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Jewish leader: Top French rabbi takes leave amid accusations of plagiarism, lying about degree

FILE - In this July 12, 2012 file photo, France's Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim talks to the media after his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris. French Jewish leaders were holding an urgent meeting to discuss the career fate of France’s chief rabbi  Bernheim after he acknowledged “mistakes” amid allegations that he plagiarized texts and lied about his educational background.(AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

FILE - In this July 12, 2012 file photo, France's Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim talks to the media after his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris. French Jewish leaders were holding an urgent meeting to discuss the career fate of France’s chief rabbi Bernheim after he acknowledged “mistakes” amid allegations that he plagiarized texts and lied about his educational background.(AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)  (The Associated Press)

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.

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

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

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.