H.O.D. (Hebrew Order of David)
M M Ussishkin Lodge, Witbank

Consecrated 1924
This is an extract from the HOD book:


M M Ussishkin

          In 1905 the first Minyan in the little village of Witbank was held in the dwelling house of the late Mr. S. Esakov, and in that year the Witbank Hebrew Congregation was formed. The town, the district and the community grew fast, and in 1913 the Synagogue was built.
          In 1924 a young man, Barney Hope, arrived in Witbank from Benoni. He was a member of the Benoni Lodge of the Hebrew Order of David who spread enthusiasm amongst the community in Witbank. On his initiative the late Wor Bro M. Ostrofsky of Benoni was invited to Witbank to address the community, and as a result thereof it was decided to form a Lodge. A charter was granted the same year.
          The Lodge had assisted in all Jewish activities in the town and the district, and it helped largely in the building of the communal hall in 1939. During the Second World War the members of the Lodge who proceeded on active service were cared for, and a most effective system of rehabilitation was embarked upon when they returned.
          In 1943 this Lodge applied for and was granted permission to re-name itself the M M Ussishkin Lodge after the great Zionist leader of that name.

          The M M Ussishkin Lodge No. 10. H.O.D. was formerly known as “The Witbank Lodge” renamed in 1943 - 5702, by the Wor. Bro. Rev. N. Menachemson. H. CF. P. Pres.
          The vibrant Jewish community of Witbank continued to play a noteworthy role in the affairs of South African Jewry. It was a strong outpost of the Zionist Movement whose influence was indeed formidable. Large sums were raised for all the Zionist Campaigns and no overseas emissary failed to visit Witbank.
          The Lodge maintained its activities with speakers visiting Witbank regularly and the brethren from nearby Middelburg attended meetings regularly. Visits were also undertaken to sister lodges in Bethal and Springs and from time to time the Lodge meetings were held in Middelburg.
          The 1960's began to see the decline of the rural Jewish communities. Whereas Witbank itself had become a large mining and industrial town with the population trebling in numbers within a decade, the Jewish community was shrinking in numbers. Young people had left to go to University in the big cities and never returned.
          The Shul which had been the hub of Jewish communal activities but was now situated in the centre of the Commercial Centre was sold and a beautiful Jewish Centre was built in the suburbs. It was hoped that the new centre would cater for a growing Jewish community in the Eastern Transvaal. Alas, this does not appear to have materialised.
          Because of the proximity to the Military Camp the Lodge took upon itself to cater to the needs of the Jewish trainees who would attend Shul on Friday nights and be entertained to supper by the community.
          Towards the end of 1982 the Lodge decided to go into recess as it could no longer muster a quorum for meetings and the Lodge finally handed back its charter to the Grand Lodge. Amongst those who played a noteworthy part in the Lodge activities were Wor Bro Barney Hope, Wor Bro Les Gafinowitz, Wor Bro S J Young and Wor Bro Vic Burman. 

Editor Wor Bro David Wacks’ Note:

       The HOD Special will long be remembered in the annals of the HOD. Train reservations were made to take brethren from Johannesburg, Germiston, Boksburg, Benoni and Springs to Witbank for the Consecration of the new Lodge in Witbank. Here is an account by Wor Bro Talekinsky:


      One of the most outstanding Consecrations it has been my pleasure to attend was that of the Witbank Lodge. There were no passenger trains on Sundays in 1924, to Witbank, and Grand Lodge hired a special train. A huge Magen David and a banner, entitled "HOD Special", was stuck on the engine and the train stopped at Germiston, Boksburg, Benoni and Apex stations to pick up HOD members, their wives and children who, altogether, were about 170 strong. Among the Grand Lodge Officers present was Sir Harry Graumann.
      When we arrived in Witbank we found the Mayor, Mr. Tom Spencer, and numerous prominent Witbank personalities to welcome us. African Theatres took films and these were later shown on the "African Mirror".
      After all the formalities had been completed we were taken by car to a beautifully decorated hall and served a most outstanding lunch. After lunch we attended to HOD business, did the initiations, raised the principal officers to the Second Degree, and were entertained to tea and music in Bro Jacob Dembo's magnificent garden. After tea we installed the Officers.
      We were invited to the Witbank Club, where we changed into evening dress for the banquet. I remember a humorous incident that occurred as we were dressing for that function. One of our brethren bent down to tie up his shoelaces; I could not resist the temptation and gave him a resounding clap on the back. When he turned round to see who had greeted him in this unorthodox manner, I discovered, to my horror, that it was none other than Sir Harry Graumann. But the genial Knight took my action in the best of spirits, and stretching out his hand, he gave me the HOD grip and said, "I admire your brotherly spirit."
      The banquet itself proved a magnificent social success, with an excellent supper and speeches. Dancing took place till midnight and when our train left Witbank Station at 12.30 there was a huge crowd to see us off. It was an occasion to be remembered.

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First Meeting of Witbank H.O.D Lodge  M. M. Ussishkin Lodge No. 10. Witbank 25th July, 1948
 M. M. Ussishkin Lodge No. 10. Witbank 1975  Podium Cover

Markham Becker from Witbank as Grand President 1994 - 1996

EXECUTIVE 1994- 1996

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