From the Orthodox Union:
The Orthodox Union joins in mourning the loss of, and paying tribute to the memory of, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm. An extraordinary leader, profound thinker, prolific author, consummate teacher, and inspiring rabbinic presence, he had an enduring impact on the Jewish community.
Rabbi Lamm’s achievements as a congregation rabbi are legendary. After his initial position as a pulpit rabbi in Springfield, Massachusetts, Rabbi Lamm assumed the rabbinate of The Jewish Center in New York City, where he mesmerized his congregants with weekly sermons unrivaled in their eloquence, erudition, and fidelity to Orthodoxy. His hallmark rhetorical flourishes were always woven seamlessly into his prose, memorably enhancing its message.
An articulate and unapologetic spokesman for Orthodoxy in the United States, Rabbi Lamm was highly respected by all. His legacy of exceptional contributions to American Judaism is a testament to his towering influence.
The Orthodox Union extends condolences to Rabbi Lamm’s family. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
From Yeshiva University:
The Yeshiva University community mourns the loss of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm Z”L, the former president, Rosh HaYeshiva and chancellor of Yeshiva University. He was an elegant and articulate spokesman for Jewish life in modern times. His oratory, wisdom and leadership inspired our institution for more than three decades.
A prolific author in the field of Jewish philosophy and law, a distinguished academician and a charismatic pulpit rabbi, Dr. Lamm had an extraordinary impact on the Jewish community. With a rare combination of penetrating scholarship and eloquence of expression, he presented a view of contemporary Jewish life that spoke movingly to all.
He was elected Yeshiva University’s third president in August 1976, succeeding Dr. Samuel Belkin (1943-1975) and Dr. Bernard Revel (1915-1940). He became the first native-born American to head the nation’s oldest and most comprehensive Jewish institution of higher learning. He served as president until June 2003, during which time he also became Rosh HaYeshiva of the affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). After retiring as president, he was elected chancellor, serving as both chancellor and Rosh HaYeshiva until July 2013, when he announced his retirement after being at Yeshiva University for more than 60 years.
“Rabbi Lamm was the premier expositor of our community’s worldview. His teachings and writings anchored modern life in Torah values and taught us how we can grow from the interchange of history’s great ideas. In his decades of leadership as our president, chancellor and Rosh HaYeshiva, he elevated Yeshiva University to new heights and educated thousands upon thousands of students who now serve as leaders of our community and pillars of our society. His enormous impact is simply incalculable in considering both the influence of his ideas as well as the number of alumni who graduated during his tenure from across our institution’s graduate, undergraduate and rabbinic programs,” said Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University.
He was born in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, on December 19, 1927, to Pearl Baumol Lamm and Samuel Lamm. Dr. Lamm received his elementary and high school education at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath. In 1945, he entered Yeshiva College, where he majored in chemistry. Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 tested his skills in the laboratory when, as a student, he was asked to work on a secret munitions project for the struggling state. The project was headed by Dr. Ernst D. Bergmann, who later became head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. He graduated summa cum laude in 1949 and was class valedictorian.
Upon graduation, Dr. Lamm pursued advanced scientific studies at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, while continuing his Judaic studies and rabbinic scholarship. At the urging of Dr. Belkin to choose the rabbinate rather than science as his career, he was ordained as a rabbi at RIETS in 1951 and earned a PhD in Jewish philosophy from the University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies in 1966.
Dr. Lamm gained wide recognition for his writings and discourses on the interpretation of Jewish philosophy and law, especially in relation to problems involving science, law, technology and philosophy in the modern world. He authored 10 books, including his major work, Torah Lishmah (1972), about the Mitnaggedim, and The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary, which won the coveted 1999 National Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought. He also published many articles on Jewish law in many journals, one of which was cited in two separate landmark Supreme Court decisions on self-incrimination.
Dr. Lamm edited or co-edited more than 20 volumes, including The Library of Jewish Law and Ethics. He was the founder and first editor of Tradition and associate editor of Hadarom, a journal of Jewish law; founder of the Torah U-Madda Journal; and founder of the Orthodox Forum.
Dr. Lamm is survived by his children, Dr. Chaye Lamm (David) Warburg, Dr. Joshua (Rivkie) Lamm and Shalom (Tina) Lamm; son-in-law Rabbi Mark Dratch, husband of Sara Lamm Dratch Z”L, who passed away on February 28, 2013; and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is survived by his sisters, Tzivia Sittner and Miriam Auslander, and was the brother of Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm Z”L. His wife, Mindella (Mindy) Lamm Z”L, passed away on April 16, 2020.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim — joins Klal Yisrael in mourning the passing of HaRav Dr. Nachum (Norman) Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University’s affiliated rabbinical school.
Rabbi Dr. Lamm was a master orator whose sermons and lectures enchanted audiences, challenging them to rise to greater heights in religious commitment. He was a fierce advocate for Orthodox Judaism in a time when it was under siege by secularizing and liberalizing forces. Through his efforts, thousands of people learn Torah and observe Shabbat in America, Israel, and around the world. As the author of over a dozen books and commentaries, his scholarship and insights continue to educate and inspire students of Torah.
Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s maternal grandfather was HaGaon HaRav Yehoshua Baumol ZT’L (1880–1948) who authored the Responsa Emek Halakha. In that work, HaRav Baumol cited several insights from his young grandson, and even included responsa addressed to him.
Rabbi Dr. Lamm was elected President of Yeshiva University in 1976, after which he saved it from looming bankruptcy and raised its endowments as well as its academic rating. Throughout his tenure, Rabbi Dr. Lamm strengthened the financial and academic stature of the school. As Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Dr. Lamm was responsible for the education and training of thousands of rabbis and lay Torah scholars. Even after his retirement in 2003, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm remained intimately involved with the educational institution in his positions of Chancellor and Rosh HaYeshiva.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “The Jewish world lost a pillar and a leader. As President of Yeshiva University and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm helped elevate spirituality in America and save American Judaism. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm was part of the devoted group of post-war educators who worked tirelessly to ensure that Orthodox Judaism thrived in a world that in many ways was hostile to religion in general and Judaism in particular. The Jewish world has lost a dedicated advocate. As a community, we owe Rabbi Dr. Lamm a debt of gratitude that we will always appreciate and be thankful for.”
May Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, ZT’L serve as a heavenly advocate, a Meilitz Yosher, for his family, the Jewish community and the entire world. May his memory be a blessing.