Jewish Life at Duke Student Spotlight: Eliza Paradise, T'21 and Jordan Diamond, T'21

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Tell us a bit about yourself, where you call home, and why you chose to attend Duke.

Image of Eliza Paradise, T'21 and Jordan Diamond, T'21
Eliza Paradise, T'21 and Jordan Diamond, T'21: Jewish Learning Fellowship Interns

Eliza: Home for me is New York City. I chose to attend Duke because I loved the feeling I had when I stepped on campus - I could tell that everyone was genuinely happy to be here. I was also really excited about the opportunity for high-quality academics with a focus on interdisciplinary applications. I’m a Computer Science major with Global Health and Education minors, so the chance to study such a wide array of topics really drew me to Duke.

Jordan: I'm a Junior from Long Island studying English, Human Rights, and Jewish Studies. I chose to attend Duke after visiting a friend here during Blue Devil Days and fell in love with the campus and the opportunities it could provide for me.

Why did you choose to become a Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF) intern? What do you hope to take away from this experience?

Eliza: Being a JLF fellow was such an amazing experience for me. I did it in the fall of my freshman year and it really helped me find a community at Jewish Life at Duke. I loved getting to connect with Judaism on my own terms (instead of doing it because my parents said to). I really wanted the chance to create that community for other Duke students and to help them connect to their Judaism in whatever way that meant for them.

Jordan: I loved my prior experience in JLF as a fellow, meeting other Jewish students and having meaningful conversations about how my Jewish identity influences my values. I hope that through my work as an intern I can foster that sense of community and discussion, especially for students who don't have much familiarity with Jewish Life at Duke. I'm happy to be working with my good friend, Eliza, as well.

Tell us about your proudest accomplishments, at JLD (or at Duke) and why they are important to you.

Eliza: My proudest accomplishment at JLD is getting the courage to lead a prayer every week at Shabbat with one of my friends (who I got to know through JLF!). I usually have the biggest fear of public speaking, but the community at JLD made me feel so comfortable and supported that I was encouraged to take more of a leadership role in services. Now, I always look forward to Shabbat and especially love the opportunity to lead a prayer which has become so special to me.

Jordan: At Duke, I'm proud of the writing I've produced as a columnist in the Duke Chronicle and the satirical news publication I co-founded, The Fluke News. I'm glad that I've been able to share my voice with other Duke students, and have fun while doing it.

How has Jewish Life at Duke impacted your Duke experience?

Eliza:
Jewish Life at Duke has given me a home at Duke. I love having a space to engage with other students (and of course the amazing JLD staff) in such an authentic way. Everyone is truly encouraged to just come as they are, and it is so clear that there is a space for everyone. Everyone on the staff works so hard to form genuine connections with any student who walks through the doors of the Freeman Center. There is a strong culture of genuine caring for each other at JLD, which is so meaningful to have on a college campus, where things can often feel very overwhelming.

Jordan: Jewish Life at Duke has impacted my Duke experience by providing space for Jewish community, including the incredibly supportive and friendly JLD staff, as well as students I've met at Shabbat services or events at the Freeman Center. JLD has also connected me to important resources that have expanded my worldview, including JLF and a Birthright trip organized with other Duke students.

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