by Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency via alegmeiner.com, via elderofziyon.blogspot.ca, Dec. 24, 2014
When Mark Halawa lights his family’s menorah during Hanukkah, it is not without recalling his unique journey as a Kuwaiti Muslim to Orthodox Judaism. The 38-year-old businessman, who now lives in Jerusalem with his wife and family, began his journey 12 years ago in Canada.
“I was born to a secular Muslim family in Kuwait,” Halawa told Tazpit News Agency in an exclusive interview. “We didn’t strictly follow Muslim traditions, but I would accompany my grandfather, who was religious, to the local mosque.”
Halawa spent a lot of time with his grandparents and knew early on that his maternal grandmother came from a Jewish family. “We knew that our grandmother’s family was Jewish but it never meant anything more,” said Halawa.
“I saw a siddur once in my grandma’s home and sometimes I would see her tearfully read from it when she was alone,” he recalls. “I once even found her birth certificate, which contained the last name, Mizrahi, and Hebrew, Arabic, and English on the document’s header.”