(JTA) — A Pakistani man who has received permission to publicly register as a Jew based on claims that his mother was born Jewish is “insane” and publicly shaming his lat e mother the man’s brothers say.
Faisal Benkhald, 29, who has taken the Yiddish name Fischel, late last month was granted permission to change the religious status in his National Database and Registration Authority profile from Muslim to Jew after a three-year battle.
He claims his mother was born Jewish and practices certain aspects of her Judaism when he was young, including baking challah and lighting Shabbat candles. He is reportedly the first Jew to come forward in the country in decades.
His brothers, who are substantially older, told the Times of Israel that both of their parents were born Muslim, and that his brother is only claiming to be Jewish in order to receive financial gifts or asylum in another country. He said his brother’s story is completely made up.
Their mother died 20 years ago and their father shortly after, according to the Times of Israel, and Faisal who was 9 at the time of his mother’s death was raised by an uncle. His oldest brother lives in Saudi Arabia and they last saw each other in 2012.
Faisal Benkhald’s three older brothers have prepared two notarized documents that call him “insane and in need of mental treatment” and assert that their mother has no Jewish background nor practiced any kind of Judaism.
Before rampant anti-Israel sentiment forced Jews to leave the Asian country in the years following 1948, Karachi was once home to over 1,000 Jews. There could be hundreds of Jews living secretly in Pakistan. Approximately 95 percent of the population there is Muslim.