‘Like my father’

By Brian A. Hoffman —

ZBT’s Brotherhood for a Lifetime challenges brothers to see beyond their undergraduate years by recognizing brothers from the past and shepherding the Fraternity for generations to come.

Pictured above, from left, are Brothers Scott Cohen, Lambda (University of Texas) 1993; Max Harberg, Lambda (University of Texas) 2020; Joe Harberg, Lambda (University of Texas) 1983; Josh Stern, Alpha Omicron (University of Arizona) 1999; and Aaron Kreisler.

As ZBT continues to make positive strides in our education and engagement with families, we are seeing a tremendous increase in the ZBT experience being passed on l’dor va’dor, Hebrew for “from generation to generation.” In the case of the Harberg family, ZBT provides another avenue for family to be closer.

Brother Max K. Harberg, Lambda (University of Texas) 2020, is the son of a ZBT, Brother Joseph L. Harberg, Lambda (University of Texas) 1983, who is the younger sibling to yet another ZBT, Brother Franklin (Jay) J. Harberg, Sigma (Tulane University) 1977. The family’s story with ZBT dates to the ’70s, when Joe would visit his older brother Jay at Tulane and spend Halloween with all of Joe’s other “older brothers” in Sigma.

“Everything was magical during those visits,” Joe said recently.

Years later, Max said he would consistently hear about these stories, with ZBT being “the discussion at the dinner table or the connection between many of my father’s friends that I met.” These relationships led to connections with Max’s childhood friends, many of whom he now calls brother — ZBT was the way to go Greek, without question, and Max accepted his bid to Lambda Chapter in March of his senior year in high school.

Our initiation ceremony is one of the few truly esoteric components which distinguish ZBT from other fraternities as well as from non-members. It is unwavering, its words ring true months, years and decades after hearing them for the first time as an initiate. Max recognized this consistency and the impact of the experience remains with him.

“Not only did I call my family members directly after my ceremony in Austin, but I called them after the ceremony in Indianapolis for International Convention,” Max noted.

Overall, the experience we provide, the way our brothers form bonds, is “heartwarming, to say the least,” as Joe said.

ZBT is not a four-year experience. Max joined, in part, to “make lifelong friends like my father,” but also because he realized “when you are sharing this opportunity with family, it means that much more.” His father, years removed from his undergraduate days, views it as “a privilege to be able to share such an important factor of my college experience.” Joe trusted ZBT to look after his son, help him form relationships and being comforted knowing his oldest son would “be a part of something so familiar and special.” The ZBT Brotherhood offers a unique way to inspire future generations through a quality experience, and Max already “hope(s) my son will follow and become a ZBT too.”

When we reflect upon the lifelong nature of our Brotherhood, we recognize the inherent value of establishing a legacy tradition. Undergraduates may not be thinking about starting families right now, but many from generations past were not thinking this, either. However, when their sons become ZBTs, we see the impact it has on their lives. As brothers of ZBT, we talk about the men who have gone before us and our brothers yet unknown.

Legacy families are the exemplification of this mindset, representing the past and future of the Fraternity and showing us why it was, is and will always be GREAT to be a ZBT!