History

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity was founded in 1913 by a group of eleven close Jewish friends at New York University. The eleven founding members, also known as the Immortal Eleven, were I.M. Glazer, Herman L. Kraus, Arthus M. Lipkint, Benjamin M. Meyer, Hyman Schulman, Emil J. Lustgarten, Arthur E. Leopold, Charles J. Pintel, Maurice Plager, David K. Schafer and Charles C. Moskowitz. Their goal "was mutual assistance in [their] intellectual and social life to strengthen the democratic character of student life." Charles Moskowitz was chosen as the first Master.

By common consent, the name Alpha Epsilon Pi had been chosen as best representing the ideals the founders wanted to express. After months of meetings and perfecting the organization, the young group decided it was time to obtain recognition from the university as an official School of Commerce fraternity. To gain recognition, it was decided to address a letter to Dean Joseph French Johnson of the School of Commerce, outlining the aims and ideals of the fledging fraternity and asking for his consideration and approval. After a month of anticipation, the long awaited reply came on November 7, 1913. With an affirmative, Alpha Epsilon Pi was officially recognized as a fraternity at New York University. Contact was soon made with a group of men at Cornell University who had organized a local fraternity there called Phi Tau. They and the brothers at NYU had a meeting of the minds and formed the Beta Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi. Truly, Alpha Epsilon Pi could now be called a national fraternity. A new national fraternity, probably the only major social fraternity in existence today for undergraduate men that was founded in night school, had come into being, less than one year after its official recognition by Dean Johnson of New York University.

It must be taken into consideration that Alpha Epsilon Pi was a World War I baby. Counting the Beta Chapter only 52 men had been initiated by April 6, 1917, the date the United States formally declared war on Germany and her allies. Almost every undergraduate and alumnus answered the call of the colors causing the fraternity to become nearly inactive during the war years. The fraternity would have easily disappeared, like so many other locals, if not for the efforts of Brothers Theodore Racoosin and F. Nathan Wolf who shouldered the burden of keeping the fraternity alive and planning for the future. In the years between the World Wars, Alpha Epsilon Pi had grown to 28 chapters. However, with many undergraduate and alumnus called to duty expansion remained dormant throughout World War II. With the end of the war and the shift of national headquarters to St. Louis, Alpha Epsilon Pi had gained new life and momentum in its reopening of inactive chapters, expansion to new campuses, and the merging with other locals that had been hit hard by the war. In 1940, Sigma Omega Psi joined Alpha Epsilon Pi adding three chapters, as did Sigma Tau Phi in 1947.

The next two decades were a time of steady growth and prestige for Alpha Epsilon Pi, as well as other fraternities. Expansion was occurring at an incredible rate for the Greek community as a whole. However, with the onset of fighting in Vietnam in the early 1960s, fraternity life faltered. liberal student bodies revolted against authority and the Greek system, which was seen as a conservative, elitist group. Ironically, the roots of the fraternity itself lie in revolution against authoritarianism. membership plummeted and nearly half of the chapter roll was lost. It almost looked as if it might have been the end for Alpha Epsilon Pi. However, due to Alpha Epsilon Pi's perseverance, the fraternity was able to reverse the trend and stabilize following the Vietnam War.

Re-identifying with its Jewish heritage, the men of Alpha Epsilon Pi refused to say die. Possessed with faith and courage to believe that this too would pass, they were determined that the national strength could be regained, and that the fraternity would once again be able to pursue its mission of shaping young Jewish men into community leaders.

It has been over 90 years since Alpha Epsilon Pi began to build its special form of Brotherhood. The fraternity has survived four wars, the Great Depression, several recessions, changes in the standards of morality, and a revolution in personal behavior and conduct. Through it all, the fraternity has remained true to the ideals of the founders honesty, courage, Brotherhood, love of country and faith in Jewish ethics and values. In 2013, Alpha Epsilon Pi celebrated its 100th Anniversary, with over 180 chapters on its chapter roll. Its membership directory boasted over 80,000 members. Though it is not the numbers that make our fraternity great, it is the spirit and motivation to create something unique and the ability to implement a positive program based on Jewish ethics and values.