Interfaith Chaplain for a Non Religious School?

It can be done Chaplain Nora Wood believes, even at Bryn Mawr

By Katelyn Schlefke             

Religious is not the first word that anyone would use to describe Bryn Mawr College. Chances are it isn’t the second or third either.

The image that comes to mind for many students when asked to imagine the stereotypical Bryn Mawr student is a young, liberal, progressive woman dedicated to feminism and social justice.

Most people would say that religion has no place in that picture, but according to the college’s Interfaith Chaplain Nora Woods, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many Americans view religious beliefs and political beliefs as things that go hand in hand: if you’re a liberal, you’re not religious, and if you’re a conservative, you are religious.

Woods has a very different opinion. “I don’t think the story that religiosity and conservatism have always gone together is even remotely true.” said Woods, “I think it’s an American story of the most recent decades.”

Nora Woods

Woods doesn’t fit the stereotypical idea of a religious administrator at an American college. She’s a fairly young Jewish woman, a self-proclaimed progressive, and a member of the LGBT community.

According to Bryn Mawr College’s website, Woods is currently in her final year of study at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and will be ordained as a Reconstructionist Rabbi in June.

Woods summed up her job on Bryn Mawr’s campus with the following three roles: “Pastoral care, support person, multi-faith community.”

The first role, provider of pastoral care, consists of providing support to individual members of Bryn Mawr’s community.

For Woods, “Spiritual care is about helping people think through: what is it you believe in? How do you make sense of the world? But in a more meta way.”

Continue reading