I am so pleased and proud to introduce to Duke University a new program called The Freeman Fellows Internship Program offered through Jewish Life @ Duke. This program ties together what I believe Duke and Judaism are all about: Community, Work Ethic, Commitment, Loyalty & Family. When these come together, it's a recipe for success.
The Freeman Fellows Internship Program is open to the entire Duke undergraduate community. The goal is to provide students access to and gain experience from some of the best and brightest people and businesses out there today. From finance, to entrepreneurship, to construction, the program provides students with the experience, tools and networks needed to explore desired careers and succeed in their chosen paths.
We at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life are eager to grow this program and the impressive network we are building. We look forward to providing and being a part of the best programs Duke has to offer.
I’m Jacquie Schindler, and I studied abroad in Florence this past fall. As part of my abroad experience, I spent Thanksgiving in Prague with Jewish Life at Duke! My Thanksgiving was delightful, because I spent it in Prague! Although I traveled a lot over break, this was the first trip I went on while abroad that was organized by someone else. It was really nice to have a schedule of amazing activities and transportation! It was also my only trip that really involved a Jewish experience. The only other experience I had was visiting the synagogue in Florence. In my opinion, it was one of the most beautiful buildings in Florence. The dome is visible from the skyline, and on the inside the entire building is covered in brightly patterned wallpaper. It’s also supposed to be a sort of retreat, so the whole area is fenced off and surrounded by palm trees and other exotic plants. If you ever get the chance, I really recommend going to see it! -Jacquie Schindler, T'14
This past spring, ten of my peers and I had the privilege of participating in Roots to Rights, a civil rights tour of the American South, sponsored by Jewish Life at Duke and the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture. The program focused on black and Jewish struggles for civil rights, which, as we learned, share much in common. Over the course of our six-day journey, we spent time in Charlotte, Atlanta, Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Memphis, cities that played central roles in American civil rights history. In each city, we explored museums, monuments, and historical sites; for instance, a highlight of our trip was visiting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home. Perhaps our favorite moments of the trip, however, were spent talking to individuals who have personally fought in the struggle for civil rights. These individuals included those who fought injustices during the famous Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, as well as their successors, who have followed in their footsteps and carry on the struggle today. Each stop on our trip gave us invaluable insight into not only the history of our country, but also our personal histories and the histories of our ancestors.
While sightseeing and exploring were important parts of our experience, the most valuable part, in my opinion, was the intellectual and cultural exchange that took place among the program’s participants, who came from different backgrounds, knew different cultures, and embodied different values and beliefs. Although we were timid and each knew few of the other participants when the trip began, we became fast friends. As we spent time together, learned together, and learned about each other, we became increasingly comfortable around each other. We opened up, sharing our views on race and religion, recounting our personal experiences, and teaching each other about our respective cultures. There was no stupid question, as we recognized how much remained for all of us to learn. In a few days, we uncovered countless fascinating similarities, and just as many intriguing differences among the members of our group. In less than one week, we understood our country, each other, and ourselves better than we could have imagined at the beginning of the trip. Roots to Rights was one of the highlights of my Duke experience, and I strongly encourage all students to apply to participate in the program.
I just returned from a trip to Havana Cuba (legally!) run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). We visited the local Cuban Jewish community, known as Jewbans, whose approximate size is 1,500 people. This trip was unique in that it was composed of 25 American Jewish young professionals and we focused on interacting with our counterparts in Cuba. Visiting the synagogues, learning about what it means to be Jewish in a socialist country, and getting a feel for how a young Jews in Cuba connect to the larger community were a few of the highlights (not to mention the mojitos and Cuban cigars...). Another highlight was running into Liza Brown-Pinksy, T'13, who was in Havana with the Jewish Federation of Orlando. While we were taking a picture on the street, we noticed a Cuban, wearing this faded Duke Jersey--Go Paulus!
First photo: Our whole gang together with our Jewban friends.
Second photo: Liza Brown-Pinsky, T'13, Cuban man wearing a Duke jersey, Jeremy Moskowitz, T'12 meet on the street in Cuba while visiting the Cuban Jewishcommunity.
From the JTA website, Aug. 14, 2012, by Neil Rubin
Hillel’s new plan: Programming for and by students not so involved in Hillel
Meet 22-year-old Jeremy Moskowitz, the poster child for what Hillel hopes will be a revolution in campus Jewish life. The catch: He didn’t spend much time at Hillel during his four years at Duke University.
Moskowitz attended Jewish day school before college, but chose Duke in part because it was “less Jewish.” Once on campus, he stayed away from Hillel except for a few Shabbat dinners, instead throwing himself into Greek life as a leader of the AEPi chapter there.
But a Hillel staffer challenged him to reach out to students uninvolved or little involved in Jewish life. By his senior year he had agreed to serve as a Hillel Peer Network engagement intern, a key role in the international campus organization’s thrust to use students not very involved in Hillel to reach other students not very involved with Hillel -- with programs having little if any overt connection to Hillel.
This morning, we woke up early, sad that it was the last day of our trip but excited to see what exciting adventures the day held in store for us. We took the bus to Moshav Netiv Ha'asarah, an area on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. There, we heard Glenn Eilon speak about security in Israel and other interesting facts regarding the conflict with Gaza and the history of the area. She told us about the carrier pigeons, which were once used to send and receive important messages. She even let some of the students hold the pigeons and release them, and we all watched as they flew off to their next destination.
After another quick bus ride, we arrived at a farm in the Northern Negev, where we went on the Salad Trail, a tour around the farm led by Uri Alon. The farm was a lot of fun for the students - we uprooted fresh carrots and radishes (and ate them!), and explored a green house that was full of fresh plants and herbs, including basil, lavender, mint, and edible flowers! Then we had a quick snack break, where we flattened dough and cooked it on a fire to make homemade pita, and used a yummy pesto spread, which had just been made at the farm. Then we went to an area filled with vines growing tomatoes and cucumbers, and a few daring students tried the dangerously hot pepper that was growing! We concluded the tour with tea and some delicious strawberries.
For lunch, we were free to eat on our own in the town of Sderot. Some of us went to a Mediterranean restaurant and tried the sandwiches and pizza bagels, while others took advantage of their last opportunity to have native Israeli falafel and schwarma. After lunch, we all stood in a circle and had a conversation with our mifgash, who spoke about their experience on Taglit. We ended our talk with a giant, 50-person cinnamon roll hug!
On the way back to the hotel after lunch, we had to say goodbye to the first of our seven Israeli soldiers, who was dropped off at the bus station to go back home for the weekend. When we arrived back at the hotel in Ashkelon, we had free time to hang out. Some students stayed at the hotel to nap or enjoy the pool, and many of us walked in a big group over to the beach. The beach was lots of fun, as students enjoyed the warm water, laid out in the sun, or hacky-sacked on the sand. Unfortunately, at the beach we had to part with the rest of the soldiers. Saying goodbye to our new friends was hard, but we all promised to come back and visit them one day!
We ended our stay in Israel with dinner at the hotel and a wrap-up conversation, where we discussed our experience on Taglit. The students talked about what they got out of the trip, how their visit to Israel changed their perception of Judaism or of Israel, and what they will do differently when they return to the United States. We talked about how we've learned so much on the trip and bonded as a group, and how we hope that bond remains even after we've left Israel. After our wrap-up chat, we had free time to sleep, hang out, and pack our bags before leaving for the airport at 12:30am. We said goodbye to our guard, bus driver, and tour guide, Doron, at the airport, then boarded the long flight to Zurich and then to New York. What an amazing 10 days this has been! We will all look back on our birthright trip with Taglit Bus #997 and remember it as one of the most rewarding, wonderful experiences of our lives.
Submitted by Matt Lorch, University of Oklahoma Class 2013
Today started a little differently than the others. Waking up in the Bedouin tents, we were treated to a very minor sandstorm, one that impaired our vision slightly but really wasn't dangerous. It was a pretty cool experience to complete a night in the desert. After having breakfast at the camp, we boarded the bus and made the drive over to the Bedouin village of Lakiya. Lakiya was different than the rest of the Israeli towns we have visited. Buildings were in poorer shape and there was far more Arabic than Hebrew present in the town.
While we were in Lakiya, we visited the Lakiya Weaving Project of the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status, a group of Bedouin women that are fighting for equal rights. The woman who spoke to us, one of the locals, helped found the group which was dedicated to helping women to get educated, find work, and travel. It was interesting to hear how these women were fighting for something that we take for granted back in the States. After listening to the story of these women, we were given an opportunity to shop and then were loaded back onto the bus. While on the bus we drove along Highway 358 to give us a look at the 'Security Barrier', a fence that separated Israel from the Palestinian Territories, before making a quick stop for lunch.
When our lunch break was over, we once again jumped onto the bus and headed to an actual active archeological dig at the Beit Guvrin Caves. The caves had been around for over 2300 years, having been built sometime during the Hellenistic period. The lead archeologist lead us down into the caves and explained to us how the caves had been used as houses, staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Then we were all separated into smaller groups and sent into smaller caves, nicknamed Linus, Lucy, and Pebbles. That's when the fun began, as we were given access to tools and time to dig. Some of the students were lucky enough to find pieces of pottery and bone fragments, though I don't think anyone found a coin. After the dig was over, we took turns sifting through the dirt piles we had made for even more finds, and then made our way to the Maresha Cave Labyrinth. In the Labyrinth, lead by only lit candles, we crawled on hands and knees (and other times stood crouching) through the caves. It was a lot of fun.
Caked with dirt, we jumped back onto the bus and made our way to Ashkelon and the final hotel we would be staying in. We checked into the hotel, cleaned ourselves up, and made our way down to dinner before heading into a small conference room for a session lead by our wonderful Mifgash soldiers: skits. The Mifgash divided us into groups and asked us to come up with skits that could be used as a "commercial" for describing the Birthright experience. Sure, none of these were academy award winning scenes, but we all had a lot of laughs, and then settled in for a Q and A session with the soldiers on more serious topics. It was interesting to hear the various perspectives that the soldiers had on topics like Iran, Syria, and serving in the military.
With the session over, we were given a few minutes to change and then lead down to the marina for free time. We all had a great time just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. Our night out ended after a couple of hours and then we headed back to the hotel to get some rest, as we had one more amazing day in Israel left.
This was the day that we finally got to meet our soldiers!! We started the day by eating more hummus and pita at breakfast in the hotel. Then we got on the bus to go meet our soldiers in Jaffa. The anticipation was high, as everyone was so excited to add 7 new people to our bus. We arrived in Jaffa where our soldiers (clad in uniform) met up with our group. After introductions, we all headed to the Jaffa Overlook. The view was gorgeous! The sea was bright blue, and the city of Tel Aviv rose in the background.
After the overlook, we all split up to get lunch on our own. After eating and exploring the flea market in Jaffa, we headed over to Independence Hall. At this historic location, we sat through a (hilarious) presentation about the history of this location and why it played such a huge role in the history of Tel Aviv and Israel.
After Independence Hall, we walked over to Rabin Square to visit the location where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. After learning about the events of the day of the assassination, we headed over to get dinner in Tel Aviv. After dinner, we returned to the hotel in Jerusalem, where we had a discussion that would prep us for our visit the next day to Yad Vashem.