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College president to deliver Rabbi Reichert Talk

RIPTON — Laurie L. Patton, president of Middlebury College, will deliver the annual Rabbi Victor E. Reichert Bible Talk at the Ripton Community Church at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18.
President Patton is a well-known scholar of religion. Although she is busy with her job as the top administrator at Middlebury, Patton takes an hour each day for scholarship.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master’s from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She earned a Ph.D. in the history of religions from Chicago in 1991 and later became professor of religion at Duke University. She has lectured widely on interfaith issues and on religion in public life.
In keeping with Rabbi Reichert’s traditional practice, President Patton will challenge her listeners to discern what scripture or text from the Hebrew Bible she will present in her talk.
The annual Reichert Bible Talk is a tradition that reaches back to the years just after World War II, when poet Robert Frost invited Rabbi Reichert to visit him at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in Ripton. Frost had met Reichert while giving a reading in Cincinnati, where Reichert was rabbi of the Rockdale Temple, the oldest synagogue west of the Alleghenies, from 1924 to 1964. Their friendship deepened, and Rabbi Reichert and his wife, Louise, eventually bought an old, one-room schoolhouse near Bread Loaf as a summer cottage.
For many summers, the Reicherts attended the nearby Ripton Methodist Church, and Rabbi Reichert would give a talk in the late summer on one of the books of the Hebrew Bible, of those scriptures common to Jews and Christians. The “Bible Talk” became an annual event, and the Ripton congregation named Reichert the church’s “Rabbi in Residence.”
Since Rabbi Reichert’s passing in 1990 at the age of 93, Havurah/ The Jewish Community of Addison County, and the United Methodist Churches of Middlebury, East Middlebury and Ripton have collaborated to sustain this interfaith tradition, co-sponsoring the Bible Talk every year.
The Ripton Community Church is located on Route 125 in the village center. Call Norm Tjossem at 802-388-0338 for further information.

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