Robert Frost Rarely Went to Church, But Poet Had Personal Rabbi

Laureate Enjoyed a Friendship With Rabbi Victor Reichert

Promises To Keep: For more than two decades, Rabbi Victor Reichert (right) maintained a friendship with Robert Frost.
Courtesy of the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries
Promises To Keep: For more than two decades, Rabbi Victor Reichert (right) maintained a friendship with Robert Frost.

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published April 02, 2013, issue of April 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

“You’re making a wooden figure out of this man,” he told his father. “He’s a living, flesh-and-blood person.”

Victor Reichert seemed to take personal offense at Frost’s critics. Lawrance Thompson’s skewering three-volume biography of Frost, published between 1966 and ’76, hit the rabbi harder than Frost’s own death, his son said. In order to restore Frost’s name, Reichert agreed to be interviewed for Andrew R. Marks’s book “The Rabbi and the Poet,” published in 1994, four years after Reichert’s death, by Andover Green Book Publishers.

Jonathan Reichert had his own relationship with Frost. During his summers in Vermont, he would bring the poet freshly caught trout — with the heads still on, as Frost preferred — in order to bribe his way past his secretary and gatekeeper, Kay Morrison. Reichert occasionally had lively debates with the poet about the role of science in society. “Frost talked 98% of the time, but of the 2%, I got 1,” he said. Now 81, Reichert recites Frost poems by memory.

Jonathan Reichert hopes that the new archive will shed light on his father’s “small but not insignificant” influence on Frost. A great lover of libraries, Victor Reichert would have been “thrilled” about the collection; but to him, Frost’s legacy was his poetry more than his relationships. “Dad would say over and over to me, ‘It’s the poems that matter,” Reichert said. “‘It’s the poems. That’s what will last.’”

Naomi Zeveloff is the deputy culture editor of the Forward.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.