The case of the “Lebanese chassan” that shocked the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn came to an end last week when Eliya Haliwa granted his wife a get.
Haliwa’s wife left him shortly after their marriage in October 2021 when she discovered his Lebanese passport and realized that her “Jewish” husband was a Lebanese Muslim who had never undergone geyrus. But then the story took a dramatic turn when it was discovered that Haliwa was actually Jewish, as confirmed by a Beis Din in Brooklyn
In the wake of his outing as a non-Jew and the split-up from his wife, Haliwa spoke to his grandmother, his mother’s mother, who told him that her mother, his great-grandmother, was a Jewess named Sara Dwek who ran away from her family and married a Muslim. Haliwa underwent genetic testing, which proved that he had Jewish ancestry, and also underwent giyur l’chumra.
Haliwa still hoped to reconcile with his wife but meanwhile moved to Israel. The woman’s family subsequently opened a file at the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court and presented a letter from Syrian Rabbanim in Brooklyn stating that Haliwa was a Muslim at the time of the marriage and therefore the Beis Din should declare the couple’s Kiddushin invalid. On the other hand, Haliwa presented evidence that he is Jewish.
At this point, HaRav Zevadia Cohen, the head of the Avos Batei Din in Tel Aviv who assists in complex cases, entered the picture. During a hearing with all parties present,he contacted Haliwa’s great-grandmother who lives in the city of Tyre in Lebanon, and she confirmed via an interpreter that although she considers herself a Muslim, she has Jewish ancestry via her maternal line.
Following the phone conversation, HaRav Cohen told the woman’s family that due to doubts about Haliwa’s Jewishness, the kiddushim cannot be annulled without a get. In order to prevent a possible new saga, the court issued an order forbidding Haliwa from leaving Israel.
After many efforts by HaRav Cohen, an agreement for a get was reached. Since the woman is in the US, the Beis Din arranged a get shichus. The restraining order against Haliwa was removed and the painful case finally came to an end.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)