Rabbi Michael Broyde, a prominent Orthodox rabbi who admitted to creating a fake online identity, was suspended from the Beth Din of America.
Rabbi Broyde, who admitted last week that he had used a false name to gain access to a rabbinic e-mail list and to write letters to various journals, was placed on “an indefinite leave of absence” from the rabbinic court, Tablet magazine reported.
“Rabbi Broyde has admitted to behavior that the Rabbinical Council finds extremely disturbing,” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, the president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the court’s parent body. “We have determined and announced by the Beth Din of America, our affiliated rabbinical court, that he has ceased to serve as a dayan [judge] immediately and indefinitely.”
A law professor at Emory University and a senior fellow at the Atlanta school’s Center for Law and Religion, Rabbi Broyde is considered one of the Orthodox world’s leading judicial authorities and an expert on the intersection of religious and secular law.
An investigation by The Jewish Channel revealed that Rabbi Broyde had used a pseudonym to gain access to an e-mail list maintained by the liberal International Rabbinic Fellowship and to tout his own work in various forums, a practice known as being a “sockpuppet.” Under the name Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser, Rabbi Broyde published letters in journals and engaged in online debates with other rabbis. He also gained access to private deliberations among IRF rabbis.
After initially denying the charges against him, Rabbi Broyde quickly changed direction and issued several apologies.