The Daily Jewish Forward has a piece titled “Is a Jewish Fraternity Like AEPi Only for Jews?”, which begins:
No one seemed to care that Eun Bae was Korean American and Christian.
When the Ohio State University freshman started hanging out with the Jewish brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi, members of the fraternity quickly bonded with the affable engineering student. They didn’t engage him in talks about his faith or his ethnicity; they invited him to watch football games and eat chicken at Buffalo Wild Wings.
By rush season of January 2014, Bae unhesitatingly chose AEPi, a historically Jewish fraternity, as the house he wanted to join. And the chapter’s 110 young men — all of them Jewish — were quick to welcome him in.
See! The Jewish fraternity tradition is not an example of Jewish separatism. It’s diverse!
Er… I think:
But Bae’s non-Jewish background met a very different reception when news of it got to AEPi’s national headquarters in Indianapolis. Soon after his admission, Grant Bigman, director of chapter operations at the fraternity’s national organization, paid a visit to the Ohio State house’s executive board and laid out the possible consequences. If the chapter insisted on admitting a non-Jew, Bigman told them, it could face a membership review.
Check out the cognitive dissonance of this one:
Jonathan Pierce, a spokesman for AEPi’s national office, declined to comment on the Ohio State chapter’s exchange with Bigman. But in an email to the Forward, he wrote: “Let me be clear: AEPi is loudly and proudly a Jewish organization with a Jewish mission (Developing Leadership for Jewish Communities). We are nondiscriminatory but, like any other organization, want our members to work towards fulfilling our mission.”
So, they are “nondiscriminatory”… but want membership restricted to Jews.
With upward of 10,000 students in seven countries on some 188 campuses, and revenues of $2.2 million in 2015, AEPi is America’s ninth largest fraternity and, by far, the country’s largest Jewish fraternity. And in a way, like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which established a state at once both Jewish and publicly committed to equal rights, AEPi’s mission statement, with its claims to be both Jewish and non-discriminatory, contains within it an inherent long-standing tension.
Tension… That’s one way to put it.