Lamm, of God? Hardly.


A week and a half ago, Norman Lamm, the chancellor of Yeshiva University, gave an interview with the Jerusalem Post that is so full of insults for every Jew who’s not like him that it could pass as anti-Semitism.

In the interview, Lamm says, “With a heavy heart we will soon say kaddish on the Reform and Conservative Movements,” a statement as incorrect as it is condescending. It actually gets worse, much worse, from there.

For our purposes, we’ll only focus on the vitriol he directs at the Reform movement’s policy of recognizing the Jewishly raised children of non-Jewish mothers and Jewish fathers as Jews. Discussing population growth in the progressive movements, he says, “The Reform Movement may show a rise, because if you add goyim to Jews then you will do OK.” We wrote a letter to the editor about this particularly revolting quote, reprinted below:

Dear editor,

Norman Lamm can rail against “goyim” in the Reform movement all he wants, but after 26 years, he–and other leaders from the Orthodox movements–should recognize that patrilineal descent is here to stay.

More worrying than his use of that insulting Yiddish epithet is his dismissal of tens of thousands of children whose parents cared enough about Judaism to become dues-paying members of Reform synagogues. No amount of dedication to Jewish life, be it attending Jewish summer camp, getting a Hebrew education or keeping Shabbat, apparently will ever be enough Rabbi Lamm, for the simple reason that the wrong parent was Jewish.

It’s a position as mis-guided as it is intolerant.

Edmund Case,

One thought on “Lamm, of God? Hardly.”

  • The reason for the matrilineal line is based on the fact that the mother is always known while the father may not be known. However, in modern times we have the benefit of DNA testing and can thus prove the identity of the father. Therefore, as I see it, if a child has one Jewish parent s/he should be considered Jewish.

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