In this week’s Friday Piday, we speak with a few of the undergraduate award winners from AEPi’s 110th International Convention. Whether it’s combatting antisemitism, lobbying on behalf of the Jewish community, or establishing innovative new programs, we want to recognize all of their outstanding work and efforts.
Aronin Family Outstanding Delegation Award
Brother Ben Earle (Depaul, 2026) has lived in the Chicago area his whole life and knew of AEPi because his cousin was the Master at Carnegie Mellon. When he got to college he knew he wanted to rush AEPi. He’s always been connected to the Jewish community and interacts a lot with the Chabad Rabbi on campus.
He ran to become chapter Master when a majority of the older Brothers were going to graduate, so the president at the time thought it’d be a good idea to send Brother Earle to the Levin Institute Masters Academy to prepare him. “I went, came back and I immediately ran for Master, which isn’t very typical and it’s not allowed in a lot of chapter constitutions. We didn’t really have a choice since the whole chapter this year is almost entirely sophomores like myself,” said Brother Earle
Brother Michael Loizzo is the Vice President of the Depaul Chapter and the vice president of Chabad on Campus. “I love being involved and dedicated to what I’m doing with Jewish life in AEPi. I definitely have a passion for making sure that Jews on campus feel safe and proud of their religion and culture,” said Brother Loizzo.
At Convention, you only get what you put in. “I think that a lot of delegates from chapters see it as an opportunity for networking and meeting other chapters, building their chapter to be a stronger set of guys that can accomplish whatever they want to accomplish. I think one of the reasons that convention is that most people don’t realize is it’s also a way for you to meet a lot of AEPi that are also staff,” said Brother Earle. He and Brother Loizzo attended every seminar that they could in addition to taking notes and talking about the content between themselves, friends and faculty, challenging their ideas. Being a smaller chapter, they worked extremely hard to introduce themselves so that they couldn’t be easily forgotten. “Michael and I were talking with Michael Waitz, Grant Bigman and Mason Berger, the Alabama Rush chair, about the length of time for the New Member Education process. Both Brothers Earle and Loizzo found it beneficial to see all sides of the conversation and really think about the input and think outside the box.
“A lot of the bigger chapters like Indiana or Mizzou, with their amazing philanthropy efforts this past year, get a lot of recognition but a lot of the smaller chapters just sit there and watch. I think that was a very special moment for us, considering that was the one of the first awards we’ve ever won from AEPi International but also if I was another chapter, I think that would also be a really inspiring moment for other small chapters. Just because you’re a small chapter doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve great things and have a real impact on the community around us,” said Brother Loizzo.
“You shouldn’t go into it with the mindset of winning the award. It should come from a place of genuine curiosity about how to better yourself and your chapter. At the end of the day, we’re all going to Convention to bring fresh ideas to our chapter and make a difference. Winning an award for best delegate isn’t something that should be on your radar. If you’re doing the right things, you’re taking the right steps, introducing yourself to the right people, going to all the seminars with the intention to learn, then you should have a shot at getting the award for sure,” said Brother Earle.
“If we want to survive on campus and make sure that the legacy of AEPi continues at DePaul we had to go all-in and really make sure that we’re learning as much as possible so we can take it back to our Brothers and make sure we have a successful Rush and the Brothers are engaged and actually want to participate”, said Brother Loizzo.
“I’m excited to grow our chapter with the people that we have now and the amazing people that we’ve had in the past. We have nine Brothers right now and I’m confident that we can grow our chapter to hopefully 20 plus members this year and come back to Convention stronger next year,” said Brother Earle.
Louis Sherr Outstanding Chapter Award
Brother Bari Klarberg (South Carolina, 2025) was born in Tel Aviv Israel and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. When choosing a college, the University of South Carolina was his top choice. Not knowing anybody in AEPi before coming to campus, and not knowing what Greek Life was, Brother Klarberg rushed AEPi. “I was looking for a true Brotherhood, not just a frat.” He remembers telling one of the Brothers when he was rushing that he wanted to be Rush Chair and President.
After initiation, he became assistant rush chair. “I underestimated how much work it took to run a successful rush. All the ins and outs, the psychology, how you have to talk to the rushes, how you have to get your Brothers to buy into your vision.” That rush didn’t end up going too well, only initiating six guys instead of the 18 he promised. He went into the summer of 2022 dead set on organizing the best Rush that his chapter had ever had.
The next year he didn’t promise anything, but Brother Klasburg’s vision was 40 accepted bids, the largest new member class in chapter history. It took some time for Brothers to actually buy into that vision, but he rallied all the Brothers. “I was trying to get the Brothers past that mindset of, we’re AEPi we can’t do X, Y and Z. From my point of view, not only do we have that aspect of being a Jewish fraternity which differentiates us from everyone else but we’re also just a better fraternity. I really believed that we were the best fraternity on campus and that I could get 40 people to accept. By the end of fall Rush 2022 and I got 44 to bid and everyone was fully bought into the vision.” He doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.
Shortly after the successful rush, Brother Klarberg was elected President. “From then, I feel like we’ve been on a constant roll of success. We won IFC Chapter of the Year in the Fall of 2022, then IFC Chapter the Year this past year and now we just won Outstanding Chapter from AEPI International. Our Brotherhood’s excitement and passion is no different than it was last year and the year before and that’s what I love to see.”
Last year, StandWithUs reached out to the chapter and to lobby together to support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. “It’s a more generalized definition to try and prevent mainly employers from using anti-zionism as a sort of out for antisemitism, whether it be denying them employment or firing them. We’ve just seen a major increase of anti-zionism. We know antisemitism can get out of hand very quickly so we got 30 of our Brothers who were passionate and believed in adopting this bill and went to the South Carolina Capitol Building.” They split off into groups to talk to representatives of a few other organizations and went to the Governor’s conference room to discuss why the bill should be adopted. Then they went into the main assembly room and waited for the bill to come onto the floor. Before the bill was presented, the presence of the chapter was announced from the floor. Even though the bill didn’t end up passing, Brother Klarberg and the Gamma Chi chapter are dedicated to helping it pass.
“The Outstanding Chapter Award is more than just a title but represents hard work that all of our Brothers, not just me or my executive board, every single one of our Brothers has put in this entire year. We just grinded…whether it’s rush, civic efforts, philanthropy or socially, just doing our part, loving it, getting involved, being passionate and determined. I think this award is just that little pat on the back that we all needed to keep us going.”
“If you’re being proactive, doing everything that you should be as a chapter, especially being a Jewish fraternity, acting on your civic duties you can really make an impact in your community. That starts through your Executive Board and rolls down to your Rush Committee which rolls down to your Brotherhood. If you don’t have their complete support all the way, then your Rush is not going to be successful. My advice to all future and current Masters is if your Brotherhood is seeing you getting complacent and if the chapter is seeing you not putting in as much effort, then they’re not going to have that either. My executive board has called out my ideas many times saying that I shoot way too high but the difference with that is I shoot high, and I hit. So, Brothers see that and then they fully buy into that.”
“We’re getting back in the flow of Rush right now, we love to rush. I’m very excited for us to do We Walk to Remember. We had two news channels and about 50 people out there with us. We had a daughter of a holocaust survivor speak and the President of the Jewish Federation. We keep expanding our vision, so this year is just going to be bigger and better and I’m very excited for that.”
Stephen Zack Rampant Lion Award
Brother David Baerson (Purdue, 2024) joined AEPi in the fall of 2020, in the middle of COVID. He knew he wanted to be a part of Greek life. “I’m in the Chicagoland area and there’s a lot of people in our houses from that area so I knew a couple of people in the house. The Brothers took me out for lunch, not like a traditional Rush event and I was kind of unfamiliar about how the New Member process worked, and I accepted my bid at AEPi.”
After becoming a Brother and chapter president, he received an email from the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) saying that the chapter’s Israeli flag that they put up on their house represents war crimes and murder of children. “The email wasn’t like what some houses deal with, with their lives being in danger but I knew at the end of the day the motives behind the email were completely antisemitic.” He called his Regional Director, Brett Musick, and then AEPi’s Howard M. Lorber Director of Jewish and Leadership Programming, Ethan White. I was told to notify the police department. “There’s not much that the Purdue police can do because at the end of the day it’s not a threat towards our lives but other campus partners like Hillel and Chabad had an incident a couple of weeks earlier where someone threw a bottle through a window. I think a lot of people were on edge from that.”
Brother Baerson and the chapter wanted to make a stance and say that SJP couldn’t dictate what they do. So, they ordered an even larger Israeli flag and put it on the house and kept it there for a couple weeks. SJP sent the chapter another email, so Brother Baerson sent a couple more emails to the University saying that they have to protect the chapter because this is antisemitic. Six months later and Brother Baerson is still waiting on a response from the University.
“I think the Rampant Lion Award shows people across the AEPi Network and across the country that we won’t stand for antisemitism. I’m not going to let people get away with it. There’s a reason I ran for chapter president, to be a leader and this award means that I’ve been recognized as a successful leader. This award comes with a stipend which will go towards our We Walk to Remember event. It’s a good way to stand with Israel and show support for the Jewish community and philanthropy. There are a lot of resources and people willing to help you and stand with you and your mission.”
“I’m excited to see the Brotherhood grow and continue to accomplish our goals and welcome some new faces on campus.”
The Edward & Francine Gold Jewish Communal Activity Award
Brother Michael Kleinman (Florida Atlantic, 2025) joined AEPi because one of his teacher’s sons at his Jewish day was in the AEPi. So, when the teacher heard that Brother Kleinman was coming to FAU, her son immediately reached out, started talking to him and convinced him to rush.
Winning the Jewish Communal Activity award was a complete surprise to Brother Kleinman. “I reached out to our Regional Director, Martin Volinksy and asked what specific events we did. Martin mentioned everything we did and I didn’t even realize how much we’ve done for the community. It just makes me feel very proud of the Brotherhood.” They held the annual We Walk to Remember honoring Holocaust Survivors and last fall they went to Florida’s West Coast following the hurricane, to help clean up. They also helped set up a sukkah with Hillel.
“The award just means a whole lot knowing that every Brother in the chapters is motivated to help out the community, without ever having to be asked twice. It’s all volunteer based in that I don’t force anybody in the chapter to go out and do community service. It’s something that all the guys are always happy to help out. It’s opened my eyes a little more as to how much of an impact our chapter has, and it’s motivated us to reach out to even more places to see what they need help with. I just recommend to everybody that if you ever see anybody or any organization that needs help, just offer a helping hand.”
“It’s a really big year for us. We have the largest freshman class in school history. We have a good group of motivated guys that want to see the chapter grow and we want to develop other young men that join our chapters. I’m just excited to see how all that unfolds.”
Marc & Dana Katz Outstanding Colony Award
Brother Ryan Orlov (Tulane, 2023) first found out that AEPi was coming back to Tulane in October of 2021. “My father brought back AEPi at Rutgers through Andy Borans, so Borans reached out to me and gave me the opportunity to bring it back at Tulane.” Brother Orlov decided not to rush anywhere else and got all his friends to join, ultimately helping to get 10 refounding fathers, rebuilding the Tau Upsilon chapter from the ground up.
“We began recruiting and in two weeks rushed 17 New Members.” With the help of exchequer Charlie Eckstein, they raised about $18,000 with the overwhelming support that they received. “It’s been an honor to bring back AEPi — the Jewish Fraternity – to Tulane.”
“This award is a great way to recognize all our hard work because our whole philosophy is bringing in great Jewish men and building Jewish leaders. We have some really great guys that we’re proud to have and it shows that all our hard work paid off. Good things will come, so if you’re trying to get the award, you’ll never get it. If you really focus on building something great and building an amazing fraternity then the award will come.”
“Convention showed the power of the Jewish network. That all Brothers, from all different schools can come together and act as if they already know each other. Everyone’s so friendly, happy, and excited to get to meet one another.”
Brother Orlov is excited to bring in the next class of future leaders and is excited for rush in the spring. “We are really looking forward to bringing in another great group of guys.”