The Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) colony in Long Beach was significantly enriched in its Jewish identity programming through the Southern California Jewish Student Services’ involvement over the holiday season. With two separate programs during the holidays and participating in their first brotherhood Shabbat dinner of the academic year, Rabbi Drew of Southern California Jewish Student Services (SoCalJSS) provided Jewish content and a rabbinic presence for young Jewish adults at the beginning of the school year.
The first program was “Shofar and Schnapps”, where Rabbi Drew blasted the shofar for the AEPi members on Friday 30 September, enabling these Jewish young men to fulfill the mitzvah of hearing shofar blasts. “I thought it was really cool,” said Ben Halperin, the Jewish Identity Chairman. “My favorite thing about it was that it brought the brothers together in a Jewish way.” Halperin continued, “I also thought it was really cool that we were all able to participate in the shofar-blowing – it was a new experience, hearing the shofar all together.” Following the blasts, the members enjoyed something sweet to welcome in the year along with the blasts – apple liquor. Halperin further said, “It was a very successful first Jewish event of the school year for our AEPi group in Long Beach.”
The second event was an educational event where Rabbi Drew spoke about a couple of holidays over at the AEPi house. The “Jews, Schmooze & Brews” event on Thursday 6 October, focused on the holiday of Yom Kippur, which was to begin the following night, and Sukkot, the following week. “It was very interesting,” said AEPi member Shea Silver Hillinger, “and we didn’t cover just Yom Kippur and Sukkot – I learned a lot of other interesting things as the conversation got onto tangents.” As fellow AEPi member, Yitzchak Alghatam said, “Rabbi Drew came by and dropped some heavy knowledge.”
Lastly, Rabbi Drew participated in the group’s first brotherhood Shabbat dinner of the academic year, providing stories and Jewish knowledge to the experience. “I thought the brotherhood Shabbat dinner was great!” said Sam Orlik, the Long Beach AEPi’s president. “And it was awesome having Rabbi Drew there to participate.” It was only the group’s second ever brotherhood Shabbat dinner, the first of which took place in the spring of 2011.
AEPi, according to its website, which “was founded to provide opportunities for Jewish men seeking the best possible college and fraternity experience,” has done so by having “maintained the integrity of our purpose by strengthening our ties to the Jewish community and serving as a link between high school and career…. Alpha Epsilon Pi’s role is to encourage the Jewish student to remain dedicated to Jewish ideals, values, and ethics and to prepare the student to be one of tomorrow’s leaders so that he may help himself, his family, his community, and his people.”