Jewish sorority celebrates arrival on campus
March 13, 2008 10:34 AM
A performance by Israeli reggae group Hatikvah 6 set the tone for a bake sale benefitting SF State’s new Jewish sorority in Malcolm X Plaza on Monday.
Since October, the founders of the Lambda Chi Mu sorority have been holding socials with the nationally recognized Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and sisterhood events with its eight members. They officially became a Greek organization in February.
Dona Standel, the sorority’s vice president and one of its original founders, said this recognition is an important step for the small Jewish community on campus.
“It’s influential,” the 20-year-old said. “It acts as an outlet [and gives students] another way to be proud of their background.”
It has already been “quite a semester” for the university’s Jewish students, sorority president Gabrielle Yedid said. Just two weeks ago, it was announced that the Jewish studies program received a $3.75 million grant to become a full department.
“This gives Jewish studies a bigger name and more recognition on campus,” Standel said.
To create the name Lambda Chi Mu, the founders extracted the consonant sounds from the Hebrew word “L’chiam,” meaning “to life.” According to Standel, the name represents the Jewish values upon which the sorority was founded, including family, friendship, sisterhood, leadership, empowerment, and acceptance.
In the spirit of acceptance, the sorority welcomes non-Jewish pledges too.
“The Judaism [aspect] of the sorority is only a flavor, it’s not a basis,” Standel said. “There are important Jewish values that are important to life, so why not celebrate it?”
Several of the girls met through Hillel, a Jewish center off Holloway Avenue and a “home away from home” for Jewish college students. The center provided the sorority with its initial funding and keeps them involved within the Jewish community through volunteer projects and co-sponsored events.
Laura Beth David, an SF State freshman and member of Lambda Chi Mu, is a legacy of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority at USC through her mother.
“My mom always talked about how much fun [the sorority] was,” said David, who was in charge of planning the first rush week last month. “She still keeps in touch with her sorority sisters.”
In many ways, Lambda Chi Mu is just like a typical sorority; they plan sisterhood events, pay dues, volunteer around the community and hold weekly chapter meetings at the Hillel house. They’re also involved in philanthropy through Shalom Bayit, a nonprofit Jewish women’s organization working to stop domestic violence in the Bay Area.
However, as the founding class of a local organization, the sorority is free from the constrict of national guidelines and is able to build a foundation based on input from all members.
“No one was there telling us ‘if you’re trying to be Greek, this is what you should do,’” said secretary Leah Shapiro, 22.
In order to become a recognized sorority, the girls had to plan various inter-Greek socials, philanthropy events and sisterhood activities and present a photo slideshow to the SF State Fraternity Sorority Council along with a letter detailing their chapter’s commitment to the Greek community on campus. According to Standel, their proposal received an almost unanimous vote of approval from the FSC.
“The process was very competitive,” Standel said, “but we’re a unique organization.”
“These girls are taking a courageous step, starting from scratch,” said Jason Sitomer, 21, an SF State student and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, whose chapter at SF State was founded in 2000.
Lambda Chi Mu held their first rush, a three-day event to recruit new members, during the last week of February. Each night featured a different theme—spa night, a Chinese dinner, and a Spice Girls-themed party in which the members got to know the prospective pledges. Of the 12 girls who participated, eight accepted their bids to join the sorority.
According to Yedid, rush turned out even better than she’d expected. “I was ecstatic,” Yedid, 20, said. Each night, “We were able to meet the girls and connect with them on different levels.”
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