After two years, Jewish frat sees popularity rise

The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity had nearly double their usual number of pledges this year, the result of the fraternity’s increased visibility on campus, AEPi brothers said.

AEPi, a Jewish-affiliated fraternity, admitted 10 pledges this spring after an enormous rush turnout — usually, the fraternity has six pledges per semester. The fraternity, which has existed at Yale for just over two years, had five pledges in the fall semester, bringing this year’s total to 15 new pledges, AEPi President Christopher Crane ’07 said.

AEPi Rush Manager Stuart Prenner ’07 attributed the increase to the fraternity’s growing popularity on campus, partly due to recent AEPi-hosted parties such as “Challahback” and “Jewmanji.” The growing interest is a good sign that the new fraternity is becoming a stable presence in the Yale community, Prenner said.

“AEPi is starting to come into its prime,” he said.

Prenner said the spring pledges will bring AEPi’s size to 52 members.

Some AEPi brothers had mixed feelings about increasing the size of the fraternity, Prenner said. But the fraternity is not likely to set limits on membership numbers in any case, he said.

“The dynamic is great, and it will get better when more people come,” he said. “Everyone who joins brings something new and interesting.”

Other fraternities did not experience a similarly dramatic increase in pledge numbers, officers said.

The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity had 18 pledges this year, which DKE Rush Chairman and Pledge Master Peter Pacelli ’07 says is an average number. Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity had 23 pledges this year, which has been typical in the past according to SAE President Sam Beutler ’07.

Beutler said SAE does not focus on accepting a specific number of new pledges each year.

“We never aim for a number but rather look for those who add a variety of qualities to the fraternity,” he said.

AEPi pledges said they chose the fraternity because of its unique flavor.

Jordan Malter ’09 said he pledged because the AEPi environment is different from what people usually associate with stereotypical fraternities. AEPi hosted a pledge dinner on Monday where fraternity members explained that new pledges do not have to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, Malter said.

“They told us that pledging is a time to enjoy yourself and get to know the brothers, and I liked that,” he said.

Yotam Barkai ’08 pledged this spring as opposed to last year because he did not want to commit to one time-engrossing activity his freshman year, he said. Barkai said he agrees that the pledge process was probably one of the reasons why more people were eager to join AEPi.

“The friendly process attracts those who wouldn’t want to be part of a frat otherwise,” he said.

Joseph Babarsky ’09 was recently accepted as an AEPi brother and said he had fun during the pledging process, despite the fact that he was not Jewish.

“I didn’t see not being Jewish as a downside,” he said. “I enjoy their traditions and have a good time at parties, and I didn’t even consider the other fraternities.”

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