Rabbi Victor Reichert

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

During the Salem Acres years and early in our Heritage existence, Rabbi Victor Reichert was an occasional participant in the life of our congregation. Rabbi Dr. Reichert would occasionally speak as a guest pastor, visit with several of the women’s groups of the church and attend and participate in special programs.

Rabbi Reichert was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1897, the son of a rabbi. He was graduated from Hebrew Union University and in 1927 became rabbi at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, a position he held for 35 years. Rockdale is the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains. He was active in many facets of life in his adopted city and his influence was great. In celebration of his 91st birthday, a gathering was held at our church. In the introduction he was described as “that delightful Jewish leprechaun and part-time Universalist.” Dr. Reichert passed away in October of 1990.

He delivered the following kiddush at his 50th anniversary celebration as a rabbi.

I am a singer of new things set in an old pattern.
I will recapture my soul from the pain of the years.
I will go questing again with gaunt shepherd seers
Who looked on an ancient world and saw it regenerate.
I will go seeking my God with Gabirol, Halevi, Spinoza…
I will go seeking my people with poor Ibn Ezra…
I will go after the whiteness of Luria, of Baal Shem…
Ah! But I have a double patrimony,
If I have known the sorrow of Israel,
I have exulted in the hope of the prairies…
If I have burned with the fires of Jeremiah,
I have lusted with the lustiness of Whitman –
I, too, have loafed and invited my soul –
If I have wandered with the restlessness of that Jew of Tedela,
I have pioneered with the quiet of that Puritan of Walden.
If I have wistfully dreamed with my dreamers of the Ghetto,
I have serenely lived with my Sage of Concord….
Now I piece the old threads together.
I take the scarlet and the blue and the purple of my ancient heritage…
I take the white and the gold of my Western heritage
And I summon the East and the West to mingle in a better pattern than any has known.
For I am a singer of new things set in an old pattern.
I will recapture my soul from the pain of the years.

Image: Rabbi Dr. Victor E. Reichert

Image source: Cincinnati Enquirer clipping at Find a Grave.