5/25/09

Have we been too tough on Rabbi Norman Lamm?

Rabbi Seth Farber thinks that we (i. e., newspapers and blogs) have been too tough on Rabbi Norman Lamm for his recent insults directed at Reform and Conservative Judaism. He says in the JPost,
...Unfortunately, Rabbi Lamm's comment has been distorted, and even more unfortunately, the reputation of a man who has long fought a lonely battle to support his Reform and Conservative colleagues has been tarnished. The full citation from Rabbi Lamm reads: "With a heavy heart, we will soon say Kaddish on the Reform and Conservative movements."

Rabbi Lamm has not - and apparently has never - adopted a denigrating attitude to the non-Orthodox denominations. As recently as two months ago, Rabbi Lamm wrote - in his obituary for Rabbi Emmanuel Rackman - that he believed a disservice was done to American Judaism because denominational tags were allowed dictate one's commitment to Judaism.

Moreover, making a predictive statement does not reflect the value one attributes to a particular cause. How often in recent years have the leadership of the Conservative community lamented over the erosion of their ranks...
We surely would like to agree with Rabbi Farber that some injustice has been done to Rabbi Lamm.

But we cannot. We simply will not allow Lamm's past statements or good deeds to be brought as evidence that a present misdeed is justified.

The chutzpah of saying what Lamm said is beyond dispute. He blows off as irrelevant two major movements of his own religion!

Rabbi Farber ought to know better than to try to defend this kind of egregious attack rhetoric.

And to invoke in his defense, Lamm's "obituary for Rabbi Emmanuel Rackman" is utterly ironic. Decades ago, an ambitious Rabbi Lamm trampled the on reputation of his closest competitor, Rabbi Rackman, so that he could ascend to the presidency of Yeshiva University.

No, we believe that we have not been tough enough on Rabbi Lamm. If anything like his off-the-wall obituary for Reform and Conservative Judaism was uttered by a non-Jew, all of us would be hollering from Brooklyn to Tel-Aviv about the evils of that person's antisemitism.

We are duty bound to announce it loud and clear.

Rabbi Lamm, that man, has lost his senses. He has gone off the deep end.

That man served in a position of authority in Orthodox Judaism. He has disgraced the responsibility of that position.

He has had time, but Lamm has not apologized. He has had opportunity, but Lamm has not claimed that he was misquoted.

Let us say to our Conservative and Reform colleagues and fellow Jews. The writer of this blog is one Orthodox Jew who does not support Rabbi Lamm's opinions, attitudes, moods or motivations.

Lamm is wrong. We are sorry about what he said. We are proud of the accomplishments of our Conservative and Reform brothers and sisters.

Please keep up your good work, live long and prosper.

2 comments:

nelamm said...

And you think that the "ability" to write of yourself in the plural (applied inconsistently, by the way, sometimes in the same sentence) somehow gives *you* the authority to speak on behalf of all Orthodox Jews?

What a joke.

tzvee said...

thanks for your comment - we (I) made clearer that we speak for ourselves. feel free to disagree with the substance of the post if you wish. in this blog, where we intend a joke, we append the label, "humor" to the post.