Eliya Haliwa Arrives In Israel: “This Is Home, It’s Where I Belong” [SEE VIDEO]

Eliya Haliwa in Israel.

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The story of Eliya Haliwa, who was exposed as a Lebanese non-Jew after marrying a Syrian Jewish girl from Brooklyn last October, took a dramatic twist earlier this month when it was revealed that he is actually Jewish.

After undoing giyur l’chumrah, Haliwa embarked on a trip to Israel, arriving before Pesach. He says that he intends to settle in Israel permanently, although he still needs to travel back to New York to tie up some loose ends. At this point, he also does not yet have Israeli citizenship.

Haliwa is still hoping that his wife will reconcile with him and join him in Israel.

Haliwa’s giyur (l’chumrah) certificate signed by HaRav Avraham Reich of the Hatzalas Yisrael community in Brooklyn.

Haliwa is being assisted by Chizky Sivak, the deputy chairman of the Emek Chefer (Hefer Valley) Regional Council in central Israel, who found Haliwa a place to stay in Netanya. After Sivak saw a Kan interview with Haliwa that was aired in Israel in November, he decided to take Haliwa on as a “personal project.”

In another Kan broadcast on Haliwa’s move to Israel, Sivak explained why he felt compelled to assist Haliwa: “You revealed an astounding story about a man whose heart belongs to the Jewish people and state of Israel. I told myself that it can’t be that a person like this should feel so alone in the world.”

Haliwa with Chizky Sivak, the deputy chairman of the Emek Chefer (Hefer Valley) Regional Council.

There are still many people who are skeptical of Haliwa’s story. Kan reported that a message was spread in several Whatsapp groups in Jerusalem warning people of allowing the “Lebanese Muslim imposter” to participate in their Seder. And in fact, the police apparently showed up at the Seder in Jerusalem he was being hosted at.

“Many people still don’t trust you,” the Kan reporter said to Haliwa.

In response, Haliwa said: “If I made the initial mistake of lying, this is the natural human response for anybody is to doubt. So I’m not going to go blame them but at the end of the day, I’m going to ask them to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

Below is a video of Haliwa speaking to a B’Chadrei Chareidim reporter at the Kosel:

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. Why is he all of the sudden a celebrated hero? He lied and cheated a bas Yisrael and now he’s a celebrity by Jews? True he converted! So now we count him as man # 10 for a minyan. But why the status of hero?

  2. In an article that was posted a while ago it was stated that rabbi reich verified that his mother‘s mother was Jewish and so he is a natural born Jew and he only underwent a conversion Lchumra , from the letter that’s posted here Rabbi Reich makes no mention of that just stating that he underwent a conversion and he is a Jew so this is a bit confusing

  3. Yaapchic you are absolutely right. We should not be celebrating a person that cheated a bas Yisroel in this way. We welcome him as a Jew, but this doesn’t white wash his despicable acts.

  4. I’m astounded that a bes din converted someone whose grandmother had no proof she was a Jew, he lied to a bas Yisroel, he lied on an online Jewish dating site claiming he was Jewish trying to reel in a Jewish girl (and was successful). Who are we “converting” ? That’s why we have sham people coming into our communities like missionaries and such. He had no money, no job, no nothing and now he’s a something and loving it. It deosn’t mean that he’ll be a practicing Jew just because he claims he will. This is unfair for all geirim actually sowing doubt of the entire geirus process.