Shabtai (society)

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Anderson House Mansion.jpg
The John C. Anderson Mansion, built 1882
TypeSecret society
HeadquartersYale University

Shabtai (formerly known as Eliezer and Chai Society) is a global Jewish leadership society whose membership consists of primarily Yale University students, alumni, and current and former faculty.[1] Time magazine has referred to Shabtai as Yale's "modish club du jour" and the campus' "secret society of a different stripe."[2]


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.[3] 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."[4] Another observer described it as "not that different from the men’s clubs at Harvard,"[5] 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 following a sizable donation from Benny Shabtai.[4] Its motto was "Uniquely Jewish, uniquely Yale."[6]


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:

Name Notability
Michael Oren Former Israeli ambassador to the United States
Cory Booker U.S. Senator from New Jersey and former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
Matt Brown Former Democratic Rhode Island Secretary of State
Edward Rothstein Wall Street Journal critic-at-large
Mark Gerson American businessman and founder of Gerson Lehrman Group
Noah Feldman Harvard Law professor, author, and public commentator
Zeke Miller White House Reporter for the Associated Press
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 and founder of Roivant Sciences.[7] Number 33 on Forbes list of Top 40 richest entrepreneurs under 40.[8]
Jamie Kirchick American journalist and fellow at the Brookings Institution
Robert Bookman Hollywood Agent at Creative Artists Agency
Noah Pollak Executive Director of Emergency Committee for Israel; writer for Commentary Magazine
Shaya Rochester Partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman
Hal Boyd Opinion Editor of the Deseret News, Utah's largest newspaper[9]
Larry Obhof President of the Ohio State Senate

Guests and affiliates[edit]

Guests, speakers, and scholars in residence at Shabtai (both affiliated and unaffiliated with Yale) have included Henry Greene, 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, Governor Dannel Malloy, Senator Joe Lieberman, Timothy D. Snyder, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Eric Alterman, Charles Grodin, Elliott Gould, Leslie Epstein, Dovid Katz, Joshua Safran, Peter Salovey, Michael Shvo, Sharif El-Gamal, Norman Finkelstein, Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, Tony Schwartz, Philip Weiss, Jeremy Ben-Ami, James Dao, Trish Hall, Alex Karp, Brandon Chrostowski, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Scott Lewis, Gerald D. Hines, Hanan Melcer, Dani Dayan, and the late Zvi Kolitz and Sherwin Nuland.[2]

Yale 300[edit]

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, Dan Rose, Steven Brill, Susan Crown, Rob Glaser, Paul Goldberger, Jeff Greenfield, Samuel Heyman, Donna Dubinsky, Richard Levin, Robert Pozen, Gideon Rose, Robert Baker, 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.[1] Constructed in the Second Empire architectural style,[10] the Anderson Mansion is one New Haven's best examples of Baroque Revival's late nineteenth century aesthetic influence.

Social justice activism[edit]

In reflection of its Jewish values, Shabtai has held events to highlight social justice issues. In 2018, the society held a screening of Knife Skills, a film about EDWIN's restaurant in Cleveland, which exclusively employs released prisoners. The screening was attended by New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.[11]


  1. ^ a b "1882 Mansion Gets New Lease On Life". New Haven Independent. 1 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b Pitluk, Adam (March 26, 2011). "Yale's Secret Society That's Hiding in Plain Sight". Time Magazine. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  3. ^ Dan A. Oren, Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale, second edition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ "Shmully and guilt". 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  6. ^ Lipman, Steve; The Jewish Week (December 21, 2006). "Opening the Ivy Doors". Campus Watch. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  7. ^ Vardi, Nathan. "The 30-Year-Old CEO Conjuring Drug Companies From Thin Air". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  8. ^ Vardi, Nathan. "The 29 Year Old Behind The Giant Biotech IPO That Rose By 90% Speaks". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  9. ^ "A Jew, a Mormon, a Muslim and a pagan learn to be agreeable by disagreeing at dinner". Deseret News. September 26, 2017.
  10. ^ "Historic Buildings of Connecticut » Blog Archive » The John C. Anderson House (1882)". Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  11. ^ "Prison Reentry Through Fine Dining | New Haven Independent". New Haven Independent. 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2018-10-15.