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Norman Lamm

(1927 - 2020)

Nachum Norman Lamm was a distinguished rabbi, philosopher, teacher, author, and administrative official in the United States.

Lamm (born December 19, 1927) was born in Brooklyn, New York. He received his elementary and high school education at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath and in 1945, he entered Yeshiva College where he continued his Jewish learning and undertook a liberal arts program with a major in chemistry. He graduated summa cum laude in 1949 and was class valedictorian.

Upon graduation, Dr. Lamm pursued advanced scientific studies at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn while continuing his Judaic studies and rabbinic scholarship at Yeshiva. He was ordained as a rabbi at RIETS in 1951, and earned a Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy from the university's Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies in 1966.

During the 17 years preceding his election as president, Dr. Lamm served on the Yeshiva University faculty, culminating in his appointment as the Erna and Jakob Michael Professor of Jewish Philosophy in 1966.

In August 1976, Lamm was elected president of Yeshiva University, succeeding Dr. Samuel Belkin and Dr. Bernard Revel. He was the university's third president and the first native-born American to head the nation's oldest and most comprehensive institution of higher learning under Jewish auspices. In the years under his stewardship, Yeshiva University was saved from looming bankruptcy and saw its endowment and academic ratings both raised.

In 2003, Lamm stepped down as President of YU, succeeded by Richard Joel, and was given the active role as Chancellor of the university and still maintained his title as Rosh HaYeshiva (head of the yeshiva) for YU's rabbincal school. In July 2013, Lamm announced his retirement as Chancellor and Rosh Yeshiva after more than 60 years serving the university.

Dr. Lamm's writings and teachings on Jewish law have been cited in two landmark decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court: the 1966 "Miranda decision" regarding police interrogation of suspects held in custody and a 1967 case involving guarantees against self-incrimination. Also in 1967, Dr. Lamm testified before a US Senate subcommittee on the right of privacy from the perspective of Jewish law.

Sources: Yeshiva University.