Slifka hires young rabbi

The Joseph Slifka Center has hired a new associate rabbi, Jordana Gerson, who studied at Harvard and has written for magazines such as the online publication Jewcy.com on topics including “Rabbinical School Is Ruining My Love Life” and “The JewBu’s Guide to Eat, Pray, Love.”

Gerson will join Slifka in August, replacing one of the three staff members who will leave this year, including two associate rabbis. The center is in the process of hiring one more employee, though Steven Sitrin, executive director of Slifka, said Slifka is not committed to hiring any more staff for the upcoming year and will reshape the current staff structure and reassign responsibilities in order to compensate for the vacant position.

Gerson, a Bates College graduate with a master’s degree in divinity from Harvard University, was ordained as a rabbi in 2009 after completing her studies at Hebrew Union College in New York. She has written for a variety of magazines, including Lilith, Boston Magazine, Delicious Living!, the Boulder Weekly and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. Since she graduated, she has been working with a Jewish organization in New York City, Sitrin said, and has spent time traveling and once coached rock climbing in Colorado.

“She has an interesting story in terms of being exposed to many beliefs,” said Daniel Olson ’12, a former member of the Hillel board who met Gerson when she visited for her interview at Slifka.

In addition to hiring two new rabbis, Slifka is also recruiting a Senior Jewish Fellow, who would be responsible for expanding the network of programs and services offered to the Yale community, Sitrin said. In addition, the center is exploring the possibility of hosting a fellow from Israel, who would be in his or her mid-twenties, would have completed compulsory military service and also would have attended college, Sitrin said.

“We are rethinking how we do our work and how we serve students and the Jewish community,” he said.

The Slifka Center offers religious services on campus, counseling, various non-academic courses and language conversation groups for those wishing to learn French, Spanish and Russian. But even with these services offered, Sitrin said, there is a high demand for an arts program, and the center is in need of an artistic director, a position that has not been established. The main obstacle is funding the position, Sitrin added.

Sitrin said Slifka wants to be able to provide an environment where the many talents of Yale’s students can be displayed.

“We want to integrate what we have with the rest of Yale campus,” he said.

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