Thursday, April 25, 2013

Journalist Claims Emory Law Prof-Rabbi Supported His Own Scholarship Through A Second Fictitious Persona

As previously reported, earlier this month an investigative reporter revealed that Emory Law Professor, Rabbi Michael Broyde, had created a sockpuppet (fictitious online identity)-- Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser-- which he used for 20 years to publish in scholarly journals, take part in online dialogues and even join a rival rabbinical organization.  Now the same reporter in an article yesterday on The Jewish Channel charges that Broyde also created a second fictitious persona-- David Tzvi Keter-- and used him in an elaborate fiction to support Broyde's own scholarship.

At the center of this latest controversy is a 2009 article published by Broyde as a special supplement to the journal Tradition.  The article, titled Hair Covering and Jewish Law: Biblical and Objective (Dat Moshe) or Rabbinic and Subjective (Dat Yehudit)?, argues that the prohibition in Jewish law on married women appearing in public with their hair uncovered is a rabbinic, not a biblical, prohibition.  A year after the article appeared, the website Hirhurim published a letter purportedly from David Ketter claiming that several prominent Israeli rabbis he had consulted in 1949 had taken a rather lenient view of a married woman's obligation to cover her hair. In 2011, two rabbis published an article in the journal Dialogue For Jewish Issues & Ideas strongly criticizing Broyde's 2009 article. Broyde responded to the Dialogue article through a posting on Hirhurim. As a preliminary point he said:
I want to note additional sources that support my position which have come to light since my article came out. One, a recollection by David Keter of a conversation he had with Rav Shach, tz”l.