Sent to the Jewish Life at Duke listserv June 3, 2020.
In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the anguish, outrage, and calls for justice we are seeing across our nation and world, we feel that it is especially important to amplify the voices and needs of Black communities. As such, we are pausing our efforts to fundraise for Jewish Life at Duke this week and asking you to join us to support the work of Duke’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture.
As a supporter of Jewish Life at Duke and the global Jewish community, you know well the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our Jewish communal organizations. You've seen movements, Federations, day schools, camps, and other such good organizations that rely on the generosity of donors announce painful cuts and retrenchment. It is in this context that our team at Jewish Life at Duke has been planning all spring for a fundraising campaign in June as our fiscal year comes to a close.
There will be a time again to fundraise in support of Jewish students at Duke. Today is not that time. I want to encourage our Duke Jewish community to join me in support and solidarity by making a gift to Duke’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture.
Many local, national, and international Jewish organizations (including Jewish Life at Duke) have called for change, have committed to learning, listening, and working against systemic racism. We are called by our Jewish values to stand up for the oppressed. Our tradition tells us, "Do not stand idly by [when] the blood of your fellow [human being is spilled.]” (Leviticus 19:16).
The Mary Lou Williams Center, much like Jewish Life at Duke, provides invaluable support, education, and a home-away-from-home for Duke’s Black and African-diaspora students. The Center strives to promote racial understanding, build community, and foster an appreciation for and increase knowledge of Black people, Black history, Black culture, and the vast contributions of people of the African Diaspora.
The Mary Lou is also our campus partner in organizing and facilitating Roots to Rights, a joint six-day spring break bus tour and experiential education program exploring the South's major historic Civil Rights sites, examining the history of the Movement from various perspectives and disciplines. I had the good fortune to participate in this year’s Roots to Rights trip with a group of incredible students - an indelible and important experience for all of us.
You will hear from me again in the coming weeks as we ask for your renewed support for Duke’s Jewish community. I know that you care deeply for Duke and Jewish students at Duke, for which I am incredibly grateful. In this critical time, I encourage you to join me in showing meaningful support for Duke’s Black students as well.
Thank you for showing up for all Duke students.
Director, Jewish Life at Duke