It has been almost a year since members of the exclusive Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, the oldest all-male club in Virginia, voted by a margin of 2 to 1 to retain a membership policy that some of its members said encourages religious, racial and sexual discrimination.
At the time of the vote, which retained the practice of blackballing -- a procedure allowing club directors to reject applicants anonymously -- Ira Gissen, regional director of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, labeled the outcome "only a temporary setback." He pledged to continue fighting the policy, which he called "blatantly anti-Semitic."
The plush, private Shenandoah Club, founded in 1893, still has not made a change, Gissen said last week. "The only thing that's happened is that a good number of months ago many of the Christian members who resigned from the club got together with their Jewish friends" to expand the Jefferson Club in downtown Roanoke "to form a superior club of their own," he said.
The controversy a year ago was sparked by the club's rejection of membership applications from Roanoke clothing store owner Sigmund Davidson and real estate developer Maury Strauss.
Gissen says he has not lost hope. "I have no doubt the Shenandoah Club is going to begin admitting Jews" he said. "For reasons only a psychologist could understand they may not admit the two men they've already rejected, but they will admit Jews."
A club official would not comment when queried last week.