|Rabbi Michael Shields Joins Davidson College Staff
October 06, 2008
Contact: Stacey Schmeidel
|Rabbi Michael Shields |
When Rabbi Michael Shields moved to Davidson this year to become the spiritual leader of the Lake Norman Jewish Congregation, he also accepted another position. It's a job many people don't even know exists. Rabbi Shields is the adjunct Jewish chaplain at Davidson College.
Why a Jewish chaplain position at a Presbyterian church-related college? Davidson College Chaplain Rev. Robert Spach says it makes perfect sense.
"Davidson seeks to embody an ethos rooted in a Christian tradition that is open to and respectful of all religious traditions," says Spach. "As the diversity of the student body has grown in the past 15 years, we've sought to ensure that students of every faith can find nurture and support in their particular tradition."
Spach says Davidson College added adjunct Jewish and Catholic chaplains several years ago to meet the needs of students from those traditions. The positions also give students of all faiths a chance to interact with professionals from those traditions.
"Davidson has been such a welcoming and warm place," says Shields. "Sixty Jewish students feel at home at Davidson College, and the addition of my position allows the college to continue growing its pluralistic tradition."
Spach says students are excited to see Shields on campus on a regular basis. They've met at a welcome-back-to-school bagel brunch, and several Davidson College students received a warm welcome and a special blessing at Lake Norman Jewish Congregation's High Holiday services. Three Davidson students are teaching in the LNJC religious school, held on the campus Sunday mornings.
"The intersection of the LNJC religious school and Davidson College enriches both communities," says Shields. "Davidson College Hillel students have an opportunity to be role models and teachers. The LNJC children benefit from the energy of the Jewish Davidson College students."
Spach says the relationship comes back to enriching the Davidson College student experience. "A primary concern of the Chaplain's Office is that students, faculty and staff of all faiths find opportunities to learn about, practice and express their beliefs and traditions on campus."
The Lake Norman Jewish Congregation welcomes those interested in learning, worship and fellowship in an inclusive Jewish environment. The LNJC's goal is to promote a sense of belonging and acceptance within the congregation as well as the community at large by creating a place for spiritual growth while fostering Jewish tradition, education and culture.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz