Students identify many of Yale’s fraternities with specific sports teams. But instead of bonding on the field, brothers of AEPi are united by their Hebrew heritage.
Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish-affiliated fraternity also known as Epsilon Upsilon, has rejoined the campus fraternity scene after a four-year hiatus.
Yale’s AEPi chapter was originally founded in 1991, current fraternity master Robert Spiro ’06 said. Spiro said the former chapter chose not to rush new members and eventually died out, but a national recruitment officer visited campus last fall to reinstate the chapter.
Spiro said AEPi is a place where the fraternity brothers can express Jewish values, but membership is not exclusive to those of Jewish heritage. Ian Bishop ’07, one of the fraternity’s 22 “founding fathers,” said there is a wide range of commitments to Jewish heritage within the fraternity.
“The great thing is we have a whole spectrum of Jews. We have people who have never been in a synagogue and are culturally Jewish but then we have others who are very [observant],” Bishop said. “My best friend at home is Lutheran and he’s a member of a chapter at the [University of Virginia].”
Spiro said the fraternity’s Jewish identification offers students another way to recognize their heritage or faith, even when they are not involved with other Jewish campus organizations.
“There are a lot of Jewish guys on campus who don’t necessarily want to be involved with Slifka, but they still want a Jewish community,” Spiro said. “There is nothing overtly Jewish about the frat, other than that we’re trying to recruit Jewish brothers.”
Spiro said the Yale chapter’s current membership includes freshmen, sophomores and one junior. He said the group has placed bids on a few houses and plans to have a house by fall.
Bishop said the group’s immediate focus will be on “getting the word out” about the organization. The Yale chapter will send some members to an AEPi conference for Northeast area university chapters this weekend at Brown University, Bishop said.
Bishop said he first was skeptical of joining a fraternity because he had preconceived notions of the fraternity lifestyle, but he said after he met with the national recruitment officer, he began to like the idea.
“He offered the position of ‘founding father’ and I figured I could put ‘Founding Father Eli’ on my business card,” Bishop said.
Eli Schachar ’07 said he never thought about joining a fraternity until he met the other students involved in AEPi.
“I joined a little later than the other guys, but I just went to one of their events and it was a lot of fun,” Schachar said.
Bishop said AEPi has a list of 80 students interested in rushing the fraternity. He said the “founding fathers” and rushees participated in their first rushee event, “Beer and Bowling,” Tuesday night.