TJC - The Jewish Channel
Home About Us Schedule Video Subscribe Contact TJC
Join Our Mailing List
Sign up for our Email Newsletter
TJC Blogs
  • The Docent
  • TJC Newsdesk
  • TJC Movies
  • America & World Jewry
  • Feature Films
  • History &
    Remembrance
  • Israel
  • TJC Original Series
  • Row J
  • The Salon
  • Holy Dazed
  • Inside the Issues
  • Jews of Color
  • Modern Jewish Mom
  • The Portion
  • Rabbis Roundtable
  • Srugim
  • TJC Movie Talk
  • With the Editors
  • Join Our Mailing List
    Sign up for our Email Newsletter
    TJC Blogs
  • The Docent
  • TJC Newsdesk
  • TJC Movies
  • America & World Jewry
  • Feature Films
  • History &
    Remembrance
  • Israel
  • TJC Original Series
  • Row J
  • The Salon
  • Holy Dazed
  • Inside the Issues
  • Jews of Color
  • Modern Jewish Mom
  • The Portion
  • Rabbis Roundtable
  • Srugim
  • TJC Movie Talk
  • With the Editors

  • Emory University Concludes Investigation of Professor & Rabbi Michael Broyde

    by Steven I. Weiss

    Following my investigation into Michael Broyde’s use of false identities to tout his scholarship and join rival rabbinic groups, Emory University launched an investigation. In the interim, I published additional findings about Broyde’s scholarship and another fake identity.

    Here’s Emory’s press release announcing the conclusion of their investigation:

    After media reports last spring that Professor Michael Broyde created several pseudonyms as alternate identities, Emory University convened a special Institutional Review and Investigation Committee to review his conduct in accordance with University procedures. Professor Broyde, who also is a rabbi, allegedly used the pseudonyms to write about matters of Jewish law and public policy and to gain access to a members-only listserv of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF).

    The Committee consisted of three university faculty members, two from the Law School and one from Emory College of Arts and Sciences. The Committee interviewed Professor Broyde and other parties of interest, reviewed relevant writings, correspondence, and emails, and analyzed the news stories and relevant publications.

    Professor Broyde acknowledged that he created a pseudonym (“Hershel Goldwasser”), which he used to submit letters to Jewish journals and to gain access to the IRF listserv. He acknowledged posting blog comments using pseudonyms, including comments that praised his own work. Professor Broyde denied creating the pseudonym “David Keter” or communicating pseudonymously with reporters.

    The Committee did not find evidence to substantiate any conduct beyond that which Professor Broyde acknowledged. Specifically, the Committee did not find evidence to substantiate the allegations that Professor Broyde created the Keter pseudonym or communicated pseudonymously with reporters.

    With regard to Professor Broyde’s acknowledged use of a pseudonym, the Committee found that Professor Broyde used a pseudonym exclusively for activities in his rabbinic capacities, not in his scholarly capacities connected with Emory University. Accordingly, the Committee concluded that the conduct did not violate Emory policies that govern allegations of research misconduct, and the University accepted the Committee’s conclusions.

    Nevertheless, candor is an extremely important value for the legal profession, the Law School, and the University, and Professor Broyde has pledged that in the future he will not engage in any conduct that conflicts with this value.

    Professor Broyde has stated: “I wish to express publicly to my students and colleagues and to the officers of Emory Law School and Emory University that which I have already expressed privately to many at Emory: I deeply regret these actions, and I apologize that some of my rabbinic work has come to reflect adversely on Emory University, an institution that I have so proudly served since 1991.”

    December 19, 2013 | Read more Newsdesk posts. 5 Comments »

    Comments

    5 Comments »

    1. Thank heavens Emory realized how foolish this nonsense was. I can only repeat what I stated when the smear campaign was first launched against Michael Broyde: this priggish assault on reason revealed nothing but neglect, complacency, lack of culture, and cowardice in our community and particularly in the Jewish press. All that was missing was the malicious arrest and prosecution of Rabbi Broyde for “criminal impersonation,” in retaliation for using the “name of another” to promote a theory and thereby obtain an intellectual “benefit.”

      Perhaps it will eventually be discovered that he used over 70 names, like Fernando Pessoa and Raphael Golb? Or at least dozens of names, like the evil Benjamin Franklin and one of history’s greatest immoralists, Voltaire? In fact, if they had discovered that he used anyone’s name satirically to his “advantage” or to “promote a theory,” he could have been sent to the Rikers Island penal colony for six months–I’m sure that would have made everybody happy. The Jewish press clearly turned against him with feigned concern and the most vicious, hypocritical expressions of schadenfreude, and would predictably have goaded the prosecutors on if it had come to that. For the potential “legal” consequences in New York, see the case documentation concerning Raphael Golb:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      Now, to get an idea of how far the vicious scapegoating campaign against Rabbi Broyde went in distorting reality, some readers may want to take a look at a pertinent discussion in Atlantic Wire (link provided below), where we read, for example, that “if an account is not verified, assume it’s a fake,” as well as the opinion of Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor at the Oxford Internet Institute: “We’re in a … postmodern world where we can’t tell the truth from fakery.” The author of the Atlantic Wire article states: “some argue… these misrepresentations are a part of our own identities. The Internet is what Philosopher Slavoj Žižek called a ‘space of false disidentification.’” The article these quotes are taken from appears at:

      http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/02/learning-cormac-mccarthy-twitterhoax/48147/

      And, those unfamiliar with the prosecution of Raphael Golb referred to above may wish to take a look at some of Golb’s censored writings, and determine for themselves whether they merited the censorship, persecution and violence with which they were requited. Several of them appear under the name “Charles Gadda” at these addresses:

      http://charlesgadda.wordpress.com/dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-misleads-public-july-2-2007/

      http://charlesgadda.wordpress.com/did-christian-agenda-lead-to-biased-dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-in-san-diego-october-6-2007/

      And again, I can only repeat how astonishing it is that these outrageous smear campaigns have been happening in America, where the Internet has become a reality, with all its mayhem of pseudonymous discourse and “trolling” of every type imaginable. Those who present themselves as being so filled with righteous anger about this nonsense might wish to remove their priggish glasses and engage in a serious dialogue about the pros and cons of anonymity. They might begin, for example, by thinking about the points raised in these articles:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/14/rj-ellroy-post-secret-online-review

      http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/jamesrhodes/100066855/in-defence-of-trolls-the-fearless-internet-sages-who-bring-us-the-truth-at-the-expense-of-personal-hygiene/

      And anyone who want examples of this kind of delightful pseudonymous conduct in Jewish history may want to start with cases like this:

      http://seforim.blogspot.com/2009/08/gemeinde-gemeinheit.html#_ftnref2

      and I’m happy to wager that if we study the hundreds of pseudonyms in the work by Shaul Chajes entitled Otzar Beduyey HaShem (Index of Pen-Names in Hebrew Literature) (Vienna, 1933) we will find all sorts of other examples. Many of them will obviously be of a different quality or degree than the pseudonymous activity engaged in by Michael Broyde and Raphael Golb, because such is the variety of experience. But that they belong to the same phenomenon and have played a significant role in intellectual history can hardly be denied.

      At one point during the campaign of smears, Rabbi Levi Brackman felt obliged to comment that if Broyde “employed unorthodox literary strategies as a means to disseminate ideas that would otherwise not be accepted by [his] audience, [he is] standing on strong ground in doing so. Whilst I do not like it, if such a crime truly warranted [his] firing from [his] positions of prominence, there are bookshelves full of classical works we should be throwing out with [him].” See:

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4376055,00.html

      Finally, even Jewish law permits this sort of conduct, as a someone pointed out in the comments under Rabbi Brackman’s statement, referring to Orech Chaim siman 156 si’if katan 2 [Eruvin daf 51, Pesachim daf 112]and a comment of Rashi on Pesachim 112a. I’d be happy to quote the passages at length, but I think anyone who is really concerned can simply look up the material for themselves.

      So I conclude: the campaign was despicable. Broyde deserves, at the very least, an apology, instead of the arrogance and repugnant priggish grandstanding we’ve been seeing by people who simply appear to enjoy getting their kicks from embarrassing him.

      Comment by Quixote — December 20, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    2. [...] Emory committee investigated the matter, and on Thursday the Jewish Channel reported that the university had concluded its [...]

      Pingback by Emory Professor Accused of Using Fake Names Didn’t Commit Misconduct – The Ticker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education — December 20, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    3. Steven

      I think you should be ashamed of your actions. I read all of what has been written regarding Rabbi Broyde’s pseudonym and believe that 95% of it was leshaim shamayim. Even if you don’t, the offense was certainly not of the magnitude that would justify ruining his career. Call him and beg his forgiveness.

      Roland

      Comment by Roland — December 21, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    4. To be clear. I think it is self-evident that >95% of Rabbi Broyde’s writing via a pseudonym was לשם שמים. That is, he clearly did not create the pseudonym for self-aggrandizement but rather for an opportunity to put forth important ideas of Jewish thought and law in an objective way and sometimes in forums that might not have been available to him using his own name.

      Comment by Roland — December 21, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    5. I agree that all those who participated in this smear campaign should be ashamed of what they did to a perfectly decent person.

      My lengthy comment on this entire matter was removed from this site.

      Compare a similar case, documented at:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      That too is a terrible scandal for our community, a well-connected Jewish academic having another Jew prosecuted in a criminal court for use of pseudonyms and satire to call attention to important ideas that were being blocked from discussion. A decent person faces a jail sentence on account of this nonsense, and we remain silent. That is shameful.

      Comment by Quixote — December 23, 2013 @ 2:40 am

    RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

    Leave a comment





    © 2008 The Jewish Channel. All rights reserved.

    Follow the news with the TJC team. Weekly news webcasts and regular updates.

    E-mail us:

  • Blogroll