Jewish Life at Duke

Shabbat & Holidays


Each Friday night that school is in session, JLD and members of the larger Duke community come together for services followed by a delicious free communal Shabbat dinner.  All are welcome to come to any and all parts of the evening.

Shabbat programming begins at 5:30pm with Shabbat Shira, a song session, to warm up for Shabbat with Rabbi Elana. Unless otherwise noted, services begin at 6:00pm and are followed by a kosher Shabbat dinner at 7:00pm. Though free to students, we ask that you please register for dinner by or before noon each Wednesday to ensure we prepare enough food and accommodate special dietary needs.


Students actively participate in Shabbat at Duke at the Freeman Center by helping lead services, give the D'var Torah, or plan a special themed dinner, such as Israel Shabbat, Rainbow Shabbat, Interfaith Shabbat, Shabbat 101, Shabbat in K-Ville, to name just a few. To get involved, email Jewish Life. All are welcome to join Rabbi Elana in thinking and planning Shabbat each week during the semester.  We will be planning the themes, style of services, and discussing ways to involve more students in Shabbat with Jewish Life at Duke. All are welcome and no expertise required. Tell Rabbi Elana if you are interested.

A few times a year, students are encouraged to host their own Shabbat celebrations with our Host Your Own Shabbat program. Students can check their weekly Jewish Life at Duke e-mail for more information and specific dates. 

Shabbat dinners are always free thanks to the generosity of the Benenson family.


High Holidays

For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, JLD offers both Conservative and Reform services as well as delicious home-cooked holiday meals. A rabbi and guest cantor lead services, with Duke students joining in as Torah readers, prayer leaders, and shofar blowers. Both services are held at the Freeman Center and bring together undergraduates, graduate and professional students, faculty, and independent members of the community in religious observance.

Students are permitted by university policy to be absent from class to observe the High Holidays. For questions or concerns about the Religious Exemption Policy, contact Rabbi Elana Friedman.

Click here for High Holiday services, meals, and registration details.

Please note: All services are free of charge to students and do not require prior registration, however, registration for meals is required.

Make a gift to support High Holiday programming.



Every Sukkot, Jewish Life at Duke builds a sukkah that is open to the community. Students, staff, faculty, and community members are welcome to join in decorating the sukkah and are encouraged to enjoy a delicious kosher meal under the stars. In past years, we've celebrated the holiday with "Pizza in the Hut," S'mores, and even Sushi in the Sukkah during the week before gathering together to enjoy Shabbat in the night air.

Sukkot programming is made possible through the generosity of the Freeman Family Program Fund. All meals or programs are free and open to all, first come first serve!

Learn more about Sukkot here.


Passover 2019

JLD offers a range of programming during Passover, all free of charge for students.

The Freeman Center holds traditional, communal Seders on the first and second nights of Passover, a matzah brie meal during the week, and matzah distribution at The Freeman Center on campus (gluten-free upon request).

Students interested in hosting their own Seders receive training from Rabbi Elana Friedman along with a Seder kit consisting of Haggadot, Seder plates, grape juice, and kosher-for-Passover meals for their guests. Each year, JLD facilitates approximately 20 student-hosted Seders, with more than 700 individual students attending overall. Student-hosted Seders are supported through the generosity of the Freeman Family Program Fund.

  • 1st Seder: Wednesday, April 8 (time tbd)
  • 2nd Seder: Thursday, April 9 (time tbd)
  • Passover Shabbat & Dinner: Friday, April 10 (dinner registration required)
  • Matzah Brie Dinner: Tuesday, April 14 (5:307:30pm)

Passover 2020: Registration Coming Soon

Passover Dining

During the entire week of Passover, Jewish Life at Duke offers expanded Kosher for Passover dining options in partnership with Duke Dining.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner grab and go options will be available at campus locations below. If you do not see items available, please contact Duke Dining at 919.812.9342.

Wednesday, April 8 (beginning at noon) Thursday, April 16:

  • Au Bon Pain  (All 3 meals)
  • Trinity Café (All 3 meals)
  • Marketplace (Ask dining staff for Passover food selection)

Monday through Thursday, April 13 - 16:

  • The Freeman Center for Jewish Life Hot dinner buffet (Henry’s Place)

Matzah Distribution (one box per student)

Monday, April 6:

  • Brodhead Center & East Marketplace: Distribution time TBD
  • Freeman Center: Distribution time TBD

Tuesday, April 7:

  • Brodhead Center & East Marketplace: Distribution time TBD
  • Freeman Center: Distribution time TBD



Hanukkah is one of the most anticipated Jewish holidays at Duke, thanks to our annual Latkapalooza.

This fall semester event attracts students of all backgrounds from across campus. Partnering with the Jewish Student Union (JSU), we celebrate the holiday by serving up hundreds of freshly fried latkes, spinning derides, and doling out a seemingly unlimited supply of Hanukkah gelt this is definitely a don't miss event for Duke students!

Jewish Life at Duke and the JSU hold candle-lightings at multiple locations across campus. Faculty members, staff and the community are also invited to join in this festival of lights.

If you would like to celebrate Hanukkah and need a menorah or candles, please drop by the Freeman Center for Jewish Life or email Jewish Life at Duke.

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