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A.E.Pi. members2By BERNIE BELLAN
The heyday of Jewish fraternities in Winnipeg would have been sometime in the early 1960s when there were three thriving fraternities here: The “Zebes” (Zeta Beta Tau); the “Sammies” (Sigma Alpha Mu); and AEPi (Alpaha Epsilon Pi, pronounced A-pie).


(By the way, there is some significance to the Greek letters used in fraternity names, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll not delve into a thesis on that subject here.)
The origins of AEPi at the University of Manitoba actually go back to 1937, when a group of Jewish students formed a fraternity known as Sigma Phi. In 1948 Sigma Phi joined AEPi, which became the largest Jewish fraternity in the world.
As much as Jewish fraternities played a dominant role in campus life at the University of Manitoba during the 1950s and 60s, they all ceased to exist here for approximately 50 years.
According to Marvin Garfinkel, who was an active member of AEPi in the 60s, the probable primary reason was that almost all the Jewish students here actually lived in Winnipeg. At other universities where students came from out of town Jewish fraternities provided a sort of “home away from home” for many of those students. AEPi never had a frat house of its own, said Garfinkel, unlike most fraternities elsewhere.
Apparently, however, according to Earl Barish, who was also a member of AEPi, there is a small cadre of Jewish students who have been attempting to revive that fraternity.
In any event, the former members of AEPi are going to have a chance to reacquaint themselves one with the other the weekend of August 6-7 at a reunion of past members of that fraternity. The genesis for the idea of holding the reunion came from a small group of former members of AEPi who still live in Winnipeg, including: Earl Barish, Frank Goldberg, Walter Kane, Jerry Moscovitch, David Novikoff, Norm Roseman, Marvin Samphir and Merrill Shulman.
According to an email that was sent to all known members of the fraternity, the reunion will be “a unique, wonderful opportunity for all of us who experienced AEPi Fraternity in the early 1960’s to get together more than 50 years later (amazing!). We will reminisce about our lives, various situations, friendships and other people who were part of our formative years at University.
The weekend has been planned as a simple, very casual but meaningful set of events.”
Of the 60 former members of AEPi who belonged to that fraternity in the 1960s, emails were sent to the 21 individuals still living in Winnipeg and the 23 who are known to be living outside of Winnipeg. (Ten members have passed on, while the whereabouts of six others were unknown to the committee members.)
In a separate email sent to former AEPi members Merrill Shulman wrote, “It’s only been 54 years. Most of us are still around, in one part of the world or another. Some of us, like me, still live in Winnipeg. You won’t be surprised to hear that many of us who live here may not have seen each other more frequently than those of you far far away. I’m really looking forward to seeing and reminiscing with as many of you as possible at our reunion on Aug. 6-7.”
Included in the upcoming reunion will be two dinner evenings, with the first being a Saturday evening get-together at the Sals on Leila in Garden City. According to the form sent out to past AEPi members, the “planned program is ‘total and complete schmoozing’ ”.
The next night will feature a dinner at the Keg on Garry.
Optional events for attendees will be a Friday, August 5 visit to two Folklorama pavilions - Shalom Square and the Greek Pavilion on Grant; and a Sunday, August 7 visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

According to Earl Barish, the program was deliberately not jam packed with events in order to allow attendees to relax and socialize with one another - if they so wished.

I note that in a Wikipedia article about fraternities, the following observation is made: “Fraternity members are ‘much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than their non-Greek affiliated peers. One Harvard University study found that “4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers.” I wonder, can one binge on anything at a Sals other than nips or donuts?

For more information contact Earl Barish at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or Merrill Shulman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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