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Religious Issue in Eastern Star Order Continues to Agitate N. J. Members

May 27, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

More than 10,000 Jewish members of the Order Eastern Star in New Jersey are expected to secede from the New Jersey Chapter, early next month, due to alleged anti-Semitic prejudice, according to a story appearing in the “Hudson Dispatch,” a daily newspaper in this city, which quotes “a high officer of the organization” whose name it does not mention. The newspaper also quotes the same authority as saying that decision also has been reached not to affiliate with the New York Grand Chapter of the Order, but that 21 chapters in this state which have Jewish members intend to set up a rival body to the New Jersey Grand Chapter.

The paper further quotes this high official as saying that the original version of the conflict which occurred at the convention of the Grand Chapter last week in Atlantic City: namely that Jewish members supposedly objected to the use of the Christian symbol of the Star of Bethlehem in the ritual of the Order, was incorrect. This official claims that the conflict was brought on by the mandatory requirement of the Grand Chapter that all members of the Order must take their oath of office on the Bible turned open at the New Testament.

Acoording to this paper’s informant, Jewish members, in session at the convention last week, submitted a resolution making the Bible opening provision optional, instead of mandatory. The resolution, the paper reports, was voted down, Miss Emma Farrier, the new grand secretary, was hissed and the Jewish delegates walked out in a body.

The statement of this Eastern Star (Continued on Page 4)

official, in part, is as follows:

“The Jewish chapters of the Eastern Star deny that they want to make any changes in the star used as a symbol of the order. In fact, the Jewish and Christian stars are alike. We are content to use the same star as has been used by the order in New Jersey for the last 57 years.

But three years ago, the then grand matron, Lucy Sloat of Orange, introduced a resolution making it mandatory on all chapters to open their Bibles at the New Testament, when they take the oath within the order.

“This is not properly an oath within the tenets of the Jewish faith, but if we had been allowed to take an oath on the Old Testament it would have been binding on us.

“There has been talk of secession among Jewish chapters for the last year, and the grand officers, in an effort to head off this movement, offered the resolution at the Grand Chapter in Atlantic City last week, which was hissed and thrown out. The grand officers themselves are Christians and they are with us, in spirit, in this fight.

“However, the Grand Chapter is dominated by the chapters of South Jersey and it is well known in this state that South Jersey has a prejudice to Jews, and indeed has a predominant Ku Klux Klan strain.

“There are 58,000 members of the Eastern Star in New Jersey, of which between 10,000 and 11,000 are Jewish members in 21 chapters, five of which are in Hudson County. The delegates to the Grand Chapter have not reported back to their chapters as yet, but when they do so arrangements will be made for a state meeting of Jewish chapters at which our future course of action will be decided upon.”

The official who made the statement admitted that the decision to secede from the state organization already had been made, although the delegates have not as yet officially reported back to their chapters what happened in Atlantic City. The informant also admitted that the first week of June had been selected for the State Jewish meeting and it probably will be held in Newark.

When the Daily Bulletin correspondent asked Mrs. Rose Meyerhoff, of Palisades Park, newly elected grand matron, to comment on the foregoing statement, she declined, saying that she did not care to give public credence to the entire affair, nor did she believe that issues confronting the Eastern Star were the concern of the public. In response to the correspondent’s query as to whether she is a Jewess, she responded that she is of German descent and since childhood has been a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Palisades Park.

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