Thursday, 27 February 2014
Monday, 24 February 2014
Sunday, 23 February 2014
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Quebec police started probing the Lev Tahor ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect after hearing nearly two years ago of allegations that teen-aged girls were confined in basements and married by force to older men, according to unsealed search-warrant applications. The court documents also allege that children from other countries were brought to the Hasidic community to be married after false reasons were given in the immigration process. Followers were kept under “psychogical control” with medications, and government money given to families was managed by the community leader, the documents say.
The documents are part of applications for search warrants from the Sûreté du Québec. They were unsealed on Friday at the request of several media outlets, including The Globe and Mail. The provincial police executed the warrants last month at homes belonging to members of the Lev Tahor community in Quebec and Ontario. The allegations have not been tested in court.
The community was based in the Laurentians town of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, until it moved to the Chatham-Kent area, near Windsor, Ont., last November, citing fears Quebec officials would remove the children. Judges in Quebec and Ontario have ordered 14 of the children placed in temporary foster care because of allegations of neglect and abuse. The judgments are being appealed. The search-warrant filings allege a young woman said she was hit with a belt and a coat hanger and a pregnant 17-year told nurses at a hospital she was beaten by her brother, sexually abused by her father and married by force to a 30-year-old man when she was 15.
Investigators were told children had to drink water mixed with an unknown green powder and that “all kinds of pills” were bought from a pharmacy and given to people without explanation. One man was quoted as saying someone “diagnosed with him a personality disorder and wanted him to take medications. He said that taking medications was compulsory if one disobeyed the community’s orders. He said that [blacked-out name] was beaten with a stick because she was not listening.” Another person also told police about beatings with sticks, crowbars, whips and belts. “He was forced to take pills during meal times three times a day.” That person said he was placed in a family he was not acquainted with when he joined the Lev Tahor. “There was nothing to eat. He had to beg. They all had to shave their hair.”
The witness said he saw a woman struck in the face because she did not want to wear the burqa-like outfit for women that has led Israeli media to call the group the Jewish Taliban. The witness added that “no one could keep money, everything had to be handed to Shlomo,” the document said. The Lev Tahor’s spiritual leader is Rabbi Shlomo Elbarnes, who is also known as Shlomo Helbrans. Mr. Elbarnes, who ran a yeshiva in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty in 1994 to a charge of conspiracy to kidnap after allegations he tried to convert a teenaged boy to his brand of Judaism against the wishes of his parents. He fled to Canada in 2001 on a temporary visa. The next year, the Federal Court upheld a decision that granted him refugee status.
Quebec police began hearing allegations against the community in April, 2012. Girls who were 13 or 14 were disciplined by being held in house basements while girls who were 14 to 15 were married to adult men, the police documents said. Children were also taken from their biological parents if the community leader deemed that they were not taught properly, the document added. “There are about 20-30 children who have changed families. [A person who spoke to authorities] said that some children adapt well and return to their families but that others are upset, cry a lot,” the warrant application says. It refers to a 14-year-old girl who spoke with Quebec child-welfare officials. “She didn’t want to return to the community because she had been betrothed to a man, she’s very scared. She seems very indoctrinated. Community members are very present ... to intimidate the young girl into not talking,” the warrant application said.
Another person, apparently the mother of a community member, told police about “the psychological control that her daughter imposed on the children, telling them there are black angels who will come get them and they will burn in Hell.” After taking statements from some Lev Tahor members, police and child-protection officials visited the community in August, 2013. Denis Baraby, director of Centre jeunesse des Laurentides, had to negotiate for an hour before doors were opened, the court filings say. “During the negotiations between Mr. Baraby and the leaders, police officers at the scene ... noticed a lot of movement between the houses and a man went from house to house with a paper bag in hand. Once officials were finally able to enter inside the houses, women and men there were able right away to produce their identification papers, passports, immigration papers and health cards.”
Last fall, Quebec authorities heard that community members had gone to Ontario in three buses. The bus company told police that it was contacted two days before the move by a man offering to pay cash. The group has said it is persecuted by Quebec authorities. On its website, a post this week said the grand rabbi had remained in Ste-Agathe during the relocation and departed for Chatham, Ont., on Feb. 6. The website links to a video showing Mr. Elbarnes as he left for Ontario, wearing a prayer shawl, holding a Torah and speaking Yiddish. English subtitles have him comparing Quebec police and child welfare officials to notorious Nazi leaders such as Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering. “It does not matter what you wear, what uniform you have or medal you earned, no matter if you are policeman, whether you are ‘child protection,’ or a judge ... what difference does it make to the human being, to the human nation if he’s referred to as a judge, a minister or he’s referred to as Dr. Goebbels, or Mr. Goering.”
Friday, 14 February 2014
The machlokes between factions in the Eida Chareidis has resulted in a major event, Ravaad HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita announcing he is suspending himself from his position. Two dayanim decided to follow suit, announcing they are siding with the ravaad.
The ravaad announced on Wednesday, 12 Adar I 5774 that if Eida Chareidis Gavaad HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss Shlita attends the protest against the ongoing construction at the Beit Shemesh Golovnititz project he would step down. Rav Sternbuch released his psak a long time ago after investigating the matter in-depth; ruling that for as long as construction was taking place in adherence to his guidelines, there was no fear of compromising kevarim.
However, Asra Kadisha, which is headed by Rabbi Dovid Shmidel Shlita, never accepted this and the organization continues protests and efforts to halt the construction. The sikrikim have been enjoying the machlokes, doing their best to feed the dispute.
On Wednesday, despite Rav Sternbuch’s threat, the gavaad traveled to the protest but at the last moment, opted to remain in the vehicle and not address the tzibur.
The ravaad on Thursday 13 Adar I announced he is stepping down, resulting in harsh pashkavilim against him from sikrikim.
It appears there was a great deal of disinformation surrounding Wednesday’s protests in Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem’s Kikar Shabbos, including pashkavilim that the Toldos Aaron Rebbe Shlita and Dushinsky Rebbe Shlita said not to participate. Other pashkavilim stated that HaGaon HaRav Dovid Solovechik Shlita was going to participate, and later opted out.
Since these events, the ravaad has announced his decision and there is enormous pressure on him to reverse his decision.
Badatz members HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Mendel Yurovich Shlita and HaGaon HaRav Naftoli Hertzka Frenkel Shlita have visited the ravaad at home and informed him that are following his lead but also asked if he might reconsider towards maintaining achdus in the Eida.
כידוע אחד מראשי הפטרונים של אתרא קדישא, הינו הנגיד האגדי בעריש גרוס
מלונדון מראשי הקהלה של סאטמאר ראדני בלונדון, שעד לאחרונה נתן גיבוי מלא
ולחם לטובתם, והוא אף היה מראשי היוזמים של המכתב שהוציאו הקהלה שלו,
המכוון נגד ראשי עמותת גבעת ירושלים העסקנים המהוללים סלונים שישא
ופופניהם, כאילו והם האחראים לחפירות, ולכן צריך להחרים אותם, ואת הקהלות
שלהם הנותנים להם מחסה, קרי דושינסקיא ותולדות אהרן ורחמסריווקא, בתואנה
ש'לאו עכברא גנב אלא חורא גנב'....והתוצאות לא אחרו לבוא בתקיפה אלימה
בבית מדרשם נגד האדמור מדושינסקיא וכו'
וכעת מתברר שהנגיד גרוס עשה סיבוב פרסה וגם הוא התוודע לשקרים ולסלופים
של 'אתרא קדישא'', והגדיל לעשות בצעד חריף ויוצא דופן, ונותן כעת אכסניא
בביתו להעסקן הנכבד הרב אברהם סלונים, שנחת היום בלונדון לרגל שמחת
החתונה של הנגיד הרב יעקב יוסף אורזל, ופני עסקני אתרא חפו, ולא יודעים
את נפשם האיך התהפך להם הספונסר הכי גדול, וחבר למחנה של גבעת ירושלים,
וזאת לאחר שהצליחו לגרום לנתק ביניהם בשנה האחרונה יודעי דבר טוענים
שהגורם המרכזי לשינוי היה המכתב המוחץ של המוצי"ם וכן הכבוד שנתן לו
אתמול האדמור מפשעווארסק.
יצויין שנערי אתרא מתכננים כעת הפגנות נגד ידידם לשעבר בסגנון של תמות
נפשי עם פלישתים....
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
An Ontario judge has upheld a Quebec ruling ordering 13 children in the Lev Tahor sect to be surrendered to child welfare authorities. However, the children will remain in Chatham-Kent with their families pending a 30-day appeal period.
"We're disappointed," Chris Knowles, the lawyer representing the Lev Tahor families, said outside the Chatham, Ont., courthouse. "It's not the ruling we expected. It's not the ruling that we hoped for. We have to talk among ourselves to decide what the next step is."
Child welfare officials are to make spot checks with the families to make sure they haven't fled, Justice Stephen Fuerth ordered. If no appeal is filed, the children will be removed and placed in foster care. Knowles said he is not sure there are grounds for appeal at this point, but he said his clients will consider all of their options. "We just received the judgment, there's a lot in there, so we need to decide whether there are any appealable issues," he said.
Around 200 members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community fled their homes in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts last November in the middle of the night, amid an investigation by Quebec social services into the well-being of several of their children. The Quebec court ordered the return of the children from three families after they had left Quebec. The Ontario court was considering whether that decision should be upheld.
The families are appealing the Quebec court decision and, if they are successful, it could render the Ontario decision moot, Knowles said. Well-being of children questioned Sect members say they left Quebec due to conflicts with the government over their school curriculum. They have said that home-schooling in Ontario offers parents much more freedom to teach what they want, and the group wants to stay there. "We're not fighting against [the Quebec government], we're just fighting in favour of our religion and other religious groups to have the possibility to have religious studies as our education," said Uriel Goldman, a spokesman for the Lev Tahor members.
He said the families prayed as they awaited the decision. "We do claim again and again all the allegations against us are false.... After so many months and months, hundreds of hours have been spent by officials, how is it that nothing was found? We do feel persecuted." He said the group feels anti-Semitism explains the reason they were targeted.
However, social workers in Quebec painted an entirely different picture of the community. Youth protection officials in Quebec's Laurentians region said there were concerns about the children's health, their hygiene and shortcomings in their home-schooling.
Social workers also testified in Quebec youth court that they were concerned about the age at which some of the girls in the group were allegedly married off and also about reports of intimidation by the community's leaders. They also told the court about some reported incidents involving children being given melatonin, a purported natural sleep aid, to control their behaviour.
None of those allegations have been proven in court.
Social workers who had been involved with the community in Quebec during the 18 months since youth protection services launched an investigation testified that the group's departure in November was hasty and shocking. They had a meeting with group members planned for the day after they packed up and moved.
The Ontario judge was also critical of the community's decision to leave in the middle of the night without informing Quebec authorities. The group maintains that it had planned to leave the province and wasn't fleeing from the courts. "It was a very well-organized move," Goldman said. "It was at night because it was the easiest time to do that. We were co-operative." Goldman said they feel welcome in Chatham-Kent and have no desire to leave. "We feel that we really are not in an easy position, but we hope we can be strong here for the future."
Sunday, 2 February 2014
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
NEW SQUARE — A New Square educator accused of molesting a young boy repeatedly over five years is innocent, his lawyer said Monday while rejecting comparisons between this case and another in which the suspect’s brother abused a teenager.
“They’re two different individuals,” lawyer Gerard Damiani said after his client Moshe Taubenfeld appeared in Village Court on a felony charge that could land him in prison for up to seven years.
Taubenfeld, 55, made no comments during the brief hearing, during which the judge kept the defendant’s bail at $25,000 and confirmed that he had to turn over his passport and must stay away from the victim.
Media filmed the first part of the hearing, but were ordered to turn off cameras after his lawyer raised objections.
Taubenfeld, a father of 20, ducked the media and rushed out a side door afterward.
His lawyer said Taubenfeld is under a “pretty big strain.”
Taubenfeld was charged with second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child. The alleged abuse started Sept. 11, 2001, when the preteen boy, Laiby, said he came to the man seeking comfort after the terrorist attacks.
The abuse allegedly continued until the child turned 13 in 2006.
Laiby said he and his family reported the abuse about six years ago to community leaders, who discouraged him from going to police.
His experience was similar to those of other New Square abuse victims, including a young man, Yossi, who reported Taubenfeld’s brother, Herschel, to police in 2011.
In an investigative report earlier this month in The Journal News, Yossi and another accuser, Yehuda, described how the community has created a culture in which victims are discouraged from going to police and abusers are protected.
Herschel Taubenfeld pleaded guilty last year to one count of misdemeanor forcible touching, received six years probation and had to register as a sex offender.
While he avoided jail, advocates for Laiby say they’re pressing for maximum prison time for the brother.
One victims advocate, a Brooklyn man who identified himself only by his first name of Abraham, attended the hearing and said outside the courtroom that he’s hoping this latest case will set a precedent for New Square that sex abusers will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The case will eventually be moved to Rockland County court, which handles felony prosecutions.
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Below is an email received from email@example.com
Please find attached some teshuvas including a teshuva from R' Padwa ZTZ'L supporting R' Chaim Halperns psak.
I hope this attachment finds its way to the blog.
See link below how they are having a go at R' Y Y Lichenstein