Q&A with Laurie Patton

Laurie PattonInterview conducted by Harry Zieve-Cohen ’15

Q: Why does being Jewish matter to you? How does Jewish studies fit into the study of the liberal arts? And how can Middlebury prepare students to lead meaningfully Jewish lives after they graduate?

A: Being Jewish grounds a person in everyday life and practice. Whether it is preparing for the contemplative time of Shabbat, or learning with fellow Jews in a chavurah, or observing the high holidays, there is a deep and ancient sense in all these practices of a learning community that helps us to explore how to heal the world.

And that, too, is the real meaning of a Middlebury education: finding a way with the support of a learning community to change the world for the better. Hillel is a supportive community within that community, and thus can provide even more intensive opportunities for students to learn how to find a place for their knowledge and passions after they graduate. College education must prepare students to be adaptive citizens in a society that is asking us to change and learn at a faster pace than ever before. With the great combination of Hillel within a liberal arts environment, we are ready to learn, but always grounded when we do so.