Jim’s Journal: A Confession

I have a confession to make this month.

Even though I have worked and volunteered for Alpha Epsilon Pi since I was a college graduate, I had never visited Israel until just a couple of years ago (I have been back many times since). Here I was, working with our undergraduates to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel behavior on their campuses, and I had never visited Israel.

The timing was never right. There was no Birthright program when I was younger (offering free trips to Israel for college-aged and young adults) and by the time I was an adult, I wanted to bring my whole family with me, and I could never make the schedule or budget line up.

A few years ago, though, I had a chance to go to Israel with a number of our volunteers and staff. We visited our Israeli undergraduate Brothers (we currently have seven groups in Israel, and AEPi is the only fraternity with chapters in Israel), participated in the chartering of our Tel Aviv chapter and, of course, visited all of the holy and historic sites.

My belief in the importance of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish people were steadfast but visiting the Holy Land cemented my personal commitment (this, by the way, is one of the reasons that I believe Birthright is such an important program for our youth and why our fraternity supports it so strongly).

Because I have these longstanding beliefs about the importance of a safe and secure Israel, I have attended the AIPAC Policy Conference for many years. Now, having visited Israel, AIPAC means even more to me.

AIPAC has been a longtime partner and friend of Alpha Epsilon Pi. Our organizations are intertwined, both in mission (to celebrate the US-Israel relationship and help protect the security of Israel) and practically (on campuses across the country, AEPi Brothers help lead the local AIPAC cadres). Every year, scores of our undergrad and alumni Brothers meet in Washington at AIPAC’s annual policy conference. The Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation helps our undergraduate Brothers attend through grants to help offset registration costs.

While I certainly enjoy hearing from all of the various elected officials and speakers at the policy conference the highlight every year is our annual reception. Literally, hundreds of our Brothers and their friends join with elected officials, APIAC staff and others join together to celebrate the AIPAC/AEPi partnership and, of course Israel. It is, without a doubt, one of the best nights of the year for me as I get to talk to alumni from across the country – some who have remained involved and others who are just getting re-engaged – about the amazing things our Brothers are doing on their campuses to support Israel.

I hope you’ll join me and hundreds of your Brothers at this year’s reception. Click here to make a reservation so we can add your name to the list.

I look forward to seeing you at AIPAC! Am Yisrael Chai!