Mordechai Halawa was born into a secular Muslim family in Kuwait. His father owned a successful construction business that provided a privileged life.
The First Gulf War changed his life when he was 12 years old. His father’s business was destroyed and the family left Kuwait, moving first to Jordan, and eventually immigrating to Canada.
Although a non-observant Muslim, his father was anti-Israel, Halawa recalls. But he had heard vague family rumors, which proved to be true, that his maternal grandmother was Jewish. While studying at the University of Western Ontario, he met a rabbi who explained that based on Jewish law, which determines religion through the mother, he would be considered a Jew. He then began to explore his religious roots, which ultimately led him to study in Israel.
Halawa now balances work with business projects, promoting common values among countries in the Middle East, and sharing his story in hope for peace through speaking engagements.
Halawa will share his remarkable story at Chabad of Royal Palm Beach (129 Sparrow Drive) on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. The cost is $12 a person for members and $15 per person for nonmembers before Oct. 22. After Oct. 22 and at the door, admission is $18. Refreshments will be served. For more info., call (561) 225-1766.