France's top rabbi takes leave amid plagiarism scandal

PARIS (AP) - France's top rabbi has taken leave from his post after becoming ensnared in a scandal over alleged plagiarism and lies about his educational background.

Dr Richard Prasquier, the head of a leading French Jewish group, said Rabbi Gilles Bernheim asked for the leave at an emergency meeting on Thursday of leaders of the Central Consistory of France.

On Tuesday, Rabbi Bernheim acknowledged making "mistakes" in an interview with Radio Shalom.

Rabbi Bernheim faced accusations by a French academic who tracks suspected plagiarism that parts of his 2011 book Forty Jewish Meditations and part of a text he wrote on gay marriage had been lifted from others. His text was cited in December in a speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

France's Jewish community is the largest in Western Europe, at around 500,000.