Determined to document a compelling history and counteract the stereotypical view of fraternities, Rutgers University graduate Bruce Kesselman stepped out of the rat-race for awhile to archive and document a non-fiction account of his beloved Alpha Epsilon Pi, one of the oldest Jewish fraternities in the country. In “46 Union Street,” Kesselman uses his own experience as a brother of AEP as a launch point to interview thousands of fraternity members, flying all over the country to meet key alumni, reading countless historical documents and issues of Rutgers’ daily newspaper and yearbook to providing a vivid account of Greek life at Rutgers from 1956 to today.
46 Union Street: The Untold Story of Rho Upsilon
Rho Upsilon AA (2006)
Reviewed by for Reader Views (11/06)
“46 Union Street” is an unusual book wherein author Bruce Kesselman chronicles the history of the Rho Upsilon fraternity, as well as other Greek letter fraternities at Rutgers University from 1845 to 2006. Such fare may not sound like the typical fascinating pulp, but Kesselman offers not only a detailed account of life in and out of the “frat” houses, but a series of short-stories that come off as a very enjoyable read, even for those of us with no frat-house experience.
The Rho Upsilon chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi is a Jewish fraternity founded on June 2, 1956. Kesselman recalls, both in pictorials and anecdotes, the antics and accomplishments of the members and alumni of that organization. Literally hundreds of pictures bring identity to the names, places and profiles recounted inside “46 Union Street” and well support the sharply written tales and recollections of fraternity life at Rutgers during the past several decades.
On one occasion, brothers kept an injured and pregnant raccoon in a 110-gallon fish tank. On another, pledges gathered at 46 Union Street and, after tying the door handles so when one brother tried to open their door it would immediately prevent the other doors from opening, smeared peanut butter and jelly on each step before setting off the fire alarm and regrouping to watch the ensuing chaos.
From sports activities to pledge tests, to how members reacted to a partially clad, 200 pound woman inside the residence at 46 Union Street, Kesselman presents a well-written, humorous read that is informative and fun. Certainly, this book would most appeal to those individuals (and there are many) mentioned in the pages therein, but “46 Union Street” is a work that bridges the gap between college yearbook and genuine historical document that is both interesting and humorous. For an inside look at the history of Rho Upsilon, as well as the nobility and antics of a classic Jewish fraternity, I recommend “46 Union Street: The Untold Story of Rho Upsilon.”