MONTREAL – A lapsed haredi Orthodox Jew is suing the Quebec government for $1.25 million for not enforcing provincial education guidelines that he says left him virtually illiterate and unemployable.
Yonanan Lowen, 36, attended two still-operating illegal haredi Tosh yeshivas north of Montreal and spoke only in Yiddish. He says he never learned to read or write English or French or the public school curriculum as the law requires.
That, he says, left him with no potential for a real future in the province despite having several children to support after an arranged marriage at age 18.
British-born Lowen, who came to Quebec at age 10, is blaming the education ministry, youth protection officials, and a Tosh-area school board for letting the illegal schools stay open.
He left the ultra-Orthodox fold in 2010 before moving to Montreal.
Although he now teaches a few hours each week at a synagogue, Lowen says he suffers from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.