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FREEMASONRY IN ISRAEL


In Jerusalem Masonic Lodges often meet in "Freemason's Hall" in King Solomon's Quarries. Israel is a country of immigrants. The cosmopolitan origin of its population is reflected in the large number of lodges operating in foreign languages. Apart from Israel's two official languages (Hebrew and Arabic), there are lodges working in six other languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Rumanian, and Turkish.

These lodges differ not only in language, but also in their rituals. Hebrew and Arabic-speaking lodges generally work according to standard rituals approved by the Grand Lodge, based on the English rituals. Foreign language lodges generally use the rituals habitual in their countries of origin. "Lodge Raanana," for instance, which was founded by immigrants from South Africa and Rhodesia, uses the Netherlands ritual. Spanish-speaking lodges use the Scottish Rite ritual, widely used in Latin America and Spain.

Freemasonry is one of the few institutions that actively promotes better understanding between the different ethnic and cultural segments of Israel society, particularly between Jewish and Arab Brethren, and also assists in the social integration of immigrants.

THREE VOLUMES OF THE SACRED LAW

Three Volumes of the Sacred Law are opened side by side upon the altar in every lodge in Israel: the Hebrew Bible (TaNaCH), The Christian Bible, and The Koran. The official seal of the Grand Lodge encloses the symbols of the three great monotheistic religions: The Jewish Star of David, Christian Cross, and Muslim Crescent, all intertwined within the square and compasses. Frequently, joint meetings are held between lodges, so that sometimes three or more different languages are heard in the course of a single meeting.

Individual lodges and Grand Lodge itself perform numerous charitable activities, including donations of expensive medical equipment to hospitals, help to the blind and elderly, and food for the needy. The Order maintains a parents' home in Nahariya, a town near the Lebanese border.

Grand Lodge meets in Tel-Aviv, but there are Masonic Temples in all important cities, from Nahariya in the north to Eilat, Israel's southern port on the Red Sea. In Acre, the Masonic Temple is located in the Old City, in a building with the characteristic arches and vaults of medieval construction.

MASONS MEET IN CAVE OF ZEDEKIAH

In Jerusalem, the "Freemasons Hall" inside King Solomon's Quarries (or Cave of King Zedekiah) are used several times a year to conduct Masonic meetings, generally in the Mark Degree, usually conducted in English and attended by numerous Brethren from abroad. The underground quarry could explain what is written in the Bible, that no sound of metallic tools was heard at the building site of the Temple. If the stones were dressed underground, no noise would have reached the Temple site.

Jerusalem, the city of King David, who, in the 10th century B.C., unified the Holy Land under his rule and established Jerusalem as his capital. His son King Solomon built a Temple to the God of Israel, which became the archetypical Temple in Western thought and a central subject in Masonic tradition. King Solomon's Temple already appears in the Old Charges of Operative Masons used by medieval lodges and many legendary and ritual features of various Masonic degrees are related to its construction and architecture.

JERUSALEM IS FOCAL POINT

For both Christians and Jews, Jerusalem is the focal point of the world, the place where heaven and earth touch each other (Heavenly and Earthly Jerusalem). In the Middle Ages, some maps show Jerusalem as the center of the world, with Europe, Asia, and Africa radiating from it like the petals of a flower. Jerusalem is mentioned in the Old Testament no less than 656 times, in addition to other appellations such as "The Holy City", "The City of Truth", "The City of God", "The City of Peace", "The City of David", etc.

In 586 B.C., King Solomon's Temple was razed by Nebuchadnezzar. A second Temple was erected by Jews returning from the Babylonian exile in the 5th century B.C., and was rebuilt and greatly enlarged by King Herod.

The Western Wall (formerly known as the "Wailing Wall") is a striking remnant of the Herodian Temple. After the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the whole area has been opened up and now a large section of the wall has been exposed, part of which can be followed through underground passages. Some of the huge Herodian ashlars are among the largest construction stones in the world.

EIGHT MASONIC LODGES IN JERUSALEM

The newly-opened Museum of the History of Jerusalem, at King David's Tower, near the Old City's Jaffa Gate, gives a fascinating account of the city's 3000-year history. Other places in Israel with strong Masonic connections, such as Jaffa (Joppa) and Acre (Templars), are within driving distance of Jerusalem.

There are eight Lodges working in Jerusalem, all of them under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge. Most work in Hebrew, "Holy City Lodge" works in English. The Masonic Temple is located at 13 Ezrat Israel St., off the main thoroughfare of the New City, Jaffa Road. Other attractions in Jerusalem include the Israel Museum, where the original Dead Sea Scrolls are in exhibition, among many fascinating archeological discoveries, some of them thousands of years old. The world-famous Yad Vashem memorial perpetuates the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The recently opened Bible Lands Museum explores the history, art, and architecture of the Holy Land throughout the ages. In 1993, the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel celebrated its 40th anniversary. It maintains close fraternal ties with regular Grand Lodges throughout the world. Frequent visits by delegations and individual Brethren from abroad give testimony to the universality of our Order.

Despite its small size, the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel can be proud of having been able to foster and develop a true fraternal spirit within its Lodges even under the most trying external circumstances. We must endeavor to bring our message of enlightenment, toleration, and fraternal love to all, so helping to build a better world for our children.




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