Jewish sect flees Quebec over schooling concerns

Nov. 23, 2013 at 2:48 PM
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SAINTE-AGATHE-DES-MONTS, Quebec, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- An ultra-orthodox group of Jews in Quebec has fled to Ontario following clashes over the education home-schooled children were receiving, officials said.

About 40 families in total comprise the Lev Tambor sect in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec. The group of 200 people, roughly 120 of whom are children, lived in a self-contained community, providing their own education for the children themselves, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., reported Friday.

Child welfare workers had expressed concern that the curriculum, strictly based on the Torah, does not include required topics such as evolution and other modern scientific subjects.

Child welfare workers said they were concerned about poor dental hygiene and skin problems among the children.

The longtime leader of the group, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, was once convicted in the United States of kidnapping a teenage boy.

The group fled Quebec Monday, the day before a scheduled court meeting to discuss the welfare concerns.

They have since settled in neighboring Chatham-Kent, Ontario.

Quebec workers said they will forward their files about the group onto their counterparts in Ontario, but workers there will have to build their own case before taking the sect to court.

"We have to follow the religious all over -- 100 percent. It's nothing to give up and ... if something contradict the government, you have to leave," said Lev Tahor member Yoil Weingarten. "We don't have any goal in our life, just only to do what God wants -- what he told us in the Torah."

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