Jewish communities all across America were rocked this week after finding that a Lebanese Muslim man living as an ultra-Orthodox Jew managed to trick a Haredi woman to marry him in New York City's borough of Brooklyn.
The man went by the alias Eliyah Haliwa and spoke fluid Hebrew, which helped him assimilate into the Jewish community in Texas where he lived for seven years.
According to the bride’s parents, their daughter discovered her husband’s secret about a month after the wedding, when she found a Lebanese passport among his belongings. She told her family about her discovery and went into hiding.
According to the head of the Chabad house in Texas A&M University Rabbi Joseph Lazaroff, who was at the wedding, a student who introduced himself as Eliyah Haliwa first began visiting Chabad and other Jewish institutions in 2018, where he would occasionally attend Shabbat meals and take part in prayers and Torah lessons.
According to Lazaroff, the couple met on a dating site. The bride, who hails from a Syrian Jewish family, simply thought her soon-to-be husband was a Jew of Lebanese descent.
Lazaroff says that he warned the bride's family before the wedding that the man’s conduct "did not reflect that of a fully observant Jew” and that he told the rabbi officiating the ceremony that he himself could not confirm the groom's Jewish status.
He said he and his wife attended the wedding because they were invited. Lazaroff added they knew Haliwa had no family who would be there and attended on the understanding that the officiating rabbis “had done their due diligence to confirm the groom’s Jewish status.”
The FBI is involved in the matter, sources told the Yeshiva World Website, as is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Israeli Consulate General has been updated on the case. Among other things, authorities are looking into whether Haliwa was in the U.S. legally.