June 20, 2024
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In Memory of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, z”l: A Personal Reflection

I met Dr. Lamm in Israel in the summer of 1977. Dr. Lamm was staying at the same hotel as my parents in Yerushalayim when they came to visit me during my year at BMT. At breakfast just a few tables away, Dr. Lamm was sitting reading The Jerusalem Post. I remember my father took me to say hello to him. In a short conversation, Rabbi Lamm asked me where I am studying/learning and then he invited me to attend Yeshiva University for college.

I was not enrolled in Yeshiva University. Dr. Lamm’s warm personality and words encouraged me to put YU on my radar. I then continued my learning at BMT for another six months. During these months in Israel, I asked my parents if I could apply to YU. Upon my return in January 1978, I enrolled at YU.

After graduating Yeshiva College, I enrolled in RIETS and FGS. I remember during the first year at RIETS, Dr. Lamm invited all first-year semicha students to his apartment on Central Park West for a reception. I remember the warm welcome given to each first-year semicha student. Upon completion of our rabbinical studies (in those days it was a three-year program), Dr. Lamm invited each student to meet with him in his office.

During my presidency of the Yeshiva College Alumni Association, I was honored to introduce Dr. Lamm three times. First, at a YU alumni gathering, celebrating the publication of the two-volume set “The World of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” written by YU and RIETS alumnus Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff. Second, I introduced him at the annual Revel Awards Ceremony honoring him for his 25 years as president of Yeshiva University and presented him with a silver dreidel. Third, I coordinated and arranged a book reception for YU alumni in Belfer Hall in 2000 in honor of Dr. Lamm’s publication of “The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism.”

Thank you, Dr. Lamm, for inviting me to Yeshiva. Thank you, Dr. Lamm, for expanding the work of Presidents Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel and Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin. Your contribution, your vision, had a major impact on my life. I will always be appreciative and remember all that you have done by your total dedication and commitment to Yeshiva University and Am Yisrael.

May your neshama have an aliyah. May your teachings, writings, recorded shiurim live on and continue to inspire all those who know you.

By Stuart Verstandig, ’80 YC, ’83 FGS, 
’84 RIETS, Past President of YCAA 
(Yeshiva College Association) 1998-2001

 

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