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  • R’ Michael Broyde Update: “Clearly Breaches of Academic Ethics,” Leaves RCA, Delivers Keynote, Sees More Coverage

    by Steven I. Weiss

    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.”

    That statement led to the story being covered by The Atlanta Journal Constitution and the blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    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.

    April 16, 2013 | Read more Newsdesk posts. 6 Comments »

    Comments

    6 Comments »

    1. Does it get worse? Please look deeper into this SIW.

      Tablet magazine appears to allege that Rabbi Broyde may have commented on the YU child abuse scandal (that also has implicated Rabbi Broyde) using the fake identity of David Weissman in a Jewish Week article (Needed: Independent Investigation On YU High School Scandal, Mon, 12/24/2012, by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld who wrote “The investigation should not only be limited to Yeshiva University. One former student claims in the Forward that he shared his accusations with Rabbi Michael Broyde of the Beth Din of America who dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing. We need to know whether or not this accusation is accurate.”:

      http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/129385/top-rabbi-admits-fake-identity

      A cursory look at the Jewish Week comments raises suspicions regarding several of the other comments:

      http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/needed-independent-investigation-yu-high-school-scandal

      Harry Weissberger

      Hillel Gold

      Miriam Goldstein

      It is a very serious matter if a leading dayan in the modern Orthodox world is “sockpuppeting” on a major abuse scandal in an effort to sway public opinion by attacking a critic who wants a fully independent investigation (I do not want another Richard Joel report that whitewashes the scandal by protecting the names of people at YU who protected the child abusers at the expense of children as was done at the OU/NCSY with the Lanner report). Why would a powerful dayan with ties to his powerful friend Rabbi Lamm be allegedly commenting that Richard Joel should be conducting the investigation? This smells. Particularly in light of the allegations against Rabbi Broyde in the recent Forward article:

      http://forward.com/articles/168012/yeshiva-officials-rabbis-knew-of-alleged-abuse/?p=all

      In 2000, former student Twersky said he approached Michael Broyde, a Modern Orthodox rabbi who had just left a position at Beth Din of America, the official religious court of the RCA. Twersky asked if he should bring charges against Finkelstein in the beit din, and said that Broyde advised him that the allegations were “not flagrant enough.”

      Broyde said he does not recall the exchange with Twersky “in any way, shape or form.”

      “I don’t even know who Mordechai Twersky is,” Broyde said. “If he said he was sexually assaulted, I would have said to call the police.”

      Twersky said Broyde ought to remember him; they were in the same constitutional law class at Yeshiva College in 1983. During the late 1990s, Beth Din of America retained Twersky for public relations work that involved “working closely with Broyde on the marketing materials for their newly established rabbinic court,” Twersky said.

      Although he denied knowing about Twersky’s allegations, Broyde, a member of the RCA’s executive committee, said he had heard rumors about Finkelstein. “There had always been a rumor out there that there were kids who said this going back I don’t know how long,” Broyde said.

      Comment by jewishwhistleblower — April 16, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    2. http://frumfollies.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/broyde-criticized-internet-pseudonyms-before-his-were-exposed/

      Michael Broyde along with all the faculty of the rabbinical faculty of REITS at YU were sent a serious satire about the OU and YU abuse scandals a few days before Purim, this year. The sender who used the pseudonym Purim Torah get a series of replies from Rabbi Michael Broyde (RMB). Broyde made it a point to refuse to respond because the sender was using a pseudonym. Below are a few of his choice words.

      Comment by jewishwhistleblower — April 16, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

    3. How dishonest and agenda driven can you get, Steven? You quote half of what Wolpe said to make Rabbi Broyde look bad? Whatever else you might be Yyou are seriously not a good and honest journalist. Don’t ever claim to be balanced.

      But unofficially, Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University, said he suspects Broyde will feel less of a blow on campus.

      Joining a rabbinical organization’s Listserv under a false name is wrong, but it may not be “an academically sanctionable offense,” he said.

      In the academic community, what Broyde has done may be seen as “bad, but not fatal,” Wolpe said. “People should recognize this is clearly a breach of academic ethics. … But there are far worse things he could have done.”

      Yes, he submitted work to a journal under a pseudonym – which on its own isn’t unheard of, but he did so without disclosing that fact to an editor. And, yes, in a world where citing someone else’s work is a form of “academic currency,” he cited his own, Wolpe said. But he didn’t plagiarize, nor did he steal someone else’s research. Those sorts of actions are tenure-breaking.

      “The guy is still a genius when it comes to Jewish law. He’s got an expertise that is valuable. I think this is something he will recover from,” Wolpe said. “But his heart is in the Orthodox community, and to be sanctioned by them would be the real blow.”

      seriously. quote the whole thing you hack.

      Comment by Shimon — April 16, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

    4. >seriously. quote the whole thing you hack.

      It would hardly be fair use of the Emory article if Mr. Weiss reproduced the whole article. The appropriate thing to do was to reproduce a small quote (that which Mr. Wolpe stated as a fact as opposed to his speculation) and to link to the rest of the article so the reader could read the rest. What more could Mr. Weiss have done? This is more than most journalists would have done. I think you are being entirely unreasonable and unfair.

      Comment by jewishwhistleblower — April 17, 2013 @ 6:47 am

    5. Wasn’t the headline “RM Broyde “Clearly Breaches [sic] of Academic Ethics”" rather than “Clearly Breaches of Academic Ethics, but Colleagues Confident He Will Atone and Move Past It”?

      The law student paper seemed more balanced, but the headline implies immanent firing. Of course, editors famously get to pen the headlines, so that alone does not say anything of the journalist’s ill-will or otherwise.

      Comment by Amitai Blickstein — April 28, 2013 @ 12:08 am

    6. [...] it’s a snow day, why not catch up on some reading about Emory’s record of scholarly integrity, and treatment of researchers who raise alarms about safety issues in clinical trials, and [...]

      Pingback by Bylaws “not violated,” offer little guidance for faculty | Stop the Cuts at Emory — January 29, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

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