Welcome to Chatham-Kent?

Lev Tahor member Uriel Goldman stands outside the Chatham courthouse on December 23, 2013. Photo Greg Holden
Lev Tahor member Uriel Goldman stands outside the Chatham courthouse on December 23, 2013. Photo Greg Holden

By Greg Holden

By now you have heard of the Lev Tahor, their struggles with authorities and how they dress. Other readers may have seen miriamhelbrans.com or many of the written articles on the conviction of their leader, Shlomo Helbrans, for kidnapping in the US. What isn’t in black and white print is the unspoken mistrust of the Lev Tahor in our community. While some people are pleased to express their dislike of the Lev Tahor in online banter, many people leave it unsaid. Our curiosity about them is piqued by their unique fashion, as a community they distinguish themselves as different. The time is ripe to ask, has the welcome expressed to the Lev Tahor to Chatham-Kent made you proud?

The stares in the shopping centres give us away, we are curious about the Lev Tahor. The news that they arrived in town immediately carried a negative tone with the Chatham Daily News identifying them as the Jewish Taliban, fostering a xenophobic atmosphere of misinformation. Sun Media has been taking a blistering series of condemnations for their reporting on the case on social media, aggravated by Jane Sims continued usage of the term Jewish Taliban. The prejudice runs so deep that it is accepted in mainstream media. The Taliban are not listed as a terrorist organization in Canada, however at least one foreign government does list them as a terrorist organization. The fear sprung up everywhere, in seniors centres, coffee shops and online. Reporters showed up on their doorstep by the dozen and with all that coverage many people remain curious. What are they really like? Are they to be compared with terrorists? The Lev Tahor take their religion seriously. That religion causes them to be a people of peace. They maintain a strict way of life to align with their interpretation of the Torah. That interpretation also includes that Jewish people should not have a homeland, a national government, so they are anti-Zionist. This controversial position pits them against the government of Israel and their supporters. It is also part of why they were given refugee status in Canada. The Lev Tahor say that Israel should be populated by arab people and not exist as a country. While this runs against most people’s political perspective, so too does voting NDP. Canada allows for dissenting political views. Our need to know, to pry, into these people’s lives and render that they might be compared to terrorists is how history will record their welcome here. Fleeing Chatham comes to mind.

There are others in Chatham who support the Lev Tahor. “I love them”, one supporter told me. The shame these people feel for the reception the Lev Tahor have had in Chatham-Kent has been muted by an avalanche of fear expressed in online comments for them to leave immediately… and worse. When I moved to Chatham I didn’t have a media horde on my front lawn and if I did they would know what my derriere looked like. The community that is the Lev Tahor in Chatham are a large group, not just one person or family, who sought out this area as a refuge. They have praised the Chatham-Kent police and mayor Hope after speaking with each of them. When no crime has been committed by any of their entire community, while this publication has daily reports of others in the community committing crimes and so long as the Lev Tahor are depicted with negative stereotypes, the question remains; does the welcome that the Lev Tahor have had in Chatham-Kent represent you?

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23 Responses to "Welcome to Chatham-Kent?"

  1. Joanne Lefebvre   February 6, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Of course not. Would love to support these families in their quest to find a peaceful home to raise their children in. Seemed a bit of a witch hunt by cas and we know they can overstep their own boundries as we have watched them time and time again.if there is merit in the Quebec charges then cas needs to explain what they are looking for when they have raided their homes. If not leave them to peacefully raise their children with their religious values and freedoms. Chatham residents need to be less judgemental and more accepting of choice of religion and life style. As far as I’m concerned as long as the children are been loved and cared for and not abused we need to support our new citizens of Chatham kent.

  2. John Descoteaux   February 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Well, if you are going to dress differently, flee jurisdiction after jurisdiction to avoid prosecution, not send your kids to School with mine, refuse to say “Hi, howtcha do?”, don’t expect me to welcome ya!

    • darlene burk   February 7, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      they didn’t “flee” and if you had the slightest clue about facts in this case , you’d be a bit embarrassed by your own comment.

      • John Descoteaux   February 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm

        They fled from Israel. They fled from New York. They fled from Quebec. Do you really think the Press and Media of the entire world is locked together in some vast conspiracy to mislead me but not you?

        • darlene burk   February 7, 2014 at 11:16 pm

          I think flee is a STRONG word……in this case…under the Charter of rights…..

          • John Descoteaux   February 8, 2014 at 6:56 am

            “Flee” and “Fled” are from World Wide Press accounts. No, no one is obliged to fit in. However, there are consequences for looking and acting differently. My ire is raised when their Spokesman says ‘We are Proud Jewish people living in Canada but we are NOT ‘Proud Canadians’ “. I was legally bound to send my Children to School. Why should this screwy inbred lot be exempt? )Hsidic are amoung the most inbred groups in the world.)

          • Greg Holden   February 13, 2014 at 2:30 am

            The Lev Tahor are not the only people who homeschool. It is quite legal.

            It was not a spokesman who said they are not proud Canadians, it was one of the women in the Lev Tahor in what was a candid discussion. She isn’t a Canadian at all, she is a refugee. Her comment was in reference to learning Canadian history and she is in error, even those who home school must cover certain basics. Being wrong in her stance is no reason to apprehend her children. It is reason to correct her on the education standards required for all children in the province, even those who are home schooled.

            Calling people inbreds is simply a weak slur. Unfounded and uncalled for.

          • John Descoteaux   February 13, 2014 at 10:04 am

            So the Genealogists and Geneticists are wrong? All those inherited genetic caused diseases don’t exist and they all look like clones because of the weather. OK. Thank you for the Quote correction. I defer to your knowledge of Home Schooling but, we didn’t have that option years ago. The law required attendance at School until 16. We wouldn’t have that option today because we both would have to work as we did then. My Grand Children are being Home Schooled and I don’t like or agree with it. They should be exposed to other children, faiths and be taught evolution!

            I do thank you for your article and this forum. If we don’t communicate, many of us will labour under false impressions or erroneous ideas and not learn empathy for others.

  3. Gabriel   February 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    This is not journalism! Where is the evidence disproving all the claims other world media have made about this cult? Did you ask Supreme Leader Self Appointed Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans how did his 14 year old daughter come to be pregnant? Have you seen any Jewish Marriage Documents that disprove the cult’s claims that they are waiting, as per Canadian law, for children to reach the age of 16 before they are married? According to other investigative news reporters, there are 7 suspected cases where only proof denying that claim was offered in 1. Evidence was provided proving others. This is child abuse at it’s worst. Raising your children to only believe in the Torah, and to have them believe the only way to a Pure Heart is to accept the interpretations of the learned Supreme Leader leads to child marriages, child pregnancies, abuse, and whole raft of issues that come with maintaining a cult lifestyle.

    Hey, as the daughter said ”

    “Why teach the history of Canada?” she says. “We are Jewish people. We are proud to live in Canada, but we are not proud Canadians.”

    I do not know what your agenda is, but accepting the spoken propaganda of the community leaders and printing it as fact, without any corroborating evidence and then trying to guilt people into welcoming them; is a disservice to yourself as a reporter and this publication.

    Hey, the detractors could be wrong, and so could I, but you have not proved anything, and until proven otherwise I will continue to believe that this cult Lev Tahor will adhere to God’s word as written in his good book, and living the laws of the land do not get you into heaven.

    • Greg Holden   February 12, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      This is an editorial and is not being represented as investigative journalism. At no point does this editorial write that anything the Lev Tahor says is fact. It only speaks to the issue of the welcome the Lev Tahor have had in Chatham-Kent.

      No-one in the LevTahor has been convicted of a crime in Canada. If you have proof otherwise, go ahead and show it. That is how it works when you make a claim. My article makes no such claims. You however do and have placed the burden of proof on yourself to substantiate your many claims. Feel free to when you have the time.

      You clearly have no idea what a cult is. The Lev Tahor are a sect. At no point was that a point in my article either. Raising your nonsense as you did, has no application to what is said in the article.

      • Gabriel   February 12, 2014 at 11:20 pm

        “fostering a xenophobic atmosphere of misinformation”

        Where is the information Greg? You never asked because you have some cross to bear and you want to be the guy standing up for freedoms, when in reality the children in Lev Tahor will never know freedom; and your cheerleading, everyone else is guilty of xenophobia editorials will just ensure that those children remain uneducated, child married, babies popping out babies. Long live the Torah!

        • Greg Holden   February 12, 2014 at 11:55 pm

          What fosters the xenophobic atmosphere of misinformation are the repeated hostile labels of calling the Lev Tahor the “Jewish Taliban”.

          There are no Jewish Taliban. The Taliban are all muslims. The information you seek is misinformation and it is in the Chatham-Daily News often.

          • John Descoteaux   February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm

            They are sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Taliban” in Israel I understand, but I’ve never heard of them being bombers or anything.

        • Greg Holden   February 12, 2014 at 11:59 pm

          You attempt to speak for me again, yet, again you fail to represent what I think or say.

          This article does not plea for anyones freedoms.It asks about the contentment in our community about how the Lev Tahor have been treated in Chatham-Kent and if that treatment represents how they believe the Lev Tahor should be treated.

        • Greg Holden   February 13, 2014 at 12:06 am

          Prove the children are uneducated. Prove they marry children. Prove that they have babies popping out babies.

          I met a 17 year old mother of the Lev Tahor and spoke with her freely. In Canada she can marry legally at 16 and if you don’t like that then call your MP and ask that it be looked at.

          I dislike like the idea of people getting married at 16 myself. And so, you think I should jump all over the Lev Tahor because they pursue 16 year olds for marriage? That won’t happen. I don’t care THAT much. I respect the right of 16 year olds to leave home on their own accord, quit school, get a job, be their own person. Get married for that matter. I wouldn’t advise it, but it is their life and not mine.

          That is the law whether you like it or not. Get it changed if it upsets you. Good luck.

        • Greg Holden   February 13, 2014 at 12:08 am

          People are free in Canada to live their lives in such a way that abides by a strict interpetation of the Torah. To deny people that is simply absurd and even the government and CAS is not doing that.

          They have struggles with authorities, but not a single authority speaks as you do here.

    • Greg Holden   February 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Clearly you have no idea who I am. To suggest I would ever accept spoken propoganda as fact is absurd. I offered to debate the Lev Tahor on the existence of god and I am easily one of the most competent atheist speakers around anywhere.

      I would devestate any one of them on the topic of absolute truth, to which their theology relies.

      Perhaps you should be the one doing some research?

      Demonstrating you are an ass was easy for you, reach higher, expect better of yourself.

      • Gabriel   February 12, 2014 at 11:24 pm

        I know who you are. I challenged you a couple days prior to investigate both sides, but instead you quit ‘in disgust’ and obviously you have not bothered to ask any real questions in that time.

        • Greg Holden   February 12, 2014 at 11:52 pm

          This editorial says nothing about either side of the battle you wage. It speaks to the reception that the Lev Tahor have had in CK.

          Your ability to read this editorial and find that I repeat as fact what the Lev Tahor say, when the Lev Tahor were not consulted on this editorial, is a sign that you are seeing things.

          • Gabriel   February 13, 2014 at 1:24 am

            I guess if Charlie Manson and his ilk move to Chatham Kent, you’ll be all arms wide open, eh?

          • Greg Holden   February 13, 2014 at 2:21 am

            You first hallucinate that I cited as fact the spoken words of the Lev Tahor and you support that with an insane analogy to Charles Manson?

            Great comedy act.

    • John Descoteaux   February 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

      This is an editorial, not a News Story. Are they getting a fair deal or a Welcome? Or, are people giving them a hard time? Are we getting the wrong impression from Mainstream Media? Are we being swayed by by generations of prejudice in our families? I believe I am.

  4. Gayle   February 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Listen. I know someone that is in this cult. I know what goes on. They are not dangerous people to anyone else except the people who are in the group. The “rabbi” uses many ways to mind control these people. He deprives them of sleep and deprives them of food. I have seen and heard it myself. Also they do belive in punishing children. That includes beating, and moving them out of their families house into another for a week or how ever long. They all get about 4 hours of sleep a night no excuses. They learn everyday all day. Also they arent “home schooled” They have a school where teachers teach but there is no cirriculum its all what Herlbrans made up. They are supposed to suffer for god so that the messiah will come. Also i do not have evidence or proof that they marry under 16 but i did hear of a few stories from others who were in the cult and one who is in it and they have said that Helbrans marries 14 15 yr old girls off to older men. For one example that man who wrote the article in whom i spoke to before , he escaped with his 15 yr old pregnant wife.
    in conclusion, this cult is only dangerous to the people who are members. They will not harm you. Shlomo Helbrans is the man who should be looked down upon. I do not think it is right to laugh and people point or stair no matter how they dress. But most of these people in the cult dont know right from wrong. They do not think for themselves. They are under mind control and it is the scariest thing to see happen to a person who was once a regular person who thought for themselves.

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