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Happy Founders Day!

December 29, 1898

Happy Founders Day! It’s great to be a ZBT!

At the turn of the 20th Century, Jewish college students were largely prevented from joining fraternities because of the then-prevalent sectarian practices of college fraternal life. On December 29, 1898, a group of Jewish students formed a Zionist organization that shortly would become Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity when these men saw a growing need for a Greek letter fraternity open to Jewish students. These founders were leading voices in the early 20th Century Jewish community through their roles as rabbis, educators, doctors, veterans and speakers. 124 years later, we are so proud that our brothers continue to be advocates, innovators, influencers and leaders through the world’s first Jewish fraternity.

Through Hanukkah, winter holidays and ZBT’s Founders Day this year, we have been sharing recent stories — big and small — that brothers have recently submitted. We hope you enjoy hearing from brothers around the world and that you are inspired to share your story with Zeta Beta Tau!


Delta Xi brothers from the mid-1970s

Forty-some years after graduating, a group of about 45 brothers from Delta Xi Chapter at Virginia Tech started connecting electronically, informally. During the pandemic, they decided to start a charitable project that culminated in more than $63,000 given to 36 different organizations — selected by the individual brothers — in five years’ time. Earlier this year, however, these brothers pledged to fund a fellowship in honor of Zeta Beta Tau that will support students in a Virginia Tech biomedical research graduate program. “It’s our alma mater, it’s our fraternity that has enriched our lives, and it’s the kind of health issues people have faced for quite some time,” Greg Metcalf, 1977, told Virginia Tech News. “We take Tech’s motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) to heart.”



Ethan Barnes, Alpha Tau (Franklin & Marshall College) 2019

Connections are powerful for Brother Ethan Barnes, Alpha Tau (Franklin & Marshall) 2019, and Brother Dr. Zach Nahmias, Gamma Mu (Memphis) 2010.

After successfully completing an internship with Brother Nahmias as an undergraduate, Brother Barnes chose to a seek career in medicine, and recently started medical school. “There is no doubt that my time as a brother in Zeta Beta Tau has made this possible.” Pictured is Brother Barnes from his white-coat ceremony.

Dr. George Gardyn, Gamma Phi (Hofstra University) 1980

Dr. George Gardyn and his Gamma Phi Chapter brothers from Hofstra University celebrated his 64th birthday earlier this month. Happy birthday, Brother Gardyn! Pictured from left to right are: Ed Borenstein, 1980; Craig Wild, 1979; Dr. Gardyn, 1980; Steven Christie, 1980; Jay Sherman, 1979; and Robert Brown, 1980.

Paul Kodner, Omega (University of Missouri) 2018

“You will never have the same experience being in ZBT at a university [or college] as you do anywhere else in your life,” said Brother Paul Kodner, Omega (Missouri) 2018, in a recent interview for The Digital Deltan.

Now a Jewish student engagement professional, he remains very close with his fellow Founding Fathers and Omega Chapter brothers.

We second what Brother Kodner said!

ZBT Atlanta Area Alumni Association

For several years, the association has planned a volunteer opportunity for brothers at the Atlanta Community Food Bank in mid-December, resulting in a strong turnout from brothers who process between 10,000 and 15,000 meals for food-insecure people in the area. Organizers shared that they keep the Credo and Ritual in mind, for the benefit of the Brotherhood of Man. This year’s 20 ZBT volunteer team represented 14 alma maters and chapters from across the country.

Joseph Szyliowicz, Iota (University of Denver) 1953

Brother Joseph Szyliowicz, Iota (Denver) 1953, is the oldest Iota alumnus! Brother Szyliowicz shared remarks and some of his memorabilia at the Chapter’s recent Centennial Celebration.

“When I graduated from DU in 1953, our Fraternity brothers gave each graduating senior a great gift, this distinctive mug. And, I have always kept it on my desk as a reminder of my time in the Fraternity and the University of Denver.”

Ryan Arnold, Delta Omicron (University of Tampa) 2023

Brother Arnold (pictured right),  most recent past Delta Omicron Chapter President, had a strong experience in this top ZBT leadership role.

“I have acquired some extensive leadership characteristics that I will carry with me into my upcoming career. I would like to personally thank everyone that has helped and supported me during this last year. Looking forward, I am excited to finish up my last semester this coming spring and am ready for what the future has in store!” Congratulations on a great term, Brother Arnold!

The new Chapter President is Owen M. Cascio, 2024 (pictured left), who added: “I can’t express how excited and thankful I am for the opportunity to lead such a high-quality group of individuals for this next year. I look forward to strengthening my personal leadership qualities while being the best role model for this chapter I can be.”

Abby Hans, 1969, and Bobby Sachs, 1971, Gamma Eta (Bradley University)

Brothers Hans and Sachs were leaders of a committee that recently planned an outstanding reunion for Gamma Eta Chapter alumni and guests. The fraternal spirit is very strong among the brothers.

Brothers Hans and Sachs said they would encourage brothers at schools that previously had a ZBT chapter, even if their chapter is no longer on campus, to consider organizing a reunion. They said it was well worth the effort.

Reunion attendees said:

“What you guys did was to ‘set the table’ for all of us to continue to keep the Gamma Eta spirit alive for the future. We must carry the torch and continue to glance (not stare) at our wonderful times at Bradley.” — Gene Schwartz, 1971

“Seeing our brothers today, along with the visuals and memories from the past, closed the gap of 50 years.” — Bruce Sherman, 1971

Many Brothers commented that the hard work put in by Brothers Hans, Sachs and the committee resulted in a couple of days that will not be forgotten.

James P. Summers, Gamma Epsilon (Marshall) 1970, and Bruce H. Weinstein, Psi (Alabama) 1970

Brother Summers and Brother Weinstein recently each were bestowed with a Zeta Beta Tau Presidential Citation for meritorious service and life-time dedication to the Fraternity and the Zeta Beta Tau Foundation. These honors were presented at a recent meeting of the Supreme Council in Atlanta. Brother Summers is seated front left, Brother Weinstein is seated front right, and the Zeta Beta Tau Supreme Council is behind.

Andrew E. Severin, Beta Pi (California State University - Long Beach) 2011

Brotherhood for a Lifetime Oral History Project submission from Brother Severin:

“We were the Founding Fathers of the ZBT chapter at Cal State Long Beach. We liked the idea of being on the ground floor and establishing something that was truly us. Starting a chapter was challenging but also fun; rather than learning stuff from other guys, we had to figure out how a fraternity worked and how to work with each other. We got really close to each other.

“I’ve been to different rush and alumni events to see the new guys, and they have the same sense of humor. They’re literally the same group of guys, just 10 years later! I think that means we did it right.

“I helped initiate my younger brother; he was our first legacy. His Big Brother gave him his letters, but we both taught him the handshake. Because of ZBT, I know my groomsmen and my pallbearers. I am so grateful for the relationships I made with ZBT. The Brotherhood and the relationships I created through the organization are the most meaningful to me.”

Eric B. Kelly, Alpha Pi (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) 2019

Brotherhood for a Lifetime Oral History Project submission from Brother Kelly:

“Every last one of the guys at Zeta Beta Tau was connected to each other. I felt immediately at home. On the first event of recruitment, they welcomed me with open arms. It was more than just events; it was truly a week of friendship.

“I spent time working really closely with them to go to ZBT’s Israel Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2017. That was an event that propelled me into getting deeper into ZBT’s heritage, its affiliation with Israel and my relationship with Hebrew specifically. After that, I ended up studying abroad in Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It was always the brotherhood in ZBT that kept me there: our love for each other and for the world around us. The fun was definitely part of it, but to make something lasting, you have to have depth.

“I was a military child. I moved around a good bit and found that the deepest relationships sustain the longest. I wanted to make sure that my relationships from undergraduate school were particularly sustainable, and ZBT has been a big piece of me as a result. I was given the opportunity to sit on a few international boards, specifically the Mental Health Committee and the Heritage Committee. Having the opportunity to sit on the board and work with some amazing people from around the nation to develop solutions, policies and resources was really influential for me, especially in my final undergraduate year.

“ZBT allowed me to see that we don’t have to continue a cycle of pain or detriment to make deep bonds. We can do that by having deep conversations and shared experiences.”

David W. Gould, Alpha Rho (University of California - Los Angeles) 1976

Brotherhood for a Lifetime Oral History Project submission from Brother Gould.

“ZBT made my college experience a lot fuller and more productive. I made lifelong friends. I recently spent the weekend with a friend I met at ZBT, and we still get together every now and then. We go to some of the UCLA basketball or football games.

“The one thing being in ZBT taught me above all else was that it’s important to belong to things and build a sense of community. The value of building a sense of community and learning to work and play hard with a group of people who had ambition is really important. ZBT helped me create that foundation early on. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve reconnected with high school friends and fraternity brothers. Those relationships have become increasingly important. “(My network) is predominantly Jewish, and it gave us an opportunity to explore our Jewish roots a bit more. Even for guys who aren’t Jewish, though, the Fraternity is rooted in something important. The fraternity provides a moral compass.”

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