On Sunday morning, family and friends of Duke’s Jewish community gathered from all around the country to celebrate the Fleishman House’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Fleishman House, formerly the King’s Daughters Inn, is located just off East Campus and will serve as the new home for Chabad at Duke University Undergrads. With three floors, a kitchen, 17 bedrooms and a 2,100 square-foot rooftop deck, Jewish students at Duke will have an official communal space to celebrate Shabbat and the High Holidays.
Chabad is an orthodox movement within the Jewish tradition. The Fleishman House is now one of more than 3,500 Chabad centers around the world.
The ceremony began with Chabad student members welcoming all attendees, which included Duke students, families and donors to Chabad. Also in attendance was Joel Fleishman, professor of law and founding director of the Sanford School of Public Policy, for whom the center was named.
Chabad Student President Olivia Levine, a senior, spoke of Chabad’s growth from a group of 20 students cooking dinners in the home of Rabbi Nossen Fellig, co-director of Chabad Jewish Student Center at Duke, to acquiring a full-fledged space for an organization that now invites over 250 students for weekly Shabbat dinners.
“Everyone is welcome here,” Levine said. “It doesn't matter if you're Reform, if you're Conservative, if you're Orthodox; every sect, every Jew is welcome here.”
Levine attributed the acquisition of the Fleishman House to Fellig and Chaya Fellig, co-directors of Chabad Jewish Undergraduates. The first time Levine met both of them as a freshman, both of them made her feel at home at Duke.
“[The Felligs] knew everything about my area and my home … I had so much fun at Shabbat, I came back. And, what do you know, Rabbi and Chaya remembered my name. That was a really great feeling to know that there were more people other than the classic Jewography you play a Duke,” Levine said.
In 2020, the Felligs spearheaded the purchase of the four-star boutique hotel with the assistance of Sarah Bloom Raskin, professor of practice of law, along with various benefactors and alumni.
The Felligs thanked everyone that made the purchase of the Fleishman House possible.
“This is the ultimate home for undergrads. They deserve a royal home like this,” Nossen Fellig said.
The Felligs also extended a special thanks to Fleishman. When Fleishman was a Duke professor in the 1990s, he began hosting Jewish students at his home for holiday celebrations and sessions of prayer because Duke lacked a space to do so.
“Thank you for your pure, humble and joyful heart, for your leadership, for planting the seed. For being a pioneer of the Jewish community at Duke for over half a century,” Nossen Fellig said.
Fleishman said he was “overcome by the lavish commentary.” He thanked the Felligs, Duke alumni and parents in attendance and his longtime friends that came to support him at the event.
“I can't imagine this ever happening,” Fleishman said, speaking of the Fleishman House’s ceremonial opening and the building being named after him. “But it has. I am deeply moved and always will be.”
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Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and digital strategy director of The Chronicle's 119th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 118.