On Sunday, all that was missing at the “Bar Mitzvah” bagel brunch at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale were awkward 13-year-olds and a rendition of the hora.
The Slifka Center celebrated its 13th year this weekend with a shofar fanfare and a purple and yellow piñata, in addition to traditional Sunday brunch items such as lox, capers and bagels. With all four of the center’s rabbis, Slifka’s architect, Provost Peter Salovey and about 200 students in attendance, the center was filled beyond its capacity.
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As attendees entered the center, the warm scent of toasted bagels immediately overwhelmed the New Haven cold. Hordes of hungry students swarmed around the round table in the middle of the room bearing the cornucopia of Jewish delicacies.
“We are an eating people,” said Slifka Head Rabbi James Ponet. “It’s all about food, my man. Food.”
The crowded dining room was alive with conversation. People shared trays to squeeze in at tables and vacated seats were instantly filled. The long tables were decorated with confetti and multicolored jelly beans.
Latecomers, laden with plates, hopped to avoid the children who scurried around the room after having polished off their meals.
The center’s architect, Harold Roth ARC ’57 of the New Haven firm Roth and Moore Architects, said the center was perhaps not equipped to handle such a large crowd.
“We knew it would be too small when we built it,” he quipped. “But the building has held up very well so far.”
Even though the guest of honor was supposed to be the Slifka Center, the event instead became an opportunity for acquaintances to catch up on gossip, friends to discuss the day’s activities and professors to socialize before returning to work — perhaps an appropriate celebration for a center whose goal is to bring the Jewish community together.