France's Top Rabbi Won't Step Down Despite Scandal

"To resign on a personal initiative would be tantamount to desertion," says Rabbi Gilles Bernheim in wake of plagiarism scandal.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Plagiarism (illustration)
Plagiarism (illustration)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

France's highest Jewish religious authority, Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, said Tuesday he would not step down after becoming embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, AFP reported.

"To resign on a personal initiative would be tantamount to desertion," he was quoted as having said on Shalom, a Jewish radio station.

"It would not reflect who I was in both private and public life, a man who assumes his responsibilities. What I am saying is clear: I work, and I fulfill my role as Grand Rabbi of France fully each day," he added.

The scandal broke early last week, when the French news magazine L'Express revealed that Bernheim's 2011 book, "Forty Jewish Meditations", contained purloined writings.

After initially denying the accusation, Bernheim, 61, issued a statement last Wednesday from Jerusalem admitting the plagiarism, but blaming it on an unidentified "student" he said had assisted him with research and writing.

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

Further investigation by AFP showed Bernheim noted on his CV a high academic status that he may not actually hold.

His Who's Who entry, based on information he provided, says he was awarded from Sorbonne University an "agregation de philosophie", a prestigious but extremely difficult to obtain achievement that permits the teaching of philosophy in French institutions.

However university "agregation" lists from 1972 to 2000 have no entry for Bernheim.

The head of the association managing the lists, Blanche Lochmann, said the Grand Rabbi's name was not in the agregation lists kept by the French education ministry either.