ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Above:
Robert Morrow, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, at the Installation in January this year of MW Bro Sami Rafaeli as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel
    In January this year, Sami Rafeli was installed as the 17th Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel. Had James Anderson, author of Freemasonry’s first Constitutions, been right, Bro Rafaeli would be following in the footsteps of no less a dignitary than Moses himself.
     Although the Grand Lodge was only established in the Holy Land in 1953, Israel remains in a unique position in the annals of the Craft by the simple virtue of the universal nature of the ritual.
     Every Masonic jurisdiction – and a dozen Orders beyond the Craft – without exception, regular, recognised or otherwise, incorporate in the ritual an ancient and symbolic allegiance to King Solomon’s Temple. How can Israel be anything but the very cradle of our exceptional Institution? The new Jewish State was born in turmoil in 1948 and the tense situation with neighbouring Arab nations made life stressful and difficult.
     Masonic activity, however, characteristically continued unperturbed by the divergence of cultures, political and religious divisions that remain prevalent to this day.
     The first evidence of Freemasonry in the Holy Land dates to 13 May 1868, in a ceremony of the Order of the Secret Monitor in the Cave of Zedekiah, popularly known as King Solomon’s Quarries and which had, in 1854, been discovered by the Dr Barclay, the American explorer.
     The single and simple Masonic ritual was conducted by the controversial Dr. Robert Morris, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, who kept records of the event.
     Among well-known Masons present was Sir Charles Warren, founding member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the premier Lodge of Masonic research, an engineer and archaeologist working on excavations in Jerusalem on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
     In his enthusiasm to be the first to have introduced regular Freemasonry to the Holy Land, Bro Morris made every effort to ‘convert’ this opportune event of a ceremony of an Order beyond the Craft into the consecration of a fully-fledged Lodge, naming it the Reclamation Lodge of Jerusalem. This has led to many erroneous reports of this being the first Lodge formed in the Holy Land. Not so. The first Lodge, the Royal Solomon Mother Lodge No. 293, was not formed until five years later.
     On 17 February 1873, after repeated refusals to his persistent requests for Charters and Warrants by England, Scotland, Ireland and several American Grand Lodges, Bro Morris finally obtained a Charter from his friend William Wilson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada, Ontario. He was now able to consecrate a Lodge and work ‘at the city of Jerusalem or adjacent places’. Regular Freemasonry was now established, for the first time in the Holy Land. The Lodge did not prosper and had to surrender its warrant in 1907.
     Meanwhile, Freemasonry began to develop in the territory. In 1890 a group of Arab and Jewish brethren founded the Lodge Le Port du Temple de Roi Salomon (the Port of King Solomon's Temple) in Jaffa, working in French.
     The Lodge prospered, supported by the membership of French engineers building the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway, the first in Israel.
     In 1906 the Lodge accepted the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of France and renamed itself Barkai (Dawn). It thrives today as the most senior of Israel’s Lodges.
     In the following decades, dozens of Lodges were established under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland, France, Germany and Egypt.
     On 9 January 1933, following a petition by six local Lodges, Fuad Bey Hussein, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Egypt, consecrated the independent National Grand Lodge of Palestine.
     The membership consisted of all faiths. Sadly, the first Grand Master-elect, Shuqi Houri, an Arab, died in the weeks leading to the important Installation event and his Jewish colleague, Mark Gorodisky, was elected in his stead.
     The many other Lodges active at the time chose to remain under the jurisdiction of their respective District Grand Lodges. The consequence was that the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland refused to grant recognition to the newly-established Grand Lodge of Palestine.
     For the next 20 years, ten Grand Masters served the Grand Lodge of Palestine, and the last, Dr Avraham Sharoni, was to become very much involved in the events that followed.


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