Chabad and AEPi light together
Chabad and AEPi light together Courtesy

In an ironic twist, the Hanukkah holiday celebrating how the Maccabees defeated the occupying Greek army over 2,000 years ago is being celebrated this year by Jews and "the Greeks."

The rabbis of Chabad on Campus are teaming up with Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), the largest Jewish fraternity, to hold Hanukkiah candle lighting ceremonies at frat houses worldwide.

Chabad on Campus and AEPi have a surprisingly close bond. AEPi's international rabbi, Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, is Chabad director at Northwestern University, and over 100 Chabad on Campus rabbis are honorary AEPi brothers. Chabad also provides chapters of the fraternity with religious items such as sukkot and mezuzot.

"AEPi is not only a fraternity of Jews but a Jewish fraternity,” Rabbi Klein said. “AEPi continues to embrace its Jewish mission and what better way to enhance it than by partnering with Chabad on Campus. Through lighting the menorah on Hanukkah, young Jewish men can illuminate the campus with Jewish values."

"I took a leadership position with AEPi 15 years ago and I cannot begin to express how amazing most of the undergraduates are. They are extremely smart, fun to be around and they are on the front lines when it comes to Jewish issues on campus, especially pertaining to countering anti-Semitism or extreme anti-Israel activities. I am proud of the AEPi Supreme Board and how serious they are about developing the next generation of Jewish leaders."

Dustin Tropp, Founding Father of AEPi Oneonta, said, "we inducted our Chabad rabbi as an honorary brother at SUNY Oneonta. We wouldn't of even had an AEPi chapter in Oneonta if it weren't for him. Our Chabad Rabbi, Meir, went out of his way to find the potential brothers and give us the resources for our various rush programs, fundraisers and rituals."

"When the founding fathers all graduate, we can rest easy knowing we have someone there to make sure the fraternity is on point. Not to mention that there will always be AEPi seats reserved at the Chabad house," said Tropp.

Speaking about the role of the organizations, AEPi fraternity Executive Director Andrew Borans said, "Hanukkah is a time of light and giving. AEPi and Chabad's relationship mirrors that exactly. We light the way for each other on university and college campuses across the world and most importantly do not keep score. We strengthen each other on different campuses - where needed and look out for each other everywhere. When you don't keep score - then it's a TRUE partnership.”

“Thank God, the bond between Chabad on Campus and AEPi is longstanding and meaningful," said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, Executive Vice President of Chabad on Campus International. "I’ve seen firsthand the warmth that exists between many Chabad rabbis and fraternity brothers."

"Some may view a rabbi and a fraternity as an odd couple, but it is a natural fit for Chabad’s mission of making every Jew feel proud of their Judaism. This year is a year of Hakhel, in which we focus on Jewish unity. It is therefore suitable that we are getting to celebrate this special Hanukkah mitzvah together.”