Daily Jewish Courier -- May 03, 1913Brotherhood in the Fraternal Organizations
If one should speak to a lodge patriot about the unsound insurance plan of fraternal organizations and should you convince him that the life insurance of a lodge is nothing but a dream, which he interpreted by an organizer who is anxious to earn a few dollars, he turns about and usually answers, "The insurance of a fraternal organization is not the essence of the lodge system in general, but it is the social part of a lodge that counts."
"A lodge," he continues enthusiastically, " is the cradle which adjusts the immigrant Jew who wakes up in an Americanized world, it surrounds him with many friends. The lodge unites all Jews who come from various countries and regions. The Jews, who have migrated to America from Latvia, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Roumania, Galicia, Hungary, and other 2countries, bring with them, the antipathy that citizens of one country bear toward citizens of another country. The Lithuanian Jew detests the Roumanian and Galician Jew; the Hungarian and Polish Jewsdo not want to intermingle with the Latvian Jew, until it reaches a point where the concept of Chavrim Kol Yisroel (all Israel are brethren) is a myth - a mere legend, not reality.
"The lodge, however, is the melting pot into which Jews of all countries enter and within a short time they walk out together as brethren - children of one nation, and all geographical distinctions are abolished. One thought prevails among all, i. e., to help each other spiritually and materially, and with no questions asked as to where one spent one's life in exile. The law of the Order states that 'Every one of Jewish faith can become a member of the Order.' "3
"An order like the Western Star Order," exclaims an executive member, "is the greatest thing the Jews have ever accomplished. Who ever heard of 16,757 Jews belonging to one organization, with each one prepared to respond to every Jewish cry for relief. When the call is issued by the grand master, everyone of these thousands of Jews, man or woman, extends aid to a brother or sister in distress."
This is a great idea - if it were only true. If, however, we were to investigate diligently this declamatory rhetoric or abstract verbiage we would find that it isn't even worth a soap-bubble. The brotherhood of lodge brothers is as secure as the lodge insurance. The "ipso facto" clause is as successful in brotherhood as it is in paying endowments. Woe unto the lodge brother who is in dire need. He will surely starve to 4death and be out to shame and ridicule. Should a poor Jew approach any synagogue, regardless of where he comes from or who he is, he will always be provided with food and shelter and even money for traveling expenses.
Should, however, the very same Jew turn to his lodge, then he would immediately discover that nine out of ten will brand him a beggar and swindler, and the best that he could hope for would be the appointment of a committee, which would spend many weeks in investigation.
The committee would disgrace his wife and children. It would pry into his domestic life and order his life. They would criticize his home management, and after he would have endured the tortures of Gehenna, he would find himself, as in most cases refused any relief.5
And what is more astonishing is that most of the lodge brothers attend the synagogue. In the synagogue they are sons of compassion. There every Jew is a brother. However, in the lodges it becomes a matter of business and in business they will not permit themselves to be deceived. Business men of principle as Jews are, will spend hundreds of dollars rather than be duped of one penny. It is therefore very tough on a lodge member who seeks aid.
To what extent lodge brotherhood is practiced can be seen not only from the recent occurrences in the Western Star Order but also from the Constitution of that Order.6
The main Constitution of the Western Star Order consists mainly of eleven articles which embrace sixty-three paragraphs on so-called brotherhood. The first paragraph of Article II reads as follows:
"The purpose of the Independent Western Star Order is to unite healthy and socially adapted men of the Jewish faith, of a limited age to mutually protect one another; to establish lodges under the supervision of the Grand Lodge throughout the United States; to practice devout brotherhood; to disseminate enlightenment among its membership; to help those in need of help; to alleviate the wants of the suffering; to assist members morally, socially and financially; to help the family, beneficiaries, blood relatives or legal dependents of the deceased member; to provide funeral expenses for dead members; to establish all necessary funds for the advantage of the members and their families; 7and for the purpose of controlling, and carrying on the business of the order with all its money and wealth."
In order to carry out the objectives of protecting the members, practicing brotherhood, disseminating enlightenment, helping the needy, alleviating affliction, the Constitution provided fourteen ways and means among which are found the following:
1. To expel or suspend lodges.
2. To bestow the executive board with power to expel or suspend lodges.
3. To revoke charters from lodges.
4. To impose assessments or other penalties upon individual members of the order.
5. To collect money to pay expenses of the lodge leaders.8
These are the true brotherly methods for moral, social and financial assistance.
To what extent education is spread and to what extent aid is extended can be seen by the fifteen executive officers appointed by the Grand Lodge. Not one of them is devoted to such trivial matters.
What the Western Star Order understands by the word education is, according to Article 10, paragraph 16, the propagation of the good qualities of fraternal organization.
The leaders of the lodges, well aware that the organizations would finally go bankrupt, made laws which are detrimental to brotherhood.
II D 2, II D 1
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