by Matt Mattson
In my opinion, this is the best fraternity-related story I've heard in a while. This is an exceptional example of an organization being what it says it is truly about. Congratulations to Alpha Epsilon Pi.
See this link or this link or this link for more information on this story.
Alpha Epsilon Pi recently fulfilled a dream of their founders. Alpha Epsilon Pi recently did something no other fraternity has ever done before (have you ever heard someone say that in reference to something positive?). Alpha Epsilon Pi, an organization that has long claimed to be the international Jewish fraternity, just started a chapter in Israel! In fact, this is the first fraternity chapter to ever have been started at an Israeli campus.
Because I was fascinated with the concept of being the headquarters staff member who was charged with carrying out this major task (”Hey, expansion director, your next assignment is… ISRAEL!”), I had to learn about this accomplishment from the source.
So I asked Steven Kaplan, Expansion Director for AEPi a few questions. Be sure to click the links to the stories above as well. Two of them are from Jewish newspapers reporting on this accomplishment.
Here's what Steven had to say…
I am the Director of Expansion for AEPi and was the one who started the group in Israel. Here are responses to some questions you had regarding the expansion.
How were the men recruited?
I started recruitment using recommendations from our alumni and undergraduates and our partner organizations. The first contact usually came through email or a phone call. I set up individual meetings with students from both the International and Israeli schools to explain all aspects of a fraternity and about AEPi. I continued to find new guys to meet with based on recommendations from students on campus. Once I met with a sufficient amount of men, I held two large meetings to go into detail about AEPi. Those who were still interested afterwards had the opportunity to interview to become a Founding Father.
What challenges did you face in finding the right men for the chapter?
Two main challenges stand out in my mind. The first was finding men who actually knew what a fraternity is. Many people had misconceptions about fraternities that stem from American movies. I felt it was extremely important to find quality men who could get past these misconceptions and understand the true idea of a fraternity. The second challenge was trying to sell the fraternity in a way that the Israeli college culture could resonate with. Almost 100% of the students and administrators I spoke with had a good deal of hesitation and uncertainty about starting AEPi in Israel. Some common lines were “It's different here” or “The age difference is too big”. Everyone understood the obstacles in starting a fraternity in Israel, but I found enough men who were willing to take the challenge.
How does having this chapter help your North-American chapters in recruitment?
The main selling point in AEPi is the fact that we are the International Jewish fraternity. From the top down, we understand the vision our Founders had in 1913. The new colony in Israel gives our North American chapters another way to believe that we are who we say we are, a Jewish Fraternity. What says this more than being the first fraternity in the Jewish State? They will be able to use this fact to help potential new members understand the full force of AEPi on an International level and connect them with Brothers around the world.
How will the men recruit differently than North-American chapters now that they're established?
The techniques and organization of recruitment will be similar to our North American chapters. The biggest difference is the way they approach potential new members. In North America, most people have some understanding of the fraternal system. However, this is not the case in Israel. Our Brothers must teach prospective members not only the benefits of joining a AEPI , but joining AEPi in Israel. They need to adapt our ideals to the culture in Israel.
This is an innocent question, but why has a fraternity chapter not been established in Israel before (by AEPi or any other group)?
I can't speak for other organizations, but in terms of AEPi, it was the right time. Over the past ten years, AEPi has grown significantly in North America and students in Israel caught on. We received numerous emails from students in Israel requesting information on how to start AEPi. After a while we made the decision to listen to these requests and explore the opportunity to start AEPi in Israel. It is a natural fit.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Director of Expansion
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity