On October 19th, UCLA’s Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, commonly known as “Sammy,” co-sponsored a Sukkot dinner in their Sukkah with the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC). With an attendance of over 30, members of both communities joined together to celebrate the holiday. Remarkably, the attendees from Sigma Alpha Mu, a traditionally and nationally recognized Jewish fraternity, were mainly of non-Jewish heritage. Even so, the event demonstrated that “Sammy” has been beginning to create a presence for itself in Jewish Bruin life.
Although the minority of “Sammy” at UCLA’s members are of Jewish heritage, those who are have involved themselves in several different parts of Jewish life on campus. Brothers are commonly in attendance at Friday night Shabbat dinners at Chabad, the Jewish Awareness Movement (JAM) house, and Hillel. They also attend a range of Jewish events throughout the week. However, before this year, “Sammy,” as an institution had little awareness of its roots as a Jewish fraternity. This may have been, in part, due to “Sammy’s” return to campus after a long hiatus just three years ago. The fraternity has been growing steadily ever since – this fall it gained a formal house at 620 Landfair Avenue and membership has continued to increased.
“Sammy” began as a different type of fraternity and takes pride in creating a unique culture. It does not have an archetypal student in mind when recruiting new brothers; rather, “Sammy” prides itself on diversity and creating an environment in which people of different cultures and backgrounds can come together and bond.
The fraternity’s Sukkot event exemplified just what “Sammy” has been striving to accomplish. Jewish and non-Jewish members of “Sammy” came together with the Orthodox Jewish community at UCLA to celebrate a religious holiday. On the one hand, non-Jewish brothers gained a better appreciation of a culture different than their own – a culture that is integral to their fraternity’s foundation. On the other hand, members of the Jewish Bruin community began to see “Sammy” as a Jewish brotherhood and have started to better integrate it into the Jewish student population. As the quarter progresses, Sigma Alpha Mu has plans to continue developing relationships with the Jewish community.
For more information about Sigma Alpha Mu and to better understand its unique culture, read this article or check out the fraternity on Facebook.