'Jewish Taliban' Sect Members to Be Deported to Israel

Israeli members of Lev Tahor sect, arrested in compound raid, will be expelled from Canada.

JTA
JTA
Female members of the 'Lev Tahor', or 'Pure Heart', community.
Female members of the 'Lev Tahor', or 'Pure Heart', community.Credit: Shay Fogelman
JTA
JTA

Three members of the radical ultra-Orthodox sect Lev Tahor have been ordered deported to their native Israel.

The three have been held in detention since April 2, when officials of the Canada Border Services Agency raided the Lev Tahor compound in Chatham, Ontario, about three hours from Toronto, and arrested six sect members over suspected immigration issues.

An official of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board ruled Friday that the three sect members with Israeli citizenship will remain in custody until they can be deported to Israel.

All three had been issued deportation orders in the past, but had ignored them, according to the Toronto Sun.

Avraham Kabaz Kashani, 39, was ordered out of Canada in July 2007 after exhausting years of appeals, including a failed bid for refugee status. The father of 10 children didn’t report for his removal and remained in Canada illegally until last week’s arrest.

“I didn’t run, I didn’t hide. I stayed in the same house. I didn’t change my name. We said if they want to take us, they will take us,” Kashani told the hearing.

Odel Malka, covered in a black robe resembling a burka, was also told she must remain in detention. The 30-year-old failed refugee claimant and mother of nine was first ordered to leave in 2002, but didn’t do so until a decade later, the Sun reported.

Ten months later, Malka slipped back into Canada, claiming now that she used a passport bearing a different name, though it has no entry stamp and there is no record of her crossing the border. “She did not have consent to return to Canada,” said an Immigration and Refugee Board official.

A 19-year-old man, the father of three, also was detained and given a removal date of April 10. He still can apply for a stay.

About 250 members of the community fled Quebec last fall just before officials could seize some of the children. Child welfare officials said they had evidence of abuse, squalid living conditions, underage marriages and substandard education.

Lev Tahor members maintain they are being persecuted for their strict religious beliefs.

In separate legal proceedings, the Lev Tahor are appealing an Ontario court ruling that upheld an order from adjacent Quebec to place 14 children in foster care. The appeal has been adjourned until April 9.

Several Lev Tahor families fled Canada last month but were found and returned. Six children identified by the Quebec court remain in Guatemala with their parents.

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