Social Justice

Interested in community service? Have a particular issue you’re passionate about? Looking to learn more about New Haven? Want to hang out with friends, get involved with Yale Hillel, and help people all at the same time? Then get involved with social action at Hillel!

From raising money for local nonprofit organizations to participating in international service trips, fighting for social justice at Yale Hillel comprises a variety of forms. Specific programs include baking and selling challah through Challah for Hunger, volunteering at soup kitchens, promoting a greener and more sustainable Kosher Kitchen, and taking trips to local nursing homes. There are always ways to get involved in the New Haven community through Slifka Center!

Social Justice programming at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Student Life at Yale is grounded in and inspired by 1) the Kabbalistic vision of Tikkun Olam (a broken, holy world which requires human mending) 2) the righteous indignation of the Biblical prophets that we not neglect the oppressed, weak, or poor of our communities 3) the Biblical injunction “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt and 4) Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s belief that “In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible”. With these sources as inspiration and imperative, and understanding their requirements of us as essential to what it means to be a Jew, we seek to offer, enhance, and support meaningful service opportunities, and provide resources, guidance and learning opportunities for students and student organizations engaged in a wide variety of social justice work on in New Haven, across the country and around the world.

Specifically, within a text-based social justice framework, we offer a wide variety of service opportunities and enhance existing campus programs by providing both Jewish context and financial support. This includes organized Alternative Spring Break service trips, student-initiated Alternative Spring Break programs, student-initiated New Haven service programs, and support for existing Dwight Hall and Chaplain’s office New Haven service programs. Additionally, through the Social Justice program Slifka supports JAM (Jews and Muslims at Yale), Jewish Social Action Collective (JSAC), Challah for Hunger, and The Yale Farm, and look to partner with campus environmental initiatives, LGBTQ programs, fair-wage efforts and human rights activism (at home and abroad). In our teaching and learning about Social Justice, we will look at global and domestic economic disparities and other imbalances in our effort to understand the root causes of systemic injustice that may be confronted during the course of service-learning work, and much more.

In our own building operations and environment we strive to embody the values we preach and teach, working to reduce our environmental ‘footprint’ in our dining operations and climate control, limiting the amount of waste we produce, and, above all, treating all the employees of the Slifka Center regardless of their position, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity, with dignity, consideration, and respect.

Please see below for more detailed information about specific social justice programs at Slifka Center.  Social justice programs at Slifka Center are generously supported by the Arthur L. Shapiro Social Justice Program Endowment and other generous alumni and parents committed to the Jewish values of Tzedek and Tikkun Olam.

Email Social Justice Chair Meital Gewirtz  with any questions.

Tzedek Fellowships

Each semester the Slifka Center awards Tzedek Fellowships to up to 5 students to support a year-long New Haven community service project. For more information visit our Fellowships page.

Collaboration with YHHAP

Social justice programming at Slifka frequently supports the work of YHHAP, the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. This takes several forms: 1) volunteering with New Haven’s Downtown Evening soup kitchen once per semester to support the work of the Yale organization Hunger Heroes, 2) taking volunteer shifts at Abraham’s Tent, which provides shelter to twelve homeless men over the winter, and 3) providing free Shabbat dinner to students who donate their meal swipes on the days of the YHHAP Fast.

Spring Break Service Trip

Slifka Center is partners with outside organizations to design meaningful alternative spring break trips.

For more information click here or contact  Juli Goodman

Jewish Social Action Collective (JSAC)

Jewish Social Action Collective is a pluralistic community of Jews united by a commitment to pursuing social and economic justice at Yale, in New Haven, across America, and around the world. It seeks to discover and strengthen the connections between Jewish life and social activism in order to enrich both our work and our lives. The group is affiliated with both Slifka Center and Dwight Hall.

Additional Programming

Further social justice programming at Slifka this year will include events such as: sending a group from Slifka to Dwight Hall’s Days of Service, which take place once every few months; organizing a team for Yale’s Relay for Life; and bringing in prominent social activists to speak at Slifka. More information will be added as it becomes available.