Rabbi Michael Broyde Caught Using Fake Identity To Bolster His Own Work
Rabbi Michael Broyde, a leading Centrist Orthodox rabbi and law professor, appears to have created a fake professional identity which he used to gain access to members-only correspondence of a rival rabbinic group and tout his own work. The fake identity may also have been used to submit letters to scholarly journals. Broyde also used that fake identity to comment on blogs – including this one.
Steven I. Weiss reports for the Jewish Channel:
[Rabbi Michael Broyde, a] leading Orthodox rabbi and esteemed law professor appears to have created a fake professional identity which he used to gain access to members-only correspondence of a rival rabbinic group and tout his own work. The fake identity may also have been used to submit letters to scholarly journals.
Rabbi Michael Broyde is well-known in both the fields of Jewish scholarship and law, and according to veteran British Jewish news reporter Miriam Shaviv, he was also on the shortlist of candidates being considered for chief rabbi of England in recent months, in an article saying that the chancellor of Yeshiva University had called him “the finest mind of his generation.” He is a rabbinical court judge, or dayan, on the largest rabbinical court in the United States, the Beth Din of America.…
Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser has been published in multiple scholarly journals and been a part of numerous online dialogues with other Orthodox rabbis. But Goldwasser does not appear to be a real person. In examining voter registration records, contacting rabbis in areas where he was said to have lived, and in research by yeshiva archivists, no record of his existence has been found…
Lookstein’s letter was published in several locations, including on the Jewish watchdog blog FailedMessiah. In comments to that blog post, an anonymous commenter going by the pseudonym “Archie Bunker” characterized Broyde as “from the extreme left-wing YCT crowd.” The acronym there refers to Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a rabbinical seminary founded by Weiss, who also co-founded the IRF; many, and perhaps all, graduates of YCT are IRF members, and some graduates have had difficulty gaining membership to the RCA.
Coming to Broyde’s defense in the comments section was Hershel Goldwasser. In one comment, the Goldwasser character wrote, “Connecting Rabbi Broyde to YCT is just stupid. Everyone knows that Broyde published this vicious criticism of YCT. YCT hates him.” The Goldwasser character then shared a link to an essay Broyde had written at the popular Orthodox blog Hirhurim.
Archie Bunker didn’t find that explanation sufficient, replying “I connected Broyde to YCT because of the kollel [professional study group] he runs in connection with them.”
The Goldwasser character responded to Archie Bunker again: “There is no connection between Rabbi Broyde’s Kollel in Atlanta and YCT except that there is a YCT member learning in it.” That YCT member is Farber, the recipient of the Goldwasser e-mail about being a young man in the 1960s, and whom Broyde is teaching to be a rabbinical court judge.
According to information provided to The Jewish Channel by the publisher of the FailedMessiah site, Shmarya Rosenberg, the IP addresses of both Goldwasser comments match the Broyde Comcast IP that The Jewish Channel has found on many other of Broyde’s signed correspondences, and on some of the Goldwasser e-mails to the IRF listserv.…
This is just a small part of the article. Weiss caught Broyde using a fake name to bolster his own work at academic journals and doing all sorts of similar sockpuppeting elsewhere.
Broyde's career should be over and probably would be – except that Broyde is, of course, Orthodox, and in Orthodoxy, ethics and morals are transient things. When the rabbi breaks the law, th elaw can bend to accomodate it. When you break the law, the law suddenly is inflexible – unless you are a wealthly man or a pwoerful man or have the proper dirt on the rabbis judging you. My assessment may be harsh, but it is shared by literally thousands of Orthodox and haredi Jews who whisper it to each other as each new scandal hits.