Shy, introverted and still dealing with the loss of his father when he was 11, Jonathan Coopersmith had never heard of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) before he arrived at Drexel University.
The fact that it turned his life around is just one of the reasons he believes the fraternity’s Delta Rho chapter was recently awarded AEPi’s Louis Scherr Outstanding Chapter Award.
“When I came to Drexel, I didn’t even think about the Jewish life at all,” said 20-year-old Coopersmith, who is the chapter president. “I didn’t think about joining a fraternity. I’d always kept to myself. I went to work after school every day and then came home. I wasn’t social at all. But you get here and see such a tight-knit Jewish community, and inside that community are the brothers and leaders of AEPi.”
The fraternity tries to change lives beyond its frat house on North 34th Street.
The chapter recently reached its goal of raising $10,000 through various activities, including the AEPi In Your Eye fundraiser to support the Gift of Life bone marrow donor program. It also organized We Walk to Remember, an event dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, and helped with the Mount Carmel Cemetery cleanup.
“We found out one of our alumni, Jason Delman, recently did a transplant for the Gift of Life,” said Coopersmith, who grew up in Lower Merion and attended Main Line Reform Temple and Harriton High School. “It really shows you have the opportunity to save someone’s life.”
Founded in 1995, this was the third time Delta Rho has won chapter of the year, beating out some 190 chapters worldwide.
“AEPi is an incubator for young Jewish leaders,” explained Coopersmith, who is majoring in marketing and management. “They come to college with all different religious backgrounds. But regardless of your background, we’re all Jews in the end.”
Coopersmith said there’s more to winning the Scherr award than a trophy.
“It definitely helps you recruitment-wise,” he said, “but the most important part of winning this is it’s validation for all the long hours and hard work we’ve put in.”
“Having this is almost an extension of what I had at home,” agreed 20-year-old junior Alec Silverstone of Cherry Hill, N.J. “I went from having Jewish friendships at home to having a solid group of Jewish guys at AEPi who can all relate to each other.”
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