YU Does not Need AEPi

By: Yosef Bluth  |  December 20, 2023

By Yosef Bluth, Staff Writer

Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I visited one of my friends at a different college. We had dinner at the campus Hillel, which was a fun experience, and at the end, there was a question of what to do with all of the extra food. The guy in charge said that they were going to give it to the college’s AEPi chapter. Not being familiar with them, I asked what AEPi was, and was informed that it was “the Jewish frat.” While I thought it was an interesting concept, I was happy to inform my friend that YU has no fraternities on campus. Imagine my surprise when, upon returning to campus after the break, I heard that students were attempting to open an AEPi branch here.

So, what is AEPi? AEPi is a fraternity that was started to give Jewish students around the country a place to turn to when they were refused membership in others on the basis of their religion. The idea of a place meant to allow Jews that would otherwise be excluded is great. However, that doesn’t mean that the place for such an institution is at YU. When you are at YU, no one is stopping anyone from joining any team, club, or other social group on the basis of their religion. An organization meant to allow for this is simply unnecessary.

On their website, AEPi lists its mission statement as being “to provide education, resources, and training to the future leaders of the world’s Jewish communities.” Being the flagship Jewish university is YU’s entire M.O. The idea that we need to bring in an outside organization to truly cement our status as a leader in Jewish education is, quite frankly, ridiculous. The very idea that a fraternity, even a Jewish one, is the organization we need to learn how to be good Jewish leaders is absurd.

The website continues that “This mission is demonstrated every day through acts of brotherhood, Tzedakah (charity), social awareness and support for Jewish communities and Israel.” The idea that YU students need to be taught how to do that is laughable. The entire point of this college is to educate and train the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. We already spend a huge amount of time and energy on acts of brotherhood and charity. Our support for Israel could not possibly be higher. Especially in these trying times, we have students working around the clock to help Israel in any way we possibly can. Last month, an overwhelming majority of the college traveled down to Washington D.C. to join a rally in support of Israel. To suggest that we need to learn to support Israel is so incredibly offensive that even implying it could only be meant as an insult.

This will not be the first time AEPi will have started at YU. However, the reason it needs to be restarted is due to the fact that on several previous occasions the organization was asked/told to leave. Why is having a fraternity on campus such a bad thing? At its most basic level, the idea of a fraternity is a wholly non-Jewish idea. The very name signifies how the idea is tied into a Greek lifestyle – one that is diametrically opposed to Judaism at its core. Even the idea of a Jewish fraternity is, at its best, somewhat of a stretch. Coming to YU means acknowledging that you are going to a university that doesn’t have this kind of fraternity culture, and in fact stands opposed to even the idea of it. To now say that you want to bring it here is both incomprehensible and offensive. 

We just finished celebrating the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. The festival commemorates the Jewish fight against the Greeks and our mission to remove Greek influence from our lives. I would like to ask you all a question: Should we really be taking this step of voluntarily inviting Greek influence after we fought so hard to get rid of it?