Eliyahu Haliwa, who turned out to be a Lebanese Muslim after marrying a frum Syrian girl from Brooklyn, NY, and now says that he has undergone a “giyur lechumrah” and is a full-fledged Jew, is currently visiting Eretz Yisroel.
As first reported by Matzav.com, Rabbi Avrohom Reich, founder of Kehillas Hatzolas Yisroel, one of the first kiruv organizations in Brooklyn for Russian Jews, says that after speaking to Haliwa’s mother, who lives in Texas, who said she was Jewish, Haliwa underwent a giyur lechumrah.
Rabbi Reich, as we reported, did not conduct the conversion himself, but witnessed the conversion being made by a bais din, confirming this in a letter seen below.
Haliwa is currently visiting Israel with the intention of settling there. He told Bechadrei Chareidim that he will try in every way to get back together with his wife. Haliwa is being accompanied and hosted by Chezky Sibek, deputy and acting head of the Emek Chefer Council.
In the interview with Bechadrei Charedim, which took place at the Kosel, Haliwa said that leaders and rabbis from the Syrian community are trying to persuade his wife to cut ties with him.
Haliwa says that people in the Syrian community took his tallis and tefillin from him, and he currently uses tefillin loaned to him by fellow Jews. After his current visit to the Holy Land, he plans to return to Brooklyn to tie up some loose ends and take care of some matters, and then return to Eretz Yisroel to live out his life.
“I want everyone to know, including the Syrian community, that they will not be able to cut me off from my wife,” he said. “Next year I will be here with my wife, no matter how much they try to cut us off.” As for her family, and whether they will one day accept him, he said, “I hope that one day they will accept me. I have nothing against them.”
He added, “I am happy to be here in the Land of Israel, in the Holy Land. This is my home, this is my place. I am surrounded by good people. I am surrounded by the army and police who protect me. I am happy here. The air here is different. This is where I belong. With the help of Hashem, I will live here, I will die here, and I will be buried here, and soon I will be reunited here with my wife.”