Embattled French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim Quits Amid Plagiarism Scandal

Admits Lifting Passages and Lying About Credentials

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By Reuters

Published April 11, 2013.
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Gilles Bernheim, the Chief Rabbi of France, quit his post on Thursday after admitting to plagiarism in two books and to deception about his academic credentials.

The Paris Central Consistory, the top Jewish religious organisation in France, said in a statement that Bernheim was resigning and gave no further details.

Bernheim, 60, a modern Orthodox Jew, was respected by other religious leaders as an active participant in interfaith dialogue, and his booklet opposing the government’s plan to legalise same-sex marriage won praise from former Pope Benedict.

His fall from grace shocked France’s 600,000-strong Jewish community and it was not immediately clear who would take his place. Bernheim was elected to the seven-year post in 2008.

Last month, 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.” After initially denying the report, he later admitted that Lyotard had written the disputed passage.

Another blogger accused Bernheim last week of plagiarism in a 2002 book and L’Express magazine revealed he had not earned the prestigious title of philosophy professor that was often attached to his name.

Although his official biography did not mention him passing the “agregation,” the highly selective examination needed to qualify as a professor, Bernheim never disputed the title when it appeared in newspaper articles and publicity for his books.


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