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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes February 2009

National Conferences to Meet

   February, 2009 will see Anaheim, California hosting the annual conferences of the Conference of Grand Masters in North America; the Conference of Grand Secretaries in North America; the Annual Meeting of the Masonic Service Association of North America; the George Washington Masonic Memorial; National Masonic Foundation for Children; and the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America. It is a great time for the Masonic leaders of North America to come together to share ideas and concerns, as well as participate in well-planned programs.

Green Envelope Appeal

   Thanks to the contributions made by many, many individuals, lodges and concordant Masonic bodies, you have again funded the activities of the Masonic Service Association’s Hospital Visitation Program. These funds help MSA to manage a National Program of assistance to our Veterans in VA Hospitals, State Veterans Homes and several Military Hospitals. Thank you for your support!

What is the real value of the program?

   Your donations help our volunteers in aiding and assisting Veteran patients especially to help “while away” many long and lonely hours while they recover from wounds or illness or are in the long term care units.

What is the monetary value?

   Our Volunteers basically give time. Your donations help MSA Volunteers to provide comfort items, social programs, holiday cheer, bedside visits, and a myriad of other activities to our Veterans. Translated into monetary value the MSA Hospital Visitation Program generates 200,000 volunteer hours per year valued by the Federal Government at over $3,900,000.00.

The Independent Sector, an independent research company, states: The estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $19.51 per hour for 2007. They also say: The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.


Attacking the reputations of historical figures, or misquoting their words has become an all-too frequent ruse by those seeking support for their own conflicted views. MSA has had called to its attention just such an example. We were asked to comment on the following diatribe attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

The original of this copy is in the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia

(155 years ago)

Excerpts from the journal of Charles Pickney, of South Carolina, of the proceedings of Constitutional Convention of 1789, regarding the statement of Benjamin Franklin at the convention, concerning Jewish immigration.

There is great danger for the United States of America.
This great danger is the Jew. Gentleman, in whichever land
the Jews have settled, they have repressed the moral level
and lowered the degree of commercial honesty. They have remained
apart, unassimilated-oppressed, they attempt to strangle
the nation financially, as in the case of Portugal and Spain.


(This is only part of the quote, but the rest is in the same vein)


Remember: there is no such document in the Franklin Institute!

      These hate-filled words, while offensive to anyone, are especially repugnant to Freemasons because many Jewish men are members of our fraternity. Turning to our colleague, Glenys Waldman, Librarian, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, for her thoughts, she in turn contacted John Alviti, Senior Curator of Collections at the Franklin Institute. Here is his response to her:

 “As you can well imagine, the Pickney journal never existed.  In the 1930’s, William Dudley Pelley, the head of a American Nazi group—the Silver Legion—invented this document.  As part of a long history known as the “Franklin Prophecy,” Pelley tried to give credibility and legitimacy by penning Franklin’s good name to anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in the country in the mid-1930’s.  Claude-Anne Lopez, an editor emeritus of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, at Yale University Press, published a wonderful article entitled, “Prophet and Loss,” which appeared in The New Republic on January 27, 1997.  This survey does a wonderful job in dispelling the validity of Franklin’s alleged bigotry.  Pelley’s literary inventiveness (or should I say arrogance) went as far as claiming that “the original of this copy is in the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA.” 

Under separate cover, I have sent you a copy of Ms. Lopez’ article.  Please feel free to circulate this article to future researchers who are either skeptical or outraged by Franklin’s alleged anti-Semitic writings.  Historically, it is important to remember that Franklin had a special relationship with Philadelphia’s Sephardic Jewish community—the Mikveh Israel Congregation, founded in 1740.  Like other recipients of Franklin’s generosity, Mikveh Israel received contributions from Franklin on an occasional basis, and attended their religious services.  While Franklin, as an 18th-century “man of means,” who actually owned slaves and made him a target for questioning his belief of equality between the races, was certainly not anti-Semitic. 

Every so often, we get a rash of inquiries about Franklin’s alleged anti-Semitic writings.  Maybe there are more on the way.  Be prepared!  Arm yourself with Claude-Anne Lopez’ article.  I hope you enjoy reading her article, “Prophet and Loss.” 

 MSA is in the process of obtaining a copy of the article “Prophet and Loss” for our own Library as well.


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