By David Jahng
The chill and relaxed atmosphere of Milkboy Arthouse did not stay quiet long, as prospective and current members of Jewish fraternities and sororities flooded the room for Hillel Greek Life’s first annual “Bar Night” Tuesday.
By 10 p.m., over 70 people were drinking, dancing and chatting over the music as they enjoyed one of many social events Hillel has planned for the semester.
“I love seeing what’s going on […] all the activities that they do, and I like to be a part of it,” said junior Jessica Zenn, a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi (AEP).
Excited attendees entered a raffle for a chance to win Starbucks gift cards, Hillel merchandise such as shirts and hats, Bumble dating app bandanas and stickers, and even a date with members of the sororities and fraternities that hosted.
Hillel is a fellowship composed of many different Jewish Greek organizations, all part of the University of Maryland PanHellenic Association. Members from the AEP, Phi Sigma Sigma (PSS), and Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) sororities all took part in the event.
The chapter with the most event attendees received $50 toward its philanthropy. AEP supports the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an organization whose mission is to end pediatric HIV/AIDS, and Sharsheret, a Jewish breast cancer non-profit group that offers one-on-one connections and peer support to women and their families facing breast cancer, according to their websites.
PSS supports the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation. It provides scholarships and grants to benefit its collegians and alumnae, funds leadership programs, organizes philanthropy and service events and offers disaster relief through their Twin Ideals Fund. The fund raised over $3,000 for relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy, according to its website.
SDT supports Prevent Child Abuse America, an organization founded in 1972 that promotes healthy childhood development and works to prevent child abuse situations before they have an opportunity to occur, according to its website.
Some fellowships only last a semester, but the current Hillel group has been together for over a year. This helped foster lasting relationships for all the different sororities and fraternities involved, said junior Ilona Ehrlich, a member of PSS.
“We got really closer to each other outside of this,” she said. “It’s the best weekly commitment.”
Bar night is only the first social event Hillel has planned. “Matzah Pizza,” an event for Passover, is being held April 4, and the organization is planning a barbecue sometime in May.
“Everyone’s welcome, even if you’re not Jewish,” said sophomore Nicole Epstein, a member of AEP. “Religious affiliation doesn’t matter, we just want to bring the Greek community together.”
Expanding beyond purely religious events, Hillel hopes to meet a more diverse group of people and get to know more members of the UMD community, said sophomore Brooke Fruman, a member of SDT whose roommate began a relationship following a previous Hillel get-together.
“A lot of people even meet their boyfriends and girlfriends at these sorts of events,” she said, laughing.