Rabbi Creates Fake Elder to Boost His Career

On the day that the plagiarism and lies of French top rabbi Gilles Bernheim led to his resignation, a highly-placed American colleague of his had to face his own lies and fabulations. Here’s the story.

An elderly Jewish scholar and rabbinical authority by the name of Herschel Goldwasser frequently cited the work of Michael Broyde.

Michael Broyde was a student of mine many years ago

Goldwasser wrote at one point

and he was a one-in-million [sic] high school student back then. He was diligent and smart and he tried harder than anyone I have ever met.

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That must have been nice for Broyde to hear. Broyde is a judge on the largest rabbinical court in the United States; he’s also a law professor at Emory University, where he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion. He was recently a frontrunner for the Chief Rabbi job in England.

Over the course of almost 20 years, Broyde received many public plaudits from Goldwasser. Goldwasser quoted appreciatively from Broyde’s work countless times, in Jewish journals and online forums, and no one seemed to notice (or mind) Goldwasser’s hermit-like qualities. No one knew what he looked like. No one even remembered meeting him.

Now, thanks to the sleuthing of a journalism website called the Jewish Channel, it’s clear why:

Rabbi Michael Broyde, a leading Modern Orthodox figure, confessed to using a fake persona to infiltrate a rival rabbinic organization and herald his own work in scholarly journals.

lengthy exposé on The Jewish Channel on Friday detailed how Broyde, a member of the Rabbinical Council of America who once was said to be on the short list of candidates to become the next chief rabbi of the United Kingdon, used the fake persona “Rabbi Herschel Goldwasser.” As Goldwasser, Broyde joined the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a rival to the RCA, heralded his own scholarship and corresponded with other rabbis.

Broyde at first denied the allegations, but then confessed on Friday shortly after The Jewish Channel piece was published.