By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Ezra Zafrani, a Syrian rabbi in Lakewood, NJ, has taken responsibility and apologized to the family of the bride whose husband Ali Hassan Haliwa is suspected to be a Muslim.
Haliwa, who reportedly was born in Beirut, Lebanon, shocked the Jewish world when it was discovered that he married Sally, a young Jewish woman from Brooklyn, while posing as a Jewish man.
The wedding in Brooklyn was officiated by Rabbi Zafrani’s son Rabbi David Zafrani of New York.
Rabbis have criticized both rabbis for not conducting a birur yuchsin background check to verify Haliwa’s Jewish genealogy. Directors of Beis Dins called for stricter checks.
In an apology letter obtained by the Instagram account community.news, Rabbi Ezra Zafrani apologized to the bride, her family, and to the Rabbis and members of his community.
“I admit that I was completely fooled by this man, as well as others, to his Jewishness,” Rabbi Zafrani wrote. “To explain all of the details involved in permitting this non-Jew to marry are irrelevant. This was a mistake on my part to investigate his authenticity and not permit this man to get married.”
Rabbi Zafrani also said that while he was fooled into believing Haliwa is Jewish, he admitted that he is to blame for the terrible occurrence.
“I am utterly shocked at myself for letting this happen and there is no one else to blame. To make it worse I caused harm to the Kredi family and to this young lady. There are no words to describe how distraught at the pain that has been caused to our Rabbis and to our community. An apology does not heal the wounds but it must be done,” he wrote.
“I beg forgiveness from the Kredi family, from our Rabbis and from our community. I will definitely be more cautious in all my dealings in the Kehila and pray to Hashem to give me strength to serve our community properly.”
On Tuesday, police said that they do not believe there was a criminal element to Haliwa’s deception. Rather, “he was lonely and just wanted to be part of the Jewish community,” according to one source.
NYPD Deputy Inspector Richie Taylor, Commanding Officer of Community Affairs, Office of the Chief of Community Affairs, told COLlive.com: “Regarding the male who impersonated a Jewish individual to a female and then married her in a religious Jewish ceremony in Brooklyn, there is no credible threat to New York City’s Jewish community and there are no ties between this situation and terrorism.”