Celebrating Freeman18 with Rebecca Passman, '16


Why did you choose to go to Duke?
I chose to attend Duke because it has a great blend of strong academics, school spirit, and exciting and cohesive campus life. Thumbnail

What did you study at Duke? Outside of the classroom, what were you involved in on campus?
I majored in Biology, and minored in Global Health. Outside of the classroom, I was involved in Jewish Student Union, WISER, Brownstone SLG, neurobiology research, and of course, I spent a lot of time cheering on the Duke basketball team.

Why did you decide to go on Birthright Israel?
My friends in Jewish Student Union encouraged me to apply for Birthright. It sounded like a great opportunity to see Israel and learn about my Jewish ancestry (and eat as much rugelach and falafel as possible in 10 days). Birthright exposed me to entirely new aspects of Judaism as I learned more about Israel’s history and talked with Israeli soldiers. When I returned from the trip, I found myself still yearning to learn more about Israel. Now it’s two and a half years after my Birthright trip and I’m thrilled to be back in Israel teaching English to elementary school students through a Masa program. This program has allowed me to experience living and working in Israel, and it has been incredible thus far.

What advice do you have for students considering going on Birthright Israel?
My advice for students considering Birthright is to just apply and go! Birthright is an extraordinary first-look at Israel. The trip allows you to meet Israeli soldiers, hike up to breathtaking views, taste amazing Israeli food, and learn about the history of Israel and the Jewish people.

We're celebrating the Freeman Center's 18th anniversary this year. Why do you think it’s important to have a Jewish space on campus?
Growing up in a largely Jewish area, I came to Duke searching for a community of Jews to share the holidays with. At the Freeman Center, I found a tight-knit group of Jewish students, with whom I ultimately spent many Shabbats and other holidays. The Freeman Center was a place where I felt at home and I am very grateful to have been a part of the Jewish community while at Duke.

What is your fondest Duke memory?
Watching the TV screens in Cameron as Duke won the national basketball championship in 2015!