Shabtai (formerly known as Eliezer) is a global Jewish leadership society whose membership consists of Yale University students, alumni, and current and former faculty. TIME magazine has referred to Shabtai as Yale's "modish club du jour" and the campus' "secret society of a different stripe."
Founded in 1996 by then-graduate-students Oliver Benjamin Karp, Noah Feldman, Cory Booker, and Michael Alexander and Rabbi Shmully Hecht, the society aims to attract Jewish and non-Jewish leaders on Yale's campus in order to create a dialogue between various branches of Judaism and between the secular and religious worlds in an intellectual salon setting. The society's Friday night meetings, discussion-based format and ethos of mutual improvement have drawn comparisons to Benjamin Franklin's Junto Club. As one journalist described it, "like Yale’s famous secret societies, Shabtai is elite and exclusive, but unlike the infamous Skull & Bones or Scroll & Key or Book & Snake, it is not clandestine." Another observer described it as "not that different from the men’s clubs at Harvard," however, the society has never been gender exclusive. Though historically the society has had several names, in 2014 the trustees voted to change its name permanently to Shabtai. Its motto was "Uniquely Jewish, uniquely Yale."
New members are typically selected or "tapped" before the commencement of their senior or last year before graduation from Yale. Shabtai boasts a diverse membership of Yale students, alumni, and current and former faculty, including:
|Michael Oren||Former Israeli ambassador to the United States|
|Cory Booker||U.S. Senator from New Jersey and former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey|
|Edward Rothstein||New York Times critic-at-large|
|Mark Gerson||American businessman and founder of Gerson Lehrman Group|
|Noah Feldman||Harvard Law professor, author, and public commentator|
|Nicolas Muzin||Political strategist and director of coalitions for the U.S. House Republican Conference|
|David Kramer||New York real estate developer and CEO of Hudson Companies|
|Vivek Ramaswamy||Hedge fund partner. Number 33 on Forbes list of Top 40 richest entrepreneurs under 40.|
|Jamie Kirchick||American journalist at Newsweek Daily Beast and columnist|
|Robert Bookman||Hollywood Agent at Creative Artists Agency|
|Noah Pollak||Executive Director of Emergency Committee for Israel; writer for Commentary Magazine|
Guests and Affiliates
Guests, speakers, and scholars in residence at Shabtai (both affiliated and unaffiliated with Yale) have included Aharon Barak, Ehud Barak, Richard Goldstone, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Guido Calabresi, Alan Dershowitz, David Brooks, Jake Tapper, Amy Chua, Stephen L. Carter, William Kristol, Jonathan Klein, Adin Steinsaltz, Jay Winter, Thomas B. Griffith, Jerry Springer, Will Eisner, Jack Balkin, Donna Dubinsky, Governor Dannel Malloy, Senator Joe Lieberman, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Eric Alterman, Charles Grodin, Elliott Gould, Leslie Epstein, Dovid Katz, Joshua Safran, Peter Salovey, Norman Finkelstein, Philip Weiss, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Trish Hall, and the late Zvi Kolitz and Sherwin Nuland.
Shabtai has also created a video archive of interviews with prominent Jewish alumni of Yale, including finance magnate Stephen A. Schwarzman, actor Henry Winkler, attorney Alan Dershowitz as well as Floyd Abrams, Peter Beinart, Steven Brill, Susan Crown, Rob Glaser, Paul Goldberger, Jeff Greenfield, Samuel Heyman, Richard Levin, Robert Pozen, Gideon Rose, Jonathan F. Rose, Jonathan Rothberg, Robert Stern, Stephen Susman, Calvin Trillin, and Wendy Wasserstein, among many others.
In 2014, a gift by Benny Shabtai and family began the endowment process and facilitated the purchase of The Anderson Mansion. The Anderson Mansion was built in 1882 by John C. Anderson, the son of a wealthy New Yorker. It is located in the Orange Street Historic District. Constructed in the Second Empire architectural style, the Anderson Mansion is one New Haven's best examples of Baroque Revival's late nineteenth century aesthetic influence. Although less ornate, the William H. Taft Mansion in New Haven is also built in the Second Empire style.
- "1882 Mansion Gets New Lease On Life". New Haven Independent. 1 December 2014.
- Pitluk, Adam (March 26, 2011). "Yale's Secret Society That's Hiding in Plain Sight". Time Magazine. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- Dan A. Oren, Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale, second edition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.
- Kirchick, James (2015-03-24). "From Apps to Advocacy: The Israeli-American Millionaire Who Made Israel an Ivory-tower Brand". Haaretz. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
- "Shmully and guilt". 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
- Lipman, Steve; The Jewish Week (December 21, 2006). "Opening the Ivy Doors". Campus Watch. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- Vardi, Nathan. "The 30-Year-Old CEO Conjuring Drug Companies From Thin Air". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
- Vardi, Nathan. "The 29 Year Old Behind The Giant Biotech IPO That Rose By 90% Speaks". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
- "Historic Buildings of Connecticut » Blog Archive » The John C. Anderson House (1882)". historicbuildingsct.com. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
- "Historic Buildings of Connecticut » Blog Archive » William H. Taft Mansion (1870)". historicbuildingsct.com. Retrieved 2016-04-05.