French Chief Rabbi Won't Quit Over Plagiarism

Gilles Bernheim Also Faces Questions About Credentials

getty images

By Reuters

Published April 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Gilles Bernheim, the chief rabbi of France, refused to quit on Tuesday despite admitting to several counts of plagiarism and deception about his academic credentials.

The revelations have shocked France’s 600,000-strong Jewish community and Bernheim has come under pressure to quit, but he said resigning would be a “desertion” as he came clean on one of the faithful’s main radio stations in the country.

“It would be an act of pride and against the collegial structure that presides over decisions. I assume my functions fully,” Bernheim, 60, a modern Orthodox Jew who was elected grand rabbi in 2008, told Radio Shalom.

“I ask for forgiveness from all those close to me, my family and the community as a whole that I have disappointed,” he said.

Bernheim has seemed to be at the height of his career in recent months after his booklet against same-sex marriage laid out the intellectual argument for France’s multi-faith movement against the government’s plan to legalise it later this year.

The disclosures also come when France’s political elite is under intense scrutiny following the resignation of the country’s budget minister over a secret foreign account that has created the biggest sleaze scandal of President Francois Hollande’s 11-month-old Socialist government.

Bernheim’s troubles began last month when a blogger accused him of copying a 1996 text by the late French post-modernist philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard to use in his 2011 book “Forty Jewish Meditations”.

Bernheim responded by saying he was a victim of Lyotard’s plagiarism of notes from lectures he had delivered in the 1980s when he was Jewish student chaplain in Paris.

Two weeks later, he admitted Lyotard had authored the disputed passage and blamed a student researcher he hired to help write the book because he was too busy with other duties.

POPE PRAISE

His philosophical and historical defence of traditional marriage had attracted the attention of former Pope Benedict, who unexpectedly praised it in his annual speech to the Vatican Curia last December, calling it “profoundly moving”.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.