Jews, Freemasons, and a Nineteenth-Century Debate on Universality
American Jewish history reveals a notable engagement of Jews with the Masonic brotherhood. In this talk, Dr. Peter Lanchidi will shed light on the meaning and relevance of Freemasonry for American Jewry, and share the story of Jacob Norton, a Jewish Mason in Boston, who found himself at the center of a debate when he presented a petition to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1851 concerning the role of religion within the Masonic brotherhood. Dr. Lanchidi will address the skirmish that followed, pitting universalist Jewish (and non-Jewish) brethren against conservative Christian Masons, as well as the broader context regarding the appeal of Freemasonry for American Jews.
Peter Lanchidi is a tenured Assistant Professor in the Institute of Art History at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest. As an Azrieli Fellow, he earned his PhD in the Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva. With background in art history and aesthetics (BA) from Budapest and Jewish studies (MA) from Stockholm and Heidelberg, his research focuses on the interface between Freemasonry and Kabbalah in visual material in the nineteenth century and its historical and cultural contexts.