Masonry has always been attractive to Jews –
there were Jewish Freemasons in England
before the premier Grand Lodge, and the
closeness of this connection still exists. Many
of my friends are active in both Lodge and
synagogue, several rabbis are keen
Freemasons, and occasionally internal
differences within the Jewish community
can be bridged in and through the Craft.
There is no conflict between Judaism
and Freemasonry. I view with bemused
incomprehension the way that other faiths
sometimes oppose the one major force in
society that both shares their ideals and
actively promotes them.
The connection between Judaism and
the Craft was obvious to me from the night
of my initiation. I remember being amazed
that the tyler’s toast, almost word for word,
is identical to part of the synagogue service.
As I progressed through the degrees and
the offices, I realised
that alongside my
faith would stand my Freemasonry, not
as a second religion, but as a “handmaid to
religion”, as a support and an enhancement.
There is so much that is common to both
Judaism and Freemasonry, and these two
major influences on my life flow in parallel
channels. The most obvious similarity is the
use of the Volume of the Sacred Law and
Biblical passages, and sometimes this can
be more than just Bible stories.
In December 1996 I was founding senior
warden of a Lodge that was consecrated in
King Solomon’s quarries under the Old
City of Jerusalem. The chisel marks of the
masons who had quarried the stones are still
visible, and since the stones were dressed
where they were cut, it suddenly became
very obvious why, at the Temple site
itself, “there was not heard the sound
of metallic tool”.
Both Judaism and Freemasonry provide
a continual intellectual challenge. Neither
is, nor ever can be, fully understood
and interpreted, and each provides an
ongoing field for study – the concept
of a daily advancement in knowledge
is a common ideal.
Occasionally there are parallels that cause
much thought. The three verses of the
priestly benediction have three, five and
seven words respectively in the original
Hebrew – is this merely a coincidence with
the numbers needed to form, hold and
perfect a Lodge?
Freemasonry is described as “illustrated
by symbols”. Judaism emphasises the value
of symbolic action for both faith and
education. The importance of being free
men forms the core of the major Passover
home ritual. The synagogue service on the
Day of Atonement re-enacts the actions of
the people in Temple times on hearing the
name of the Most High.
Elkan Levy – compatability
of Judaism and Freemasonry
The description of charity – the Hebrew
term Tzedakah also means both justice and
righteousness – as a quality “that blesses him
who gives as much as him who receives”,
resonates with the Rabbinic comment that
the highest form of charity is when neither
donor nor recipient knows the identity
of the other.
But the quality that appeals to me above
all is the sense of brotherhood and toleration
inherent in Masonry. Almost without
exception, the regimes that have been
intolerant to Jews are the ones that have also
been prejudiced against Freemasonry.
Through Masonry I have come to know
many wonderful people; without Masonry
we would “have remained at a perpetual
distance”. The wide circle of friendships
that I have made in Masonry has enriched
my life and that of my family.
Is there a conflict between Judaism and
Freemasonry? Not at all.
Would I recommend a Jew to become a
I have found it a daily delight, and one of
the greatest influences of my life.
Elkan Levy is Provincial Grand Chaplain
for Middlesex and Metropolitan Deputy
Grand Chaplain for London
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