First Unity Lodge
he first ‘unity lodge’ in the world First Unity Lodge was inaugurated in January 1973. It was the first B'nai B'rith joint men’s and women’s Lodge in the world. (See the history of our lodge below). Some of the original participants are still members!
Young at heart
From that fact, you will deduce that we are no longer in the first flush of youth. Our 80 or so members range from their 70s to 90s and live across north-west London. We are a very friendly group, young in spirit and indulging in a wide variety of activities.
In normal times
We used to meet fortnightly on Sunday evenings in members’ homes. We were always treated to an outstanding talk by guest speakers which led to lively debate amongst our members. We have had plenty of homegrown evenings with the abundant talents amongst our members contributing programmes of poetry, music and games and about our jobs, interests and backgrounds.
If we are expecting more than 40 people, we often meet at Jewish venues such as the Chai Cancer Care Centre in north west London or the common Room at Frances and Dick James Court – sheltered flats in Mill Hill for the Jewish Blind and Disabled, where residents are invited to join us. We also meet of an afternoon in smaller groups around our own areas.
Highlights of our year
Our year is punctuated by an annual ‘Unity Lecture’ where we invite a celebrated politician or leader in their field to talk to us. Our AGM is usually a jolly affair as we have taken to appointing a quartet of presidents to take on the top job for just three months of the year. We also enjoy outings to concerts and the theatre together, walks in the countryside and also weekends away where a programme of intellectual stimulation as well as fun and games is always planned. We usually get together for New Year's Eve, staying till Big Ben chimes! Monthly Bridge sessions are also a popular feature. We are pleased to raise funds for B'nai B'rith projects including Kiryat Gat in Israel and the Elderly in the Ukraine.
In Lockdown – a ‘virtual lodge’ 2020
In this unprecedented time when we have been confined to our homes for most of the year, several members living on their own, we have taken care to keep all members involved and stimulated by setting up a ‘virtual Lodge’. Members are invited daily to participate, with feedback, in music, general knowledge, word and number quizzes and many more activities to suit all tastes. Our dedicated welfare committee is in constant contact with all members so we can quickly spot any problems should they occur.
First Unity Lodge Lockdown Diary
Each member is invited to write about a particular day and our First Unity Lodge Lockdown diary is circulated to members once a week. We are encouraged and guided to write memoirs of our families and snippets are circulated each week. We have set up a poetry circle, a book club and a film society where people rate what they have read or seen. We enjoy swopping recipes in ‘What’s for Dinner?’ There is of course lots to watch online – but we try to do things where members can respond and get good feedback.
We are now planning virtual lodge social gatherings on Zoom – starting with ‘Chanukah Live’. We will continue with fortnightly First Unity Lodge Conversations on Zoom ‘FULCOZ’ with members being interviewed regarding their pastimes like ‘messing about in boats, surprises in genealogy and exciting musical experiences.
• Read our memories of 50 years of B'nai B'rith First Unity Lodge in the 50th anniversary booklet below
• Also read our February 2020 Newsletter
We welcome new members at any time. Do contact First Unity Lodge
Geraldine Auerbach MBE
Quartet President, London, December 2020
First Unity Lodge, Registered Charity No 1075516
*The history of First Unity Lodge
First Unity Lodge was established by group of young people, many being children of Leo Baeck Lodge members. They created a Bnai Brith Circle in 1960. They liked each other’s company and enjoyed what Bnai Brith stood for, so they next established themselves as the Sir Basil Henriques Young Adult Lodge in 1963. The members were determined to grow up in a single lodge. However, they had to wait a while.
When they no longer qualified as ‘Young Adults’, a First Unity Mens’ Lodge and First Unity Womens’ Lodge had to satisfy in 1967. The name ‘Unity’ was chosen because we wanted to unite into one Lodge. It was also an apt name as that was the time when Jerusalem was re-united after the Six Day War and when the Jewish communities of the Diaspora united to support the Israelis.
All the while, our Board wrestled with the parent bodies to allow lodges with men and women together. At last, we were enabled to become a Unity Lodge in December 1972 and were inaugurated as First Unity Lodge in January 1973. (I was, in fact, the first person inaugurated into the first Unity lodge, as I had refused to join the women’s’ lodge.) Geraldine Auerbach MBE
Programme of events
2021 Programme coming soon…