B’nai B’rith International teamed with Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), the Jewish fraternity, in a community service effort on Aug. 8, at the Holmes/Isaacs Community Center on the Upper East Side of New York City. B’nai B’rith members, volunteers and staff worked with 72 AEPi brothers from around the world to paint hallways and classrooms in the neighborhood center that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The community service project was a part of Hineni, a three-day Jewish identity enrichment conference put on by AEPi and co-sponsored by B’nai B’rith. Select brothers of AEPi convene before the annual AEPi conference—this year AEPi is celebrating its 100th anniversary—to develop a stronger Jewish identity, to focus on Jewish values and to learn how to bring these lessons back to campus. B’nai B’rith is pleased to partner with AEPi on these projects vital to local communities.
“Hineni is a great example of B’nai B’rith’s work in the community and a great example of our organization’s connection with AEPi,” B’nai B’rith International Chairman of the Executive Committee and honorary AEPi brother Gary P. Saltzman said. “It also shows how we not only make an impact locally, but how we can work together to make an impact globally.”
B’nai B’rith also partnered with NYC Service—an initiative of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office that promotes service and volunteering—in finding a site that needed improvement after being hit by Hurricane Sandy nearly a year ago. Donations from the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund were made available to fund the project.
Working at the Holmes/Isaacs Community Center is just one of several B’nai B’rith projects aimed at rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The B’nai B’rith Young Professional Network has been organizing fundraisers and community service events as well in the months following the devastating storm.
Upon entering the neighborhood center, Mark Cohn, an AEPi brother and undergraduate student at Florida Atlantic University, reflected on the work around him.
“It’s amazing what a group of Jews can do together,” Cohn said while watching his fellow volunteers get to work.
Cohn’s fraternity brothers echoed his sentiments and the entire group was greeted warmly by the Isaacs Neighborhood Center staff who admitted it would have been very difficult to complete this task without some helping hands.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin spoke to the AEPi brothers before the morning work began, encouraging them to stay active in their communities. “I wanted to make sure they understood how important the work they were about to take part in really is.”
B’nai B’rith International President—and fellow honorary AEPi brother—Allan J. Jacobs is also in New York City, participating in the AEPi conference and will address the brothers at various events.