UPDATE: It turns out this story has some major falsehoods attached to it. The FBI has since denied any involvement in this story. Click here for a full update.
“Who is a Jew?” is a question debated at the highest levels of the denominational hierarchy and the Israeli government. But on the community, short-term level, the question is usually answered through self-identification.
At the Shabbat minyan I attend, for example, we don’t ask people if their mother or father is Jewish before offering them an aliyah. If they show up to shul they’re counted in the minyan and seen as potential participants in the service.
Seems this isn’t unique to liberal Jewish congregations. Yeshiva World News reports:
The Lakewood Jewish community is shocked after learning that a â€œFrumâ€? man living in the heart of Lakewood, was anything but Frum.
A source tells YWN, that a family has been living in the Forest Park area of Lakewood, NJ for the past few years, sent their kid to a Frum Yeshiva, Davened (prayed) three times a day, and was not even Jewish!
Apparently, a man posing as Mr. Natan Levi contacted â€œPartners In Torahâ€? a few years back, and was interested in learning more about his â€œJewish rootsâ€?. Naturally, the fabulous organization set him up with Chavrusas (study partners) to teach him all he wanted to know. The man seemed sincere that he wanted to become Frum (religious).
Eventually, the man was â€œFrum enoughâ€?, that he moved with his wife and kids from Kansas, and purchased a home in a prominent Development in the southern part of Lakewood, NJ. He enrolled one of his children in a Lakewood Yeshiva, and could be seen in Shul three times a day.
His charade came to a screeching halt last week – when the FBI suddenly arrived and whisked him away in handcuffs.