A new Jewish sorority will join the University of Minnesota’s Greek community after winter break.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi has a founding class of 21 women who will launch informal recruitment during the spring semester.
SAEPi had a presence on the Twin Cities campus in 2003, but was closed in 2008 due to a lack of resources and support from a national board.
With the support of a national board, the sorority will take the place of Kappa Lambda Epsilon, a student group for Jewish females that was not registered as a Greek sorority.
“We thought for the longevity of KLE, and for the type of environment that we were trying to create on this campus and in the Jewish community, that joining forces would be the strongest option in order to empower Jewish women,” said Micaela Yarosh, a music and math junior and president of SAEPi.
Yarosh and 20 other women of the Jewish community make up the Founding Mother class, the name of SAEPi's charter class.
SAEPi is not officially registered with any of the four councils of Greek Life yet, so it is considered a “colony” for now.
Yarosh said she and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life are discussing whether SAEPi will join the Panhellenic Council or the Multicultural Greek Council.
Nationwide, about 60 to 70 percent of SAEPi chapters are part of the Panhellenic Council and 30 to 40 percent are Multicultural Greek, said Chayla Furlong, executive director of the national chapter of SAEPi.
“If we go Multicultural Greek, it would be because of our Jewish cultural aspect,” said Tracey Warsett, vice president of SAEPi and University junior studying sociology of law, criminology and deviance. “Judaism, besides just being a religion, is very much a culture in itself.”
The sorority heavily focuses on their Jewish identity and providing Jewish women with the same opportunities that Jewish men have on campus through the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Yarosh said.
All members consistently participate in traditional Jewish events, rituals and programs, Furlong said.
For example, all chapters are required to put on a minimum of one Rosh Chodesh, which is a “first day of the month” celebration, and one sisterhood Shabbat, which is a day of rest similar to the Christian Sabbath, each year.
“With the vibrant Jewish community that we have, I think that it’s something this campus not only needs but wants, and we’re just really happy to be on the forefront of it,” Warsett said.
Correction: A previous photo caption misclassified the roles of Micaela Yarosh and Tracey Warsett. Yarosh is the president of SAEPi and Warsett is the vice president of SAEPi. Additionally, SAEPi is not replacing Hillel.