Jewish Life at Duke Freeman Center 20th Anniversary Spotlight: Michelle Vichnin and Mitchell Edelson, P'22


As we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, one of the ways we honor its history and importance to our Jewish community is by collecting and sharing the statements, stories, and memories of those impacted by Jewish Life at Duke's Freeman Center.

Have a story about how Jewish Life at Duke or the Freeman Center has made a difference in your life? Please share your story here. To include a photo, email Lena Wegner.


Jewish Life at Duke embodies the Three Cs: Comfort, Connection and Community

photo of Michelle Vinchen, Jess Edelson, Mitchell Edelson
Michelle Vichnin, P'22, Jess Edelson, T'22, and Mitchell Edelson, P'22

Comfort: The beautiful, airy building is a comfortable haven for students seeking study space, delicious food (Kosher),  a warm environment for numerous social activities, and Shabbat services. Wherever a student may be in the spectrum of Judaism, from secular to religious, Jewish Life at Duke provides a welcoming, comforting, and safe experience.  In these perilous times with rising anti-Semitism on campuses around the country, it is comforting for families to know that their students have a place to support them. Also, after our daughter Jess showed her grandparents the building and introduced them to her friends and staff, we can honestly tell you that Jewish Life at Duke is “grandparent-approved."

Connection: In an era where people are more and more reliant on virtual channels and social media, Jewish Life at Duke provides an opportunity for students to interact and connect with other students who share similar passions and interests.  Strong friendships are formed, which for some students may last a lifetime. Through partnerships with other organizations on campus, Jewish students are forging new bonds and building bridges of understanding throughout the Duke community. The Roots to Rights Spring Break Trip is one of the many opportunities students have to travel. For this particular trip, students from varied backgrounds travel throughout the South and learn about the civil rights movement, which is more relevant today than ever. Of course, Birthright trips and other trips to Israel are perennial favorites.

Community: Jewish Life at Duke is an exemplar of a community on campus, providing something for everyone who participates. Whether a student attends once a year or several times a week, the Rabbi and incredible staff make sure there is always a place for every Jewish Blue Devil.   And, at the end of the day, we all want our students to be part of something which brings them joy and happiness. Crisp matzoh at Passover Seders, sweet apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah, steaming chicken soup when you need a taste of home: could we ask for anything better than that?

-- 2019 Family Weekend Bagel Brunch address shared by Michelle Vichnin, P'22 & Mitchell Edelson, P'22