Shlomo Helbrans Religious Leader
Rabbi Shlomo Erez Helbrans or Shlomo Elbarnes (born 1962) is a Hasidic rabbi who leads the extreme ultra-Orthodox group Lev Tahor (pure heart). Originally a citizen of the State of Israel, he went to the United States where he was convicted for kidnapping in 1994 and served a two year prison term before being deported to Israel in 2000. He then settled in Canada, where he currently is the head of the Lev Tahor settlement with an estimated 45 ultra-Orthodox Jewish families in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec. He is an Anti-Zionist and claims to have formed his group after the Satmar Hasidic movement. A native of Jerusalem′s Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, Helbrans went to the United States in 1990, where he began forming an extremist Orthodox group and taught some students at a small Lev Tahor yeshiva in Brooklyn. In 1994 he was convicted in Brooklyn for the 1992 kidnapping of 13-year-old Shai Fhima Reuven, a Bar Mitzvah boy he was tutoring, and served a two year prison term in the U.S. He was originally sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, but in June 1996 an appeals court reduced the sentence to two to six years.
1. Lev Tahor
Lev Tahor is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group headed by Shlomo Helbrans, known to follow an unusually austere form of Jewish practice in addition to being determinedly anti-Zionist. The group generally follows a strict version of halacha, or Orthodox Jewish law, in addition to its own unique practices--such as lengthy prayer sessions, arranged marriages between teenagers, and black, head-to-toe coverings for women. The group has moved frequently, with the majority of its members most recently being forced to leave in August 2014 from the Guatemala town San Juan La Laguna after fleeing trouble with government authorities in both the Provinces of Ontario, and Quebec, Canada.