Prospective Students


The Joseph slifka center for jewish life

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ברוכים הבאים

Get excited about your next visit to Yale!


We strongly encourage any interested high school students to come visit at any time throughout the year. If you can’t visit quite yet, you can find some details about our community below and throughout this website.

Jewish life at Yale is based in the Slifka Center for Jewish Life, located right in the center of campus. The Slifka Center is home to Yale Hillel, our integrated undergraduate Jewish community, as well as J-GAP the Jewish Graduate And Professional students organization.

The Young Israel House at Yale (YIHY) works within both of these communities to provide for the ritual and spiritual needs of all observant Jews at Yale.


Every day, the YIHY minyan meets for shacharit and mincha/maariv services. An egalitarian minyan meets on Monday and Thursday mornings. Each prayer service is accompanied by a “dvar halacha,” a short teaching pertaining to Jewish law. Before, after and in between these services, you will find Jewish students in the upstairs libraries learning Torah in pairs, small groups, classes or on their own. And of course, most importantly, the Slifka Center’s dining hall provides three delectable, Kosher meals a day.


Open three meals a day during the week and for all Shabbat meals, Slifka Dining is Yale’s Kosher dining hall. Shared meals are an important factor in our strong, tight-knit Jewish community. This community includes a number of professors, “Slifka Fellows,” who dine frequently with students at Slifka.

In striving to accommodate all, Slifka Dining does its best to provide for all needs pertaining to allergies, vegetarianism, and even veganism. The dining hall is also a regular part of the standard Yale Dining Plan. One does not need a special Kosher meal plan, and the meals do not cost any extra.

Therefore at both lunch and dinner, one will almost always notice a large contingent of people totally uninvolved in Hillel happily chewing away. Because of the food’s top-quality standards, Slifka’s central location, and the Kosher Kitchen’s simple role as a regular dining hall, Jewish students easily and often bring suitemates, friends and sometimes entire classes along with them to meals. Sometimes Yalies completely unaffiliated with anything Jewish find their way to Slifka Dining just because the food is so good!

Large groups of Muslim students also frequent Slifka Dining, for some Muslims believe that Kosher meat fulfills the Halal requirements. This reality helps foster wonderful relationships between Jews and Muslims on campus.

Torah Learning

There are tremendous opportunities for learning and Jewish intellectual growth at Yale. There are currently four rabbis on full-time staff at Slifka who are constantly engaged with students, providing intellectual and spiritual support to all.

The full-time Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Noah Cheses, as well as his wife Sarah Cheses (hired through the OU’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus) give regular classes, learn one-on-one with students and conduct popular learning programs like Sunday evening’s “Desserts & Learning.” These learning programs frequently feature guest speakers from primary Jewish institutions in Israel and America. Students meet throughout the week to study Talmud, Jewish Ethics, Parsha, Halacha (Jewish Law), Jewish Philosophy, Tanakh, and anything else a student might be interested in.

Jewish groups produce a journal on Jewish thought, another on Israel, and a Campus-wide religion journal with a significant Jewish bent. Moreover, Yale’s phenomenal Judaic Studies department offers a plethora of interesting classes every semester. Many Jewish students take these classes, even though they do not plan on majoring in Judaic Studies.

But beyond the formal programs, meals and constant off-the-cuff conversations create an avirah, an atmosphere, of constant Jewish intellectual engagement.


Shabbat at Yale is simply a joy. The university goes out of its way to make Shabbat observance easy for Yalies.  The university removes motion sensors upon demand and provides students with mechanical keys to their dorms. New Haven even has an eruv!

Shabbat begins with a wide variety of Friday night services. Immediately after services, there is communal Friday night dinner in the Slifka Dining Hall, Yale’s Kosher Kitchen. Unlike some other campuses where smaller private meals are the norm, the vast majority of undergraduates who eat Shabbat meals do so at the Slifka Dining. On a typical Shabbat, there are about 150 students at Friday night dinner. Following dinner, there is often an oneg with a speaker (either a guest or a Yale professor), hours of singing, desserts and schmoozing.

A few Friday nights a year, Slifka’s Rabbis invite small groups of students over for home-cooked meals and a more familial setting.

On Shabbat morning, available services include a weekly Orthodox minyan, as well as either Minyan Urim or the Conservative/Egalitarian minyan. (The two alternate weeks.) Minyan Urim is a halachic and egalitarian-minded minyan that has women lead certain elements of the service and participate fully in the Torah reading. It has a mechitza and operates similarly to Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem or Darkhei Noam in Manhattan. There are typically about 50 undergraduate students at Shabbat lunch, and the meal ends with about half an hour of spirited, harmonized zemirot singing. (For those who don’t wish to participate, the pool table located in the corner of the dining hall is another viable option.) Lunch is followed by an optional student-led discussion/shiur on the parsha, and people often hang around the Slifka center for the rest of the day learning, playing board games, napping on couches, or just talking. Mincha services are followed by seudah shlishit, maariv, and havdallah.

Integrated Community

The Yale Jewish community is a single, united community. Denominations pray separately, but other than that, the community of people who are involved and present at Hillel events and Shabbat meals is a single unit. Were one to glance around the room at a Friday night dinner, one would not be able to distinguish the Orthodox Jews from the Conservative, the Reform, and the unaffiliated. People sit, eat and laugh with their friends and guests, unbothered by artificial boundaries. Jewish Yalies hang out, sing, learn, eat, celebrate holidays, listen to speakers, watch movies and play board games together. The integration and variety of students from different cultural and religious backgrounds, political stances, Jewish educations, and academic interests makes Yale Hillel a unique part of a college proud of its warm and diverse student body.

We have barely scratched the surface of what goes on in Jewish life at Yale on a regular basis: there are Yiddish classes, art-shows, social justice activities, interfaith opportunities, a Jewish a cappella group, stellar holiday programming and more. Thanks to the Slifka Center, its directors Rabbi James Ponet and Steven Sitrin, and the current batch of involved students, there is a community that is proudly Jewish, unified and distinctively Yale.

We encourage you to check out the Yale Hillel website and the Slifka Center website for more information about Jewish life at Yale.

We would love to hear from you, and we are excited to meet you and show you around! Please contact Hannah Otis ( with any questions or to arrange your next visit to Yale!