The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preparing for the East

This is my first post in four months. A lot has happened. I'm working at a software-as-a-service medical IT company that makes a diagnostic tool for clinical oncologists. The job involves computer programming, data integration, and project management. It's been fascinating thus far.

I stepped out of the officer's line at my mother lodge in order to finish my term as Senior Warden in another lodge and prepare to be installed as Worshipful Master in December. Assuming I am elected, of course, but I am the only brother eligible who is not an installed Master, and none of the installed Masters are running.

This lodge is a fascinating experiment. In the town of Medford, Massachusetts, in the 1980s, there were four Masonic lodges, a Royal Arch chapter, a Council of Royal and Select Masters, and a Commandery of Knights Templar. They met at the Armory, a large building in the center of town. Medford was originally settled in 1630, as part of Charlestown. When the British burned Charlestown down in 1775, much of what had been Charlestown was unincorporated and sparsely inhabited afterwards. Medford was not incorporated as a town until 1892. Union General Samuel Crocker Lawrence was the first mayor, in 1895. General Lawrence was later Grand Master of Masons of Massachusetts, and afterwards Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. General Lawrence was a formidable scholar. When the Grand Lodge building in Boston burned to the ground, General Lawrence donated his Masonic book collection to the Grand Lodge as the seed for the new library, which today is called the Samuel Crocker Lawrence Library, and has 70,000 volumes.

When General Lawrence was mayor, the Armory was used as an armory. General Lawrence arranged that, if the Armory stopped being an armory, it would be given to use by the Masons of Medford, and after World War I, after General Lawrence died, it was given to the Masons of Medford, and outfitted with lodge rooms. The Masons of Medford met there until the late 1980s.

The story is not altogether clear, but someone sold the building to the town of Medford at that time, for far less than its property value, and all of the Masonic groups that met there were evicted. Not long after, every group had either merged with other groups, or went dark. The oldest lodge in Medford was named Samuel Crocker Lawrence Lodge. General Lawrence's widow donated his Bible for the altar. When the building was sold, it merged with Russell Lodge, which later merged with Mystic Valley Lodge in Arlington.

A few years ago, a bunch of Medford Masons noticed that there were no lodges in Medford, and petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to start one. The Grand Master at the time recommended that the charter of Samuel Crocker Lawrence Lodge be revived, and with his assistance, it was. The original charter was lost. It had been kept in a safe deposit box in a bank in Medford, and the Winter Hill Gang (Whitey Bulger's mob) robbed the bank and took the charter. It was never recovered. The Grand Master helped write another charter, and a team formed to create the newly revived lodge.

I got involved very late in the game, even though I live in Somerville within sight of the Medford border. A line of officers had been formed, missing a Senior Warden and a Junior Steward. I was persuaded to take the Senior Warden position of the newly revived lodge, with the understanding that I would be willing to take the Oriental Chair the following year, should I be found worthy of the honor. I stepped out of line at my mother lodge to devote all my attention to this newly revived lodge.

In most Masonic lodges, most Masons are members of that lodge and that lodge alone. At Samuel Crocker Lawrence Lodge, most of the officers is an officer at at least one other lodge or chapter or council or commandery or Scottish Rite body or Shrine divan. That makes things challenging, as our officers often have multiple commitments to juggle. We have raised one brother since we opened, and he is the only member who is a member of this lodge and this lodge alone.

It is a fascinating challenge to keep a new lodge alive, and it is taking a lot of my energies to maintain what the first new Master has generated. It's very much a reality check. I am a member of two other blue lodges, a research lodge, two bodies in one Scottish Rite Valley, a member of another Scottish Rite Valley in the Southern Jurisdiction, and I'm a candidate for degrees in a Royal Arch chapter. I'm involved with three different Masonic publications on top of it, and I'm a student in Master Craftsman II and the College of the Consistory. I've left every other office except the one at Samuel Crocker Lawrence Lodge, but I still have fingers in a lot of pies. And my other officers all have fingers in other pies.

So there's some chance this will be a rocky year (or however long it takes to hand the Oriental chair to another brother). And yet, I'm thrilled. As tough as it might become, I see so much potential coming from this enterprise. I have the power to sustain Masonic light in a town that has not had it for years. Tufts University is in Medford. Charles Tufts was the secretary of Amicable Lodge, of which I am a member. Its first president was Hosea Ballou II, a member of Amicable Lodge, and a formidable Masonic author like his namesake uncle, Hosea Ballou. There is Freemasonry in the soil in Medford, from its Masonic sons who lifted rifles in 1775 in the Battle of Menotomy, to the university builders of Tufts University, to the great General who incorporated the town of Medford, to the present day. The soil calls out for a continued Masonic presence, for further light. It is my honor and privilege, should I be voted into the chair, to exert myself to the utmost to that end.


  1. excellent posting...i hope to sit in lodge with you in the East soon my brother...

  2. Bro. J, you might enjoy this:

  3. Good luck in the East, Brother. With the history of Freemasonry in Medford, you should be able to leverage that among the University community and the community at large in order to expand.

    W. Bro. Chris Hansen, WM
    Goliath Lodge #5595, UGLE
    Member, Philanthropic Lodge, Marblehead, Mass.