Ma­son hon­our for Taupo¯ man

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News - Rachel Can­ning

At any one time, only 20 liv­ing Freema­sons may hold the dis­tinc­tion known as The Grand Master’s Or­der of Ser­vice to Ma­sonry (OSM), and the hon­our was re­cently con­ferred on Taupo¯ man Tony Is­rael.

He be­came a Freema­son at the age of 30, and in a long ca­reer has be­longed to four lodges, in­clud­ing a four-year stint at Lodge Lautoka 3354 in Nadi, Fiji.

Awarded a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for be­ing a Jus­tice of the Peace for 37 years, he is no stranger to com­mu­nity work and has held roles as an hon­orary Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion fish­eries ranger, a mem­ber of Lake Taupo¯ Search and Res­cue, a wed­ding cel­e­brant and is a life mem­ber of both Ro­torua and Taupo¯ Aero Clubs.

Tony says that he will al­ways be a Freema­son and says he “wouldn’t have a clue” about the many hours of vol­un­teer work he has car­ried out over the years.

“Just think about what the world would be like if ev­ery New Zealan­der put in 10 hours of vol­un­tary work ev­ery year,” says Tony.

He says that “help­ing some­one else”, sums up what Freema­sons do. The web­site for New Zealand Freema­sons de­scribes the or­gan­i­sa­tion as a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion with a fo­cus on sup­port­ing char­ity and car­ry­ing out com­mu­nity ser­vice, made up of men of good char­ac­ter with high ideals and worth­while val­ues who make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity.

Tony says that Freema­sonry will surge again in New Zealand be­cause peo­ple are look­ing for some­thing mean­ing­ful.

“It’s an an­cient so­ci­ety dat­ing back 300 years, yet the the Freema­sonry prin­ci­ples of kind­ness and care are time­less val­ues that are very rel­e­vant to­day.”

Among other things, Freema­sonry pro­vides train­ing in self de­vel­op­ment and Tony says that as a younger man his Freema­sonry train­ing en­abled him to com­pletely over­come a bad stam­mer, and he learnt to con­trol a ‘short fuse’ and be more tol­er­ant of oth­ers.

“Freema­sonry of­fers a broth­er­hood of man un­der the fa­ther­hood of God. It en­ables men of all races, reli­gion and creed to meet to­gether in har­mony.”

He says that men join the Freema­sons for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons, and he says that it is very im­por­tant to him that men can meet to­gether.

Tony is of the Jewish faith and prac­tices within the lim­its of his en­vi­ron­ment. The near­est sy­n­a­gogue is in Auck­land.

“When Freema­sons meet, two top­ics are for­bid­den, pol­i­tics and reli­gion. These are the sub­jects that de­fine men, not bring them to­gether,” he says.

The char­i­ta­ble arm of Freema­sons is The Freema­sons Char­ity, a regis­tered char­ity un­der the New Zealand Char­i­ties Act. Benev­o­lence and help­ing those in need has con­sumed a fair part of Tony’s life and he says among the many char­i­ta­ble gifts the Freema­sons have made, mem­o­rable phi­lan­thropy was en­dow­ing a Chair at Auck­land Uni­ver­sity’s Med­i­cal School for the pur­pose of teach­ing stu­dents about the needs of old peo­ple. The Lodge Kaimanawa 426, the lo­cal Taupo¯ Freema­sonry lodge, also do­nated GPS track­ing de­vices for peo­ple with de­men­tia who wan­der away from home.

“If you are won­der­ing why you haven’t re­ally heard about what we do, it’s be­cause we just qui­etly get on with it,” Tony says.

Photo / Sup­plied

Tony Is­rael with New Zealand Freema­sonry grand master Mark Winger. Tony re­ceived the OSM at a cer­e­mony on Au­gust 20, at the Grand Lodge in Welling­ton.

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