Lev Tahor children in Chatham-Kent. (Photo by Ashton Patis)

Lev Tahor Leaving C-K

Members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor are slowly disappearing from Chatham-Kent, leaving behind only those with on-going court battles.

All phone numbers for Lev Tahor leaders have been disconnected. The landlord at Spurgeon’s Villa in Chatham-Kent tells BlackburnNews.com families have left in the middle of the night, giving no notice of their move.

“Guatemala is a country that has received them. They seem to be ok there. It doesn’t have the comforts of Canada, but then again Canada is not offering any permanent solution for these people anyway,” says Lev Tahor’s Immigration Lawyer Guidy Mamann. “Most of the families are planning to stay with the group. We can’t obtain any kind of group immigration, there’s no such thing in Canada. Few of them would actually qualify for Canada’s strict immigration criteria so they’re relocating elsewhere until they find a permanent place where they can continue living their lives together.”

The group is made up of Canadian, American and Israeli citizens, many of whom were here on religious worker visas.

“People are going to get the impression that they’re fleeing Canada or something, which is nonsense. They are here as temporary residents only,” says Mamann. “They don’t have the right to live in Canada permanently. They are required to leave the country.”

Lev Tahor arrived in Chatham-Kent last November. The group fled Quebec after youth protection authorities started investigating members for alleged child abuse, underage marriage and neglect.

The investigation continued in Ontario where a judge ordered 14 children to be sent back to Quebec and placed in foster care. Before an appeal could be heard in superior court those members fled the country, with some making it all the way to Guatemala where they remain.