Thursday, 29 November 2012

"Masonry is a Jewish institution"

Update: December 5, 2012. This post has been superseded by the one linked below:

Bohemian born, American Reform rabbi, Isaac Mayer Wise (1819 - 1900), and the symbol of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Buckinghamshire, who claim to have used the hexagram "for many years, (centuries)"*
Wise wrote in the Cincinatti newspaper, for which he was both editor and proprietor:

"Masonry is a Jewish institution whose history, degrees, charges, passwords, and explanations are Jewish from the beginning to the end, with the exception of only one by-degree and a few words in the obligation."
— Rabbi Issac M. Wise, Editorial in The Israelite, August 3, 1855.

As quoted in: Oppenheim, Samuel. The Jews and Masonry in the United States Before 1810. New York: The American Jewish Historical Society. 1910. pp.1-2.

Some of the archives of The Israelite (renamed The American Israelite in 1874) are accessible on newspaperarchive.com, but presently only the period Dec 12, 1859 to Sept 27, 1861. The full archives are held on microfilm by the University of Maryland. I did endeavour to purchase a electronic copy of the cited edition, but was informed by the university library that they do not offer such a service, and that I'd have to visit in person to obtain it. Seeing as I live in London, I don't foresee this happening any time soon.
* Email response I received from them last week, following my enquiry of how long they had used it.


  1. Someone at our university recently called the following post to our attention.

    I’m not sure who you spoke with previously at the University of Maryland Libraries, but I may have an alternative for you to access this newspaper. While the University Libraries cannot digitize and sell content in our collection to individuals, we can loan many of these materials via interlibrary loan (including to libraries located outside of the U.S.).

    Accordingly, we may be able to accommodate your need to access this newspaper, provided that you are affiliated with a library that can place the ILL request on your behalf.

    You can contact us at docdel@umd.edu if you have further questions.

    1. Thank you for that information.

      My local library has obtained books for me on ILL before, but just from other British libraries. I'll ask them if they'd able to obtain microfilms from the U.S.

  2. If that doesn't work for you. I'll lend any assistance I can. I've never done anything other than look at microfilm in the library viewer though and wouldn't know how to digitize it.

    1. Thanks Blake, I really appreciate that.

      I won't pretend I'm an expert on microfilm readers, as I'm not. But last month, a library in the U.S. charged me $15 to email me some clippings from an 1886 newspaper they hold on microfilm. Having watched a few youtube videos on digital microfilm readers, it seems that they have a facility similar to "screen-capture" on a PC.

      But you can take photos, like this guy does:

      If it's not too much trouble for you to get a few photos of this newspaper, and some legible ones of the particular article in question. That would be fantastic.

  3. I have the documents you're looking for and I'll email them to you later.

    The author:- Samuel Oppenheim also quotes from the August 17th edition of The Israelite, but that edition carries an even bolder statement which Oppenheim declined to use and which I copy below:

    Writing in The Israelite to a Christian who had enquired about the relationship of Freemasonry and Christianity, Rabbi Isaac Wise had this to say to a ''Rev Randell''.

    "We Jews have given birth to the masonic fraternity as a cosmopolitical institution but we consider this no favor to admit you in the lodge, provided, however, you subscribe to the cosmpolital principles, and leave your sectarianism outside of the consecrated walls.

    "We gave you Christianity to convert the heathens gradually, to the pure deism and ethics of Moses and the Prophets; still we consider it no speacial favor bestowed on you by our side, that you have the privilage of being a preacher in one of the churches."

    1. Thanks again Henry.


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