Embattled French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim Quits Amid Plagiarism Scandal

Admits Lifting Passages and Lying About Credentials

getty images

By Reuters

Published April 11, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

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.


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!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • 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.