The Assistant Chaplain, Bill Shackman

Profile photo of Bill ShackmanInterfaith, Environmental and Digital

As an Assistant Chaplain, I invite you to come by my office or contact me with any questions, quandaries, moral dilemmas, personal problems, or anything else you would like to get off your chest. My door is always open. I am a good listener, and I enjoy sharing my family’s home baking. But don’t be surprised if you leave my office with more questions than you arrived with. I believe in questions.

As an interfaith chaplain, I work with students of all religions, philosophies, outlooks, and gender identities. In my work with the Interfaith Steering Group and the Coexistence Initiative, I try to foster dialogue by establishing respect for people of all faiths. I believe there is also room for a spirituality that does not involve faith in any god.

We learn much about ourselves when we openly and honestly encounter beliefs different from our own. I strive to learn from all people, and I accept all people with respect. My background in religious studies includes an engagement with Taoist, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim sources as well as a deep commitment to my own Jewish tradition and my training in Western philosophy. Making those sources relevant to students is what I live for. If you are interested or curious, I hope you will join one of our interfaith activities or events.

As a professional Jewish educator, I am informed by my own deep commitment to traditional Jewish sources. My background in rabbinic literature, Jewish philosophy and Kabbalah guides my thinking. However, I am not a rabbi. I do not represent any denomination. Rather, I am committed to the inclusion of all forms of Jewish engagement. Despite my reverence for traditional practices, I am strongly committed to gender equality and pluralism.

I find glimpses of the divine in the natural world and am excited to work on the Chaplaincy's environmental program. If you are interested in getting out in nature, doing conservation work, forming a GreenSoc, or helping with the Chaplaincy's new Garden for Reflection, I'd love to hear from you. As a surfer, I am always learning new lessons from the sea. As a long-time resident of St Andrews, I know many of the area's walking trails, and as a keen folk, trad, and jazz musician (and Grateful Dead fan), I know that the world contains many forms of richness and beauty that no words can approximate.

Ben Zoma, a third-century rabbi, asked, "Who is wise?" and answered, "the one who learns from all people." (Pirkei Avot, 4:1). I look forward to learning from, and with, you.