Zeta Beta Tau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Zeta Beta Tau
Zbt crest.jpg
Founded December 29, 1898
City College of New York
New York, New York
Type Social
Scope International
Motto "A Powerhouse of Excellence"
Colors  Medium Blue   White   Gold 
Flower Gold Carnation (adopted 2004)
Chapters 90
Fraternity Song "Here's to Our Fraternity"
Headquarters 3905 Vincennes Rd.
Suite 300

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Homepage www.zbt.org

Zeta Beta Tau (ΖΒΤ) is a Greek letter social fraternity. Founded as a Jewish organization, in 1898, it was the first Jewish fraternity. In 1903, it dropped its religious affiliations, and in 1954 it began admitting members of all faiths.

Four other fraternities have merged with Zeta Beta Tau in the past: Phi Alpha, Kappa Nu, Phi Sigma Delta, and Phi Epsilon Pi.



Zeta Beta Tau was founded in 1898 as the nation's first Jewish fraternity, although it is no longer sectarian.[1]

The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity was inspired by Dr. Richard J. H. Gottheil, a professor of languages at Columbia University and a Zionist. On December 29, 1898, he formed a Zionist youth society with a group of students from several New York City universities.

The society was called Z.B.T., which referred to the first letters in the Hebrew phrase "Zion Bemishpat Tipadeh", which translated means "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment".[citation needed] This is taken from Isaiah 1:27 - "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness". The word "judgment" is sometimes translated as "justice".[2] The meaning of Z.B.T. was listed in the American Jewish Committee's annual report as early as 1900-1901.[3]

In 1903 Z.B.T. formally became Zeta Beta Tau, and its purpose shifted away from that of a Zionist youth organization as other Zionist organizations grew in prominence. The original Hebrew meaning of Z.B.T. is not esoteric. However, it was publicly revealed in the official written history of Zeta Beta Tau, Here's to Our Fraternity: One Hundred Years of Zeta Beta Tau, 1898–1998, by Marianne Rachel Sanua.[4]

Zeta Beta Tau expanded rapidly. By 1909, it had established 13 chapters in the Northeast and a 14th at Tulane University in New Orleans. In 1913, it established its first Canadian chapter at McGill University in Montreal. Five years later, it founded its first West Coast chapter at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. At the 1954 National Convention, the delegates amended Zeta Beta Tau's constitution, ritual and internal procedures both in theory and in practice to eliminate sectarianism as a qualification for membership.[5]

The Zeta Beta Tau has merged with four other national Jewish fraternities. In 1959, Phi Alpha merged into Phi Sigma Delta. In 1961 Kappa Nu merged into Phi Epsilon Pi. In 1969–70, Phi Sigma Delta and Phi Epsilon Pi merged into Zeta Beta Tau.[6]

Today, the merged Zeta Beta Tau fraternity lists 140,000 members, with chapters and colonies at over 90 campus locations.

Pledging abolished[edit]

Zeta Beta Tau abolished the institution of pledging in 1989 as a way to combat and eliminate hazing, and replace the pledging process with one in which new members are accepted as brothers upon receiving a bid to the fraternity.[6] Zeta Beta Tau's decision to get rid of pledging did not involve an associate membership process however. Once a brother joins the fraternity he will receive all rights and responsibilities as the rest of the chapter, and shall be eligible for any position within the chapter regardless of how long he has been a brother. Sigma Phi Epsilon would soon follow with a somewhat similar plan in 1991.

Semi-annual brotherhood review vote[edit]

In conjunction with the 1989 abolition of pledging, ZBT National instituted the S.B.R.V. (Semi-Annual Brotherhood Review Vote). All ZBT chapters twice a year (once a semester) have a vote to see who, if anyone, should be removed from membership within a chapter. The ballots are counted by the president and an executive member of his choice. The criteria for voting during the SBRV are the Chapter Standards, which all chapters must make known to their membership. If a brother receives a simple majority of Nay votes, he is expelled from the fraternity.

The Journey Brotherhood Program[edit]

Twenty years after ZBT eliminated pledging, the Supreme Council, based on feedback from undergraduates and alumni, voted to continue the evolution and development of what was initially called the Membership Development Program, then became the Brotherhood Program. The newest evolution is called the Journey.[7] The Journey implements a number of significant changes. The Journey adds the position of Provost, in addition to the Brotherhood Development Director (BDD). In the past, the BDD was responsible for all education in the chapter. Now, the Provost teaches members about the history, values, and traditions of organization. The BDD oversees the Provost, and still is responsible for overall program.

Through the first six weeks of the Journey, newly initiated ZBT men learn the history of the fraternity, delve into the credo, mission statement, and ritual, the skills needed to succeed in college, and how to make wise life decisions.[8] Upon initiation, all ZBT brothers are given full rights and privileges, within days of accepting their bids. This is true for all versions of the Journey.

The Journey then continues to develop brothers for the next four years, offering education on building a better brotherhood and strong leadership skills. The Journey also offers a leadership track.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

Chapter house of Zeta Beta Tau's Zeta Alpha Chapter at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.


Zeta Beta Tau currently recognizes 90 chapters and colonies in the United States. The state with the most chapters is New York. Currently, the oldest active chapter is Gamma at New York University. As of 2014, the largest ZBT chapter is Lambda at The University of Texas at Austin.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]