Cults and the War of the Jewish Magazines

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29 Responses

  1. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    “But aside from the issue of how a cult is to be defined, it is sometimes not so easy to tell. The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) believe that a group that displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, is one such indication. This, however, can easily be confused with legitimate emunas chachomim. To differentiate, we can perhaps add the caveat that applies when this is being done against the belief system of the leading sages of Israel and against a clear indication in Torah sources.” Or, by Occam’s Razor, the “daas Torah” community is in fact a cult, and being nogeah b’davar, you just can’t see it.

    [Jacob, confusion of cult practices (including those asserted about R. Helbrans) with Daas Torah means one doesn’t understand Daas Torah, doesn’t understand cult practices, or in this case, possibly both — and you really ought to learn even a small amount about Daas Torah before you consider yourself qualified to comment about it. As kol bar bei rav d’chad yuma already knows, Daas Torah does not give any individual to make up new rules that contradict our Mesorah, and no one would follow the one who did so. Honest Daas Torah is a matter of intellectual deference to the superior knowledge and judgement of a Talmid Chacham when it is in line with those of others and the Mesorah that preceded him. –YM]

  2. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    I’m just saying, people who aren’t nogeah b’davar (and I admittedly am in the opposite direction), such as the Cult Education Insitute, list “Ultra-Orthodox Groups” with the cults (along with groups like Lev Tahor and various cults stemming from all sorts of religions or “new age beliefs” or whatever).

  3. Yaakov Menken says:

    Jacob, your confessed bias led you to misread the listings on the CEI website. Under no circumstances does it claim that “Ultra-Orthodox groups” (or, for that matter, any other group) constitute a cult. It has collected web links to “information about controversial groups, some called ‘cults,'” including the Amish, the Mormons, “TV and Radio Preachers” and Amway.

    Tellingly, you did not attempt to measure traditional Judaism against the indicators listed by the ICSA (as found in Rabbi Hoffman’s article), or by any alternate objective standard of cult behavior (I recall having a list of four criteria for my Sociology 241 paper on the subject). I submit that even with your biases, you realized that you could not defend your assertion by any of these objective yardsticks, and thus chose to rely upon an appeal to authority (the CEI) that simply doesn’t say what you claimed it said.

  4. Moshe Mandel says:

    I agree with Jacob to the extent that cultism is a subjective term, and one’s cult is the others holy community. Regardless, no Jew should be deemed outside the Jewish community, cultist or not, and I am appalled by the advocacy of taking Jewish children away from their loving families based upon hearsay evidence.

  5. Joe Hill says:

    The “allegations” brought in the Mishpacha article as well as the television shows “16 by 9” and “The 5thEstate” are openly based on speculation and proof-less accusations by disgruntled ex-members. Credence should not be given to television shows and commercial magazines who know little of which they speak and fill in the blanks with the worst kind of conjecture.

  6. Cvmay says:

    Mr. Hill, shall we use instead the evidence & proofs of Helbrans & his PR man? The AMI MAGAZINE lacked any research or investigation besides interviewing the head hancho & his PR man. I would venture to say that some ex-Lev Tahor members or extended family can give some credible info (as they have) regarding the actions & behavior of this clan.

  7. Oulette Robins says:

    In the Knesset, a committee presented allegations against Lev Tahor of some of the most atrocious abuses of children of what some speaking to the committee called “a sadistic cult“. Yet two things became immediately apparent: that Lev Tahor, under investigation by the Israeli state and subject to a mountain of allegations has not been charged of any crime by the state prosecutor, even after years of investigation. Attorney Galit Greenberg from the Justice Ministry, affirmed that there was ” difficulty of obtaining evidence”, and that, “for seven months the Canadian Community Social Services checked the community and found no evidence of abuse or torture“.

  8. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Oulette Robins –

    What is Canadian Community Social Services? Such an organization does not exist. Do you mean Quebec social services? Because if you do, you must be aware that the Quebec government intended to present its findings in court and that Lev Tahor illegaly fled to Ontario. Now if there was no evidence, what was QSS going to show, and why did Lev Tahor flee?

  9. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Ami magazine has consistently tried to sweep away allegations of misdeed in the frum world and attribute it all to antisemitism. Ami tends to see antisemitism everywhere. It publicly defended Nechemia Weberman. It ran a front page image of the White House decked out in Nazi Flags with Nazi Storm Troopers on the White House lawn. It ran an article entitled the Protocols of the Elders of Agudah which seemed to compare criticism of Agudah to Nazi and Czarist antisemetism. It ran articles comparing the Israeli government to Cazrist Russia. It ran a cover headline that leftist Jews were responsible for the killings in Toulouse. Defending Lev Tahor is a symptom of the same dellusional mindset.

  10. Miriam Meier says:

    Crazy Kanoi:

    The issue is not the charedi magazine Ami or any other publication. The only question is whether this author has personally gathered any evidence about child abuse in Lev Tahor other than reading a slanted article in a commercial magazine which itself was based upon hearsay evidence? Since he clearly did not gather such evidence nor did he ever bother to visit the Lev Tahor community by what authority is he advocating the removal of the children from their homes? As Judge Templeton of Ontario wrote: There has been no finding of abuse by any court to date. So how can we advocate such a harsh punishment based upon a writer’s feeelings?

    I find the hastiness by which some condemn others highly troubling.

  11. Robert Vachon says:

    I live in Chatham Kent near this group. As a result I’ve supported them in their struggles against the government and the Jewish community at large. For some reason they’ve been a target of accusations which have no basis in reality. Perhaps the only thing one can accuse them of is marrying early. But otherwise the boys and girls would be segregated till a late age. I would suggest that the author of the post visit Chatham Kent and verify for himself the veracity of my statements.

    The author should watch this video
    He claimed they don’t have normal parental feelings

  12. cohen y says:

    Whatever allegations and aberrancies that do need be addressed:

    First they came for Lev Tahoor,but……

  13. cohen y says:

    Crazy kanoiy,
    Sorry to disabuse you ,and irrespective of whatever ones opinions about jewish periodicals in general,
    there is a bit of credence to every one of the claims mentioned
    (Additionally, despite his hyperbole and sensationalism
    John Lofftus is one of the best reads out there.)

  14. lacosta says:

    in terms of Ami’s level-headed journalism , i noted an article a couple months ago , sorry i didnt copy it down , in which Editor Frankfurter was doing an interview with an impartial expert. since i don’t remember the exact topic i will write ‘xxx’ . the article was headed ‘xxx and zionism’ . so when the Editor asked the expert his opinion on the tie in of the Zionists with the topic in question the response was ‘the zionists have nothing to do with this’ , yet the article headline remained….. makes one wonder what other biases the Editor holds fast to….

  15. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Miriam Meier,

    Please quote Judge Tempelton correctly. Her comments are widely available through any Google search. According to The Canadian Press Judge Lynda Templeton still has “grave” concerns over the welfare of the children in the ultra-Orthodox sect, but stated that sending them back to Quebec would create even more instability in their lives and that could have severe psychological consequences. Templeton ordered the local child-welfare agency to arrange supervised access to the children starting this weekend.“That access has to be supervised,” she said, citing the parents’ conduct and their group’s leadership.

    Facts. Helbrans was convicted of Kidnapping. Helbrans apparently lied to gain refugee status in Canada. Lev Tahor illegally fled Quebec. Lev Tahor illegally fled Ontario and Lev Tahor illegally fled Canada. Many former members amongst them children of community leaders allege abuse. It would require a willful suspension of disbelief to assume that they are all just disgruntled former members looking for some sort of revenge.

  16. Bob Miller says:

    Subscribe to publications that tell valuable truths consistently based on sound research. We see a lot of shortcuts in our “Jewish” media that rely on unverified claims by parties in dispute.

  17. Robert Vachon says:

    Crazy Kanoiy proves the point I was trying to make about the baseless allegations leveled against Lev Tahor. Judge Templeton never said what CK says she said. But how does one disprove a distortion? She in fact pointed out that no abuse has ever been found against this group. Note: this is after three years of non stop supervision in Quebec. I often wonder why the Jewish community has leveled these charges against a group it knows very little about. As a Christian I find this type of self hate disturbing.

  18. Robert Vachon says:

    this is quite a comprehensive overview about Lev Tahor written by a friend.

  19. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Please note that Judge Templeton only denied the request of Quebec authorities to send the children back to Quebec. She ordered them held in foster care in Ontario, with supervised visits with their parents. And she also stated more than once that the allegations against Lev Tahor have enough evidence to support a full hearing.

    The Toronto Sun quoted Judge Templeton as saying, “These children have already been found to be in need of protection.” The National Post quoted the judge as saying, “There is also cogent and probative evidence before the court that the one or more girls younger than 16 years of age have been married in a ceremony sanctioned or performed by a person perceived to be a religious leader of the community.”

  20. Robert Vachon says:

    Lawrence. The judge was NOT referring to all the children of Lev Tahor. Only to a limited group of 12 children whose parents ran to Trinidad. This author had condemned all of Lev Tahor and has advocated to have all their children removed. And even with regard to the group of 12 NO abuse had ever been found against the parents even with regard to the allegation of having fungus on their feet. Why is everyone doing this? I don’t get it.

  21. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Robert Vachon – “Judge Templeton never said what CK says she said.”

    Mr Vachon, I suggest that you google the words Judge Tempelton Lev Tahor. Her comments as I have quoted them are available on basically every Canadian newsite. Lawrence Reisman quotes the Toronto Sun and National Post essentially to the same effect.

  22. Robert Vachon says:

    I want to thank the owner of the blog for allowing me to comment. I want you to know that most Christian people in Canada have an unfavorable opinion about Jews. When I see these types of postings by rabbis it makes one upset why Jews are not more careful in their assessments of other Jews.

  23. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Robert: Please quote us the parts of Judge Templeton’s decision that support your point.

  24. Rafael A. says:

    The full decision can be found here:

    Please pay particular attention to paragraphs 159 to 165 and 176 and 178. As Justice Templeton notes, there has not been a full blown trial on the facts to make findings of facts. This was an appeal of a lower court decision and the interpretation and application of relevant statutes and caselaw.

    However, Justice Templeton has expressed concern about the welfare of the children due to the early marriages. I would think that Lev Tahor will want to avoid a full trial at all costs since the evidence could expose what they are in fact doing.

  25. L. Oberstein says:

    I am amazed that there are people with eyes who cannot see that Lev tahor is a cult and that what it practices is not normative Judaism. Just because someone claims to be a rabbi and says that he is the reincarnation of the Satmar Rebbe does not mean we have to accept that.Helbrans is a sick man who is manipulating the lives of his followers. I don’t understand Ami or some of the commenters here.
    What he is dong is evil and he needs to be put away and his followers rescued.
    Lehavdil, I am thinking of Boko Charam in Nigeria who also claim to be real religious and do horrible evil all the while claiming to be the true Moslems. Thank G-d, our fanatics don’t go that far,but it is a continuum and one never knows where mental illness can lead. Mothers starve babies in Jerusalem and instead of understanding ,people riot to protect her. Fathers drop their babies and kill them and money is raised for their defence fund. When can we grow up and act mature?

  26. c-l,c says:

    Whatever side this (straight laced superficial) crowd is inclined and whatever understandably conflicted sentiments about Lev Tahor that the commenters harbor, I presume to speak for all, in saying that Robert Vachon’s concern is greatly appreciated.

  27. Robert Vachon says:

    C-l,c. Thanks much for your very kind comment.

    “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12).

  28. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Robert Vachon, as a self proclaimed Christian you might be excused for believing that the Lev Tahor issue is one of religious rights. As an Orthodox Jew, I know that it is not. Lev Tahor does not represent a legitimate form of Judaism. I know that, and so do my fellow Jewish posters on this site. We know that Lev Tahor corrupts and distorts eternal Jewish values, and that its leader Shlomo Helbrans has no Rabbinic ordination. Cult or no cult, it is definatley not a religion. Therefore out of our love and care for our fellow brethern we oppose Lev Tahor. We know that if our sons or daughters joined this group we would want our granchildren taken out (I strongly suspect that even Rabbi Frankfurter would want the same) . It is our love for our fellow Jews and our knowledge of true Judaism that drives our passion.

    I also take issue with your statement that ” most Christians” in Canada have an unfavorable opinon of Jews. Where do you have the evidence to support this outlandish claim? My many personal experiences and interactions with Canadian Christians does not bear out your conclusion. The current Canadian government under the leadership of PM Stephen Harper is probably the strongest friend of Israel in the international arena today.

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