A court in Quebec Wednesday ordered 14 minors, aged 2 months to 16 years old, to be moved from the isolated Haredi-religious sect Lev Tahor and into foster care.
The sect is currently in the town of Chatham in Ontario, having left Quebec following an investigation into complaints over child abuse, neglect, and not following the educational curriculum of the province.
Child protection officials in Chatham are speaking to their counterparts in Quebec about how to proceed in the matter, having met members of the sect Thursday. A decision has yet to be made on how or whether to comply with the court order from Quebec, reports the Toronto Star.
If Ontario complies with the order, there is little precedent to guide officials as to how one province can legally enforce another province’s court order.
Regarding the meeting Thursday with workers of the Children's Aid Society, sect member Nachman Malkah told Windsor Star "I am glad that they arrived and I was happy to talk to them. They didn't find any abuse. I am certain of my path and know I am a good father."
Members of the sect, which doesn't intend to return to Quebec or follow the court order, blame Israel for their troubles, saying Israel is not helping them because of their anti-Israel stance.
Uriel Goldman said "if you're a Jew and you don't support the state of Israel they see you as a borderline traitor, the greatest enemy, worse than the Arabs or the terrorists."
A statement posted on Lev Tahor's website claims the sect has been demonized.
The statement reads "we beg that instead of talking about what is said about us, or even thinking about what is said about us, which brings unending and incredible brainwashing on our image, you will see us and talk with us with an open heart."
Lev Tahor members are currently staying in roughly a dozen units in a complex of two-unit bungalows just beyond the edge of Chatham. Nachman Helbrans, son of the community’s leader Shlomo Helbrans, said they’ve taken a one-year lease on the units.