The rabbinical court judge and Emory University law professor found by The Jewish Channel to have used a fake rabbinic identity for nearly 20 years, Rabbi Michael Broyde, has had an active beginning of the week.
Broyde has engaged in what are “clearly breaches of academic ethics” by “submitting a piece to a professional journal under a [pseudonym] that is not disclosed at least to the editors, and using that opportunity to cite one’s own work,” according to the director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University, Paul Wolpe, as quoted in an article by Arianna Skibell at The Emory Wheel. Fellow Emory professor Deborah Lipstadt is also quoted saying, “I think he made some serious mistakes…But I would hope that those mistakes would not completely overshadow the good work he has done over many years.”
Monday began with his “indefinite leave of absence,” first reported by Tablet, which quotes RCA president Rabbi Shmuel Goldin saying “Rabbi Broyde has admitted to behavior that the Rabbinical Council finds extremely disturbing,” adding ““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.”
There seems to be some difference between the Tablet report, which suggests Broyde has been the subject of a disciplinary action, and a statement from his rabbinic organization, the RCA, which is worded to suggest it was Broyde’s choice to take this leave:
Rabbi Michael Broyde has acknowledged behavior which the Rabbinical Council of America finds deeply troubling. As announced by the Beth Din of America, he will, properly, immediately cease to serve as a dayan on the RCA’s affiliated rabbinical court and be placed on indefinite leave. In addition, he has also requested a leave of absence from his membership in the RCA. We will continue to investigate this matter in order to determine further appropriate action.
As that release notes, Broyde has also taken a leave of absence as a member of the RCA, not just from his position as a judge on its affiliated rabbinical court.
Emory University, meanwhile, provided a statement to The Jewish Channel calling Broyde’s actions “concerning” and declaring, “We are currently reviewing the matter and plan to issue a statement once our inquiry is complete.”
And as noted on Twitter yesterday, Broyde was scheduled to give the keynote lecture at an academic conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago, “Shari’a and Halakha in America.” Broyde did arrive and delivered his address, “Suggestions for Shari’a Courts based on the Precedent of the Beth Din of America.” The event was covered by Menachem Wecker at the Forward.