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French Jewish body to meet over grand rabbi scandal

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 21:51

Paris: The body governing France`s Jewish congregations will meet Thursday for an emergency session over a plagiarism scandal involving the country`s Grand Rabbi that has made waves at home and abroad.

Gilles Bernheim -- France`s highest Jewish religious authority -- last week admitted to plagiarism in his 2011 book "Forty Jewish Meditations" following revelations in French news magazine L`Express.

Further investigation by AFP revealed that a claim made on his CV that he was awarded a prestigious but extremely difficult-to-obtain philosophy academic status from Sorbonne University was not true.

Some 25 members of the Central Israeli Consistory of France will meet in Paris from midday to discuss the issue, according to Elie Korchia, vice-president of the body`s Paris subsidiary.

The central consistory has the power to relieve a grand rabbi of his duties, but has never before implemented such a move.

Bernheim -- who was elected France`s Grand Rabbi in 2008 for a seven-year term -- on Tuesday excluded stepping down over the scandal.

He blames the plagiarism in his book on an unidentified "student" he said assisted him with research and writing.

"That was a horrible error.... I was fooled. Nevertheless, I am responsible," he said.

On Wednesday, his spokesman Moche Lewin told AFP he had resigned, without commenting further.

Bernheim`s intellectual standing in the religious arena was well known. Pope Benedict XVI quoted from one of his essays as part of an argument against gay marriage last December.


First Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 21:51

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