Students

Jewish Life at Duke works to support all Jewish students at Duke.

Our goal is to provide you with opportunities to connect, get involved, explore your roots and enrich your experience at Duke. No matter how you want to engage, we've got you covered!
Students smile at a student event

Shabbat at the Freeman Center

Jewish Life at Duke celebrates Shabbat each Friday night that classes are in session and welcomes all members of the Duke community to join us!

Rabbi Elana and student leaders lead the community in candle lighting and a non-denominational, pluralistic Kabbalat Shabbat service at 6:00pm. After we share our Good Thing of the Week (a Duke favorite tradition!), we join together for a free, kosher communal Shabbat dinner around 7:00pm. Join us at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life for any or all of the evening. 

Jewish students eating a meal together

Shabbat dinner is always free for students thanks to the support of our donors! Follow @JewishLifeatDuke on Instagram for weekly menus and up-to-date information regarding weekly Shabbat. RSVP each week by texting "Shabbat" to 984-333-5603 by Friday at noon, or email jewishlife@duke.edu.

Holidays at Jewish Life

Each year, the Duke community celebrates the High Holidays with Jewish Life at Duke. For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, both Reform and Conservative-Style services are offered at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life.

We also offer Tashlich at Duke Gardens. Additionally, we offer free holiday meals for students including Rosh Hashanah dinner, pre-fast dinner, and Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast at the Freeman Center. Registration is required, but all holiday meals are free for students.

For a taste of the High Holidays at Duke, here is what the 2022 schedule looked like: 

High Holiday Schedule 2022

Rosh Hashanah

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

6:30pm Community Service

7:30pm Erev Rosh Hashanah Holiday Dinner

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

9:30am Conservative Service

10:00am Reform Service

10:45am Communal Torah Reading

12:00pm Musaf

Kiddush Lunch, following services

5:30pm Alternative Option: Reflection Walk in Duke Gardens with Rebecca Ezersky (meet at Duke Gardens South Lawn)

6:15pm Tashlikh Service at Duke Gardens – meet at Big Pond

6:45pm Rosh Hashanah Holiday Dinner – Duke Gardens

7:45pm Conservative Service & Kiddush – Duke Gardens

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

9:30am Conservative Service

Kiddush Lunch, following services


Yom Kippur

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4

5:30pm Pre-Fast Dinner

6:15pm Alternative Option: Pre-Yom Kippur Meditation with Doron Gertzovski

6:30pm Community Kol Nidre Services

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5

9:30am Conservative Service

10:00am Reform Service

10:45am Communal Torah Reading

11:30am Yizkor Service

Freeman Center Hang Out Space – All Day

4:30pm Alternative Option: Musical Reflection with Sarah Jacobs

5:15pm Mincha

6:15pm Community Neilah

7:32pm Communal Shofar Blowing and Break the Fast Meal


Duke University Religious Observance Policy

Students are permitted to be absent from class to observe a religious holiday.

For religious observance policy details, visit: trinity.duke.edu/undergraduate/academic-policies/religious-holidays

Students are encouraged to visit the Freeman Center patio during Sukkot in order to fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in the Sukkah! The lulav and etrog will be in the Sukkah for students to shake, with the blessings printed up and handy. 

The Jewish Student Union and Jewish Life at Duke often provide fun, social programming for the community, such as decorating and meals in the sukkah, throughout the holiday. 

Sukkot programming is made possible through the generosity of the Freeman Family Program Fund. All meals or programs are free and open to all.

Students enjoy a variety of Hanukkah programs and opportunities to perform the mitzvah of lighting the candles. The Jewish Student Union partners with Jewish Life to plan the annual Latkapalooza celebration, one of our largest student events of the year! Students enjoy food, music, fun, and games. 

In recent years, we've enjoyed the tradition of lighting the Hanukkah candles with Duke leadership, including Duke University President Vincent E. Price. Watch the 2022 Hanukkah Candle-Lighting, hereChag Sameach!

JLD holds traditional, communal Seders on the first and second nights of Passover.

Host-Your-Own-Seder Program: Students who wish to host their own seder for friends or a student organization are encouraged to do so. Rabbi Elana Friedman provides training for the seder hosts and a kit is supplied with all of the essential seder goodies. Themed-seders in past years have included: Interfaith Seder, Seder Goes to K-Ville, Poetry Seder, Smash or Passover, West Campus Seder, Curling Team Seder, Queer Seder, Duke Men's Rowing Seder, Seder Night Live (SNL), Grad Student Seder, Jewish Law Students Association Seder, and more. More than 650 individual students attend these Seders annually with the generous support of the Freeman Family Program Fund.

The Freeman Center is home to an annual matzah brie meal during the week, and Kosher for Passover food is supplied at the Freeman Center Cafe and around campus eateries all eight days. 


Upcoming Events

Programs and Initiatives

Jewish First-Year Advisory Mentorship (JFAM) welcomes all new Jewish students into the JLD family by pairing them with individual upperclassmen - their “JFAMilies” - who provide insider insights about campus life and Jewish life, along with guidance, friendship, and support. Through various JFAM social gatherings - our traditional Welcome Back BBQ, JFAM Shabbat, and an Ice Cream Social, to name just a few - new students connect with each other and begin to develop their own niche on campus.

If you would like to be a part of a “JFAMily” either as a new student, or an upperclassmen, please email Jewish Life at Duke.

JFAM is made possible through the generosity of the Freeman Family Program Fund. 

Every Sunday while classes are in session, we host this casual get together at the Freeman Center. Sunday Bagel Brunch is an opportunity for student's to have a free breakfast of delicious, locally-made bagels, while connecting with fellow students and making new friends. Ever wonder what kind of bagel you would be? Share your answer at the next Sunday Bagel Brunch! Check DukeGroups for the current schedule.

Our B'nai Mitzvah program was the brainchild of a group of Jewish Student Union (JSU) members back in 2012, when the then 13-year-old Freeman Center was celebrating its own B'nai Mitzvah.  What better way to mark the milestone than by offering the same opportunity to students who missed out on this meaningful rite of passage?

Under the guidance of Rabbi Elana Friedman, B'nai Mitzvah students spend several months learning their Torah portion and completing a mitzvah project.  Parents, grandparents, and siblings come from all over to witness the ceremony at the Freeman Center, where they are joined by a friends from across campus. That evening, after the ceremony, the JSU throws a themed party at the Freeman Center.

The B'nai Mitzvah Program is made possible through the generosity of the Freeman Family Program Fund.

Jewish Baccalaureate ceremony at the Freeman Center the Friday of graduation weekend. The Jewish Baccalaureate ceremony provides an opportunity to honor each student's Jewish journey at Duke, and to celebrate this growth and passage to the next chapter in their lives. 

Jewish Baccalaureate includes keynote, staff and student speakers, festive refreshments, a special gift from your JLD family, blessings, and laughter. Mazel tov to our graduates! To learn more, email Jewish Life at Duke. Enjoy photos from our 2022 celebration on Facebook.

Learn more about the history of the Jewish Baccalaureate at Duke

Duke University provides students with opportunities to increase their Jewish knowledge. Duke students interested in academic coursework with The Center for Jewish Studies and/or Hebrew Language have the opportunity to pursue these disciplines with internationally renowned faculty members. Rabbi Elana also facilitates educational programs that help students explore their own Jewish identities, integrate Jewish values, and broaden their overall understanding of Judaism.

Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF): 

An 8- to 10-week experiential, conversational seminar for students looking to deepen their understanding of Judaism on their own terms. The program was developed at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU in 2007 and has been made available to additional campuses through Hillel International with partial financial support.

Participation in JLF includes weekly meetings over dinner at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, connecting with staff facilitators and JLF interns through meetings and one-on-one coffee conversations, and building community with other Duke students seeking to ask these questions through shared meals, shared Shabbat experiences, and meaningful dialogue throughout our time together. JLF applicants are thirsty to learn but require no previous Jewish background.  We are also a pluralistic, non-denominational organization. We do not believe there is “one right way to be Jewish.”  

  • JLF: Life's Big Questions, also known as JLF 1.0 – The focus of our seminar is “Life’s Big Questions.” We may not have the answers, but we’ll create space to ask the big questions of our lives through a Jewish lens – from "who am I?" and "which communities am I a part of?", to topics of friendship, love vs. lust, and more.
  • JLF: Israel – This seminar is for students looking to deepen their understanding of Israel, its people, complexities, and our personal relationship to and with it. Our aim is to create a space to discuss the various topics and themes freely and openly, exploring questions regarding Israel: What is Israel? What is Zionism? How did things get to where they are today? and most importantly - "what is Israel for me?"  
  • JLF: Racial Justice – Offered in the spring, this 4-session seminar explores racial justice, equity, and anti-Black racism through a Jewish lens. Prerequisite: JLF 1.0.

Torah Lunch Club (TLC) – A weekly Torah study of the parshat hashuva (the weekly Torah portion) over lunch on West Campus.  Each session ends with our weekly Mincha minyan (the afternoon prayer service). Join us weekly to talk a little Torah over lunch with Rabbi Elana!

Senior Seminar – A 4-session conversational seminar for graduating seniors. Seniors reflect on their time at Duke and think about their Jewish future and the role they will play in society. Topics include relationships, time, home and life stages.

If you would like more information about any of our current programs, please email Rabbi Elana.

Career Services
We partner with the Duke Career Center to collect resources that incorporate our students’ Jewish and/or Israeli interests. Our goal is to provide useful and interesting information to support Duke students’ self-awareness, growth, and accomplishments as they move forward in their careers. 

Internships and Opportunities
Make sure to check back in periodically for updates on Internship opportunities.



Israel Engagement

Israel programs and initiatives connect Duke students with Israel both on campus and abroad.


Travel Opportunities

Experience new places with Jewish Life at Duke

A partnership between Jewish Life at Duke and the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, Roots to Rights is an experiential education program exploring the South's major historic Civil Rights sites.

The program explores the shared beliefs that brought these seemingly disparate communities together during this pivotal period in American history.

Are you studying abroad during the semester or over the summer? Be sure to check out the Jewish community abroad for opportunities to meet Jewish university students, celebrate holidays, volunteer in the community, and locate kosher restaurants. More resources can be found through the Global Education Office.

If you are a Jewish student who has or is preparing to study abroad, we invite you to be part of a brand new JSU initiative which pairs student mentors and mentees together in order to learn all the Jewish ins and outs of some of the world’s most vibrant cities.

Additionally, registration is available for next year's MASA and Onward Israel programs.

For those interested in Israel programming, we encourage you to apply for the online Birthright Excel program.

Learn More about Study Abroad

A gap year (also known as a bridge or sabbatical year), is usually a break in studies taken by students between high school and college. Gap years can take multiple forms, and no two gap years are the same. Students may choose to work, travel, intern, volunteer, perform military or religious service, or just take time to explore their interests and rejuvenate before university.


Student Groups

Students can get involved in these incredible student-led campus groups which offer leadership, education, and service opportunities

Challah for Hunger at Duke holds monthly baking sessions across campus. Students bake a variety of challahs which they then sell on the Bryan Center Plaza on West campus. All of the proceeds go to various hunger charities. The club members strive to educate Duke’s campus about hunger as well as donate to combat the problem. All proceeds go to various hunger charities, including Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

For more information, contact challahforhungerduke@gmail.com. To follow our monthly bakes and other events find us on Instagram or DukeGroups.

Duke Friends of Israel (DFI) is a nonpartisan student organization that offers a safe space to discuss, understand, and learn about Israel. This group provides a breadth of programming designed to increase appreciation for all aspects of Israel throughout the Duke community.

For more information or to join our list serve, please email dfi-info@duke.edu or find us on DukeGroups.

Duke’s Jewish Student Union (JSU), is an undergraduate organization on campus which strives to build an inclusive Jewish Community through fun, diverse, and engaging programming. We host events such as Latkapalooza, cookie bakes, lox and lemurs. Student leaders work with Jewish Life at Duke to hold the annual B’nai Mitzvah and JFAM. 

To learn more follow our Instagram or find us on DukeGroups.

The Coalition for Preserving Memory is a non-religious organization dedicated to memorializing genocide victims from the 20th and 21st centuries in a way that will be relevant and meaningful to future generations.

To learn more, follow us on Instagram, like our Facebook page or visit the CPM website

As a non-partisan organization, Duke Israel Public Affairs Committee (DIPAC) works closely with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), America’s pro-Israel lobby, to achieve peace and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. We provide Duke students the opportunity to attend national conferences focusing on Israeli politics. On campus, students have the opportunity to get involved in writing op-eds for the Duke Chronicle, attending events that provide skills on how to be an advocate for Israel, educate student leaders and policymakers about the issues and much more. We thank Ari Ackerman and donors of the Israel Program Fund for their support of DIPAC.

For more information find us on DukeGroups.

Jewtinos @ Duke is a community of Jewish-Latinos who want to meet others just like them. We are a cohort within the JLD community that has fun events, a Latin-themed Shabbat dinner, and opportunities to get to know one another! As a committee of Jewish-Latinos, we meet a few times throughout the semester and educate and share our culture with the greater Jewish and Latino communities here at Duke. To get involved, please fill out this interest form.

TAMID is an areligious, apolitical, non profit organization that gives an experiential business education through the lens of the Israeli economy. TAMID currently has 40+ chapters across the globe, and is growing every year. Members go through an in-depth education curriculum, and go on to do investing and consulting for real Israeli start-up companies. Furthermore, TAMID offers a summer fellowship in Tel Aviv for certain qualifying members, in which an internship and fully funded living is provided. Founded just last year, TAMID at Duke is excited to grow its member base and continue to breed extremely bright, young business minds.

To learn more, contact TAMID by emailing duketamid@gmail.com or visiting our website.

The Jewish Business Association aims to create a cultural and professional community for its members. In addition, JBA’s goal is to provide Jewish students at the Fuqua School of Business a platform to practice their traditions and culture and share these with their non-Jewish classmates. The club also strives to preserve its relationships with members after graduation by connecting current members with alumni through programming. Throughout the year, JBA organizes a wide range of professional, social, and traditional events such as Passover Dinner, the Innovation Conference, and Lunch & Learns. 

To learn more, visit the JBA website.

The Jewish Law Student Association (JLSA) is a student-run group which exists as a resource to the Jewish community at the Duke University School of Law. JLSA seeks to create spaces for anyone who identifies or associates with Judaism as a means to celebrate their Jewishness their way. We strive to create and maintain a vibrant, fun and supportive Jewish community through Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations, mixers, academic lectures and other events.

To learn more, please find us on Instagram and learn more here.