Albin Barry - Judaism and freemasonry

Author : Albin Barry
Title : Judaism and freemasonry
Year : 2003

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In order to fully understand the relationship of Freemasonry and those who are Jews one must first understand something about the origins of Freemasonry. There is little doubt that the community that lived at Qumran was an Essene community. However, modern scholarship is increasingly recognizing that the Essenes were a leadership group, may be best described as the Third Degree, of the Nazorean Movement within Judaism of the First Century of the modern era. Professor Israel Finklestein is clear on the subject when he says that the Nazorean Movement and the Essenes are one group. The Nazorean Movement had three degrees of increasing commitment to their order just as do the Freemasons. They admitted men and had a separate organization for women, keeping the two separate. They would admit no one who was not of age as a Jew, who was not sober in his personal life, who was not an able-bodied worker, or who was too old. They professed a profound belief in G-d and understood Him in a way that was proto-gnostic in its commitment to the concept of Light and Darkness. The Nazorean Movement left behind books which were hidden both in the Temple in Jerusalem and in caves near their Qumran headquarters. The Nazorean Movement disagreed strongly with the rest of Judaism on the importance of the Temple. For the Nazoreans, the Temple was not a physical building, but a spiritual building composed of the true believers of the House of Israel. The Nazoreans were more liberal in their rules for conversion, allowing Gentiles full participation once they had converted. The Nazoreans awaited the coming of the Messiah and knew that the Temple would descend from Heaven fully made at the time of the Messianic age. The Nazoreans wrote the three principle books of the Kabbalah: Sefer Yetzirah, Ha Bahir, and Ha Zohar. The Nazorean books were found by the Knights Templar and the ideas that they expressed seriously challenged the beliefs of the day. It was for that reason that the Popes limited the knowledge they possessed to only the highest members of the order, the full Knights. When the Templar order was pushed underground, the priestly members of the order and the Templar Corps of Engineers were amalgamated into the Guild of Stone Masons in England and Scotland and their teachings as chaplains of the amalgamated Guild became the basis of Freemasonry. It was these teachings that attracted nonoperatives into the Guild and from the Guild Lodges eventually Freemasonry appeared in England. Jews were actively involved in the beginnings of Freemasonry in America. There is evidence they were among those who established Masonry in seven of the original thirteen states: Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. There were three Jews involved among the 10 men that formed the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Charleston, South Carolina in 1801. There were several other Jews who held the masonic titles in the late 1700's: Solomon Bush in Pennsylvania, Joseph Myers in Maryland and later in South Carolina, and Abraham Forst of Philadelphia in Virginia in 1781. Another Jewish Grand Master was Moses Seixas in Rhode Island from 1791 until 1800. There were many other American Jewish Masons in early American history, including one in George Washington's original Fredericksburg Lodge. There is evidence that Jews, including rabbis, continued to be involved in the Masonic movement in the United States. There have been at least 51 Jewish American Grand Masters. Today there are many Jews active in Masonry in America and other countries. Israel has about 60 Masonic lodges with 3,000 members. Jews had also been involved to a small extent in the formation of modern Freemasonry in the early 1700's in England. Until then Jews were not permitted to participate in many of the ordinary activities of life. Then the Enlightenment concept of the universality of all people brought about a society where people's religious beliefs did not affect their rights as citizens. Jews were gradually permitted to exercise the rights of citizenship and to pursue their lives as they wished. Many Jews viewed joining Freemasonry as part of their "emancipation" from the old legal and social exclusions. Modern Masonry was as much a product of the Enlightenment as the emancipation of Jews. Many society leaders were Freemasons and if Jews could join this fraternity that would prove they were being accepted. They could also use the opportunities presented by their participation in a social organization with Christians to prove the two could prosper by their association. Freemasonry's philosophy of the brotherhood of all people indicated Masonry would accept Jews as members. ...

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