A prominent Emory University professor and Orthodox rabbi is facing tough scrutiny after a Jewish-oriented television channel reported that he created a fake identity to join a rabbinic group.
Rabbi Michael Broyde allegedly joined the International Rabbinic Fellowship under the false name of Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser, who claimed to live in Israel. By joining the organization, Broyde could access its listserv and he also promoted his own work, according to a report by Steven I. Weiss on The Jewish Channel.
The New York-based channel also said Broyde, who is well-known in law and Jewish scholarship and a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, may have submitted letters using the fake persona to scholarly journals for several years.
Broyde, reached by email, declined to comment but said he might “at some future time.” The fellowship and a friend of Broyde’s both reported that he had apologized.
Emory, where Broyde is identified on the school’s website as a professor of law and senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, said it is investigating the allegations.
In a statement released Monday, Emory said the allegations “are concerning to the law school.”
“We are currently reviewing the matter and plan to issue a statement once our inquiry is complete,” the statement said.
The Jewish Channel alleged that the deception had apparently spanned years.
Broyde is a member and judge of the Beth Din of America, the largest Jewish law court in America, according to the Emory and Beth Din websites. He is the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta.
Rabbi Yossi New of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Sandy Springs recently spoke with Broyde. He said it was not an easy time for his longtime friend and colleague.
“He is a wonderful man and a great scholar who made a mistake and has admitted it and apologized,” New said. “Part of the Jewish tradition and religious tradition is when people admit and apologize for mistakes and errors in judgment that they be given the opportunity to repent and heal. … Hopefully, he can repair the damage and restore the reputation he deserves.”
The International Rabbinic Fellowship issued a statement saying Broyde had apologized while it also expressed “deep disappointment and dismay” over his actions.
“Honesty and yashrut must be the hallmarks of all Jews and especially all who occupy positions of leadership in the community,” the fellowship said in a statement.
Broyde is also a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, which issued a statement calling his actions “deeply troubling” and said it is investigating. Broyde has requested a leave of absence from the council. Beth Din of America said it has accepted Broyde’s request for an indefinite leave of absence.
“I’m blown away,” said Marcy J. Levinson-Brooks, the publisher of AtlantaJewishNews.com. “I think it’s morally and ethically reprehensible. … What have you been teaching and not practicing?”