Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm has retired after sixty years at Yeshiva University.
In 1976 Dr. Lamm, after years as a student and then faculty member, was appointed president of YU and rosh yeshiva of YU’s rabbinical school, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).
In 2003 he stepped down as president, assuming the title of chancellor, while staying on as head of RIETS.
Dr. Lamm is an accomplished Torah scholar and Jewish thinker and the author of more than a dozen wide-ranging works on Torah greats of the past, Jewish sociology, history and philosophy.
A prodigious fundraiser, he rescued the university from looming bankruptcy and substantially increased its endowment. He also raised YU’s academic rating.
Rabbi Lamm announced his retirement in the form of a lengthy letter released to the public. In it, he wrote lovingly of YU and offered his hopes for the school’s future. He also acknowledged he should have done more when allegations of sex abuse were leveled against two rabbis at Yeshiva University High School for Boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s – allegations that did not become public until the Jewish Daily Forward published a series of articles about the incidents last winter.
While Dr. Lamm’s words were courageous, most of the news coverage of his resignation has been anything but, with an incessant focus on the decades-old allegations and Dr. Lamm’s apology. While the issue is by no means an unimportant one, it should not be deemed as in any way defining the life’s work of one of the more significant figures in Jewish education for well over half a century.