A shocking story came to light on Sunday of a Jewish newlywed Sephardic woman in Brooklyn who recently discovered that her new husband, supposedly named Eliya, may not be a Lebanese Sephardi Jew as he claimed but possibly a Muslim Palestinian who may have lived in Beirut.
Sources tell YWN that the FBI is involved in the shocking incident and the Jewish newlywed, who only got married a couple of weeks ago, is reportedly now living in a safe house. The woman had become suspicious of various things after living with him for a number of weeks, and one night she discovered a Lebanese passport with his photo and another name.
She immediately contacted family and friends, who reached out to the authorities.
The woman knew that Eliyah was from Lebanon but never doubted that he was Jewish since he was “frum” and spoke Hebrew fluently. He also had a convincing story about why he was cut off from his family. Additionally, he was affiliated with Chabad of Texas for about six-seven years.
Apparently, “Eliyah” learned Hebrew and Torah in Texas and then married her.
The man had allegedly produced a “family tree” (riddled with glaring inaccuracies), that even had Ashkenazi names in it (such as Meyer Lansky – the same name as the notorious mobster in the 1920’s.) He also claimed he worked for NSA, and even showed her a “letter” from his co-workers at NSA congratulating them on their wedding. His family did not attend the wedding, and he provided various reasons / excuses why they were all unable to attend.
In addition to the involvement of the FBI in the incident, the US Department of Homeland Security has been briefed about the story as well as the Israeli Consulate General. They are investigating if the man is in the United States legally or not.
In addition to the authorities investigating this shocking story, prominent Rabbonim and community organizations are investigating if in fact he does not have a Jewish mother.
At this point, the woman is being kept in a safe house, until a confirmation is made on his real identity.
STATEMENT FROM CHABAD OF TEXAS:
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.
Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)