Uri Cohen – June 2019 Message

June 2019

Dear Friends,

It’s hard to believe that Rabbi Jason Rubenstein and I have now completed our first academic year.
There is/was so much to learn – So much to do! For me, I think the overarching theme this year was
“past meets future.” Slifka Center has a long and illustrious history, and an incredibly bright future. That
said, past challenges still inform day-to-day operations, and routinely inform where we go from here.
Past aside, the current state of the world weighs heavily on us as it does everyone (we had too many
memorial vigils this year!) and raises questions about what the future holds for the Jewish community at
Yale and beyond, as well as humanity as a whole.

As I look back on the past year, I point to several accomplishments:

  • We engaged 588 students at least once and 288 students six or more times.
  • We have assembled a strong staff team that is growing and set to start fulfilling Slifka Center’s amazing potential.
  • We launched the Urim Fellowship – our first-ever peer-to-peer engagement fellowship designed to reach students who would not seek out Jewish life on campus on their own;
  • Our Lindenbaum Kosher Kitchen and Heyman Commons are undergoing their first major change, as a new kitchen operator (Unidine) and kosher supervision agency (Star-K) are set to come on board in July.
  • Our facility itself is now under expert management, and we have a full-time building
    superintendent for the first time in many years.
  • We sent almost 100 students to Israel this past year on a combination of Birthright Israel, our collaboration with the Shalom Hartman Institute, and our Yalies In Israel program.
  • We have and continue to invest in security as a necessary feature of our operation.

As I look to the future, there is much to see. We need to continue to grow our organizational capacity,
and improve both our programs and our operations. This summer – the first for me and Rabbi Jason –
provides an important opportunity to reflect, review, and adapt our approaches. Look out for
improvements to areas such as Shabbat programming, student leadership development, and immersive

We also look forward to our much-needed 25th Anniversary renovation scheduled for 2020 and the
capital campaign it will take to fund it. I remind you about the once-in-a-generation opportunity we
have to raise funds eligible for Yale Class and Reunion Credit for contributions to the kitchen and dining
hall renovation. Please contact Jennifer Rogin Wallis with any questions about this
(Jennifer.wallis@yale.edu). We’ll be in touch with more details about this in the Fall.

Lastly, I want to remind you about our year-end Challenge Match to support our Annual Campaign that
runs through June 30 when our fiscal year ends. We rely on your help to support these and many other
activities that not only seek to create vibrant Jewish life at Yale, but also fulfill our obligation to help
make the world a better place. As you know, Yale alumni go on to do the most amazing things, and it is
more important now than ever that they take their Jewish identity and values with them when they go
out into the world. Your gift by June 30 to support operations is matched dollar for dollar by an
anonymous donor – we hope you’ll join us today!

I look forward to sharing more updates and successes with you in the months and years ahead. Thank
you for being part of the Slifka Center family.

Uri Cohen
Executive Director