April 22, 2019 | 52° F

New Rutgers sorority hosts “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" themed fundraiser

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Paulee Manich, Sonya Abrams and Hannah Cohn are all members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi. Many of the organization’s events are centered around Judaism, as members participate in weekly services at Hillel House on College Avenue.  

Tuesday night, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority along with Sigma Alpha Mu hosted “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” a fundraising event at the Hillel House on College Avenue.

All proceeds from entry fees and snacks went to the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international organization devoted to promoting human rights and fighting poverty in underdeveloped parts of the world. It is inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, and works to advance the rights of oppressed people worldwide, according to the organization's website.

The event, which was open to the public, had students answer a round of eight questions on different topics, with each round more difficult than the last. Students competed in teams and faced off against each other, seeing who could get the most questions right.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi is a new sorority focused on Jewish interests. It is all-inclusive and has 11 active chapters in seven states, according to its website. Founded in 1998 at the University of California, Davis, it focuses on sisterhood and the Jewish community while also maintaining many aspects of greek life.  

“Sigma is special in that we are a Jewish-interest sorority,” said Hannah Cohn, the philanthropy chair for the sorority and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, in an email. “A lot of our events are surrounded by Judaism like religious events, Jewish holiday events and we participate in weekly services at Hillel. We are a proud Jewish organization!” 

Miraz Rafaeli, a founding member of the sorority and its current president, said that Epsilon Pi is a social organization that meets the Panhellenic requirements — but that Jewish sisterhood and community is its main focus. 

The School of Arts and Sciences sophomore said the sorority was chartered last semester and currently runs most of its events through the Hillel House on College Avenue.

“Hillel is like a Jewish Student center,” Rafaeli said. “Anyone can come in here and study, and it hosts many different events.” 

She said Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi hosts frequent philanthropic events, mostly for Jewish organizations and causes. Many of its members are involved with other Jewish programs and events, like the Jewish Agency Israel Fellows program and Birthright Israel. 

Hillel is an international organization devoted to serving Jewish students on campuses all across the world, according to its website. A “Hillel” is a center that serves the Jewish student body of a particular institution of higher education. These centers seek to promote Jewish leadership, community and to help students build connections and stay involved in Jewish life during and after college.

There are more than 500 Hillel communities on campuses all across America. Rutgers Hillel was founded in 1943, and has been serving the Jewish-undergraduate student body ever since, according to its website. Last spring, the organization finished constructing its $18-million, 35,000-square-foot facility on College Avenue, called the Eva and and Arie Halpern Hillel House.

The building serves the community by supporting many different student groups, and providing a safe space for Jewish students to congregate. Hillel hosts many events and programs that help students connect with the community, such as lecture, films, religious activities, concerts, classes, Shabbat activities and many other services.  

It serves approximately 6,400 Jewish undergraduate students at the University. 

Andrew Petryna

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