CHATHAM, Ont. — Fourteen children belonging to Lev Tahor, an ultra orthodox Jewish sect, have been ordered placed in foster care in Quebec.
But Ontario Court Justice Stephen Fuerth placed a 30-day stay on the order to allow his decision to be appealed.
He also ordered that the children must remain in the Ontario community of Chatham-Kent until taken to Quebec.
In making his decision Monday, Feurth sided with local child protection officials who wanted to act on an order made in Quebec in November.
The group arrived in Chatham a week before the order was made. They fled from Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que. in November after child welfare officials would be going to court concerning the treatment of the children.
The children belong to three families. A publication ban is in place banning their identifications.
At an earlier court hearing, the group’s lawyer, Chris Knowles, indicated there is an appeal process that can be followed.
The 250 members arrived in Chatham where they had arranged to rent small duplexes at Spurgeon Villa, just north of the city.
Since then, local Chatham-Kent Children’s Services have been monitoring the settlement.
Quebec officials obtained the order to place the children in temporary foster care after the group left the province.
Evidence at hearing spoke of feet funguses, beatings with sticks, mental illness, arranged marriages for girls as young as 14 and less-than-adequate education standards.
The group has denied all the charges and their lawyer argued in court last month that the local child protection agency doesn’t have jurisdiction to act on a Quebec order.
Lev Tahor, which means “pure heart” in Hebrew, is led by controversial Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, who served two years in a U.S. prison for kidnapping a boy he was trying to convert.
The group is ultra-conservative and anti-Zionist. They are easily recognized by their unique traditional dress.
The women are completely covered in black robes, prompting some to call the group the “Jewish Taliban.”