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A Muslim Arab from Lebanon who posed as a Jew is actually Jewish according to Halacha, or traditional Jewish law, a Brooklyn rabbi has claimed.

Last year, the haredi Jewish community in Brooklyn was roiled by revelations that a local young Sephardic Jewish woman who had recently gotten married had been deceived by the groom, who had concealed the fact that he had been raised in a Muslim family in Lebanon.

The groom, Eliya Hawila, had taken an interest in Judaism, and planned to convert after he moved to the United States, but had never actually undertaken a conversion at the time.

While he had adopted Jewish traditions and associated himself with a Chabad outreach center in Texas, Hawila remained – at least ostensibly – a non-Jew.

Now, however, a Brooklyn rabbi who investigates questions regarding Jewish ancestry has claimed that Hawila was, in fact, born Jewish, Yeshiva World News reported Sunday.

Rabbi Avraham Reich of the Hatzalas Yisrael community in Brooklyn told Zev Brenner’s Talkline show Saturday night that Hawila’s mother had confided to him that her mother is Jewish.

During his investigation, Rabbi Reich also spoke with Hawila’s grandmother, and verified Hawila’s Jewish ancestry along his maternal line, confirming that he was born Jewish.

However, Rabbi Reich added that Hawila has since undergone an Orthodox conversion le’chumra (as a precautionary measure) to remove any doubts of his Jewishness – a practice employed when the last four generations of a person’s most recent Jewish ancestors were not religiously observant.

Rabbi Reich said that he personally observed the conversion, and vouched for Hawila’s status as a Jew.

Hawila, who is still married to his wife, has refused pressure from her family to divorce her, hoping to reconcile with his wife.

Last November, Hawila stated his desire to immigrate to Israel and to convert to Judaism.

“I don’t believe in Islam,” he said in an interview with Talkline. “It’s not my religion.”

“I am begging anybody to convert me, and I prefer to be converted in Israel.”