New Temple a Dream Come True in Lebanon
The Lebanon Shriners have a strong desire to organize in order to help the children of their area.
Every temple has its own unique origin story. For Lubnan Shriners, U.D., based in Lebanon, that story starts halfway around the world, in California and New York.
The driving force behind this is Noble Raffy Timonian.
The story is also a prime example of the strong connection between Masonry and Shriners. Masonry is well-established in Lebanon, where there are 13 lodges that operate under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of New York (GLNY).
“My journey in Freemasonry started in New York Lodge #1902,” Timonian said. “In 1992, my residence was split between Lebanon and California. Being a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, I applied and became a Shriner under Al Malaikah in November 1992. In 1993, I went back to Lebanon and started working on the local lodges.”
In 1997, Timonian affiliated with Mecca Shriners in New York City. He brought “a good number” of Masons to New York, he said, helped create them as Shriners, and started the Nobles of Lebanon Shrine Club in Beirut, Lebanon, under Mecca.
“Since then, we have been working on the ground trying to help the children in need in Lebanon,” Timonian said. “We could only work as a club because we belonged to New York and there was no Grand Lodge in Lebanon."
In 2018, GLNY chartered the Grand Lodge of the F & AM of Lebanon. “I have the honor of serving as the first Grand Master, with the first term ending in November 2024,” Timonian said. The idea of starting a Shriners temple started to look like a dream that could come true.
In 2019, Timonian met with Chairman of the International Development Committee Imperial Sir Ed Stolze, who helped with all the necessary steps. Lubnan Shriners received its dispensation on July 4, 2022, at Imperial Session in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Lubnan Shriners' leadership met with several government officials, parliament members and influential people in Lebanon to explain who the Shriners are and how the Shriners Children’s healthcare system can help children in Lebanon.
“We are working very closely with several doctors to identify children in need of our medical intervention, in full support and cooperation from the Order of Doctors in Lebanon,” Timonian said.
Lubnan Shriners is thrilled to be able to support its community in numerous ways. As Lebanon navigates difficult economic times, parents are concerned about putting food on their tables, Timonian said. So Lubnan Shriners provides food rations for families. In addition, the temple supports children’s well-being not only when it comes to their physical health, but also their mental and cutural development. For example, their "Music for Lebanon" program is designed to focus on music as an integral part of education. The program introduces children to classical music through free live concerts, giving them the chance to get introduced to various musical instruments. The program also covers the cost of music lessons.
“Our goal is to put a smile on every child's face, one child at a time,” Timonian said.
In January, several members of Lubnan Shriners assisted with a Shriners Children’s outreach clinic held in Cyprus.
Lubnan Shriners sponsored the family of a little girl born with a hand deformity, and members of the temple including Michel Timonian, Patrick Abdelkarim, as well as Dr. Hanna Ltief accompanied the family from Lebanon to Cyprus, helping to make sure they got to their hotel and their clinic appointment.
The nobles attended the outreach clinic for three days, lending support and serving as interpreters when needed. In addition to helping interpret for physician consults, they interpreted for Shriners Children’s genomics research project for the Lebanese family as well as for patients and families from Egypt and Jordan.
Also traveling with the Shriners was Dr. Youssef Bakhach, president of the Lebanese Physician Association. Dr. Bakhach spent time with Shriners Children’s specialists and learned about the healthcare system’s outreach clinics.
“The support of the nobles of Lubnan Shriners in helping children receive the care they need is so impactful,” said Laura Kozloski, executive director of international strategy for Shriners Children’s. “The goal of Shriners Children’s is to help kids get care close to home, and the Lubnan Shriners’ local knowledge and deep dedication to helping children is a critical resource.
“We are so thankful for the assistance of the nobles who attended the Cyprus clinic and those who helped from their home base in Lebanon,” Kozloski said.
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