The exodus of the Lev Tahor (“Pure Heart”) community led them west along Highway 401 to salvation in Chatham-Kent. It may not be the promised land — most families are lodged in two dozen rooms at the local Super 8 motel — but the southwestern Ontario town of 108,000 is now home.
Nacham Helbrans, the son of Shlomo Helbrans, the group’s leader and a self-proclaimed rabbi, told the Star they were forced out of Quebec over a clash with education authorities regarding the secular curriculum they were being ordered to teach their home-schooled children.
Failure to comply could have led to children being placed in foster care — an unthinkable outcome for the isolationist group, Nacham Helbrans said.
With that threat over their heads for the last six months, they evaluated moves to various provinces across Canada but opted finally for Ontario, whose relative liberty for faith-based schooling has been a lure for other religious communities in Quebec, including Mennonites.