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Rabbinical Court Drops Michael Broyde

Prominent rabbi who used pseudonym takes leave of absence from the Beth Din of America

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Michael Broyde's purged bio from the Beth Din of America web site (Beth Din of America)

The Rabbinical Council of America, the chief professional organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis, has granted Rabbi Dr. Michael Broyde, one of its most prominent scholars and a professor of law at Emory University, “an indefinite leave of absence” from its top rabbinical court, the Beth Din of America. Sources within the RCA confirmed the move, and Broyde’s biography has been deleted from the court’s web site, where he was previously listed as a member and judge.

“Rabbi Broyde has admitted to behavior that the Rabbinical Council finds extremely disturbing,” Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA, told Tablet. “We have determined and announced by the Beth Din of America, our affiliated rabbinical court, that he has ceased to serve as a dayan immediately and indefinitely.”

This action comes almost immediately following the revelation that Broyde crafted a fake alternate identity which he used to correspond with rabbinic journals, promote his own work, and most controversially, join a rival left-wing rabbinical organization. He was also shown to have employed various sock puppet accounts to defend his writing online.

While Broyde initially denied responsibility, he issued several public apologies hours after the conduct was reported on Friday morning by Steven Weiss at The Jewish Channel. The International Rabbinic Fellowship, the left-wing organization Broyde joined under the false pretenses of his pseudonym, dubbed his actions “saddening and shocking,” adding that “personal apologies are due to the specific individuals that he interacted with.”

Said Rabbi Goldin, “We are going to continue investigating the matter and proceedings will be underway to determine any further appropriate action.”

UPDATE: The RCA has issued a press release, which confirms the above, and adds that Broyde “has also requested a leave of absence from his membership in the RCA.”

Earlier: Michael Broyde: One Rabbi, Many Opinions

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Yisrael Medad says:

First France; now the US. What are Rabbis coming to?

Rabbi Broyde’s and Rabbi Bernheim’s behavior is simply unacceptable. If we don’t demand honesty and ethical behavior of our teachers and leaders, how can they demand it of us?

kotzk1 says:

Too bad; he is a good rabbinical judge..
Since he has apologized and has been sufficiently humiliated, after a while he should be returned to his position.
Judaism–and America–believe in second chances.

Not only did Rabbi Broyde exhibit a serious and ongoing lack of judgement, but he lied about, and then dismissed it as being no big deal. That’s not something we can tolerate from someone in his position. I think he has demonstrated that he is anything but a good judge, and acts only in his own best interest. Second chances are fine, but if you have violated the public’s trust how can we be sure you won’t do it again?

kotzk1 says:

And yet a serial liar, adulterer and perjurer is greatly respected and commands high fees for his speeches. Clinton was given another chance.

Irrelevant. Clinton was not a judge.

kotzk1 says:

No, Clinton was not a judge, though he did appoint judges, command the armed forces and otherwise exercise power of the head of state.
I guess the president of the U.S.A. has less clout or responsibility in your eyes than a rabbi in a totally voluntary rabbinical court.

Natan79 says:

So you only liked Nixon’s and W. Bush’s lies.

What Clinton did was wrong, I never said it wasn’t. But just because other people in positions of power have committed crimes or made errors of judgement, it does not make what Rabbi Broyde did right.

Habbgun says:

Why should he be returned to his position? If he had real confidence in what he was doing he would not have resorted to creating fake identities, etc. No one is indispensable. As they say the graveyards are full of indispensable people. Give someone else the position. They may very well be more worthy.

B”H he was exposed, after all he lacks the integrity to be a leading judge for the jewish community. Not that this makes him a bad person altogether necessarily. However it’s always nice to put a face to a name, and in learning and debate face to face communication is always the best. Too bad the IRF is not connected with chavrusamatch.com !

reginald thomson says:

Rabbi Broyde did not plagiarize or steal and he did not harm anyone. His apparent objectives were in fact pure. I do not doubt that Rabbi Avi Weiss or some of the staff at YCT and their affiliated rabbinic organization have good intentions. But they have gone beyond the pale of halachic Judaism in some areas. Their group was open to all and Rabbi Broyde/ Goldwasser invested considerable time and effort reminding them of the traditional Jewish sources. Using his own identity he would have been unable to do that. Similarly, he has taken their student/musmach, Rabbi Farber, under his wing despite the origins of his semicha. This depsite some seriously misguided opinions. Directly confronting him on them may have damaged their relationship and Broyde’s contiued ability to mentor Farber. He believed in Farber’s integrity and intellectual honesty and thus presented the material to him via ‘Rabbi Goldwasser’. Publishing articles with a pseudonym a crime? How may of us know the classic seforim by the names the author’s gave them and themselves and don’t even know the author’s name. Sometimes there are multiple seforim by the same author and we don’t even realize it. It seems that in response to inappropriate muckraking the RCA has cut off its nose to spite its face. Shame.

Tommy Glick says:

bingo. The gentile world *loves* less religious Jews that tear down and humiliate their more pious brethren. Posting with a fake identity can be done for legit reasons: to prevent prejudice/bias in the reader that might exist if he/she knew who was posting.

altershmalter says:

Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinny, 1992, 20th C Fox): :
THE DEFENSE IS WRONG!”
No further citing needed.

P.s. Since this article appeared, it has been alleged that Rabbi Broyde, in a formal response to criticism of an article of his that had been published in the scholarly journal Tradition, referred to one of his own fake postings as a source. This, of course, would constitute an act of academic fraud. As Prof. Lawrence Kaplan of McGill University has indicated in an exchange posted on the Jewish Channel website, this would be far worse than anything Raphael Golb did. Kaplan, in fact, asserts that, in his view, Raphael Golb did not commit any crime. If so, the criminal prosecution and conviction of Raphael Golb at the behest of a New York University department chairman would be a scandal in its own right, one that would certainly deserve even more attention than the press is currently giving to the Michael Broyde affair. See the exchange at:

http://newsdesk.tjctv.com/2013/04/investigation-reveals-additional-questionable-identity-with-connections-to-broydes-scholarship/

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Rabbinical Court Drops Michael Broyde

Prominent rabbi who used pseudonym takes leave of absence from the Beth Din of America

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