News. For me, it appeared like another candle being lit in the darkness. There is a vigil being kept by voices that are thankfully not shrill and bloodthirsty. There are a few more like these available online and I have been trying to collect them all. I imagine that there are many other people who are not speaking out but who are also experiencing the disquiet which I have been trying to work through here. I hope also that behind the scenes, others are witnessing as they stand alongside the community. Fear is part of the disquiet - fear within and without that something is very wrong.

Yesterday I read the document, "With Liberty and Justice for All...? The Trial and Prosecution of Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans." By Yacob Y. Zick, 1997.

I assure you that you will not regret also taking the time to read it because it is my belief that it sets the record straight on this matter at least. It is absolutely, absolutely essential reading for those following the Lev Tahor case, especially those who are not content to accept without question, the stories that have been handed to us thus far. This document provides credible descriptions of events as they unfolded in the community and the courts before, during and after the 1994 conviction of Rabbi Helbrans in the USA for kidnapping and supplies documentary evidence to prove that justice was not served, but instead energetically and maliciously perverted.

The entire document is arresting. I am sharing below, two statements by credible witnesses to the events. Their assessments should make us all think twice, because if these statements can also be made about this present situation in Canada, then we are in a very bad place as a society. If this situation is not resolved with justice for all, then another group of people will be fully justified in asking questions about genocide. We know that this question is now being examined in relation to the Canadian First Nations people who were direct victims of Canada's Residential Schools and survived to tell their horrific stories of a systematic attempt to break and bury an unwanted culture. "Forcibly  transferring children of one group to another group" is listed among the acts of genocide included in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. This activity is  not something that can ever again be taken lightly and hopefully today there is a new breed of Canadians standing guard to ensure that we do not get to the point where victims asking for justice are again victimised by courts finagling the guilty away from a moral and legal interpretation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Violence on this scale is never accidental.  In this case unfolding now before us, can conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity be proven?

I repeat again that it is not that we do not want all our children to be safe and loved. This is a given. And we also support the authorities' responsibility to investigate allegations that any residents of this country are endangered. What is causing the disquiet in this case is that some of us are not convinced by the evidence, or rather, the lack thereof, that this situation warranted the persecutory and penalising actions that have been taken thus far by the authorities. Those of us who are increasingly aware that the law does not always deliver justice are not about to offer unconditional respect and acquiescence to the rulings of any courts. This is ultimately not an adversarial stance but an effort to arrive at some position that is just. As Bernard Fryshman urges below, it is right and fitting that people should be thinking, reviewing, writing and asking....particularly asking. Barring the uncovering of any sinister motives, a transparent and positive outcome for all will prove that all of our voices had the same motivation - the courage to err on the side of the children.

"Rabbi Barry Kupperson, Religious Zionist leader writes:

"In my personal and community life I am a true Zionist. The differences between the views of Rabbi Helbrans and my own are vast, literally at the extreme ends of religious Jewry. He strongly opposes my Zionist philosophy and the better part of his books are dedicated to fighting the whole concept of Zionism. Similarly I sharply oppose most of his views.

However, even I must say!

As a Jew and Zionist I am alarmed! The Israeli aspirations of religious persecution have pained me for a long time. It hurts me to see how secular and even 'religious national' journalists conduct slanderous campaigns against religious Jews. These articles - in my opinion - are written in a manner which can almost rival the Nazi 'Shtirmer' by Julius Streicher of the pre-Holocaust era.

I am extremely perturbed and distraught, not only by what was done to Rabbi Helbrans, but by the entire degrading slander which Israeli secular society incites against the religious factions. Is this what I have sacrificed my very being for? Is this why I have donated to every conceivable Israeli organization for the past twenty five years? This is in total contradiction to the good and beauty which I believed and still believe Israeli society to possess.

I know that many Israelis are irreligious and that the government is controlled by the secular parties. I still believe, however, that Zionsism represents the adherence to the Jewish Nation. That is what I preach and believe!

If, however, official government organisations such as the Israeli Consulate, in conjunction with the Israeli press, can organize such a libel --p. 59

and then ship it to a foreign country...as was done in this case...then I must reexamine this assumption and question myself whether Zionism still represents adherence to the Jewish nation." --p 60

"It was not circumstances which led to an innocent man being convicted of kidnapping to a jail term and finally to the verge of deportation. It was people. Powerful people, and unfriendly people. I am convinced that law alone will not suffice to undo some of the harm inflicted on Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans. Rather it will be people of good will, concerned over the train of justice visited on Rabbi Helbrans, who will make a difference. Hence this review. Hopefully, it will get people to think, to review, to write and to ask. Particularly to ask." ----Bernard Fryshman SOURCE

Letter to the editor.
Chatham Daily News | Sunday, March 23, 2014
Fear can cause unwise actions.

Sir: I was interested in Greg Van Moorsel’s column “Jewish sect far from persecuted” in March 21 issue of The Chatham Daily News. He’s writing about the 200 members of Lev Tahor, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, who suddenly arrived in Chatham last November. I have spoken to these people in town and I find them to be quiet and gentle.

I don’t know much about their background. According to the CBC, which did a program about them on Fifth Estate in February, the group’s name means Pure Heart. They were fleeing from Quebec because, they said, their religious studies were at odds with Quebec’s curriculum. This is understandable because Quebec’s laws are a law unto themself. Also it seems the Quebec government was accusing Lev Tahor of neglecting their children, forcing girls to marry under the age of 16 and not letting the children receive adequate education. The Quebec youth protection services were determined to take a group of children away and put them in foster homes which would have been very traumatic to the poor youngsters. Yet none of these allegations have been proven in court.

I am not sure about the legal implications and at this point I don’t really care! I’m sure Justice Stephen Fuerth went by the law – that is if a judge in Ontario has the legal authority to hear a child-protection case begun in Quebec. But my heart bleeds for those dear children, some of whom are apparently in hospital on hunger strikes. Others have carted to western Canada and to Trinidad and Tobago en route to Guatemala. They must be terrified and we must pray they will recover. Now they have offended many by wearing yellow Stars of David, the symbol that Hitler's Nazis used to mark Jews for torture and death.

OK. These people have different beliefs from us. They dress differently. They have done some strange things but to the casual observer they seem to be gentle people. Israel doesn’t like them and they don’t like Israel.

But a lot of us don’t agree with many other people. But how would you react if police cruisers come speeding along the 401 from Quebec and Chatham-Kent police help to search your homes. Perhaps you would be angry or maybe just fearful. You do some strange things when you’re scared.

These people had come here – to Chatham – to what they believed was their New Dawn Settlement, the name of the community where we welcomed runaway slaves. Those runaway American slaves were probably terrified by the unusual. Just like the Lev Tahor were scared by the way in which they were treated. So they started doing unwise things, like leaving the country. People do foolish things when they face fear. Charles Stanley once wrote that “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence and the downward spiral begins."

There must have been a better way of handling this. Not armed police. Thank God some people I know actually visited this community and spoke to them in love. If everybody had done this, things might be very different.

I’m sorry to be so long-winded but I have been musing and praying about this situation since it all began.

Stephen J. Beecroft


Stephen Beecroft, don't ever lose your humanity.

Death Threats issued to Toronto priest for commemorating Hugo Chavez.

by Steve da Silva | BasicNews.ca | March 19, 2014.

"One of Toronto’s inner suburbs has become a focal point in the ongoing struggle in Venezuela between the Bolivarian transition to socialism and the fascist resistance that has been developing over the last month.

With its face to the bustling city moving past it on Dufferin, just a little south of Lawrence, the quaint little church of San Lorenzo appears as a modest sight to unwitting passersby. But the small church, and its Latin American Community Centre to the rear, are more than simple sites of worship.

Since its establishment in 1997, the San Lorenzo parish has become a beacon for many in the Latin American community who have fled fascist dictatorships and military juntas over the decades from places like Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala. But its message and ministry amount to more than a salve for the restless migrant soul, more than a home away from home. In the words of the Church’s patron saint, San Lorenzo: “The poor are the treasures of the church.”

That this church actually treasures the poor (as opposed to seeing the poor as a source of its treasures) can be seen in the day-to-day activities that drive the vibrant community organization that has built up around San Lorenzo. Its community centre is home to Radio Voces Latinas 1660 AM, Canada’s only 24-hour Latin American radio station and a key alternative to commercial news, views, and music that dominate the spectrum.

San Lorenzo is also the organizer of the annual “Inti Raymi – Festival of the Sun,” which draws thousands into Christie Pits under the summer sun to to mark the celebration of the summer solstice in the tradition of the Andean region’s Indigenous peoples. The festival routinely raises thousands of dollars for the church’s solidarity missions and charity drives.

Among those programs include fundraising drives for disaster relief in Haiti, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Venezuela; as well as the community centre’s “Caravan of Hope,” which drives decommissioned ambulances and wheel-trans buses to El Salvador annually.

However, over the years, San Lorenzo and its priest Hernan Astudillo, have courted more controversy than one may think such acts of humanitarianism would invite. When charity becomes solidarity — when one proceeds from charitable handouts to morally and materially supporting struggles to emancipate people from their class oppression — some hearts simply stop bleeding for the poor.

As the old proverb has it, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” But what if this man is violently dispossessed of his fishing rod? His family chased away from his lake-side community and into the urban slums? What if the rivers are being poisoned by large corporations?

It is the understanding that such social inequalities are the basis for poverty and suffering that drives San Lorenzo’s and Hernan Astudillo’s theology, which is part of the liberation theology tradition in Latin America that has prioritized the poor and their emancipation and which is seen as reflecting historical Jesus’s lived practice.

"We don't practice the theology of the conquerors. 
We follow the theology of the historical Jesus Christ, 
a man who gave his life for equal rights, 
a man who fighting the Roman Empire."  - Father Hernan

This past March 9th, San Lorenzo held a mass to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez — a tradition in keeping with past ceremonies held by the church for Latin America’s champions of the poor, with masses marking the deaths of various fighters for freedom, from the assassinated Che Guevera to the murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Romero was the Catholic bishop in El Salvador who was assassinated in 1980 in wave of terror that targeted thousands of leftists, including many clerical elements. Romero is also a key figure in Latin America’s liberation theology tradition.

I did the mass in honour of Hugo Chavez, who I consider with all humility, a very holy man,” priest Hernan Astudillo told BASICS. The result was predictable and sadly not unfamiliar to Astudillo and the church.

I received a fax saying they would ‘eliminate’ me personally… basically, a death threat, they will kill me. We have received death threats over the phone. We have received two messages: One sent by email from an anti-communist organization insulting our people who work on the radio station, saying that they are going to take out our [radio] antenna.”

On March 6, the church received a letter from an organization calling itself “Contracomunistas” in which the Radio Voces Latinas was cited as a target. On March 12, the fax threatening Father Hernan’s life came in.

But the threats are nothing new for Father Hernan: “This reminds me how when 14 years ago I performed a mass for Monsignor Oscar Romero in this same church, I had also received death threat letters because I was holding a mass for a ‘communist bishop’.”

If only this was all just some verbal aggressiveness from the Latin American community’s right wing, the threats could perhaps be dismissed as posturing from disgruntled elements anxious about their oligarchic families and classes losing their grips on power back home. But a history of these threats actually materializing on the Church gives great cause for concern.

In 2006, the antenna of Radio Voces Latinas was discovered to have been shot after having experienced some unknown technical problems for a period of time.

BASICS asked Father Hernan if the threats have ever translated into bodily harm: “I’ve received death threats more than ten times and on two occasions, a group has stolen money from us during our summer festival at Christie Pits park. In September 2008, they even came to my office, hit me, and dislocated my right shoulder. They were trying to instigate me to react violently, but I refused to.

Father Hernan drew out the irony and hypocrisy of the attacks on his church’s concern with the poor and their social struggles: “I’ve been meditating over how during this time of Lent [the season of penance and prayer leading into Easter], I might receive even more letters like this [death threats] as I prepare mass for Jesus Christ, because he was really far stronger than Monsignor Oscar Romero and many other martyrs and prophets in the world. His actions, his life, his decisions were always with the poor people.

BASICS asked Father Hernan if he’s seen any of this opposition or resistance to the church’s pro-poor messaging and its socialist sympathies from within his own parish: “This is from outside. This parish knows what kind of theology we have. We don’t practice the theology of the conquerors. We follow the theology of the historical Jesus Christ, a man who gave his life for equal rights, a man who was fighting the Roman Empire.

Jesus Christ was not a person who was faking his spirituality in his life. He was a wonderful human being with a pure and transparent identity, to rehumanize the world he was living in at the time in Nazareth and Galilee.”

BASICS correspondent and San Lorenzo parishioner Pablo Vivanco was also in attendance at the March 9 mass for Chávez, which brought out a single anti-Chávez protestor.

One individual brought out a placard in the mass that stated something to the effect of honoring the ‘student martyrs’ in Venezuela,” Vivanco commented.

Of course, the names he had on there (some of them incorrectly spelled) were of Chavistas and others killed by the violent opposition in Venezuela. One of the names this individual was hailing as a ‘martyr’ was Juan Montoya [killed in mid February], who was actually a prominent member the Tupamaros.”

The Tupamaros is a decades-old leftist guerrilla organization with a strong base in some of Caracas’ poor neighbourhoods that has been supportive but independent of the Venezuelan government.

So it’s entirely disingenuous to claim Montoya’s death for the opposition cause, and equally dishonest to not acknowledge that the vast majority of people who have been killed in the last month are the result of the opposition and their actions,” a fact of the reality in Venezuela that is being assiduously documented by independent researchers.

But the right wing sectors in the community unfortunately do not have this sort of tolerance,” Vivanco elaborated. “This isn’t the first time that threats have been issued against Father Hernan for his principled stances. What’s more concerning is that the violent right wing opposition in Venezuela is killing people and has also attacked media and journalists, so who knows if those allied with the opposition in Venezuela will try something like that here.”

In 2010, Father Hernan Astudillo visited Venezuela to learn about the vast expansion of popular media projects in the country and to deliver the community-generated funds to victims of landslides.

From his own experiences in the country, Father Hernan shared with BASICS his view that: “The opposition in Venezuela is fighting not because they want to help the poor people, but because they want Venezuela’s oil wealth to themselves. They are not fighting because they want to help the poor people, like President Hugo Chavez did. That finally poor people have hope is beautiful.“

The evidence of the threats against San Lorenzo and Hernan Astudillo are now in the hands of Toronto Police Services. BASICS contacted 13 Division’s Criminal Investigations Bureau on the morning of March 19, but the assigned detectives were not available at the time of publication for comment.

With the legitimacy that the Canadian government has given to the violent opposition and the blame for violence that is has misattributed to the Venezuelan government, we shall see if the threats against San Lorenzo will be treated with the same severity that such threats would be met with if they threatened a corporate leader or a Canadian politician. Updates on this investigation will be made here." SOURCE

Now let us see if those who claim to love Venezuela and her people so much, will gladly accept the following offers from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the Vatican.

"In a meeting at the Presidency with Governors and mayors, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reiterated Monday night an invitation to dialogue with various political and social sectors on Wednesday.

"I am confident that [the dialogue] will lead to important agreements regarding the future of the nation. But foremost we must respect ourselves and respect the Constitution", Maduro said in Spanish at the end of the meeting. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles refused to attend in a show of opposition to what he described as the "violation of human rights and repression" against protesters." SOURCE

"VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Friday it was "willing and desirous" to intervene diplomatically in Venezuela's crisis after weeks of deadly unrest but says it must study expectations and options about what role it could play.

On Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accepted the idea of a good-faith facilitator after coming under mounting pressure to reconcile with opponents who have been protesting for nearly three months. He mentioned Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, until last year the Vatican's ambassador to Caracas." SOURCE