My Papa Jerry’s Masonic Apron

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My object is the ceremonial Freemasonic apron belonging to Jerry Packer, the second husband of my maternal grandmother, Theresa Orr. Jerry received this ceremonial apron in September 1965 as part of his induction into the Noddle’s Island, MA, Freemasonic Lodge, a largely Jewish lodge. Masonry is a fraternal order that builds ethical development. It is an organization that was important to the lives of some Jewish Americans because it provided a means of assimilating into their community and making personal and business contacts. It was also a way to do charitable work. Some people believe Masons are sinister. This is false. They draw upon ideas from the ancient world and use symbols, such as the all-seeing eye (pictured on the apron) to honor the ethics of all religions. Some Masonic lodges have discriminated against Jews and other minorities in America. But in its ideals, Masonry is supposed to welcome everyone, and this was true for Jewish New Englanders like Jerry. Jerry’s own father, who emigrated from Russia and became a US citizen in 1940, did not attend Jerry's graduation from high school or Harvard Law School—but he was so proud that Jerry followed him into Freemasonry that he attended his induction ceremony, at which Jerry wore this symbolic apron, pictured to the right.

Year: 1940

– Caleb Horowitz

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