Alpha Epsilon Phi is one of the newest sororities on Arizona State University’s campus. Founded in Spring 2018, the Jewish sorority recently welcomed a new class of pledges this fall.
The addition of this sorority to ASU’s community provides Jewish students with a hub to come together and support each other. It also provides non-Jewish students with the opportunity learn more about the religion and culture, which is important in a time of “growing instability and growing antisemitism,” according to one of AEPhi’s advisors, Debbie Yunker Kail.
The sorority’s founding president, Yael Domb, says that she wanted to create the sorority because she was a part of the Jewish community on campus and “realized there wasn’t a space for women to share their Jewish background or beliefs.”
“I went through formal recruitment,” she says, “and I didn’t feel like I belonged in any sorority that existed.”
According to Domb, the idea behind the establishment of AEPhi was to create a community for girls to share similar values.
AEPhi’s VP of Programming, Alli Pollack, seconds this.
“We were established on Jewish values,” she says, “but we practice human values.”
These values include supporting one another, giving back to others, and growing through a shared knowledge, according to Pollack.
This practice of human values extends to girls of all religions and beliefs. One of the most important things that the girls of AEPhi stress is that the sorority is open to everybody, and does not discriminate against any kinds of beliefs or backgrounds, religious or not.
Both Domb and Pollack explain that what is most important when it comes to recruitment is having a group of girls who support and value each other, despite having different beliefs.
“We look for quality girls,” says Pollack. “Keeping the integrity of what we founded is important.”
The girls of AEPhi maintain this integrity with not only each other, but also with the community, by volunteering and giving back, according to Domb.
She says that the sorority tries to do as many community events as it can – sometimes paired with other on-campus Jewish organizations – like making care packages for the homeless or raising awareness for breast cancer.
Recently, on Oct. 29, AEPhi was one of several religious groups on campus who came together to hold a candlelight vigil after the shootings at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27.
Ms. Yunker Kail, Executive Director at Hillel, the Jewish Student Center at ASU, says that “it was really beautiful to see how [the service] came together.”
“We all have this innate desire to come together,” she says. “It’s not about whose name is on the flyer, we want to present a unified front. There’s a desire to be together. We remember that at the core we’re much more similar than we are different.”
Domb echoes this, stating that as somebody who had family in Pittsburgh at the time of the event, “it was incredible to be a part of something [like this].”
According to Ms. Yunker Kail, the support from not only other Jewish organizations on campus but also other Panhellenic organizations on campus created a welcome community for AEPhi to join.
“It was nice to see the Panhellenic community come together to support this as well – for them to acknowledge that there was a need they weren’t meeting,” she says.
And this need? A place for Jewish girls and non-Jewish girls to come together.
“In a world of growing instability in general, and growing antisemitism specifically, any Jewish organization that is providing a hub for Jewish people to have a home base is important both for doing that and for raising awareness with people who aren’t Jewish – with the religion and culture,” says Ms. Yunker Kail.
Alpha Epsilon Phi at ASU still faces challenges everyday with finding its niche – Domb says recruitment can be difficult because some Jewish girls are not interested in Greek life, and some non-Jewish girls are interested in non-religiously affiliated sorority experiences.
But despite these challenges, AEPhi’s members believe that it will progress – continuing to grow and establish itself as a core part of ASU’s community through its values and integrity.
*photo provided by AEPhi’s social media coordinator