Steven Sotloff, the U.S. freelance journalist who was beheaded by ISIS, practiced Judaism during his captivity with the band of jihadists.

Steven Sotloff Practiced Judaism Before Beheading

Sotloff’s religion and Israeli citizenship was made public on Wednesday, the day after the video of his death emerged, by Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson. Hirschson wrote on Twitter, “Cleared for publication: Steven Sotloff was #Israel citizen RIP.”

While Sotloff was a captive with ISIS, he secretly continued to practice his faith, even managing to fast during Yom Kippur. "He told them he was sick and didn’t want to eat, even though we were served eggs that day," a fellow captive told Yedioth Ahronoth. "He used to pray secretly in the direction of Jerusalem. He would see in which direction [his Muslim captors] were praying and then adjust the angle."

Hiding his faith and citizenship was something that Sotloff had long practiced. When he was in the field in North Africa and in regions of the Middle East, Sotloff took to identifying as a secular Muslim for his own safety. When asked about his name, which to most ears sounds Jewish, Sotloff would claim that it was Chechen in origin, a friend of the journalist told the Times of Israel.

When Sotloff, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, was taken into captivity in 2013, Sotloff’s family requested that the media and Jewish organizations would remain tightlipped about his faith should it affect negotiations to free him from ISIS. Furthermore, authorities reportedly took steps to scrub identifying information about his faith and Israeli citizenship from the Internet upon his capture.

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