1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/B'nai B'rith, Independent Order of
B'NAI B'RITH (or Sons of the Covenant), INDEPENDENT ORDER OF, a Jewish fraternal society. It was founded at New York in 1843 by a number of German Jews, headed by Henry Jones, and is the oldest as well as the largest of the Jewish fraternal organizations. Its membership in 1908 was 35,870, its 481 lodges and 10 grand lodges being distributed over the United States, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Rumania, Egypt and Palestine. Its objects are to promote a high morality among Jews, regardless of differences as to dogma and ceremonial customs, and especially to inculcate the supreme virtues of charity and brotherly love. Political and religious discussions were from the first excluded from the debates of the order. In 1851 the first grand lodge was established at New York; in 1856, the number of district lodges having increased, the supreme authority was vested in a central body consisting of one member from each lodge; and by the present constitution, adopted in 1868, this authority is vested in a president elected for five years, an executive committee and court of appeals (elected as before). The first lodge in Germany was instituted at Berlin in 1883. A large number of charitable and other public institutions have been established in the United States and elsewhere by the order, of which may be mentioned the large orphan asylum in Cleveland, the home for the aged and infirm at Yonkers, N.Y., the National Jewish hospital for consumptives at Denver, and the Maimonides library in New York City. The B'nai B'rith society has also co-operated largely with other Jewish philanthropic organizations in succouring distressed Israelites throughout the world.