Written by Chris Boyle, email@example.com Friday, 27 December 2013 10:57
For many years the Free Masons have had their names spoken in hushed tones, with many regarding the mysterious organization with awe, mistrust and confusion.
Lecturer Saul Silas Fathi recently spoke on this complex topic at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library as it relates to a very specific facet of U.S. history: Freemasonry’s connection to the highest echelons of American government, according to Beth Saltalamacchio, head of adult programming for the library.
“Mr. Fathi has a very interesting background...places he has lived, places he has escaped from,” she said. “Today, he is going to be talking about the Free Masons...he has explored the connection between that organization and U.S. Presidents and found that many of them were members, and there may have been influence on their administrations. I found that topic intriguing, so I asked him to come and talk here today.”
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization, often considered by many as a “secret society” whose obscure origins date back possibly hundreds of years to the late 16th century. Their goal, according to member and Merrick resident Michael Horowitz, who attended Fathi’s lecture, is moral uprightness and the good of each other and the community they belong to.
“It’s a fraternity of men who are bonded by friendship and the love of one another...it’s not religious, and it’s not political,” he said. “We do a lot do community service and activities, and we donate millions of dollars to different charities. And each state is independent of each other, each with its own Grand Lodge that governs that various independent lodges in that state. It’s a worldwide organization...overall, we have about six million members.”
Guest lecturer Saul Silas Fathi was born to a Jewish family in Baghdad, Iraq; at the age of 10, he and his brother were smuggled out to Israel. When he was older, he moved to Brazil where he fell upon hard times and nearly starved while looking for work. Eventually making it to the U.S. on a student exchange visa, Fathi earned his citizenship and a college education by serving in the Army for three years. Completing his degree in electrical engineering, he later went on to found and manage high-tech companies.
Fathi, who currently resides in Central Islip with his wife, retired in 2003 to write his memoirs, and has published two books to date. He is also active on the local lecture circuit in the tri-state area, speaking at various venues on a variety of subjects, ranging from history to science to religion, including the topic of this day’s discussion: Freemasonry and its connection to multiple U.S. Presidents.
“It’s very unique in that 14 great presidents of the United States joined the Free Masons and achieved high level, third degree rankings. George Washington was the first, and Gerald Ford was the last,” he said. “George Washington actually designed Washington D.C., and he used an architect who was also a Free Manson, so there are many conspiracy theories about the construction of Washington D.C. and the White House.”
Another subject Fathi aimed to address with his presentation were several misconceptions that the general public tends to have regarding Freemasonry.
“Some people think it’s a religion, some a political movement, and others equate it to atheism, but it’s not any of those,” he said. “It’s based on morality, which all religions are, but Free Masons can belong to any religion in the world...in that way, they are very, very unique. Many other groups force you to convert to their faith, but Freemasonry allows you to remain who you are and embrace it strictly based on morality.”
To find out more about Saul Silas Fathi, including his lecture series and speaking schedule, visit www.saulsilasfathi.com.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
Famous American painter Georgia O’Keeffe was the topic of discussion at the Plainview Old-Bethpage Public Library on Feb. 20.
Members of the audience were given an in-depth look into the life and artwork of O’Keeffe through a self-made and researched lecture and slideshow by art appraiser Louise Cella Caruso.
O’Keeffe lived for 98 years. Within her lifetime, she was granted the Medal of Arts by Ronald Regan, and in 1938, she was selected as one of the 12 most outstanding women of the previous 50 years. When she passed away she was accorded the honor of a first page obituary in the New York Times.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
In celebration of its tenth anniversary, the Kids of Distinction program is offering more scholarships and planning a festive gala that will look back on a decade of supporting our most civic-minded children. The Town of Oyster Bay and the Old Bethpage-based Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., the sponsoring entities, are seeking nominations of local youngsters who are standouts in public service for the 2014 awards.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, together with Kids Helping Kids co-founders Robert A.J. Eslick and Philip M. Eslick, kicked off the search for a new batch of “kids of distinction” at the end of February. Nominations are due by May 16. Winners will be recognized at a special ceremony held by the board of trustees on Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. with a citation from the Town and a $2,000 scholarship from Kids Helping Kids.