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Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, Jewish Chaplain Emeritus, and “What Happens Next?” presenter, reflects on the past 20 years of visits to Talloires.

I first realized the full impact and power of Talloires when I was teaching at the Priory 20 years ago and our son and his friend stopped to visit us as they were traveling around Europe. When our kids were growing up, we’d spent many summers in Talloires with our family while I was teaching at the Tufts European Center, and I overheard Zack tell his friend “this is the magical place of my childhood.“

But it’s not just younger people who are transformed by the power and atmosphere of Talloires and the Tufts European Center. Over the past five years, I’ve been teaching a seminar for Tufts parents and alumni/ae, and members of the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, together with my colleague Reverend Scotty McLennan, former Dean for Religious Life at Stanford, and for many years, the Tufts University chaplain. The program has been an extraordinary opportunity to bring thoughtful people in their 50s, 60s and 70s to Talloires for a week to consider essential questions: what really matters to us now? Where do we want to focus our precious time and energy going forward?  What is our responsibility to the world, to our families, to ourselves at this time in our lives?  Using great literature, poetry and music as our texts, a group of 20 people engages in thoughtful reflection, deep listening, and discussion that starts in the morning seminar, but then continues as we hike the beautiful mountains surrounding this Alpine village and join together for wonderful meals of local food and wine. We have been asked: why do you need to bring a group to the French Alps to have these discussions? Couldn’t you do this seminar in Medford or Palo Alto? Maybe we could, but we’ve learned that the magic of Talloires creates unique opportunities for reflection and discussion. Maybe it’s the spiritual feeling of meeting in an 11th century priory. Maybe it’s the intense physical beauty of the lake, mountains  and the village. But the atmosphere of Talloires has clearly created opportunities to build friendships, to listen, and to go deeper in discussion than we have done in our every day lives. When we ask the core question of the seminar, “what happens next?,“ participants have been able to speak with unusual clarity, and to listen in ways that have impacted all of our lives.

“What Happens Next?,” a seminar led by Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, and Reverend Scotty McLennan will be running again September 5-11, 2023. Registration is now open.

Please enjoy this poem that Rabbi Jeffrey wrote about Talloires.

Pressed Flowers          


Trollius butter bombs, martagon

lilies, ghost flowers.  


Muddy alpine pasture paths framed

by flowers I might drink —  

blue gentian and genepi, 


viola, which we call pansies, 

rising yellow through snowmelt.  


And higher, wild rhododendron, 

rampion bells, cushion

pink moss campion —  


There, in the high meadow, feet 

planted, holding my stance, I count

twelve different varieties.  


Later, naming the memories ​​

presses them back into my eyes.


The flowers open and speak to me, 

clear and close to the heart

where my feet remember the mountain.