Jewish Life at Duke


Duke University provides students with opportunities to increase their Jewish knowledge. Duke students interested in  academic coursework with The Center for Jewish Studies and/or Hebrew Language have the opportunity to pursue these disciplines with internationally renowned faculty members. Here at JLD, Rabbi Elana facilitates educational programs that help students explore their own Jewish identities, integrate Jewish values, and broaden their overall understanding of Judaism.


Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF): An 8- to 10-week experiential, conversational seminar for students looking to deepen their understanding of Judaism on their own terms. The program was developed at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU in 2007 and has been made available to additional campuses through Hillel International with partial financial support.

Participation in JLF includes weekly meetings over dinner at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, connecting with staff facilitators and JLF interns through meetings and one-on-one coffee conversations, and building community with other Duke students seeking to ask these questions through shared meals, shared Shabbat experiences, and meaningful dialogue throughout our time together. JLF applicants are thirsty to learn but require no previous Jewish background.  We are also a pluralistic, non-denominational organization. We do not believe there is “one right way to be Jewish.”  

  • JLF: Life's Big Questions, also known as JLF 1.0 – The focus of our seminar is “Life’s Big Questions.” We may not have the answers, but we’ll create space to ask the big questions of our lives through a Jewish lens – from "who am I?" and "which communities am I a part of?", to topics of friendship, love vs. lust, and more.
  • JLF:Israel – This seminar is for students looking to deepen their understanding of Israel, its people, complexities, and our personal relationship to and with it. Our aim is to create a space to discuss the various topics and themes freely and openly, exploring questions regarding Israel: What is Israel? What is Zionism? How did things get to where they are today? and most importantly - "what is Israel for me?"  
  • JLF: Racial Justice – Offered in the spring, this 4-session seminar explores racial justice, equity, and anti-Black racism through a Jewish lens. Prerequisite: JLF 1.0.


Torah Lunch Club (TLC) – A weekly Torah study of the parshat hashuva (the weekly Torah portion) over lunch on West Campus.  Each session ends with our weekly Mincha minyan (the afternoon prayer service). Join us weekly to talk a little Torah over lunch with Rabbi Elana!


Senior Seminar – A 4-session conversational seminar for graduating seniors. Seniors reflect on their time at Duke and think about their Jewish future and the role they will play in society. Topics include relationships, time, home and life stages.


If you would like more information about any of our current programs, please email Rabbi Elana.