A Sephardic Jewish woman in Brooklyn got the shock of her life when she discovered that her new husband, who claimed to be a Lebanese Jew, was actually a Muslim of Palestinian Arab descent, Haredi media reported.
Before the wedding, the groom, who went by the name Eliya, had joined Jewish services for seven years. He spoke fluent Hebrew and did not arouse any suspicion.
According to sources involved in the affair, when the young man was asked about his family, he always had 'stories' as to why they were not involved in his life - and why they did not come to his wedding either.
After the wedding, the new bride discovered suspicious items in their new home, including a Lebanese passport with her husband's face but under a different name.
Following the discovery, the bride was taken to a safe house, and the FBI became involved in the affair, in order to establish the motives behind the deception.
The Chabad House in Texas released the following letter in response to the incident:
The Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at Texas A&M is open to all Jewish faculty and students to explore Judaism.
In 2018 a student presenting himself as Eliyah Haliwa began visiting Chabad along with other local campus Jewish institutions (including serving as president at one of them). He would occasionally attend Shabbat meals at Chabad, and infrequently attended the services or Torah classes.
Last year he met a woman from N.Y. on a Jewish dating website.
He falsely presented himself to her as observant. When asked by the woman and her family, I informed them that his conduct did not reflect that of a fully observant Jew.
The fundamental responsibility of the officiating rabbi at a wedding, the mesader kiddushin, is to determine the Jewish status [birur hayahadut] of the couple and ensure that they are both Jewish, single and allowed to marry each other in accordance with Jewish law.
Accordingly, when Rabbi Ezra Zafrani, a respected Syrian rabbi in Lakewood, N.J., asked me if Eliyah was Jewish, I explicitly informed him that I did not know and that whoever was officiating would need to do a proper birur and would need to independently confirm his Jewish status.
The wedding itself was officiated by Rabbi Zafrani’s son, Rabbi David Zafrani. As my wife and I were in New York for other reasons, Rabbi David Zafrani, who was officiating in place of his father, and his wife, asked us to join the wedding. As the groom had no family attending, at the request of the couple and the Zafranis, we walked him down the aisle and I signed the ketubah, which had been drafted by Rabbi Ezra Zafrani. We were not officiating and our involvement was predicated on the understanding that, as supervising rabbis, Ezra and David Zafrani had done their due diligence to confirm the groom’s Jewish status.
In the ensuing weeks, it has come to light that the bride was aware that Eliyah was using a false name, information he concealed from others, when she learned of his Muslim name. We were clearly misled about his identity. Our hearts go out to this woman, her family and everyone else deceived by this individual here in Texas and in New York and New Jersey.