An independent Rebekah Lodge was established in Melbourne in 1895. Part of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), the Rebekah Degree allowed the wives, sisters, daughters and members of Odd Fellows to join the society. For unmarried sisters and daughters, membership of Rebekah gave them access to the medical benefits and sick pay without needing to be married. Wives of members of the IOOF, who joined Rebekah Lodges, generally became more sympathetic towards their husbands spending so much time engaged in IOOF activities and less suspicious of the 'secret men's business' that occurred in an all male lodges.
Rebekah Degrees began in the United States, the name adopted from the biblical character Rebekah, who watered and sheltered Abraham's servant one night as a symbol of kindness. The Rebekah Degree could be conferred upon men as well as women. It had its own regalia for female members, while male members wore their IOOF regalia. As the popularity of the Rebekah Degree grew, separate Lodges were established. In Australia Rebekah Lodges became increasingly popular in the late 19th century, largely as a consequence of the changing role of women in Australian society at this time.
Rebekah Lodges have four main emblems: the beehive, representing the result of united effort; the moon and seven stars, representing the value of regularity in work; the dove, representing peace; and the lily, representing purity. The Rebekah creed was based on friendship, love and truth.
The Creed of Rebekah:
I AM A REBEKAH:
I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man, and the Sisterhood of woman.
I believe in the watch-words of our Order - Friendship, Love and Truth.
Friendship - is like a golden chain that ties our hearts together. Love - is one of our most precious gifts, the more you give, the more you receive. Truth - is the standard by which we value people. It is the foundation of our society.
I believe that my main concern should be my God, my family and my friends. Then I should reach out to my community and the World, for in God's eyes we are all brothers and sisters.
I AM A REBEKAH!
Blainey, Geoffrey, (1991). Odd Fellows : a history of IOOF Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.