Kingdom of Priests

Perhaps as an antidote to Jewish histrionics in the context of the Pope’s Jerusalem visit, the Jerusalem Post carries a refreshing interview with Rabbi Norman Lamm of Yeshiva University, a prominent personality in centrist Orthodoxy. Rabbi Lamm has always struck me as a model of dignity, moderation, and good sense. 

On the Pope:

“The pope is an intellectual and as such there is a subtext to his behavior,” he said. “His interests are primarily theological. Nothing of great consequence could come of the visit. He is not that kind of person.”

On interfaith cooperation, “as long as there is not an exchange of dogmas”:

“The people who have normally been speaking on behalf of Jewry have been secular and are not concerned with the Jewish religious point of view. It was a mistake for religious Jews to shy away. As a result, the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] and the American Jewish Committee, who don’t always have believing Jews on their staff, have dominated.”

On homosexuality:

Lamm said he drew a distinction between those who “kept it to themselves” and those who “proselytized.”

“Everyone should be made to feel comfortable [in synagogue life],” he said. “I would never exclude a person because his wife does not cover hair or because he does not adhere to the laws of Shabbat or because he is a homosexual.

“But I am opposed to saying publicly that homosexuals are welcome or accepting people who are openly gay and who campaign for a gay lifestyle, just as I would oppose someone who openly campaigns to desecrate Shabbat or to speak slanderously.”

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