Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi becomes an official chapter

The Jewish-interest group originally began in the '80s.
Potential members pass around a box as an icebreaker during Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi's spring rush meeting Monday in the Hillel Center. SAEPi is a Jewish interest group and sorority, but the sorority emphasized it is not exclusive to those who are Jewish.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish-interest sorority, will become an official campus chapter this weekend.

"We have almost doubled in size within a year," Rush Chairwoman Amanda Rude said. "This upcoming weekend is very exciting for us."

The sorority must meet certain requirements to become a chapter, such as having a certain number of members, set by Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi nationals.

"There are a bunch of different religious fraternities and sororities and we wanted to add to it," Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi President Belinda Kocen said. "I wanted to make the Jewish part of the student body stronger."

This will be Kocen's first year serving as president for the sorority.

"I was always very active in the Jewish community," Kocen said. "We wanted a Jewish-interest sorority and there were enough girls who wanted to join."

They will be joining the Multicultural Greek Council. MGC is comprised of two other sororities, Alpha Phi Gamma, an Asian-interest sorority, and Sigma Lambda Gamma, a Latina-interest sorority.

"Sigma is Greek, but not PHA," Rude said. "We're full members of MGC and some of the things we like are that we have more freedom and less restrictions, it's a tight knit community, and it's a lot more affordable."

Although it is Jewish-interest, the sorority members are open to all religious backgrounds.

"It's pretty similar to other sororities in Greek Life," Kocen said. "We have a Jewish base, so we have a certain amount of religious based activities that we have to fulfill."

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi member Lauren Kelley said she is not Jewish, but she does have an interest in Judaism.

"I grew up Catholic, but I'm not practicing," Kelley said. "Even though I'm not Jewish, I don't see a difference between me and Andrea, except that she knows Hebrew."

Although it is not apart of the Panhellenic Association, of which 14 MU sororities are part, it is very similar to the traditional sorority.

"We do socials, formals, conventional rush for the fall and spring and parents' weekend programs," Rush Chairwoman Andrea Horowitz said.

The sorority is having a Dr. Seuss-themed rush this week, coining, "Oh the places you'll go with Sigma," as their tagline. The week includes stories, such as "Green Eggs and Ham," which is a breakfast for dinner social and "The Lorax," during which members will plant bamboo at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel. The rush festivities end Friday with traditional Shabbat services.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi's philanthropy is the Cancer Schmancer Movement, an organization spearheaded by Fran Drescher who focuses on early detection and prevention for cancer in women.

The sorority was established as an interest group in 2008 and then as a colony in 2009. Once established, they will be the first Jewish-interest group to emerge since the folding of two during the 1980s due to lack of interest, Kocen said.

"One of my goals for the sorority is publicizing our name and having events that are relevant to our community," Kocen said. "That's what is going to keep our interest up."

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