Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
On Tuesday, August 30, 2016, Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills held a tribute evening in memory of Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm, zt”l.
The first to speak was Rabbi Kalman Topp, the present rabbi of Beth Jacob. His connection with Rabbi Lamm occurred decades before he even knew he would serve as a rabbi at Beth Jacob, and Rabbi Topp touched on Rabbi Lamm’s many fine qualities. “Rabbi Lamm,” he said, “served as a rav chesed, a rav of kindness, who profoundly helped countless people. He is fondly remembered as a magnificent speaker, a strong rabbi, and a caring rabbi, who was an inspiration to the shul congregants.”
Rabbi Mayer May, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Wiesenthal Center, related the tremendous influence that Rabbi Lamm exerted on his behalf. “I am here,” said Rabbi May, “as a lifelong admirer of the Lamms.”
Selwyn Gerber, a long-time member of the shul, spoke of the special relationship he had with the Lamms and what a great influence the rabbi had on him and his wife, Glynis. “We had a deep, meaningful, and growing relationship over a period of forty years.”
The others to speak included Mara Kochba, a long-time member of the shul, and Dr. Ivor Geft, lecturer at Beth Jacob and noted cardiologist.
The last to speak was Rebbetzin Lamm, who made a special trip to Los Angeles to attend this memorial. She thanked all the shul members, long-time friends, and associates for their constant support and friendship.
Chazan Arik Wollheim concluded the evening, singing “Kel Malei Rachamim.”
Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm – author, teacher, scholar, shul rabbi, military and hospital chaplain, and President of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice – played a prominent role in the growth of the Los Angeles Jewish Community. Over the years, Beth Jacob has been a waystation for up-and-coming rabbis. Rabbi Lamm’s 1972 to 1985 tenure occurred during a period of expanding growth for the Jewish communities of Beverly Hills and Pico/Robertson.
Prior to his arrival in Los Angeles, Rabbi Lamm was already known for his well-received book, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, first issued in 1969. To this day, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning is one of the most used books by those suddenly confronted by the petirah of a family member. Rabbi Lamm’s succinct and clear style of writing – uncluttered and unimpeded by too many differing opinions – made it a much needed and accepted resource.
As a teacher and scholar, Rabbi Lamm held the Chair of Rabbinics at Yeshiva University’s RIETS rabbinical seminary in New York until his retirement and served on the faculty of Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. He also lectured nationally on various topics of Jewish interest. Another major project of his was hospice care, and he expanded this needed service as president of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice.
Rabbi Maurice Lamm will be remembered for his many accomplishments in a life well lived.
Yehei zichro baruch.