Ontario Court Upholds Removal of Children From 'Jewish Taliban' Sect

One of the children was married off at the age of 14, and most of the girls had fungus on their feet due to modesty rules, according to testimony.

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A judge in Ontario has upheld a Quebec youth court ruling ordering the removal of 14 children belonging to the Lev Tahor ultra-Orthodox sect, The Montreal Gazette reported Monday.

Ontario judge Stephen Fuerth ruled that the Quebec court, which ordered in November to place the children in temporary homes for a period of 30 days, had jurisdiction in the case, noting that "not to uphold the decision would 'create jurisdictional chaos,'" according to the Gazette.

The sect of some 50 families relocated from Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts Quebec to Chatham-Kent in Ontario in November ahead of the November 27 court date in Saint-Jerome.

The judge ordered the children, who youth protection services feared to be "in imminent psychological and physical danger" according to a transcript of the original testimonies obtained by the CBC, be returned to Montreal to live with foster families.

At the November trial, social workers testified that the one of children they sought to remove had been married off at age 14, two years younger than the minimum legal age to wed in Canada, the Gazette reported. They "also noted fungus on the feet of most of the girls, ostensibly caused from adhering to strictly modesty rules that they always wear socks, stockings and shoes."

The sect, known as the Jewish Taliban for their dress and anti-Zionist attitude, is led by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, who served two years in jail for conspiracy to commit kidnapping. He brought the community to Canada from Monsey, New York, after receiving refugee status there on the claim that he faced persecution back in Israel.

Lev Tahor members at Ben Gurion International Airport in 2011. They are known as the 'Jewish Taliban' for their dress and extremist views.Credit: Shaul Boyer

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