In his first-ever Israeli TV interview, Lebanese Shiite Muslim Eliyah Hawila, 23, who had recently stirred up a major controversy amidst the Frum community in New York, spoke about how he truly wants to convert and revealed why he did what he did.
Speaking to Israel’s Kan public broadcaster, Hawila presented his side of the story, saying, “I want to just tell you my story from A to Z, and I want to just come out and tell you the truth. I can’t lie about anything anymore. My lying is not justified, but at the same time, I lied because I was in pain, but I want to correct my mistake. I want them to understand where my pain is coming from.”
Talking about his wife, whom he loved very much, a sobbing Hawila said, “Things started coming out and the rumors started and they took her away from me, they separated her away from me. I was born in Lebanon, to parents who were born to Muslim Shiite families. I lived in a town called Tyre. My dad used to pray and fast like regular Muslims, but my mom never was religious. I had no connection to Islam, I had no connection to religion.”
“The first thing I remember googling was Jewish Bible, and I got a copy of the Tanach, a PDF. I felt, you know what, this is right, this feels like the word of God. So I started looking up even more and more, Jewish laws, Jewish prayers.” He later added that he made his own kipah out of cardboard and cloth. “And I was trying to hide it from my mom, trying to hide it from everybody.”
When his mom discovered what he was doing, she strongly opposed it but Hawila stayed true to his newfound faith. “This is what I belong to, this is how I feel connected, so I started coming out to people, and saying ‘I’m Jewish.’ People started spitting on me in the streets, I started getting death threats, people would call me a ‘Jew, a Jewish Dog’,” he said.
Later, in September 2015, when the family moved to the US, Hawila said, “I thought finally, you know what, no one can stop me, my dad wants to stop me, he cannot. So I started googling synagogues in my area. But when I got rejected I started just saying I’m Jewish. My name is Eliyah, and this is the name I chose for myself because I love the story of the prophet Elijah.”
When, after his wedding, his wife and in-laws started doubting his identity, Hawila said “So I started making even more stuff up, I…I…I was panicking, and they took her away from me, they separated her away from me.”
Insisting that he never meant to hurt the woman he married, he said, “If she wants to give me a second chance she can give me a second chance, If she doesn’t want to I still can’t blame her. But I want her to know she is the love of my life.”
In the end, the Lebanese man stated, “I just want to convert and I want to live a Jewish life. I want to convert in Israel, I don’t want to convert here. So when I say Baruch Hashem (praise the Lord) for the good and the bad, I mean it, because after every bad there is good, and Hashem (God) helps.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) November 28, 2021