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IRF Responds to Rabbi Michael Broyde's Deception

Sunday, April 14, 2013

IRF Responds to Rabbi Michael Broyde’s Deception

The International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF) expresses its deep disappointment and dismay at the actions of Rabbi Michael Broyde, who acted deceptively in order to join our organization and its confidential listserv, which is a sacred and safe space in which our members can share ideas and thoughts. These actions included submitting a fictitious written application, as well as repeatedly lying in response to inquiries made by IRF leadership and individual members. As a prominent Dayan of the BDA, rabbi and posek, Rabbi Broyde’s actions are all the more saddening and shocking. Honesty and yashrut must be the hallmarks of all Jews and especially all who occupy positions of leadership in the community.

We acknowledge Rabbi Broyde’s public apology to the IRF. At the same time we recognize the continued feelings of hurt and betrayal legitimately felt by some of our members who engaged with exchanges with Rabbi Broyde's fictitious persona. In addition to the general apology to the IRF as an organization, personal apologies are due to the specific individuals that he interacted with.

Prior to the formal incorporation of the organization, when the IRF lacked a formal membership committee, R. Broyde joined the IRF as a provisional member under an assumed name and participated in the closed listserve under that false name. In November 2009 following the adoption of our organizational by-laws and the formalization of our membership procedures, all members were formally vetted and their applications were re-evaluated. Suspicions arose regarding one particular name and whether it was a real person.

Vigorous efforts were made to contact that person and verify his identity but these were not successful. Subsequently, in 2010, that person was dropped from the rolls of the IRF and excluded from the listserve.

The membership application process since 2009 has included the requirement of submission of a semikha certificate and written references from rabbis known personally to the IRF leadership. We will reevaluate these procedures again at our upcoming conference in May to examine if other steps are necessary to further ensure the integrity of our membership process.