About Slifka Center
In 1995, the lexicon of the Yale campus changed forever with the opening of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, for the first time bringing under one roof Yale’s main Jewish student programs: Hillel; The Kosher Kitchen; and Young Israel House. Overnight, “Slifka” came to describe both a place and a program, and ensured that being a Jew at Yale is celebrated. Through Slifka Center, Jewish life at Yale is woven into the natural rhythm of the campus, and harnesses the innovative thinking and intellectual rigor of the university.
Slifka Center is among the premiere campus Jewish centers in the world, with the capacity to offer programs of breadth, depth and centrality to campus life, Jewish and non-Jewish, that allows us to ‘compete’ successfully for our students’ time and attention. We are developing future Jewish leaders, and men and women who will lead in the private sector and public spheres Jewish-ly.
Fostering Dynamic Jewish Life at Yale
Along with an unparalleled academic experience, the Yale education enables students’ great expansion of personal identity through social, intellectual, spiritual, communal and emotional journeys. During this four-year threshold between childhood and adult life, they can, and do, ponder the great questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What makes a life worth living?
Slifka Center sees an opportunity to offer complementary programs that can engage, educate, provoke and inspire students through a Jewish lens, so that they also ponder: What does it mean to be Jewish? Why are there Jews in the world? What makes a Jewish life worth living?
We know that successfully engaging students to ponder the great questions requires many points of entry, many avenues for life and growth. And that we must exist not just within the building but around campus and throughout the world. Therefore Slifka Center is conceived as a laboratory of Jewish exploration at, and of, Yale. We offer experiences for students to see, taste, touch, and probe old and new modes of Jewish involvement, and take up their own modes, as they begin to imagine the Jewish future they will one day help shape and lead.
Specifically, The Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale:
- Supports current and evolving forms of Jewish association, from the full spectrum of religious services, to cultural, secular, intellectual, and social programs;
- Fosters intra-denominational relationships, experiences and micro-communities that provoke reflection upon, wrestling-with, and dialoging-about the terms of being a Jew;
- Nourishes the body through the Lindenbaum Kosher Kitchen in Heyman Commons, where students, faculty and staff gather for meals and conversation every day;
- Tends the soul with a robust Rabbinic staff from a variety of backgrounds who lend support to minyanim, and provide pastoral care and program leadership;
- Provokes the mind with learning and teaching of Torah, Talmud and other texts ancient and modern;
- Enables a multi-pronged exploration of the arts as a way into new Jewish modes of imagining the world and marking ancient holidays;
- Connects Yale students’ developing social conscience and community commitments with the Jewish values of Tzedek, Tzedaka and Tikkun Olam, and exploration of inclusiveness across issues of gender and sexuality;
- Promotes a living connection to the State of Israel;
- Maintains a living link between Yale’s Jewish student communities and Jewish Yale parents, alumni, faculty and staff on- and off-campus;
- Models the virtues of life-long Jewish learning, living and leading.
Religion and Spirituality – A robust Rabbinic Team from diverse backgrounds (currently 3 full-time Rabbis), provide religious and spiritual guidance, teaching and learning and pastoral support for:
- 5 active, student-led minyanim: Orthodox; Minyam Urim (Modern Orthodox); Conservative/Egal; Reform Chavurah; Alternative/Unplugged;
- High Holiday Services co-led by students and Rabbis are attended by nearly 2,000 students, faculty, staff and community members each fall;
- Hanukkah Banquet and celebrations; Multiple Passover Seders at Slifka Center and across campus serving more than 1,000 meals; additional festivals throughout the year;
- Additional direct support of Orthodox life includes expanded meal service, maintenance of the Yale Eruv and kosher supervision of Claire’s Corner Copia restaurant.
Slifka Dining – The Lindenbaum Kosher Kitchen in Heyman Commons, Yale’s official Jewish Dining Room, is central to our operations and outreach. We are open to all seven days per week during the academic year.
- Part of Yale Dining, all meals, including Shabbat, festivals and holidays, are surcharge-free for students on meal-plan – ‘just a swipe’;
- We average 200 students/day for regular meals, 225 weekly for Shabbat dinner; 400 students for bi-weekly Bagel Brunch;
- We are increasing opportunities for free and discounted meals for non-meal plan graduate and undergraduate students, including Shabbat and holidays.
Arts and Culture
- Gallery exhibits and artist talks, forums, and symposiums;
- Artists-in-Residencies and visual, literary, musical, and performing arts programs;
- Arts grants and arts internships;
- Lectures and talks with leading and up-and-coming Jewish voices in Bio-ethics, Jewish history, contemporary Jewish issues, politics, Israel and the Middle East;
Social Justice – With a foundation of Jewish teaching about Tzedek, Tzedeka and Tikkun Olam, we offer hands-on service opportunities and learning including:
- Tzedek Fellows work to address public health and social issues;
- Challah for Hunger bakes and sells Challah each week to support New Haven programs;
- Domestic and international Alternative Spring Break service programs;
Israel Programming – Supporting student groups across the political spectrum, including Yale Friends of Israel, AIPAC, J-Street; programming includes formal and informal education, dialog, advocacy, Israel travel and more:
- Campus programs include lectures, events, meetings and meals;
- Support for student groups’ programs, leadership development and conference travel;
- Summer programs include Israel travel & research grants, Elis in Israel summer program and internship networking via Yale’s alumni network – goal is to get 100 students to Israel each summer;
- Birthright Israel will send 40 students to Israel this March.
Slifka Classes – Non-credit courses in Hebrew, Yiddish, Text Study, Jewish Rituals, Jewish Philosophy, Life’s Big Questions for seniors and others are offered each semester;
Travel Opportunities – In addition to organized trips, Slifka offers a variety of research and travel grants for students exploring Jewish themes, history, culture and Israel.
Graduate Students – Yale’s Jewish graduate and professional school students are welcome at Slifka Center anytime. In addition we support targeted social programs both at Slifka and around campus, as well as discounted meal opportunities for non-meal-plan students.
Yale’s Jewish Alumni Group: Eli’s Mishpacha – Slifka Center supports Mishpacha organizing and outreach, connects alumni and families to Jewish campus life, and fosters student-alumni networking and mentorship.