Duke's Jewish community observes Day of Peace on Abele Quad

<p>The Duke Jewish community gathers for a "Day of Peace" at Abele Quad on Oct. 12, 2023.&nbsp;</p>

The Duke Jewish community gathers for a "Day of Peace" at Abele Quad on Oct. 12, 2023. 

Students from across the Duke community gathered on Abele Quad Thursday evening for a Day of Peace, organized by Jewish and Israeli student groups for students to “enjoy music, poetry, crafts & more as we hope for peace, together.” 

The event follows a Tuesday evening vigil on Bryan Center plaza to mourn victims of Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel that has since killed 1,300 people in Israel and over 1,500 people in Gaza in the ensuing retaliation.

According to sophomore Sam Feldstein, one of the event’s organizers, the purpose of a Day of Peace was to provide Jewish students a “glimpse of support and community,” which he felt was “the least [he] can do” amidst the conflict.

Feldstein spent his gap year in Israel and has been to the country three times, he said. He planned to go again in December, something he hopes is “still possible.”

“There's so much gray area, and so much stuff that's going on, we need to make sure that people are okay,” Feldstein said. “And we need to make sure that people are accounted for, and communities are about lifting each other up.”

The students in attendance, of which there were a few dozen, mingled and enjoyed the fall evening outside. Some played spikeball, others tossed a frisbee or attempted trickshot passes with a tennis ball. Some groups instead conversed on blankets covering the grass. One student draped an Israeli flag over a sign positioned just off the sidewalk, and another passed around blue wristbands in show of solidarity.

Some laughed and joked with friends while others were somber and teary-eyed. Some donned yarmulkes — a skullcap traditionally worn during prayer — and tied the corners of flags to wear on their backs. Music in Hebrew emanated from a portable speaker placed between the various backpacks loosely strewn across the lawn. 

Feldstein said that the tragedy has united Jews from across the Duke community and has connected groups of people that may not regularly interact otherwise. He said that he has met new people in the days since the tragedy, a product of the Jewish community coming together to mourn, grieve and support one another, irrespective of how close they or their families are tied to Israel directly.

“Some people have a different degree of emotional attachment to Israel and to the situation,” Feldstein said. “So it's like, I have sincere family and friends who are there. Either they're helping grieving families, they're assisting mourning families or they're actually fighting. And many Jews on campus don't. Many Jews on campus have one or two degrees of separation.”

All eight Jewish and Israeli student organizations collaborated to put on a Day of Peace, as well as Tuesday’s vigil. These groups include the Chabad Student Group, Coalition for Preserving Memory, Duke Friends of Israel, Duke Israel Public Affairs Committee, Duke J Street U, Duke Students Supporting Israel, the Jewish Student Union and the TAMID Group at Duke. 

A Day of Peace wasn’t limited to just students, though.

Roughly midway through the event, an Israeli woman stopped by and tearfully spoke to the students in attendance about her experience with the tragedy. She is in Durham supporting her son and newborn grandson, who is currently at the Duke hospital. Her other son is fighting in Israel.

“I guess she was just walking around campus, she saw this, she came over, she told us to stay strong. She told us how much she appreciated seeing this,” Feldstein said. “And we all gave her hugs. We embraced her, and that's what we do. We don't only support Jewish students here, we support Israelis, Jews around the world.”

“Community is about being there for each other,” Feldstein said. “This is a time where we need that.”

Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Sports Editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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