OU Statement on Petirah of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, zt”l

01 Jun 2020

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 congregational 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.  

Rabbi Lamm took the helm at Yeshiva University at a critical time in the institution’s development.  A gifted scholar and outstanding talmid chacham, Rabbi Lamm served as both President and Rosh Yeshiva, providing the academic stature, and signifying the importance of robust Torah study, that burnished the reputation of Yeshiva University in the world of higher Jewish education.  With Rabbi Lamm’s skillful leadership, Yeshiva was able to weather severe economic challenges and continue to thrive and fulfill its mission of educating countless students in religious growth through Torah and Madda. 

Rabbi Lamm played a special role for the Orthodox Union. A frequent speaker at OU conventions, his recurring themes included the primacy of Torah and Halacha, the significance of the State of Israel and Religious Zionism, the importance of a positive interaction between the Torah way of life and the modern world, and the critical need for Jewish education. Rabbi Lamm’s messages resonated with the OU and encouraged us in our own mission in the Jewish community.  For example, OU Press, the publishing division of the Orthodox Union, was honored to have published several of Rabbi Lamm’s books based on his sermons. Although delivered decades ago, these sermons are equally vibrant and meaningful today, attesting to Rabbi Lamm’s profound insight into the human condition and regarding the often tenuous position of the observant Jew in contemporary society.  

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.