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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Web site created by Mark Griffin