We Can’t Accept This as the ‘New Normal’

If I hear the phrase, “the new normal,” one more time, I just might scream.

This isn’t normal and we shouldn’t try to pretend that it is. It is not normal that undergraduates were sent home halfway through their spring semesters, forcing them to take their classes online and to miss out on the communication and camaraderie which is a big part of the college experience. It’s not normal that I haven’t been out of my house for over two weeks and my staff can only videoconference with the chapters with which they are working. It’s not normal that a lot of AEPi new members were initiated into our Brotherhood “virtually” and missed out on that seminal moment in their fraternal lives.

Of course, it’s not normal that our friends and Brothers who are in the medical profession are being overrun by the need for care and treatment of those who have been stricken by this virus. To those Brothers on the front lines, all of AEPi thanks you and can never repay the love and care you are showing those in need during this time. And, it’s not normal that so many of our neighbors and family members are losing their lives. It’s unfathomable, not normal.

Please, don’t make this normal. Let’s all do everything we can to get beyond this and please let’s go back to normal, or something closer to it.

But, in the meantime…

Our chapter leaders and our International Staff have put in an immense amount of work to figure out how to run virtual AEPi chapters. I am so proud at how quickly we’ve been able to put together some simply amazing programs for our undergraduates to help them better their chapters and to fulfil our mission of building the leaders of the world’s Jewish communities.

Working with the AEPi Foundation, we’re creating an incredibly rich offering of programs for our Brothers – both undergraduate and alumni. We’re bringing in speakers to discuss ways to help our Brothers learn, think, succeed and lead. Each week an AEPi Rabbi will offer us a D’var Torah and a brief discussion about current events from an AEPi and Jewish perspective.

At the same time, we’ve put together another series of programs for our chapter leaders to help them lead their chapters in this new era (note that I did not say, “new normal”). Our chapters are working now to rebuild their philanthropy programs and are creating programs dedicated to rebuilding our world. Now, more than ever, we need to commit to Tikkun Olam.

AEPi International is re-launching a section of our website next week dedicated to these offerings. Stay tuned as it comes online and offers all of our Brothers a central resource for these programs and other fun and creative things as we work to bring our Brothers together while, of course, remaining distant.

A small silver lining in all of this despair around us: AEPi International is going to be better when things do finally get back to normal. We’re working hard to respond to our Brothers’ needs and this experience has made us more nimble and creative. When things get back to normal, our undergraduate and alumni Brothers will be better served.

I want to especially thank my staff who have done an incredible job in a short period of time. From our chapter services programming to our Jewish programming and philanthropy department to our Foundation staff, they’ve all done an incredible job of keeping AEPi Brothers informed, active and engaged.

For now, I’m urging all of our Brothers and friends to follow current guidelines for social distancing and self-quarantining. We will get through this if we continue to work together to the same goal. After all, isn’t that a big part of being an AEPi Brother?

Please stay home and stay healthy.

Let me know when you think we’re back to normal.