Ultra-Orthodox sect loses another court ruling in child custody case

Feb. 4, 2014 at 3:31 PM
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MONTREAL, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- A judge in Canada has ruled that the children of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community can be temporarily removed from their homes.

Judge Stephen Fuerth in Ontario said Monday a court in Quebec has jurisdiction over the case, the Montreal Gazette reported. Fuerth effectively upheld an order in November by Youth Court Judge Pierre Hamel.

The Youth Protection Department in Quebec has been investigating charges that the Lev Tahor Community physically abused children and that a girl was forced into marriage at 14, two years less than the minimum legal age in Canada. Investigators also found many of the girls in the community had fungus on their feet, possibly from being compelled to wear shoes and stockings all the time.

Lev Tahor is a small ultra-Orthodox and anti-Zionist group. While most members were born in Israel or in Monsey, N.Y., a community in Rockland County with a large Orthodox population, they moved to Ste. Agathe in 2004 after Canada declared their leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, a refugee.

Before the November hearing, 200 of 240 members moved to Ontario.

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