Celebrating Freeman18 with...Sarah Bell T'01, L'04


Tell us about yourself, Sarah:
I grew up in the suburbs of New York and attended Duke undergrad and law school. I was a Public Policy major and History minor.  After Duke, I moved back to New York and lived in New York City for 13 years. Last September my husband, our two young children and I relocated back to the ‘burbs.  I am currently an attorney at Pryor Cashman in New York and my specialty area is disability discrimination consulting and defense (the ADA). I love spending time with my family, chasing my kids around outside, running, cooking, swimming, traveling and reading (just because I love doing the latter things doesn’t necessarily mean I have the time!).
Why did you choose Duke? 

I remember thinking that everyone I met there was so nice!  That, combined with the great weather and beautiful campus, were major selling points.  At the time, I was also interested in being involved with the Center for Documentary Studies and had a great experience there when I initially visited Duke.
What activities were you involved with as a student?
As a student I was very involved in Jewish life.  I led the student board for some time as an undergraduate, and then went on to lead the Jewish Law Students Association as a law student. I ran services on Shabbat and later started a multi-cultural organization where students from different religions and cultures came together to discuss our similarities and differences and began to bridge gaps. I was also very involved in my sorority and was a photographer for the Chronicle.  I also love exercise and the outdoors so spent quite a bit of time running outside and swimming with the Club Swim Team.

Can you tell us about your experiences in the early days of the Freeman Center? How were you involved?
Prior to the creation of the Freeman Center, I remember meeting for Shabbat services at a rundown shack on Central Campus (it probably should have been, and probably was, condemned). It was there that I met women who, to this day, are still some of my best friends.  We all had a great time gathering for services and singing together as students, and have continued stay in each other’s lives.  We have been to each other’s weddings and know each other’s children.  We still try to gather once a year together and it’s always a special time.
Once construction began on the Freeman Center, I traveled with Bob Shepard to NYC to do some fundraising. I also spoke at the FCJL opening. It was a really exciting time to be a Jewish student and to feel ownership of the new space. 
Looking back now 18 years after the Freeman Center opened, how would you characterize its impact on campus?
It’s so important for Jewish students to have a place to meet, gather, pray, and celebrate. Jewish life at Duke flourished when the Freeman Center opened because it gave Jewish students a physical place on campus to call home. The Freeman Center literally provided the foundation for the growth of Jewish Life at Duke.