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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On 20 October 1953, the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel was consecrated in a solemn and historic ceremony, by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. An array of dignitaries from many jurisdictions and a total of 300 brethren were present at the ceremony at the YMCA Hall in Jerusalem.
     It was carried out by the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, Past Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. He installed Shabtai Levy, Past Mayor of Haifa, as the first Grand Master. Thirty acting Masters, representing all the Lodges in Israel, including those of the Grand Lodge of Palestine, formally surrendered their existing Charters and received new Charters from the newly Installed Grand Master. The Grand Lodge of Palestine ceased to exist.
     The new Grand Lodge soon attained the recognition and approval of the majority of the Masonic jurisdictions worldwide and it has not looked back since.
     Today, Sami Rafaeli rules over a Grand Lodge that has developed and consolidated itself over the last half century, often under adverse circumstances. Its membership has been relatively static over the last decade at some 2,000 brethren and around 75 Lodges.
     The Grand Lodge is effectively driven and run by a dedicated number of effectively volunteer workers. Even the four official employees carry out their duties as a labour of love.
     The Grand Secretary, Victor Sorezo, was born in Morocco and has been in Israel since 1958. He took over his duties four years ago, after a 12 month period during which no secretary had been appointed. He now runs an efficient office assisted by South African born Israel Becker as assistant secretary, and responsible for foreign affairs.
     Dvora Guttman is the most senior of the three additional staff members. She has been with Grand Lodge for around 25 years, and though of Polish birth, she has lived in Israel since 1951. Sarah Prins has assisted with the accounts and finances under six Grand Treasurers for 16 years.
     Finally, Bat-Shahar Zita, born in France, is now in her ninth year with Grand Lodge.
     She is a professional translator, fluent in four languages. The diversity of the origins of this dedicated team reflects the standing of Freemasonry in Israel. Lodges meet in some eight different languages. The tenure of the Grand Master is only for two years, although he can be elected for one single additional two-year term.
     The Grand Lodge of the State of Israel is small by any standards. It has, however, the attention of the Masonic world and takes pride in having been able to practice a true fraternal spirit in all its activities in individual Lodges, spreading from ancient Acco in the North near the Lebanese border, to Eilat, the southernmost tip of Israel.
     In November of this year a delegation of English Masons will be taking a seven day Holy Land Masonic tour to experience not only Freemasonry at its best, but in its original setting as detailed in our ritual and the Old and the New Testament. It is bound to be an exceptional experience.

Bibliography
     Morris Robert, Journey of Research of Masonic Life in the Near East, 1884.
     Zeldis Leon, A Hitherto Unknown Hebrew-Speaking Lodge in Egypt and other papers
     Yasha Beresiner is a Past Master of Montefiore Lodge No. 72, the first Installed Masters Lodge in Israel, and holds the rank of HonSGW.
     He will be conducting the Holy Land Tour 7-14 November and invites your enquiries to: www.intercol.co.uk/tours or e-mail: yasha@intercol.co.uk or call 0208 349 2207 for a detailed brochure.




Above:
The Royal Caverns at Jerusalem (from The Illustrated London News of 24 April 1869)


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