Founder of Zeta Beta Tau, a traditionally Jewish fraternity, Gotteil earns his PhD in Berlin in 1886, immediately returning to the US to teach Semitic languages and rabbinical literature at Columbia University. A fervent Zionist at a time when such a philosophy was unpopular in the US, Gottheil serves as President of the Federation of American Zionists from its inception in 1898 until 1904. He likewise serves as vice-president of the Universal Zionist Society, sitting on numerous World Zionist Organization committees throughout his career.