Letter From the Supreme Master

I believe that it is no accident that I am an AEΠ. I never knew my grandfather, Abraham S. Rudnick, who died when my mom was 16 years old. Though he was a gentle soul, the quality that left the most significant impression on me is that Abraham was a fighter.

Golda Meir was one of the signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. The next day, Israel was attacked by armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iran. Two weeks later, on May 29, 1948, my grandfather, who was then President of the East Flatbush Lodge of B’nai Brith, received this Western Union Telegram.

At the time, Golda Myerson, or as she is better known, Golda Meir, was the head of the Jewish Agency Political Department. According to my grandma Lily of blessed memory, this telegram was not exactly about money. Over 5,000 miles away, my grandfather was fighting for Israel’s existence.

The events in Pittsburgh, Carmel, Indiana, in Irvine, California, and watching video of rockets raining down on Israel are stark reminders that we must continue to fight for our very survival. It is our Teva – our nature. And AEΠ is on the front line of that dynamic.

To my undergraduate brothers, AEΠ can be the fraternity that raises millions of dollars for Jewish philanthropic efforts, or AEΠ can be the fraternity that puts the health and safety of our brothers and guests at risk because of questionable behavior. The ultimate reputation and trajectory of our fraternity is up to you.

So much good in AEΠ has happened in just the last five years. In 2013, we had 155 chapters and 19 staff members. Today, we have 185 chapters and 44 on staff. In 2013, we had two people in our Jewish Programming Department; today, we have 12. In the 2013-2014 school year, we initiated 2,700 new undergraduate brothers. In the 2017-18 school year, we initiated over 3,000 new brothers. We are explorers, much like our ancestors. We were the first fraternity in the United Kingdom, in Austria, and in Australia. And we were the first fraternity in Israel, the eternal homeland of the Jewish people.

Through our relationship with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, 59 people have received life-saving bone marrow transplants. In the last 15 years, our undergraduates alone have raised well over 2.5 million dollars for Jewish charities. And finally, our undergraduate brothers have given hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to the local communities where they live and go to school.

AEΠ’s success, though, is not a guarantee. We must constantly look inward to ensure we are living up to our values and the words codified in the secrets and mysteries of our fraternity, and to insure we are a welcome space for every brother who embodies those values. We must also keep our eyes on the horizon as the Greek-letter world rapidly changes around us.

We are also in the midst of the most fluid and complex threat environment in this country – directed at our community – than at any time since 9-11. Anti-Semitism and hate crimes are spiking and young Jews in the Diaspora are disconnecting at alarming rates.

We face resurgent, emboldened, and increasingly violent neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, not to mention the relentless BDS and SJP movements. And the primary battlegrounds they have chosen for their efforts are our college and university campuses.

In AEΠ, we have each other’s backs. We are interconnected, like the A, E, and Π on our badge. And having that collective, knowing that we have the strength and unity of over 105 years and 105,000 brothers, gives us the will to stand up and fight. That is who we are. As an organization. As a people.

When G-d calls on someone to do something in the Torah, and they answer the call, they do so with a simple phrase. “Hineni.” “Here I am.” AEΠ works together to instill Jewish values, to create strong, empowered young men, and prepare them for the future. AEΠ, at its core, is about ensuring the continuity of our people, of our history, of our traditions – for generations to come. At no time in the past 50 years has this been more necessary. Hineni. Here We Are.

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