Slifka Center’s Response to COVID-19

Dear Slifka Community,

We hope this message finds each of you well.

Yesterday we learned that Yale is suspending in-person classes and asking students to remain home through at least April 5.

In this confusing and disorienting moment, we want to reassure you that Slifka Center is still here for you.

We can best be of service if we know where you are and what you need. So – please complete this 1-minute survey!

Second, we are redoubling our commitments to supporting you and to creating opportunities to connect with one another, community, and Jewish wisdom over the coming weeks and months. Here’s how:

  • Support: The Slifka Staff are ALL available – as always – by phone, email, and Zoom, to help you find strength and meaning in these challenging times.
  • Connection: We are creating numerous and diverse opportunities to connect with one another online; stay tuned for details of time, format, and content. Our hope is to replicate as much of our regular proceedings as possible – and then some!
  • Communication: We’ll let you know what we know, and invite you to keep us posted as to what you need, too. [Yes, this is another plug for you to take 1 minute to fill out that survey!] We’ll keep you in the know via email, facebook, instagram, and at

Over the past week uncertainty, fear, and even paralysis have become central to our lives. Jewish tradition – built from the struggles and triumphs of millennia of Jews, many of whom themselves confronted and survived pandemic – offers consolation and perspective. The prophet Jeremiah described Jerusalem of his day in terms eerily like the news stories we refresh hourly: “The roads to Zion are bereft; none come to gather” (Lamentations 1:4). Our roads – and airports – are bereft of travelers; none come to gather as a direct result of the social distancing urged on us by public health experts. And our tradition remembers – and therefore promises – that this is not the final state; that this too shall pass. It is none other than Jeremiah himself who foresees this desolation giving way to its opposite, “Shouts of joy and shouts of celebration… the shouts of young people as they share meals and music” (from the wedding liturgy). Knowing that this chapter of our story ends in consolation, in the restoration of ties and the reconnection of communal bonds – can kindle a flicker of hope in us. And, it should remind us that the sacrifices we make in this difficult passage – for our neighbors, our family members, and our communities – are never in vain, but are in fact the small steps that will bring us, together, out of this darkness of isolation and into the light of hope and celebration.

Yours in community and concern,

Uri Cohen, Executive Director

Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale