Chief Rabbi of France Resigns Over Plagiarism Scandal

Chief rabbi of France officially resigns, after becoming embroiled in a scandal over alleged plagiarism charges.

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Rachel Hirshfeld ,

France's Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim
France's Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim

The chief rabbi of France announced Thursday that he has officially resigned, after becoming embroiled in a scandal over alleged plagiarism charges and fabrications regarding his educational background.

Rabbi Gilles Bernheim resigned with immediate effect, after admitting to plagiarizing several authors and lying about an academic status on his resume, said the body governing France's Jewish congregations.

Some 25 members of the Central Israeli Consistory of France met in Paris Thursday to discuss the issue in an emergency session, which Bernheim also attended.

"He recognized his faults, apologized and gave explanations," Sammy Ghoslan, vice president of the consistory, told the AFP news agency.

His resignation as chief rabbi is "a solution that brings more serenity. We all agreed", he said.

In the interim, Bernheim's post will be filled by an individual who will be chosen by the consistory's president.

The scandal erupted last week when Bernheim 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 that he was awarded a prestigious philosophy academic status from Sorbonne University was similarly false.

Bernheim had initially ruled out submitting his resignation. His spokesman, however, resigned Wednesday without providing explanation.

Bernheim was elected France's Grand Rabbi in 2008 for a seven-year term.