Eliya Haliwa, who was exposed as a Lebanese non-Jew after marrying a Syrian Jewish girl from Brooklyn last October, is actually Jewish, according to Rav Avraham Reich of the Hatzalas Yisrael community in Brooklyn.
Rav Reich, who is an expert in the investigation of the yichus of Jews from the former Soviet Union, revealed on Zev Brenner’s Talkline program on Motzei Shabbos that he thoroughly investigated Haliwa’s background and spoke with his mother, who admitted that she and her mother are Jewish. Rav Reich also spoke with Haliwa’s grandmother in Lebanon.
Despite this, Rav Reich said that Haliwa still underwent giyur l’chumra since there weren’t four consecutive generations in the family who were shomer Torah u’mitvos and therefore giyur l’chumra was required.
Rav Reich didn’t want to reveal who served on the Beis Din for various reasons but said that he himself witnessed the giyur l’chumra process and confirmed that Haliwa is a kosher Jew l’mehadrin. The Beis Din members are reportedly some of the most chashuve Rabbanim in the US.
It is unknown why Haliwa didn’t reveal that his mother and grandmother were Jewish after the whole story blew up shortly after his wedding.
Haliwa wants to return to his wife since ultimately his marriage was completely kosher since he is Jewish. However, apparently, some members of the Syrian community in Brooklyn are heavily pressuring him to grant his wife a get, but Haliwa refuses to do so.
His wife would require a get l’chumrah since Haliwa’s status as a Jew is based on the fact that his mother and grandmother say they are Jewish [which is enough evidence to confirm Jewish identity according to Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt’l and HaRav Ovadia Yosef, z’tl] but there are no others or evidence who can confirm that fact, in addition with the fact that there weren’t four consecutive generations of Jews who were shomer Torah u’mitzvos.