French chief rabbi under fire again for academic fraud

PARIS (JTA) — French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim is facing new charges that he faked an academic title.

In most of his official biographies, Bernheim is said to hold a degree in philosophy. When former French President Nicolas Sarkozy awarded him the Legion of Honor in 2010, he said twice that Bernheim is an "agrégé de philosophie," a very competitive academic distinction in France.

Bernheim never contradicted the assertions. However, the rabbi’s name does not appear on the official lists of successful candidates to the “agrégation" exam between 1968 and 1986, L’Express reported. Bernheim’s academic title also is not mentioned in the files of the Ministry of National Education.

The new charges follow recent accusations that Bernheim plagiarized several passages in his latest book, “Forty Jewish Mediations." Several French blogs revealed that multiple passages from the 2011 work were copied from other authors, such as Jean-Francois Lyotard, Elie Wiesel and Jean-Marie Domenach.

After an initial denial, Bernheim said last week that he had been “fooled” by a ghostwriter. He also claimed that it was “the one and only time he used such an arrangement.”

Meanwhile, Jean-Noel Darde, a senior lecturer at Paris 8 University, wrote on his website that he found at least one other instance of apparent plagiarism in “Caring for Others: At the foundation of Jewish law," a book Bernheim published in 2002. Darde claimed the rabbi copied excerpts from “The Eloquence of Tears," a book by Jean-Loup Charvet published in 2000.

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