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.