Nearly 200 guests attended the AEPi Foundation of Canada’s first gala dinner recently at Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, where the college fraternity’s alumni, undergraduate brothers, families and friends noshed, reminisced with those they had not seen in some time and celebrated with the night’s award winners.
Foundation CEO Andrew (Andy) Borans, was presented with the fraternity’s highest award, the Order of the Lion, for his years of service and dedication to the brotherhood’s expansion. In 1985 Borans rose up from the position of field secretary to serve the fraternity as its director of expansion. He crossed the border from Detroit, Mich. to London, Ont. and initiated the seven founding members of Western University’s Lamda Omega chapter. Since then Lamda Omega has never seen less than 100 members. Borans went on in 1986 and 1987 to help establish the Eta-Pi chapter at York University and Tau Omega at U of T. This gave AEPi a secure foothold in Canada.
After accepting his award, Borans, no stranger to the microphone, took his turn as master of ceremonies. He explained that the foundation’s dollars and night’s proceeds help to fight anti-Semitism on campuses in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and in Israel, where AEPi now has a presence. Citing incidents that have occurred both in the U.S. and in Ontario at York U. Borans echoed concerns from undergraduates who in 2016, when the 30th anniversary of fraternal life in Canada was celebrated, largely feared identifying outwardly as Jewish or to conduct the business of the fraternity on campus. Little has changed since since then but the brothers of Eta-Pi had much to celebrate. Of the 10 philanthropies AEPi supports, Borans once again highlighted the good works of the Eta-Pi on behalf of the Gift of Life Network. The chapter has saved seven of the 63 lives the organization has helped with efforts to cure those with blood cancer. It’s a feat no other fraternity can claim and of those seven lives, two were saved by Brother Jeremy Braverman, who was called upon and honoured by Borans on stage.
The 106-year-old fraternity has expanded a lot since its humble beginnings and the intentions set out by the 11 founders who established the first chapter at New York University (NYU) in 1913. While the 1950s and 1960s were considered to be the golden age of fraternity life in the U.S., in the 1970s it was not so cool to be associated with Greek life on campus. AEPi wrested with a decision to stand as a Jewish fraternity or simply become a fraternity of Jewish men. The alumni outvoted then-current members in 1974 to stay the course and recommitted to expound the ideals it was founded on. The members rededicated their lives to something bigger than themselves, to develop leaders for the Jewish community who drive social awareness to matters of importance on and off campus and to the Jewish people. By giving tzedakah an act of gemilut hasadim (act of kindness), to various causes, and by supporting Israel, students develop character, responsibility and a set of values that they take with them beyond their university years, into their chosen professions and everyday life. Today the organization stands strong at 193 chapters, spanning the globe.
As the gala drew to a close, the Centennial Award for leadership was bestowed upon Pur Gum CEO and Eta-Pi alum Jay Klein, who reminisced on his introduction to Greek life. The inaugural L’dor V’dor Award created in honour of Klein’s mother Rhonda was bestowed upon brother-master Robbie Baskin and wrapped with a melodious rendition of the fraternity’s anthem Gold and Blue.