Lev Tahor, the radical Jewish cult accused of raising their children in squalid conditions and referred to as the ‘Jewish Taliban,’ has operated for more than a decade as a religious charity with millions of dollars flowing through its accounts, the Toronto Star has learned.
The movement headed by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans amassed nearly $6 million in assets at its peak and regularly pulled in annual revenues of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the operation of its reclusive community in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, according to financial filings.
Congregation Riminov was registered as a tax-exempt religious charity in 2001, shortly after Helbrans moved from Israel to Canada,and has seen a rapid rise in its financial performance under its stated goal: “The operation of a synagogue and provision of assistance to those in need.”
From a draw of $114,865 in its first year, Congregation Riminov brought in more than $1.9-million in 2005 and claimed land and property assets of $5.6 million in 2006, The Star reports. Congregation Riminov lost its charitable status in 2007 for not filing mandatory information with the Canada Revenue Agency. But a new charitable organization, the Society for Spiritual Development, was registered in 2004, aiming “to create a centre for meditation and prayer, (to) establish schools, to develop spiritual and religious ideals (and) provide assistance to needy people,” according to its annual filings with the federal tax agency.
“We do a lot of stuff. We do our schooling, synagogue, our kosher (food) stuff. There’s also the books we are printing,” Mayer Rosner, a Lev Tahor leader in Chatham-Kent, Ont., who served as vice-president of Congregation Riminov from 2003 to 2007, told The Toronto Star.
Annual revenues for “The Society for Spiritual Development” between 2004 and 2010 ranged from $20,000 to $36,000 while the organization spent between $15,000 to $89,500 carrying out its operations.
But in 2011, the community received a donation from an unnamed registered charity to the tune of $4.3 million, CRA filings show. In 2012, the Society for Spiritual Development transferred $3.3 million to another Jewish charity in Quebec, the Canadian Friends of Holy Land Institutions.
Lev Tahor’s Rosner refused to say who provided the $4.3 million but confirmed it was for an unspecified development that “didn’t work out.”
An Israeli source with knowledge of the Lev Tahor group told The Star community members survive mainly on government welfare payments that are given to the group’s leadership. The money is allegedly then rationed out to the 40-odd families, which has been described as a method of exerting control over members.
“Already the payments to families in Quebec are generous. It’s what, $1,700, $2,000 for a family that has five or six children?” said the source in Israel who has assisted former Lev Tahor members. “But the money doesn’t go to the families. The money goes to the sect’s leadership.”
Photo/ National Post
(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)