Establishment of the Order in South Africa

In 1904 the pioneers of the Hebrew Order of David formed a branch of the Hebrew Order of Druids in South Africa. The Hebrew Order of Druids was an organisation founded in England in 1896. 

The founders  took this step at a time following the conclusion of the South African War of 1889-1902. Local economic, social and other conditions were, overall, not very attractive to the immigrant Jews, especially those from Eastern Europe.  This period witnessed not only a general re-orientation of organised Jewish life in South Africa, but also the urgent need of the immigrant Jews to establish a closer companionship among their own people, to improve their economic position and generally, to re-adjust themselves in strange and none too friendly surroundings.

On Sunday 27 November 1904 the Dr Herzl Lodge No 19 of the Hebrew Order of Druids was Consecrated at a ceremony in Empress Victoria Hotel, Marshall Street, Johannesburg,

Founders of the Order

Joseph Distiller 1873 - 1938

Wor Bro Joseph Distiller was the founder of the Hebrew Order of David. He arrived in South Africa at the end of the South African War (Boer War). In London he had been associated with a similar organisation called te Hebrew Order of Druids. 

Wor Bro Joseph was born in 1873 near Warsaw, Poland and he passed away in Durban, South Africa on 19 August 1938. He was a determined, constructive and and ardent worker for the Order throughout his life.

Louis Faiga 1878 - 1939

Wor Bro Louis Faiga worked closely with Wor Bro Joseph Distiller in the formation and development of the Order throughout South Africa. 

Wor Bro Louis was born in Praszka, Poland and came to South Africa in 1896. He served in the Rhodesian Volunteers and rose to the rank of sergeant in the Transvaal Cycle and Motor Corps.. 

Wor Bro Louis was one of the founders of the local Zionist Society. He served the Order as Grand Master of Ceremonies, founded the Sir Harry Graumann Lodge in Benoni and served as Grand President of the Order from 1914 to 1915.

Wor Bro Louis Faiga passed away in December 1939.

Change of identity

The Order changed its name by majority vote on 16 November 1919 and by the end of 1921 the Order assumed the rightful title of the Hebrew Order of David.


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Early growth of the Order

The Order continued to grow and by the time the first Conference of the Order took place in Johannesburg on 29 June 1924 the following Lodges had been Consecrated:

  • Otto Warburg Lodge, Pretoria (1914);
  • Sir Rufus Isaacs - later called the Joshua Mazell Lodge, Boksburg (1914)
  • Dr Max Nordau Lodge (1920)
  • Sir Herbert Samuel Lodge, Springs (1921)
  • M M Ussishkin Lodge, Witbank (1924).