Law prof is under fire for creating fake identity
Posted Apr 17, 2013 5:10 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
An Emory law professor who was named one of America’s top 50 rabbis by Newsweek magazine is under fire after a news report said he used a fake identity to join a rival rabbinic group.
The Jewish Channel reported that Rabbi Michael Broyde had used the name Hershel Goldwasser to join the liberal International Rabbinic Fellowship, which allowed him to access an email discussion group and to promote his own work. The name was also listed as an author in scholarly journals and in online dialogues with other Orthodox rabbis, the story says.
CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have stories on the Jewish Channel report and the controversy that resulted. Broyde was a judge on the largest rabbinical court in the United States, the Beth Din of America, but he has now requested an indefinite leave. Emory University said in a statement that it is reviewing the matter.
Broyde initially denied he was Goldwasser when contacted by the Jewish Channel. But in a post at Hirhurim - Musings, Broyde admitted that he and a friend had used the name to write about matters of Jewish law and policy in blog comments, letters to the editor, publications and emails. “No malice was ever intended, and our participation was always intended to foster vigorous conversation,” he wrote. He and the friend also used the name to join a professional organization, Broyde wrote, though he did not name the group.
Broyde said he and the friend had stopped using the pen name a few years ago, but someone else began using it. "I publicly express here my apologies to those who were deceived by my pseudonymous writing," he wrote. "I particularly regret joining any professional organization pseudonymously."