Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay Appointed as Grinnell College Chaplain

March 27, 2024

Grinnell is pleased to announce the appointment of Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay as the new chaplain, effective April 1, 2024. Brammer-Shlay brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to spiritual leadership and community engagement. 

She holds the title of Rabbi and Master in Hebrew Letters after completing rabbinical studies at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, along with a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Gratz College. With a strong background in pastoral care and religious leadership, she has served as the interim dean of religious life at Grinnell College since August 2023, concurrently holding the position of associate chaplain and rabbi. 

In her role as interim dean of religious life, Brammer-Shlay has demonstrated exceptional leadership, overseeing the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice and supporting students of diverse faith backgrounds. Her dedication to fostering inclusive campus communities and providing support in moments of crisis has been invaluable to the Grinnell College community. 

“I am delighted and honored to step into the role of dean of religious life/chaplain at Grinnell College. At the core of who I am as a religious leader is the belief that all humans crave meaningful connection. In all my work, I prioritize supporting each of us to move from isolation into connection. Grinnell College is a beautiful place for all of us to practice what it means to be thoughtful, passionate, and honest individuals in the realm of community. I feel honored to serve in a role where I can accompany and support students, staff, and faculty as we figure out how to do that necessary communal work together,” shared Brammer-Shlay. 

Prior to her tenure at Grinnell, she served in various capacities, including serving in rabbinic roles at Spring Mill Pointe Senior Center, Mishkan Shalom, SAJ: Judaism That Stands for All and Or Hadash Synagogue. She has also been actively involved in community organizing and advocacy on a variety of justice issues both within and beyond the Jewish community. 

JC Lopez, interim vice president for Student Affairs, said, “Rabbi Sarah’s extensive experience, coupled with her passion for education and social justice, make her an ideal candidate to serve as Grinnell College chaplain. I want to extend my gratitude to all who participated in the extensive search process for this important role. Special thanks to student leaders connected with the CRSSJ, who played an integral part in the selection process by providing valuable feedback.”

“We look forward to welcoming her into this new role and are confident that she will continue to enrich the spiritual and intellectual lives of our students, faculty, and staff,” added Lopez.


About Chaplaincy

The Association for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Life in Higher Education shares this definition. University and college chaplains are professional clergy and laypersons who seek to enhance the spiritual, ethical, and educational experience of the whole person—mind, body, and soul. 

We encourage and support spiritual development, theological reflection, religious understanding, and sense of belonging among students, faculty, and staff. Our commitment is to further spiritual well-being. 

We ensure that all participants in campus life have access to religious, spiritual, and ethical services, resources, and practices of their own choosing. We provide opportunities for all to explore questions of meaning, value, and purpose. In times of joy and sorrow, we are dedicated to being a caring, gentle, accessible presence. And we promote respect for all beliefs, traditions, and worldviews, as well as considerate interaction with and learning from one another. 

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