February 26, 2005

by Reb Yudel
Help determine Norman Lamm's legacy!

How will history judge Norman Lamm? Take a look at the Norman Lamm Wikipedia entry and decide whether it's accurate as is, or needs some revising. Already there's been some discussion back and forth on what Centrism really means.

Since Wikipedia prefers that its entries not reflect a point of view or bias, it would be best if one could find a definition of "Centrist Orthodoxy" in his own words. Is there such a thing? Did he ever define the term he embraced, or was he waiting to write a book on the topic until he successfully sold movie rights to his "Torah uMadda" volume?

To whet you appetite for the editorialn endeavor, two different definitions of "Centrism" from a since-revised draft of the entry:

Dr. Lamm is a well known voice of "Centrist Orthodoxy" (which is used interchangeably with Modern Orthodoxy) regarding itself as the "center" between the "left wing" branches of Judaism, such as Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism, and the movements of the "right wing" such as Haredi Judaism.

and this:
In reality, centrism was a way of not admitting that he was modern and changing Torah, unlike his more honest more liberal colleagues. He was centrist between the left wing of Modern Orthodoxy whom he ignored and the Yeshiva world of his youth whom he always insulted.

Feel free to debate this here, if you hesitate to deface the Wikipedia.


Special thanks to the valiant efforts on one reader, who added the following paragraphs to the entry:

Despite his ideology of Torah and Madda, he generally favored pre-professional study, had almost no concept of academic research, and did little to maintain academic standards in Yeshiva College. He was active in closing of the important Belfer graduate school of science and wanted to do the same for the Jewish studies graduate schoool.
He usually dealt with controversity through reducing the other side to an absurdity.

Keep that honest reporting coming!

Posted by: Reb Yudel at February 27, 2005 8:24 AM

Rabbi Lamm presided over the expansion of the Kollelim and the simultaneous and disastrous near-closing of Revel and MTA. In addition, under his watch, JSS deteriorated from a school that attracted intellectua BTs who wanted to learn "it and not about it" into a school that became notorious as Jewish Sesame Street or Jewish Sports School. IMO, R Lamm's failure to notice this fact, a focus on pluralism and the development of kiruv oriented yeshivos in Israel doomed JSS .

Posted by: STEVE bRIZEL at March 10, 2005 1:03 PM
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