A fraternal organization that began as a Zionist youth society led by Professor Gottheil of Columbia University. Founded in 1898, the group became a body for Jewish students to join as they were excluded from joining the fraternities of their day. As it continued to grow and develop, the structure changed to become an official Greek fraternity and the name was changed to Zeta Beta Tau.
ZBT spread across the United States and Canada to many different colleges. As the organization continued to develop and foster change, in 1954 it was decided that Zeta Beta Tau would no longer be a sectarian fraternity and was opened to all members. Also, in 1984 after failed attempts to rid the national organization of hazing, it was decided that pledging as a system would be abolished as it fostered the idea of new members as second-class citizens. Today ZBT is a diverse college fraternity system that is heavily involved in charity and social fellowship.
I find it amusing to note the affable attitude and the characteristically ZBT way of dismantling sectarianism. I can only speak first-hand about the Alpha Rho chapter at UCLA, but I have a feeling that it is representative of all chapters. Every quarter we would have basketball tournaments with two teams: the Running Rabbis vs the Jumping Gentiles. It should also be noted that not everyone is Jewish or Christian of course, and the tradition is a tongue-in-cheek holdover of an earlier time.
Roger Williams Day:
An annual holiday in honor of the founder of the Rhode Island colony and the town of Providence. A truly unique individual in his day, Williams taught religious tolerance, freedom of worship and separation of church and state while allowing all religious groups to join the colony.
ZBTs show support or approval of something by snapping their fingers. Some have suggested that the practice grew from the fact that a fraternity man couldn’t use both hands to clap if he was holding a drink in one of them.