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 Badge
Zeta Beta Tau was founded in 1898 as the nation’s first Jewish fraternity, although it is no longer sectarian.
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”. 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”. The meaning of Z.B.T. was listed in the American Jewish Committee’s annual report as early as 1900-1901.
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.
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.
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.
Today, the merged Zeta Beta Tau fraternity lists 140,000 members, with chapters and colonies at over 90 campus locations.
— Read More History on Zeta Beta Tau on Wikipedia
Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT)
- Founded On: December 29th, 1898 – City College of New York
- Type: Social Fraternity
- Colors: Medium Blue, White, and Gold
- Flower: Gold Carnation
- Nicknames: ZBT
- Chapters: 90 Chapters
- Website: www.zbt.org
- Motto: Μια Powerhouse Αριστείας — “A Powerhouse of Excellence”