On Sunday, June 28, Yeshiva University, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union collaborated on a commemoration of the shloshim [thirty-day period following burial] for Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm zt”l, former president, Rosh HaYeshiva and chancellor of Yeshiva University.
A video presentation featuring a compilation of speeches by Rabbi Lamm, Rabbi Lamm in His Own Words: The Role of Torah in the Modern World, was shown to an international audience of hundreds, and followed by a siyum [gathering in honor of the completion of Torah study] in Rabbi Lamm’s memory.
Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, introduced the program with a message from the Mishna [written collection of the Jewish oral traditions] about the Keter Torah, Keter Kehuna [Crown of the Priesthood] and Keter Malchus [Crown of the Kingdom], three crowns of distinction that Dr. Berman said were all worn by Rabbi Lamm.
He continued by discussing a fourth crown, the Keter Shem Tov [Crown of the Good Name], which he said Rabbi Lamm wore as well. Unlike the others, however, this crown is bestowed by the people who have been inspired by the greatness of the recipient as well as being one worn by someone who elevates the position he has acquired.
Also speaking during the event was Penina Levy, a granddaughter of Rabbi Lamm, who spoke of him as a living example of the warmth and peaceful nature of the Torah. Rabbi Moshe Hauer, incoming executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, talked about how Rabbi Lamm so powerfully brought together strong scholarship and inspiring ideas with a presentation filled with poetic eloquence. The final speaker was Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union Kashrut Division and a rosh yeshiva [head of yeshiva] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). He discussed the breadth of Rabbi Lamm’s knowledge, his profound insight, humility and loyalty and noted how Rabbi Lamm always defended the mesorah [Jewish religious tradition] and the State of Israel. He closed his remarks by referring to Rabbi Lamm as a man of historic proportions, encouraging the audience to learn from his legacy and build on the Torah foundation he built to carry to the future.
The presentation included clips of Rabbi Lamm’s speeches at various events and was interspersed with pictures of him meeting with notable dignitaries, including U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Yitzhak Rabin; Mikhail Gorbachev, the last General Secretary of the Soviet Union; and author and political activist Elie Wiesel, among others.
Rabbi Lamm was elected Yeshiva University’s third president in August 1976, serving until June 2003, during which time he also became Rosh HaYeshiva [head of the yeshiva] of 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.
The video of the siyum in honor of Rabbi Lamm’s shloshim can be found here.
We continue to invite you to share your thoughts, stories, photos and memories of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, zt”l