Jewish sorority joins UMN Greek life

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi will join Greek life at the University of Minnesota in coming weeks.

Norah Kleven

The University of Minnesota is expected to add a new Jewish sorority to its ranks in the coming weeks. 

The sorority, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, prides itself on being a “Jewish first, Greek second” organization of women. Previously a student group, it will become a member of the Panhellenic Council, which will connect them to the University’s Greek community. 

“The purpose of the organization is to bridge the gap between Jewish and Greek communities,” said Emily Gootzeit, president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi. 

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi’s mission is to serve as a place for women of the Jewish faith to meet and celebrate their cultural identity. “We want to establish ourselves on this campus and grow, and [this] is the best way we determined to do that,” said Gootzeit. 

Originally founded at the University as a local sorority called Kappa Lambda Epsilon, the sorority became part of the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi organization in November 2017. 

“When I was a freshman, me and a couple friends realized there wasn’t a strong Jewish community for women as there was for men,” said Tracey Warsett, one of the sorority’s founding members and the current fundraising chair. 

For Warsett, it’s especially exciting to see the current developments in the chapter.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity we have,” she said. “It’s kind of come full circle.” She added that she has been part of the sorority since her freshman year.

Jill Yazejian, president of the Panhellenic Council, outlined the steps of the application process. She said the group submits an application to the council, including information on the organization. 

PHC delegates will formally vote on the incorporation of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi to the council, which will take place in the coming weeks, Yazejian said. If voted into the council, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi will be an associate member of the council.

Yazejian highlighted resources and financial support as major benefits of joining the University’s PHC. Becoming part of the council will be like “plugging into a living, breathing community,” she said.

Looking to the future, Gootzeit said the sorority will continue its outreach work by hosting religious events and getting involved with other Greek organizations. 

Although the sorority was founded to create a community for women to celebrate their Jewish culture, Gootzeit said the sorority does not exclude individuals outside the Jewish faith. Aside from learning about the Jewish culture, Gootzeit said members can gain leadership skills and lifelong friends. 

Shahar Tsameret, a new member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, said she chose to join the sorority to combine the social aspects of Greek life with a way to explore her Jewish identity. 

“It made it feel like I was in a community that gave me the same kind of warmth as being at home,” she said.  

Because she has been a member from the beginning, Warsett said she appreciates all that the sorority has given her. 

“It’s given me some of the best friends I’ll have in my life,” Warsett said of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi. “It’s just given me a real sense of belonging and home.”