From the Commander (October, 2011)

posted May 23, 2015, 1:38 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 1:59 PM ]

Joseph  DaSilva
Brethren all, 

THE HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY IN ISRAEL (part 3)

In 1906, realizing that the Misraim Rite was an irregular body, which was not recognized by most Grand Lodges, they decided to change their affiliation to the Grand Orient of France. They adopted a new name, Barkai Lodge (which means Dawn or L’Aurore in French) and eventually became integrated into the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel. Barkai Lodge is the oldest lodge in the country still in existence and operates under the name of Barkai No. 17.
Three other lodges were created before World War I, when the country became a British Mandate. Towards the end of the first World War, General Allenby led the British troops into the Holy Land, bringing with them Freemasonry working under the English and Scottish Constitutions. 
The situation in 1930, under British rule, was that four foreign Grand Lodges - the English, the Scottish, the Egyptian and the Grand Orient of France,  were working in Palestine, each with a number of chartered lodges. These lodges were formed by diverse people, speaking different languages and working divergent rituals. It was only natural then that a German-speaking lodge be established under the obedience of a German Grand Lodge.
Meanwhile, in Germany, in 1930, a new German Grand Lodge was founded under the name of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany, with Leo Mueffelmann as the first Grand Master. This new Grand Lodge, which supported the idea of international cooperation and universal brotherly love, was ignored by the other nine German Grand Lodges who were strictly nationalistic, but was recognized by many foreign Grand Lodges.
In 1931, just two years  prior to the advent of Hitler, Grand Master Mueffelmann personally founded, in Jerusalem, a German-speaking daughter lodge of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany, named Ein Hashiloah (the Spring of Shiloah). 
Thereafter, in 1933, when all of Freemasonry was proscribed in Nazi Germany, a group of German Brethren, including Grand Master Mueffelmann, left the Fatherland and settled in what was then Mandate Palestine. Mueffelmann personally brought with him from Germany the light and the charter of his Grand Lodge, using these items to erect the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany in Exile.
During their sojourn in the Holy Land, these German Masons, consecrated  three other German-speaking lodges in Tel-Aviv and Haifa, known as Lebanon, Cubic Stone and Ari.
In 1934, Mueffelmann returned to Germany and died in a concentration camp. In his memory, a new German-speaking lodge was formed under the name of Mueffelmann Omen in 1935.
By 1935, the lights of all German Grand Lodges had been extinguished except that of Mueffelmann’s Grand Lodge which had been transferred to the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany in Exile, thereby ensuring the continuity of Freemasonry in Germany since 1737. 
This light burned brightly in Palestine until 1949, when many of the original German Brethren returned to reestablish Freemasonry in Germany and brought the light with them. The return of the light to Germany marked the official end of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany in Exile. The five German-speaking lodges, still using the ‘Schroeder’ ritual, continued to operate under a District Grand Lodge until the foundation of the Grand Lodge of Israel in 1953.  
The process of uniting the many different lodges began on January 9, 1932, when seven lodges came together and formed The National Grand Lodge of Palestine, bringing together those lodges which had been operating under Egyptian and French jurisdictions. The English-speaking lodges, however, refused to join, considering the new body to be irregular, because of its connection with the Grand Orient of France.
Prior to 1948, the state of Masonic affairs in the Holy Land comprised a number of lodges founded under the Grand Lodge of Scotland; there were 26 lodges operating under the National Grand Lodge of Palestine, sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Egypt; there were three military lodges under English Constitution; and there were several German-speaking lodges which had been founded by the Grand Master of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany. 
In 1948, with the ending of the British Mandate for Palestine, two of the three English lodges closed when their members returned to England. The third English lodge continued irregularly in Haifa. Thus, all the English Constitution Masonic bodies had effectively withdrawn from the Holy Land. The local Brethren who had belonged to the English Constitution lodges affiliated to other Masonic units.
A number of the Scottish lodges became dormant with the result that only four recognised lodges remained under the Scottish Constitution, two in Tel-Aviv, one in Haifa and one in Jerusalem. Soon after the erection of the State of Israel a fifth Scottish lodge was established in Jerusalem.  (Final Installment next month)

Fraternally,
Joseph Da Silva
Master of Kadosh