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Update Re David Keter Letter

 

Over two years ago, I published a letter, quoting a number of Torah sages on the issue of women covering their hair, that I believed was authentic (link). The evidence documented in the following article convinces me that the letter is not authentic. I apologize to my readers and the broader Torah community for my role in this unfortunate incident. Because it is so painful, I will not be discussing this issue publicly in the near future and am closing this post to comments.

- Gil Student

Investigation Reveals Additional Questionable Identity With Connections to Broyde’s Scholarship

by Steven I. Weiss

A new investigation by The Jewish Channel suggests a deception related to Rabbi Michael Broyde’s academic work that academic ethics experts say would represent a much greater breach of academic ethics than the revelations from a previous investigation published by The Jewish Channel on April 12….

This second identity involves a 179-page article by Broyde published as a special supplement of the scholarly journal Tradition in the fall of 2009. A prefatory note to special supplement expresses thanks from the editors of Tradition to two entities, one of which is Broyde’s employer, the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, where Broyde is a senior fellow. The two entities “funded this special supplement, thereby enabling Tradition to publish a worthy article that we would not otherwise have been able to print because of considerations of space,” the editors write.

Broyde’s article generated significant controversy within the Orthodox rabbinate and in Jewish scholarly circles for its detailed historical argument suggesting that the dominant view of past rabbinic sages was that married women might not need to cover their hair in public in order to conform to Orthodox Jewish law.

Tradition received multiple letters in response to the article, both supporting and opposing Broyde’s argument. Two of the letters supporting Broyde’s argument aroused editors’ suspicions about their authenticity.

Someone claiming to be David Tzvi Keter wrote one of those letters to Tradition from a Gmail account, establishing a biography in which he claimed he had “moved to Israel in 1949 after graduating from Columbia,” and that he then went on to learn at one of the most prestigious yeshivas in the world at the time, Jerusalem’s Etz Chaim yeshiva, under a major sage of the time, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer.

The Keter character then goes on to provide a history in which he gathered the oral testimony of several prominent sages of the mid-20th-century on the topic of women’s hair covering. His letter provides their comments 60 years later to add them to the historical record Broyde had been analyzing in the Tradition article.

After Tradition declined to publish the letter, Broyde succeeded in getting the letter published on the Orthodox Jewish scholarship website Hirhurim. Broyde then wrote a follow-up to his Tradition article at Hirhurim, in which he responded to critics and cited the Keter letter as one of three “additional sources that support my position which have come to light since my article came out.”

The Jewish Channel has been unable to find any evidence of David Keter’s existence…

Read the complete article here: link

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.