web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Shirley Lamm: ‘There’s No Better Teacher Of Yahadus Than A Rebbetzin’

Mauer-071814-Lamm-Baby

“There’s no better teacher of Yahadus than a rebbetzin. Everyone watches her, hears what she says, and sees what she does.”

This quote from Shirley Lamm comes from her long life as a rebbetzin, coast to coast.

Young Shirley was almost born into it. Her father, Meyer Friedman, was a pulpit rabbi and her mother was a true example of an eishet chayil. “Everything I know and everything I learned was from my parents,” she says. “Chesed, Shabbos, tznius, charity, all of it came from the example my parents set.”

In those days, 80 years ago, most girls did not attend yeshiva. But Shirley Friedman could be found every Shabbos morning sitting next to her mother in shul, learning from her how to daven and revere the Torah.

Shirley moved around a lot as a child, to whichever community where her father had a position. She was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and moved from there to Bridgeport, Connecticut; East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; North Adams, Massachusetts and then it was back to Connecticut, this time New Haven.

She didn’t have an Orthodox friend until she was 15, so she spent Shabbos afternoons at home reading the encyclopedia. During the week she spent considerable time playing the violin; in fact, the dream of her youth was to be a violinist. Her grandfather worried about her lack of a yeshiva education.

Mauer-071814-Couple-BabyShirley met Rabbi Maurice Lamm at Yale University’s Sterling Library, where she was working. (Maurice’s brother Norman, also a young rabbi at the time, would go on to become president of Yeshiva University.) Shirley and Maurice were married in 1955.

Maurice was a first lieutenant in the U.S. army, stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. He built a synagogue in a chapel on the base. The Jewish soldiers would come Friday night to eat a Shabbos meal. “We had a house off base and I cooked all the food and brought it to the shul for the soldiers,” Shirley recalls. “That was really my first post.”

Rabbi Lamm’s term of duty ended after two years and Shirley soon gave birth to their first child, David, in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where her parents lived.

Maurice was looking for a pulpit in New York, but so were all the other young rabbis. He took a position in Puerto Rico. The shul, Shirley recalls, was beautiful. The congregation was Orthodox, though most members were not. All was going well until the shul’s president, who was married to a non-Jew, wanted Rabbi Lamm to preside at the bar mitzvah of his son. Rabbi Lamm told the president that both the boy and his mother would have to be converted. The president refused.

“We had only been there for eleven months,” says Shirley, “but my husband chose to leave rather than compromise his religious principles. That was actually a good learning experience for me. And I was not bitter about it. Once again, we went to my parents who were now living in Boro Park, Brooklyn. Our daughter Judith was born there.”

* * * * *

Rabbi Lamm’s next pulpit was in Floral Park, New York. “I had people over, I did programs and I taught the women,” says Shirley. “I think I was liked by the women of the shul – except for one.”

The woman who disliked Shirley had a husband who liked the rebbetzin a little too much. It was an uncomfortable situation. “As a young rebbetzin, I didn’t know how to handle this unwanted attention. I did not discuss it with anyone. But this was also a learning experience for me. As the years have passed I’ve seen that it has become a problem in the rabbinate. I can say in the strongest terms that a rabbi should never counsel anyone in his home, and even in the shul it should never be at night and the door to his study should be kept wide open.”

About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Shirley Lamm: ‘There’s No Better Teacher Of Yahadus Than A Rebbetzin’”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

For a peace treaty with the PA, half the Israeli public would agree to divide the Jerusalem

As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.

What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.

There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.

The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.

The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.

Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.

Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion

Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

More Articles from Naomi Klass Mauer
Naomi Klass Mauer (r) visits with Ida Nudel in Israel.

Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.

Mauer-040315-Reb-Jungreis-1

“The idea of bringing people back to Yiddishkeit was inside me from my childhood days.”

Shalva founders, the Samuels understood that special-needs children and their families needed more

Dr. Faier passed away in 2009, leaving two manuscripts. The first, A Day is a Thousand Years: Human Destiny and the Jewish People, was published posthumously in 2012.

You children will build the country and you will help restore Israel to her former glory.

Presented by the Destiny Foundation and the Young Israel of Flatbush.

“What we are seeing here in New York today is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality, but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/shirley-lamm-theres-no-better-teacher-of-yahadus-than-a-rebbetzin/2014/07/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: