107 years ago tomorrow, eleven young Jewish men met at NYU and, under the arch in Washington Square, proclaimed the launch of a national fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi. Imagine the foresight that was required to take that step; not just starting a new fraternity but, from the outset, setting a goal to become a national fraternity that would impact many others and not just those in their group or on their campus.
Now, I have some doubt that the Immortal Eleven really knew on that November 7 day in 1913 that they were giving rise to a fraternity which has gone on to initiate nearly 130,000 men on campuses across the globe. But, they knew that what they were creating was going to be bigger than what they could see. Our founders created a fraternity with 11 men, drew up a constitution and a plan to move forward, and had the ultimate chutzpah to declare themselves the Alpha Chapter, as if they knew that AEPi would grow.
And, to me, that’s the lesson which really resonates from our Founders Day. Our mission is to have a lasting impact on our Jewish communities, our campuses and our world. We were created with an eye towards the future.
I’m pretty sure that no one in 1913 could have imagined what our world would like in 2020 (we couldn’t even imagine this in 2019!) but I know that our founders would be proud of the legacy they created with our fraternity and the important role the fraternity is playing to keep our members connected to each other and to their communities.
This year, with Founder’s Day on Shabbat, we had hoped to get our Brothers to participate in one of the largest student-run Shabbat events in the world: Shabbat Across AEPi. Over the last few years, we’ve had more than 100 chapters participate in this annual event. It will be different – but perhaps even more important this year – as our chapters will be celebrating Shabbat together virtually. But, still, our shared love for AEPi and our Jewish traditions and values bind us together as Brothers and make us even stronger.
One final thought about the legacy of Founder’s Day: I hope you will join with me and hundreds of your Brothers to take the Founder’s Day Challenge to help the AEPi Foundation as it provides support to our Brothers as they continue to strive towards our mission. Your gift of $19.13 – or more – in honor of your favorite chapter of colony will help us reach our $100,000 Founders Day Challenge goal. For more information, please visit the Founders Day web page.
To all of my Brothers, my best to you as we celebrate our past and look towards our future!