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
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
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.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 349 2207
for a detailed brochure.
The Royal Caverns at Jerusalem
(from The Illustrated London
News of 24 April 1869)
Web site created by Mark Griffin