The Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale has indirectly fallen victim to Bernard Madoff, forcing the center to launch a fundraising campaign in an effort to save two positions from elimination.

When the Madoff scandal erupted this winter, Yale officials said that the University had no money invested with the disgraced financier.  But two positions at the Slifka Center that were funded by a nonprofit organization that had invested money with Madoff may now have to be eliminated, the center said this week.

Slifka’s Orthodox rabbinic educators, Rabbi Jason and Meira Rappoport, had been funded by the New York-based Heshe & Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, which had invested money with Madoff.  As a result of its losses, the organization informed the Slifka Center earlier this spring that as of mid-August, it would no longer be able to support the Rappoports’ positions at Yale.

Rabbi James Ponet ’68 said in an e-mail message to members of Yale Hillel on Monday that the center is trying to find a way to fund the Rappoports’ positions themselves, but that raising money to do so has been a struggle.

“The money is not flowing as quickly as we had expected,” Ponet wrote. “So we have launched a mass campaign. … It looks like it will require a lot of smaller gifts coming from many different quarters to get the job done.”

Ponet said Slifka’s board of trustees has given the center until July 30 to raise funds, at which point the board will determine whether Slifka can support the Rappoports’ positions.  More information on Slifka’s fundraising campaign can be found here.

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)