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Chief rabbi of France resigns

April 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

PARIS, April 11 (UPI) -- The chief rabbi of France resigned Thursday amid allegations of plagiarism and taking credit for a doctorate he never earned.

Gilles Bernheim announced his immediate departure during a meeting with the consistoire, the governing body of French Jews, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. Officials said Michel Guggenheim, the chief rabbi of Paris, and Olivier Kaufmann, who heads France's rabbinical school, will discharge the chief rabbi's duties until a new rabbi has been elected.

When he was first accused of plagiarizing some material in his books and in a recent essay opposing gay marriage, Bernheim said he would not step down, describing resignation as "desertion." In an interview Tuesday on Radio Shalom, he admitted having made "serious mistakes."

Bernheim, 60, also allegedly failed to correct biographies that mistakenly said he had a doctoral degree in philosophy.

Bernheim became chief rabbi Jan. 1, 2009, after more than a decade as rabbi at Paris' largest synagogue, the Synagogue de la Victoire.

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