Fraternity raises more than $5,000 for chapter adviser’s sick son


Senior fashion merchandising major Sarah Bouplon gets her latkes during Latkefest, Alpha Epsilon Pi’s philanthropy event, hosted in Kent State Hillel on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.

Haley Keding

Latkefest, an annual philanthropy event hosted by Alpha Epsilon Pi, ended with an emotional surprise when the fraternity’s members gave a $5,631 check to their chapter adviser rather than to their assigned philanthropy.  

“I’m completely overwhelmed,” said Mike Levinstein, Alpha Epsilon Pi’s chapter adviser.

Levinstein’s son, Eitan, was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, a brain degenerative disease, earlier this year. To raise money for the disease, Levinstein previously contacted family and friends through Facebook, Twitter and personal phone calls.

In addition to social media, money raised from the Jewish fraternity’s selling of latkes—a potato pancake considered a traditional Jewish food served at Hanukkah—became the answer to Levinson’s plea.

“We raised $2,500 and it took two months,” Levinstein said. “This is more than twice that.”

Levinstein and his family plan to put the money into a special needs trust fund where they can access it to pay for Eitan’s medical expenses, schooling or anything else he might need.  

To Levinstein, the men in Alpha Epsilon Pi embodied the Jewish principle of having the family as the first priority.

“It’s pretty meaningful; we’re a brotherhood, but they consider us family,” Levinstein said. “I never anticipated that they would help us.”

Alpha Epsilon Pi usually donates to Gift of Life, which is part of its national philanthropy, Prepare the World. However, when two Alpha Epsilon Pi members suggested they donate to their adviser instead, Dylan Marsh, a sophomore finance major and philanthropy chair for the fraternity, was immediately on board.

“I hoped everyone had my back and they did,” Marsh said. “I just decided to run with it.”

Marsh said the gift to the chapter’s adviser accurately reflected the Jewish teaching of doing good deeds, called tikkun olam in Hebrew.

“Being a Jewish organization, we felt our philanthropy should be related to our religion,” Marsh said.

Marsh and his brothers said they also hoped those in attendance would learn more about Jewish culture at Latkefest, especially by trying traditional Jewish foods.  

The four-hour event featured serving dishes overflowing with latkes and traditional dipping sauces like applesauce. Students were invited to taste latkes, participate in a latke-eating contest and enter into a raffle.

Contact Haley Keding at [email protected].