A Greek Orthodox Palestinian Arab, Nadim Mansour, has been installed in Tel Aviv as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel, a position he will hold until 2013
Israel has had two previous Palestinian Arab Grand Masters – Yakob Nazee (1933-1940) and Jamil Shalhoub (1981-1982).
Nadim Mansour, who was born in Haifa but moved to Acre aged five, was initiated – as a Lewis – into Lodge Akko in 1971, of which his father Elias was a founder, and in 1980 became its Master. He also has the rank of 33rd Degree in the Ancient and Accepted Rite.
Currently, the Grand Lodge has about 1,200 members in 56 lodges, working in ten languages – Hebrew, Arabic, English, French, Hungarian, Rumanian, Turkish, Russian, German and Spanish – and five different religions.
Celebrations in Israel
The Grand Secretary, Bob Morrow, visited Israel in mid October to represent Grand Lodge at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel
Formed by the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1953, the Grand Lodge of Israel celebrated in style with a gala meeting of Montefiore Installed Masters Lodge, the consecration of a new Lodge - Jerusalem Lodge No. 84 - and the Grand Lodge meeting itself.
It was something of a marathon for the Grand Secretary, who was invited to speak at each meeting and their banquets!
As the keynote speaker at the Grand Lodge meeting in Tel Aviv, he said:
MW Grand Master and Brethren, I am delighted and privileged to be with you today to take part in the jubilee celebrations of your Grand Lodge.
A Jubilee in England can be the celebration of 25, 50 or 75 years but, as we read in the Book of Leviticus, a golden jubilee is very special.
In Leviticus Chapter 25 verse 10 we are commanded: "to hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof".
In verses 12 and 13 we read: "For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you; you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession".
A jubilee is therefore a year of emancipation, a time of remission from the penal consequences of sin, but above all a time of rejoicing and celebration.
You have much to celebrate. In times which have not always been easy, your Grand Lodge has developed and expanded, and has become "a centre of union for those who must otherwise have stood at a perpetual distance".
That is clearly shown by the presence of the three VSLs in your Lodges and by the place you have achieved in the world of regular Freemasonry, clearly demonstrated by those who have travelled to join with you in your celebrations.
A jubilee should also be a time of reflection - not simply looking back to the achievements of the past - but looking forward and giving thought to the future. We live in a rapidly changing and often dangerous world in which people are looking for stability and certainty.
Regular Freemasonry, with its immemorial principles and its refusal to involve itself in political or religious disputes - knowing that they are what divides people - provides for many a centre of calm and harmony in which they can for a time forget the troubles of daily life and refresh both their spirits and their bodies. That, brethren, is surely worth defending and preserving.
Unfortunately, there are organisations calling themselves Freemasonry which have departed from the ancient landmarks and involve themselves in politics, religion and self-promotion.
They bring regular Freemasonry into disrepute, for the non-Masonic world does not know the difference between the two. That is why in recent years my Grand Lodge, with others, has been vigilant in ensuring that only regular Freemasonry is recognised as part of our worldwide fraternity.
A journalist in London recently asked one of my staff what relevance Freemasonry has to the 21st century. That is the question we should all ask, brethren.
The answer given in London was that in an increasingly selfish and uncaring world in which moral standards seem to count for nought, Freemasonry's principles, its support of law, its striving for truth and moral standards and its continuing history of service within the community are not only relevant, but essential to the 21st century.
MW Grand Master we congratulate you on your Grand Lodge reaching its Jubilee. We wish you strength, peace and harmony, and, above all, happiness for the future.