ISSUE 19, October 2006
Historic: Rabbi and Mason
Travel: Morocco's exotic charm
Quarterly Communication: Address by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Working with Youngsters: The Grand Master goes fishing
Community Relations: Saying it with flowers
International: Spanish Freemasonry under the microscope
   Events: Grand Lodge Award; Royal Masonic Variety Show
Specialist Lodges: Masonry on the canal
Freemasonry and Society: A Churchman's view of Masonry
Education: Toast of the town and Events
Young Masons: The Universities Scheme
Library & Museum: The Freemasons's Tontine
Masonic Charities: The Grand Charity and NMSF and RMTGB and RMBI
Book reviews

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Israel Brodie became Chief Rabbi in 1948 at the age of 53 at a time when Jewry in the world at large was going through a difficult time. The Holocaust in Europe was a sensitive subject and the ending of the British Mandate in Palestine was causing continual unrest in Israel. The choice of Chief Rabbi had fallen on him because he was perceived to be a tolerant man with a faultless English background.
    He proved a persuasive and peaceful negotiator and led the community through this period with pride and dignity. He was the founder of the Conference of European Rabbis, and through this entity Brodie took a significant part in rebuilding the religious life of European Jewry after the Holocaust.
    His several pastoral tours to Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the Commonwealth, which were recorded by his wife Fanny, who also kept notes relating to visits to Israel, Ireland, South Africa and the USA, strengthened the worldwide Jewish community in a quiet but significant manner.
    Sadly, the closing years of his tenure were overshadowed by religious dispute. In 1961, Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs (1920– 2006) a renowned scholar of Judaism, who has been referred to as “the greatest Chief Rabbi we never had” was nominated to be principal of Jews’ College. However, one of his many books, We Have Reason to Believe, published in 1957, challenged the traditional view that the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah, were dictated by God, word by word, to Moses on Mount Sinai.
    As a result, Brodie blocked the appointment, stating that Jacobs was unfit for the post and prohibited Jacobs from returning to his post at the New West End Synagogue. The incident, known as the ‘Jacobs Affair’, reverberated around the world and the resulting controversy within Orthodox scholarly circles is still alive today.
    In 1954, he was honoured by the United Grand Lodge of England with his appointment as Past Grand Chaplain and at the Meeting of the Montefiore Lodge on 28 October he was presented with the regalia of the Office of Past Grand Chaplain, which included a skull cap made from the same blue cloth material as the apron. He wore the ‘kipa’ at all the meetings he attended.
    At this time, following on a minor dispute in the Montefiore Lodge, in which a candidate proposed by Bro Brodie was black-balled, there came about the resignation of several Brethren and the withdrawal from the Lodge of Rabbi Brodie himself for several years.
    Brodie’s tenure as Chief Rabbi followed on that of Joseph Herman Hertz (1913–1946), who had also been a Freemason in the Transvaal, South Africa under the UGLE, attaining the rank of Past District Grand Chaplin, although it would appear that he took no further activity as a Mason following his appointment as Chief Rabbi in 1913. There were several other prominent Rabbis who were active Freemasons.
    The Rev. Dr. Bernard Elzas and the Rev. Marcus Haines, Ministers of the New West End Synagogue as well as the Rev. Isaac Goldston, were all initiated in the Lodge of Israel No. 205. In Lodge Joppa No. 188 the Rev. Israel Levy Lindenthal and the Rev. David de Sola of Bevis Marks were initiated in 1846. The Rev. Aaron Barnett Levy was a Chaplain of the Lodge of Tranquillity (1855–1857) and the Rev. Dr. George Joseph Emanuel of Birmingham was initiated in 1861.
    Also, the Rev. Morris Rosenbaum, Past Provincial Grand Chaplain (Northumberland), the Masonic historian, was an active Freemason, as was the Rev Rayehael Levy, father of Elkan D Levy, a colleague and close friend, whose assistance with this article I am glad to acknowledge.
    In 1969 Israel Brodie was made a Knight of the British Empire “for services to British Jewry”, the first Chief Rabbi to be so honoured. In 1970 he was made an honorary member of Montefiore Lodge. Bro. Brodie died on 20 February, 1979.

Brodie, Very Rev. Sir Israel, Past G.Chap., Newcastle 100:234
Brodie, Very Rev. Sir Israel, Past G.Chap. (1954) 92:36, 50, 58
Levy, Elkan D, Historical Notes on, the website of the Chief Rabbi
Silverman, Montefiore Lodge No. 1017, London
Shaftsley, John M, Jews in English Freemasonry in the 18th & 19th Centuries, AQC 92 (1954)

© The Jewish Museum, London

Sir Israel Brodie with a group at Stern’s Hotel, London in 1948

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