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The Jewish Advocate reported that Malka Helbrans was suspected of trying to prevent the child's mother from obtaining custody of him, and Helbrans was said to have tried to purchase custody of Shai from his mother.
Hundreds of Lev Tahor and Satmar Hasidim came out to protest the arrests, which were made on Shabbat eve, and the fact that Malka Helbrans was separated from her infant son. An organization from Brooklyn called the Central Rabbinical Congress raised $250,000 to make the bail payment for Helbrans and his wife. Helbrans' trial began in January 1994 and lasted five weeks. According to the indictment, he was facing a possible 25-year sentence. At the end of the trial, Helbrans was convicted but not on the charges for which he had originally been arrested and sued. The New York Times reported that a settlement was reached with the Brooklyn District Attorney, in which Helbrans was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the fourth degree. According to the prosecution, Helbrans was recorded proposing to Shai's father that he would handle negotiations with the people with whom Shai was hiding, and so he therefore knew who they were and where they were. He was sentenced to six to twelve years in prison, additional time on probation and 250 hours of community service. All the charges against his wife were dropped. The prison rabbi, Herbert Richtman, told The Jewish Week about Helbrans' time behind bars: "Helbrans wears only white shirts. Helbrans received other religious privileges while in prison. For the first time ever in the New York prison system, a prisoner was excused from being photographed for the prisoners' album. Prisoners are photographed clean-shaven and Helbrans refused to shave his beard for halakhic reasons. In a precedent-setting decision by the New York State Court, a computer-generated portrait was permitted instead. On the recommendation of the parole board, Helbrans was released after two years. The New York Times reported that the District Attorney launched an investigation to see whether he was released in wake of a personal appeal from a Hasidic fund-raiser for New York Governor George Pataki. Newspaper reports also said there was an investigation into whether Helbrans was given special treatment by officials during his incarceration and if they had any hand in his early release. The New York Times reported that records show prison officers transferred Helbrans to an open framework of working, even though he didn't meet the criteria for it. The investigator said the prison officers told him this was done at the instruction of senior officers. A spokesman for the Prison Authority called it a minor administrative error. Helbrans was returned to prison to complete his sentence. Helbrans rejects the claims that he received special privileges in prison. "I might have been the first Haredi rabbi in this place," he says. In the 1980s Helbrans was a rising star in the movement of getting people to "return to religion. Helbrans is not aware of the power of the Internet. He hadn't heard of Wikipedia, and using satellite pictures from Google, I challenged his claims about the destruction of Babylon. I'd already talked for hours upon hours with Helbrans and some of his Hasidim and still I had great expectations ahead of the final interview in the Lev Tahor community - an encounter with the women. They say they were the ones who wanted to introduce the dress code that is followed by the women in the community, even though there was resistance at first from the men, including Helbrans. In terms of the halakha, I couldn't express criticism of Helbrans or find fault in the community's way of life. Helbrans and some of his Hasidim also called several times, curious to hear my impressions. For weeks I struggled to remove the fluttering curtains before my eyes, until proof came of the marriages of minors, as did the story of Brodowski and his wife who had fled, with which it was hard to argue. Perhaps we, perhaps I, have a side in us that wants to believe in something, perhaps it's the side in me that wanted to believe Rabbi Helbrans, too. The rabbi and his Hasidim who called me after the visit tried to provide answers and explanations in response to the arguments I raised about their alleged illegal actions. The fact that Helbrans expelled Elior Chen from his community says a lot about Helbrans' intolerance for abuse and criminal activity and surely lends credibility to Helbrans and his community. The fact that Helbrans expelled Elior Chen from his community says a lot about Helbrans' intolerance for abuse and criminal activity and surely lends credibility to Helbrans and his community.
Helbrans requires that when his followers get married, the bride must spend the night before her wedding with him.A variation of the "right of first night".Rabbi Helbrans's group 'Leiv tohor' was involved in a violent ongoing skirmish, with the Kashua community in Monsey.There were 'undererground' letters (pashkevil'n, in yiddish) at the time both against and for Helbrans.This was really the first time that people in the Orthodox community really started to see Helbrans for what he was.In the past Helbrans always had argued that any dispute he was involved in was political or some sort of power struggle.In this case those arguments didn't work. Last year, the Vaad Hoaskonim, the rabbinical council of Orthodox communities in Williamsburg, Boro Park, Monsey and Queens, N.Y., issued a ruling that Helbrans' group "constitutes a great threat, spiritual and physical, to the Torah observant community in general and to every individual in particular."It forbids the communities to associate with Elbarnes and urges his followers to leave him. There are rumours that Satmar has put a hit on him.Helbrans has followers world-wide and has moved back and forth through Israel, Europe, Canada and the US.In Helbrans, he issued a tidal wave of rulings that hamstrung the defense and he allowed the prosecutor to make pointedly ethnic statements, especially in his summation.Helbrans and a follower pled guilty two weeks ago to reduced charges of conspiracy to kidnap. Helbrans pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing. Helbrans isn't a household name, but in the 1990s, he touched off a firestorm after he was sent to prison on his felony conviction.Helbrans, a rabbi and citizen of Israel, served about two years and was deported, state and federal officials say. Federal prosecutors alleged he got preferential treatment because of his ties to a politically connected group of Hasidic Jews.After taking a young Jewish boy from his mother and keeping him while on the lam for two years, Helbrans benefited from supporters after his arrest, including Leon Perlmutter of Brooklyn, a fund- raiser for Gov.Perlmutter, a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, which tends to vote in a bloc for candidates suggested by religious leaders, pressed state officials to help Helbrans, according to published reports and interviews. Helbrans was sentenced to up to 12 years in prison, but won an appeal in 1996 for a reduced sentence of 2 to 6 years.Three days later, he was put in a work-release program by the Department of Correctional Services, unusual treatment for a felon targeted for deportation, federal prosecutors argued at the time. After their protest, he was moved back to prison.But the case rose to near scandal with suspicions that the Pataki administration was providing Helbrans special treatment.Helbrans, who had three penalties for several problems while in prison, including unauthorized jewelry and an "unhygienic act," served until two weeks after his eligibility for parole. Helbrans had once said his life would be endangered if he were repatriated. Helbrans, who came to the US in 1990, was convicted in 1994 by a Brooklyn court of kidnaping Shai Fhima Reuven.The boy was 13 when he disappeared in 1992, while studying at Helbrans's yeshiva.He resurfaced in 1994 claiming that he had run away from a secular family that abused him.His mother, in turn, accused Helbrans of brainwashing the boy. The case attracted wide attention in the US as an American battle between haredi and secular Israelis over the control of a child. Immigration officials on Thursday deported Helbrans, 38, on two grounds: that he entered the US illegally, and that convicted felons can be deported. Helbrans was paroled in late 1996 after two years in prison.His early parole led to a federal investigation, which is continuing, of whether state officials had been improperly influenced by the haredi community, according to the Times. Helbrans, convicted in Fhima kidnapping, is deported 6 years later Helbrans was convicted in 1994 for kidnapping Shai Fhima, a student at Helbrans' Brooklyn yeshiva, allegedly because he felt Fhima's mother and stepfather were not raising him properly. Fhima testified he had gone voluntarily with Helbrans. The conviction, which Helbrans is appealing, sparked a deportation order. Helbrans was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison but released after serving only two. Helbrans was convicted in 1994 in the widely publicized abduction of Jewish teenager Shai Fhima Reuven, and was paroled in 1996 at his first hearing. Although Helbrans is not named in court papers, several sources familiar with his parole indicated a key case cited by prosecutors is his. Travis didn't return a call to his home, and Helbrans could not be reached. The 11/98 decision to parole Helbrans came "at about the same time" the board released two other inmates in cases that are also being scrutinized by prosecutors.Helbrans had been convicted of kidnapping a boy, Shai Fhima Reuven, in order to give him a religious upbringing.He had been sentenced to four-to-12 years, but that was later reduced by a state appeals court. He has since been released on parole. The transfer in June 1996 was rescinded after a federal prosecutor, who had brought charges against Helbrans, protested to state prison officials. The inquiry into the case of Helbrans, who was convicted of kidnapping a teenager, Shai Fhima Reuven, in 1994, represents a broadening of the investigation by the U.S. attorney's office into fund raising by Pataki's campaign. The prosecutor who successfully intervened after Helbrans was moved to work-release, Alan Vinegrad, said in an interview that prison officials told him the transfer had been ordered by senior state officials. The state Parole Board later released Helbrans, who was convicted of what is considered to be a violent crime under state law, in his first appearance before the panel.The decision to parole Helbrans, made over the objections of federal and state prosecutors, came in November 1996.They said that after an extensive review of the file of Helbrans, they were certain his case was handled appropriately. William J. Muller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, has refused to respond to questions about the case, but others involved in the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the office was examining how Helbrans was treated. The case of Helbrans and Shai Fhima Reuven attracted widespread attention.The crime occurred after Shai's mother, who is not an Orthodox Jew, entrusted him to the rabbi for bar mitzvah instruction.The authorities charged Helbrans with keeping Shai away from his family for two years in order to educate him as a Hasidic Jew. In an interview, Helbrans, a leader of an offshoot of the Satmar sect, acknowledged that Perlmutter had visited him several times in prison.Zenia Mucha, a spokeswoman for Pataki, declined to comment on Helbrans or Perlmutter. Helbrans was originally sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison, after a joint federal-state prosecution, but on June 17, 1996, an appeals court reduced the sentence to 2 to 6 years.Three days later he was put in the work-release program, which is for prisoners who are less than two years away from the possibility of parole.An immigration judge has ordered that Helbrans be deported.He is appealing the decision. Helbrans spent less than two years in jail for kidnapping Shai Fhima-Reuven, who was 13 when he first disappeared in April 1992, after his mother sent him to study for his bar mitzva with Helbrans in Brooklyn. The boy, from a troubled secular family with a history of abuse, turned up several years later as an observant Jew, after spending time with Helbrans and his associates in Monsey, New York, and Paris.The case attracted wide attention in the US as a bizarre view of a battle between haredi and secular Israelis over the control of a child, waged on American soil. Helbrans was convicted in 1994, and a US immigration court on March 26 ordered him deported.Under US law, a non-citizen can be deported after conviction of a crime of violence and "moral turpitude." Wildes contends that the US government is going to extensive lengths to deport Helbrans, a view shared by Helbrans's s
Mrs. (Name Removed) arrived to pick up her son but Rabbi Helbrans and his wife Malka refused to give him up.
Mrs. (Name Removed) called the police, who helped her remove the child from the yeshiva. Rabbi Schlomo Helbrans and his wife, Malka, were taken into custody at 8 A.M. at their upstate residence in Monsey, N.Y., by a task force of New York City detectives, New York State troopers and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the officials said. The couple were held in Brooklyn last night, awaiting arraignment on Tuesday. The boy's whereabouts had not been determined. Rabbi Helbrans was arrested in the boy's disappearance once before, shortly after (Boy's Name Removed) was reported missing last April, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. Rabbi Helbrans, who was teaching the boy in preparation for his bar mitzvah, accused (Boy's Name Removed)'s parents, Jacky and (Name Removed), of physically abusing the boy. Rabbi Helbrans accused the parents of beating (Boy's Name Removed). Four days after (Boy's Name Removed) was reported missing, Rabbi Helbrans was arrested and charged with kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child. A task force of detectives from the city, state and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Rabbi Schlomo Helbrans and his wife, Malka, on Friday morning at their home in a Hasidic enclave in Monsey, N.Y. But yesterday, even as the couple was held awaiting a bail hearing scheduled for today, details of the kidnapping or whereabouts of Boy's Name Removed remained unclear -- a case, shrouded in mystery and suspicion, that centers on the clash of religious and secular Jewish worlds. Kidnapping Charge Patrick Clark, a spokesman for District Attorney Charles J. Hynes of Brooklyn, said yesterday that Rabbi Helbrans and his wife would be charged with kidnapping in the second degree and conspiracy to kidnap in the fourth degree. Rabbi Helbrans was arrested four days after the boy disappeared in April, but the District Attorney's office dropped the charges a few hours later, saying there was not enough evidence. From there the (Name Removed)s and Rabbi Helbrans have told very different stories. Within the insular Satmar movement of Hasidic Jews, Rabbi Helbrans heads a small group, which he led to Brooklyn from Israel just before the war in the Persian Gulf. He accused the (Name Removed)s of physically abusing the boy, a charge they have denied. At a bail hearing in the case, which has provoked outrage in the insulated Hasidic community in Brooklyn, the judge ordered Rabbi Schlomo Helbrans held but released his wife, Malka, because she is ill and is nursing a newborn child. Rabbi Helbrans was released from the Brooklyn House of Detention at 11:15 P.M. after "a group of supporters" posted bail, said Vito A. Turso, a spokesman for the Correction Department. Before Rabbi Helbrans was released, Justice Alan L. Lebowitz of State Supreme Court ordered him held on bail pending arraignment on Tuesday after prosecutors argued that the couple would flee if freed, saying that the third suspect still remains at large and that the couple is in this country illegally. Federal authorities subsequently joined the investigation, but a Federal grand jury chose not to indict the rabbi, Schlomo Helbrans, and his wife, Malka. The rabbi, Shlomo Helbrans, and his wife, Malka, rocked back and forth as they stood before the judge's bench in the Brooklyn courtroom, seemingly lost in their silent prayers. The rabbi, his wife, Malka, and an associate, Mordechai Weisz, are scheduled to go on trial next month in state court on kidnapping and conspiracy charges. The boy's meeting with his parents came just as jury selection began in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn in the trial of Rabbi Helbrans and his wife, Malka, on kidnapping and conspiracy charges. Malka Helbrans rocked in her chair, her eyes closed, praying silently. Earlier, outside the courtroom, Rabbi Helbrans had smiled when reporters asked him about where the boy had been. "I don't know," he said. The rabbi, Shlomo Helbrans, and his wife, Malka, are to go on trial in Brooklyn soon on kidnapping charges. In addition, charges against the rabbi's wife, Malka, were dismissed. Kidnapping charges punishable by up to 25 years in prison would have been dropped against the two men, and all charges were to have been dismissed against the rabbi's wife, Malka, 32. Rabbi Helbrans, a Monsey, N.Y., resident who heads a small Hasidic sect, silently read from a prayer book during most of yesterday's proceedings. He denounced Ms. (Name Removed) and Mr. (Father's Name Removed) when the judge asked if he had anything to say. "I have never met such strange and terrible persons as these two," he said. The lawyer said that (Boy's Name Removed) would testify for the defense at the trial of Rabbi Helbrans, 31, a resident of Monsey, N.Y., who heads a small Hasidic sect -- and his co-defendants, his wife, Malka, 32, and Mordechai Weisz, 21, of Brooklyn. Last March, Rabbi Helbrans and Mr. Weisz pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of criminal conspiracy in a plea deal under which they were to be sentenced to five years' probation, while all charges against Mrs. Helbrans were to be dismissed. Assistant District Attorney Alan M. Vinegrad said that Rabbi Helbrans and his wife, Malka, 32, and other conspirators "took (Boy's Name Removed) from his parents and hid (Boy's Name Removed) from his parents" for nearly two years. Lawyers for Rabbi Helbrans, 31, and his wife, Malka, 33, who is also charged with kidnapping in the case, say that (Boy's Name Removed) was not abducted but ran away from a troubled family in which his stepfather beat his mother and him, sending them to a shelter for battered women. Testifying for the prosecution in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Mr. (Father's Name Removed), a 35-year-old Israeli citizen who has long been divorced from Mrs. (Name Removed), said he learned from an Israeli newspaper article in late April 1992 that his son had allegedly been kidnapped on April 5, 1992. He said he then had a series of conversations with Rabbi Helbrans by telephone from Israel, while preparing to travel to New York to find his son. "He said the police are looking for (Boy's Name Removed) and they already asked him questions about the case," Mr. (Father's Name Removed), who works as an aide to lawyers in Israel, quoted Rabbi Helbrans as telling him in an April 29 phone conversation. He said the rabbi then "asked me to write a letter" that said, "I'm asking him to keep (Boy's Name Removed) for me and not let have him until I come to the United States." He said the rabbi had instructed him to date the letter April 1 -- four days before (Boy's Name Removed) vanished. The prosecution in the Brooklyn trial holds that the transcript of the conversation shows that the rabbi, Shlomo Helbrans, and his wife, Malka, criminally assisted in the disappearance of the teen-ager. A Brooklyn jury deliberated for less than five hours before it returned its verdicts against Rabbi Helbrans his wife, Malka, in the disappearance of (Boy's Name Removed) (Father's Name Removed), who vanished in April 1992, when he was 13. The rabbi faces a maximum sentence of eight and a third to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 22. Although Mrs. Helbrans could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, the judge has said he would overturn any guilty verdict against her. The teen-ager, now 15, disappeared after he met the rabbi when his mother brought him for bar mitzvah instruction to the Brooklyn yeshiva the rabbi then ran. The judge in the trial in State Supreme Court, Justice Thaddeus E. Owens, told the prosecution and defense lawyers earlier in the trial that if Mrs. Helbrans was convicted he would reject that verdict because he did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. The jury was not in the courtroom when he said this. Yesterday, the judge postponed making a final determination on her case until Dec. 15, and he allowed her to remain free without bail. Joyce David, the lawyer for Mrs. Helbrans, termed the defendants "people who enjoy doing mitzvahs, and one of the mitzvahs -- or good deeds -- is helping people who are in trouble." The rabbi's wife, Malka, 33, cried out in the gallery: "I want to talk to the judge! Mrs. Helbrans, who was tried along with her husband, wa
Malka Helbrans - accused with her husband, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, of kidnapping Shai Fima;
Malka Helbrans - accused with her husband, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, of kidnapping Shai Fima;
Malka Helbrans - accused with her husband, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, of kidnapping Shai Fima Malka Helbrans - accused with her husband, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, of kidnapping Shai Fima