As a Graduate/Professional Young Trustee finalist, Yedidya “Didi” Yeshurun, a Moskowtiz & Stern Scholar and master of laws candidate at Duke Law School, hopes to offer a global perspective on bridging gaps among institutions of higher education and their surrounding communities.
Yeshurun studied law and Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he served as president of the university’s student union. He then went on to work for the Ministry of Justice at the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Finance at the Housing Cabinet and at Israel’s leading international law firm Meitar, in addition to spending two years working for a Jerusalem-based think tank.
Upon arriving at Duke, Yeshurun was impressed with Duke’s culture of research, education and community. He was initially drawn into the Young Trustee position after challenging himself to find an “interesting and productive way to be a part of that.”
One of Yeshurun’s primary concerns is the “growing sense that higher education has lost the level of credibility and trust within society over the last 20 to 30 years,” he said.
Yeshurun explained the duality of growing up in the information age—a time of “general skepticism of institutions”—while simultaneously coming from an orthodox family where “dogma is the leading factor on how one should live his life.” Through higher education, he realized that there are a variety of truths, rather than one dogma.
“There isn't one truth. It's the whole collaboration and working together with your peers in that pursuit. And then you give those fruits of education and research toward the betterment of society,” Yeshurun said. “Science is a very important area in our lives, and we should be able to accept its findings. But it's not only scientific truth; it's also democratic norms, which have been established over many years.”
In addition to recognizing a disconnect between higher education and the community, Yeshurun said that he recognizes a growing gap between democracy and society. Becoming a Young Trustee would allow him to tackle these gaps at Duke.
After achieving a seat at the table, Yeshurun believes it is important to ask who does and does not have access to the conversation, he said. “Assessing diversity and inclusivity is not only about who attends, but it’s what kind of conversation we have,” he explained. “How is it relevant to people who are not here?”
Ultimately, Yeshurun said that his goal as Young Trustee would be to “serve the larger Duke community, whether it be the students, the faculty and everybody else, you know—the people who work here that make this a great place. I hope to serve them.”
Yeshurun’s peers commended his ability to understand the needs of the Duke community and apply his wide range of knowledge when solving problems.
“Didi’s rich background—both as a student at Duke and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and extensive experience in public and private sectors including non-profit—places him in a unique position to assist Duke in achieving its objectives within the society,” wrote Agata Radajczyk, a master’s of law candidate at Duke.
Radajczyk wrote that ever since she first met Yeshurun at Law School orientation, Yeshurun has demonstrated “academic excellence, intellectual curiosity and [the] ability to think broadly and view things from different angles.” She described Yeshurun as “mature, trustworthy” and “brilliant,” adding that Yeshurun quickly gained the respect of his fellow students and professors once the school year started.
“I truly believe [Yeshurun] is the perfect fit for the Young Trustee position,” Radajczyk wrote.
Miguel Herrera, another master of laws candidate, echoed Radajczyk’s support for Yeshurun.
“Didi stands out from all the other [master of laws candidates] (and perhaps the [juris doctorate candidates]) because while most law students focus on getting into private practice and go into big law, he is keenly aware of the bigger roles one with a Duke degree can have,” Herrera wrote in an email to The Chronicle.
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Madeleine Berger is a Trinity junior and an editor at large of The Chronicle's 118th volume.