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Rabbi Elana Friedman


Campus Rabbi and Jewish Chaplain
Freeman Center for Jewish Life
1415 Faber St.
Durham, NC 27708

Rabbi Elana Friedman (she/her/hers) is the Campus Rabbi and Jewish Chaplain for Jewish Life at Duke. Since she came to Duke in 2015, Rabbi Elana has found deep meaning in working with Duke’s Jewish students: “I love being part of Jewish students’ journeys, and walking that walk with them; both asking and contemplating the big questions in life.”   

At Duke University, Rabbi Elana, as she’s known on campus, serves as chief Jewish educator and spiritual leader of the campus Jewish community. In her role as Campus Rabbi, she provides counseling for students, offers opportunities for Jewish learning, and serves as liaison for Religious Life, which includes convening the Interfaith Round Table of fellow Duke chaplains. She facilitates the observance of Jewish holidays, supervises the kashrut of the Freeman Center Cafe’s kosher kitchen, and holds duties related to educating the greater campus community about Judaism, Jewish observances, and challenges facing the Jewish community, including antisemitism.

Fun Fact: Rabbi Elana also hosts a weekly Duke Radio Show, Music & Spirituality, that airs during the school year on alternating Mondays from 4-5pm EST on WXDU 88.7FM, sharing her love of music with the Duke community. 

Rabbi Elana was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she earned her Masters in Hebrew Letters, receiving the Rabbi Kenneth and Aviva Berger Memorial Prize in Practical Rabbinics. She brings rich rabbinical experience to her role here at Duke. Her previous roles included serving as a Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City, interning at Hillel at Temple University, mentoring at a teen interfaith program in Philadelphia, serving as a Text Fellow for the Transformative Text Project, working as a Rabbinical Student Fellow for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights during her year of study in Israel, interning at the Abramson Senior Center, serving at The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore on Long Island, working at Rosh Eidah, and serving as Education Director at Camp Havayah. 

A Long Island native, Rabbi Elana attended Solomon Schechter Day School and Camp Ramah. She earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to pursuing the rabbinate, she worked on election and environmental campaigns in Boston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. 

Rabbi Elana lives in Durham with her wife, Jamie, and their son, Shai. She hopes you will stop by the Freeman Center or schedule a coffee chat so she can get to know you better!  

Students can schedule time to meet with Rabbi Elana.