by Eyal Levi, Israel Hayom, 08.04.2022

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of Freemasonry in Israel. In his opening speech, Ilan Segev advocated for the acceptance of women into the organization. The Freemasons were established for mutual help and fellowship and hold elaborate secret ceremonies. There are 15,000 Freemasons scattered across 50 lodges, from Nahariya in the north to Eilat in the south. “As soon as you enter the office and close the door, you enter a world of spirit and creativity,” Ilan says.

Secrecy is necessary because we have a special form of request for international help, a handshake only known among us, he explains. Members of the secret society come from the most diverse backgrounds, from Ron Malikson, 39, to former Supreme Court judge Salim Joubran, 74. “It takes between six to eight months to join,” Ilan said. Elia Ben Canaan, 37, a strategic consultant and owner of a productions business in Ramat Gan, remembers his lengthy application process into the society. Ilan Elia is a member of the Freemasons and serves as the spokesman for the Tel Aviv lodge.

Every lodge has a minimum of 15 members, of which seven are employed. There are three ranks a Freemason can reach: entered apprentice, fellowcraft, and master mason. Part of the society’s secret rituals revolve around welcoming new members into the order, or when they rise in rank. In a Freemasonry ceremony, the Bible, Koran, and New Testament are all displayed to emphasize that everyone in the society is equal. Elia: “You acquire tools that help you deal with life through instructions that weren’t invented today, but have been passed down for hundreds of years, and still work today”.

The society also values charity. It grants scholarships to students, donates equipment for students in need, and promotes the distribution of food parcels to the hungry. Members of the Freemason society in Israel don’t care whether they are Jewish, Christian, Druze, Arab or Muslim, as long as they live together in peace and serenity. Itsik Weinberg, 70, a dentist from Herzliyah, remembers the day he joined the society as if it were yesterday. According to Ilan, new members, especially those originally from the Former Soviet Union, always ask whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is a Freemason.

But Ilan insists that it is not true, based on information from Freemasons in Moscow. Women are not currently accepted, Ilan said, but it may change. There are lodges in France that have opened up for women already. The matter of allowing women to join the society must first be approved by the Grand Lodge. Ilan: “I wouldn’t have women do full activities right away, but to integrate into the order first”.

Ilan Ilan says that he wants to open the ranks of Freemasons to women and youngsters. “If an 18-year-old girl today can learn to use a submachine gun and fly a plane, then she can probably be a Freemason too,” he says. But he warns that the Great Lodge could take away our recognition. If a lodge is not recognized by them, then there are no international connections, he adds.