As co-presidents of the Jewish Business Association (JBA), we are passionate about contributing to Fuqua’s diverse community. We welcome both Jewish and non-Jewish students to join the JBA in participating with, and learning about, Jewish culture and events. To showcase how the JBA engages with the broader community, we’ve reflected on our favorite experiences leading JBA, and what the club has meant to us over our two years at Fuqua.

What has the JBA meant to you?

Sofie: Being Jewish has always been an essential aspect of my identity. The JBA allows me to honor and celebrate this part of myself: both by creating space for Jewish students to connect with each other and their religion, and by welcoming non-Jewish students to learn about Jewish religion and culture.

Fuqua was the first time in my life where the majority of my community was not Jewish. While I may have originally worried that this would stifle the Jewish parts of my identity, the experience has been just the opposite: the culture and community of Fuqua encourages and empowers me to be even prouder, and more open, about my Jewish life. I’ve realized that it’s part of what makes me “me”, and for that, my Judaism should be celebrated and shared. In fact, some of my favorite moments at Fuqua have been the times we’ve hosted Jewish experiences for the entire school, creating events for both Jewish and non-Jewish students. I am so grateful to the JBA for those opportunities.

Ben: Coming into my MBA experience, I knew it would be important for me to connect with the Jewish community on campus. I found that in the JBA, and quickly came to realize that the club is dedicated not only to creating meaningful experiences for Jewish students, but also to sharing Jewish traditions with the broader Fuqua community. It has been amazing to be a part of this welcoming and diverse community of both Jewish and non-Jewish students who are excited to participate in and learn about Jewish culture.

I’ve also loved being a co-president of the JBA, through which I have had the opportunity to give back to the JBA and Fuqua by leading events such as a Fuqua Passover Seder, an interview with a famous Jewish figure (more below!), and intimate community events for Jewish and non-Jewish students to connect with and learn more about Judaism. Through the JBA, I have grown as a leader and person, all while sharing my culture with my classmates. The JBA has been a pillar of my time at Fuqua and I’m thankful for the relationships and experiences that I have gained through my involvement in the club.

Dozens of people sitting at large round tables for Passover Seder in Kirby Reading Room at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business
Hosting Passover Seder

What’s has been your most meaningful experience with the JBA?

Sofie: In December, the JBA hosted the best Bar Mitzvah (a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, held when a Jewish boy or girl turns 13!). While technically no one read from the Torah or became a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, we held a party that allowed Fuqua students to experience all the parts of a traditional American Bar Mitzvah party.

We danced the night away to early 2000’s music (the kind prevalent when we were all Bar Mitzvah-aged), encouraged our classmates to come in their best middle-school gear (yes, I wore Ugg boots and a zip-up velour jacket to a party), and had the whole school involved in the Hora, the traditional dance of Jewish celebrations. We spent the week ahead of the party sharing information about what Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are, why they’re important to the Jewish culture, and what they signify to the Jewish faith—this, of course, came with some pictures of JBA cabinet members at their own Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

Aside from being an awesome party, this event was so special because it allowed us to introduce important Jewish traditions to the entire school. Some students came to Fuqua having never met a Jewish person before, and yet the week of the party, all around the halls I heard, “Are you going to the Bar Mitzvah this weekend?” It was so exciting to welcome and involve all students in such an important Jewish celebration, and after a difficult few months for the Jewish community, it meant the world to bring the school together for a sold-out party that celebrated Jewish joy.

People dancing in a dark venue for Jewish Business Association's Bar Mitzvah party
Sharing Jewish culture by hosting a traditional American Bar Mitzvah party for our classmates

Ben: This past fall, the JBA hosted the Duke men’s basketball coach Jon Scheyer at Fuqua for a conversation about life, leadership, Judaism, and the upcoming Duke men’s basketball season. During the conversation, Coach Scheyer shared how his upbringing and Jewish principles have impacted and continue to impact both his professional and personal life. He also shared valuable lessons that he has learned throughout his career, including how to navigate professional transitions, effective strategies for bringing together diverse teams, and the importance of staying in the moment.

We were honored to bring Coach Scheyer to Fuqua, and it was amazing for Sofie and me to interview him in front of a live audience of more than 200 people! Moreover, it was incredibly meaningful to host a prominent Jewish leader on campus and to receive overwhelming support from the Fuqua community—including the Dean’s office, faculty & staff, and student clubs—for the event.

Duke men's basketball coach Jon Scheyer sitting on stage in a tan arm chair, students Sofie Jacobs and Ben Schick sit in identical chairs to the right
Interviewing Duke men’s basketball coach Jon Scheyer

What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Sofie: Challah—especially my mom’s!

Ben: Noodle Kugel—my grandma’s recipe, of course!