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Famous mason: Sir Asher Joel

24 October 23

A man of value

Few men really become legends in their lifetime. Sir Asher Joel is one man who achieved that worth.

Born in Western Sydney in 1912, his father was a clerk and his mother a daughter of a Jewish Minister. The family had little money which prevented the family from attending the Great Synagogue especially during Yom Kippur, but his parents gave Asher and his brothers a sound home life.

He was educated at Enmore Public School and Cleveland Street High School until he left school at 14 and started work as a copy boy with the Daily Telegraph. As a reporter he worked for The Labor Daily and at 20 years of age he became the paper’s Parliamentary reporter. His Parliamentary reports were so well written that in 1938 he was the Publicity Director for the Coronation of King George VI and a year later organised the 150th Year Anniversary of Captain Cook’s Landing.

In 1942 Asher Joel joined the Australian Army, but was released to run the Sydney Lord Mayor’s Patriotic and War Fund and the Australian Comforts Fund. In 1944 he transferred to the Royal Australian Navy where he served on General MacArthur’s Staff as Liaison Officer between MacArthur’s Headquarters and the US Navy until 1945 when he returned to civilian life. For most men after a busy war one would imagine it would be feasible to take things easy but for Asher Joel it meant back to work. In 1946 he set up and chaired the Asher Joel Property Limited, a public relations firm and in 1949 he was a founding member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

In 1958 he was elected to the NSW Legislative Council as an Independent, moving to the Country National Party the following year and retiring in 1978.

Asher Joel organised and was involved in many Australian and New South Wales events, from the visit of Princess Alexandra in 1957 to the visits of President Johnson in 1964 and Pope John Paul II in 1970.

But in all the events in which he was involved, the opening of the Sydney Opera House stood out. According to Rabbi Apple, Joel said the easiest person to work with was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1973 when she attended the opening and he felt that she was a true professional.

Asher Joel was a man of many parts and influence. He served on the United Israel Appeal Board, he was a founder and governor of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and he was involved in many Australian and Israeli projects including the Anzac and Menzies Forests in Israel. No doubt every journalist dreams of having his own paper and Asher had a great inter­est in Queensland where he published his newspaper the North West Star in Mt Isa which had a circulation over an area of 400,000 square kilometres.

In addition to his many attributes he also wrote two books Australian Protocol and Procedures, 1982 and Without Chains, Free, 1977. Australian Protocol and Procedures is used by Local Government, Government Authorities and Organisations as the authority and resource on correct protocols.

Asher Joel received many decorations and awards, including twice knighted by the Queen, a Bronze Star from the United States, the Order of Australia and the first Jewish person to be awarded a Papal Knighthood by the Vatican. He often joked that his children remarked that if he wore all his decorations he would look like a Christmas Tree.

Brother Asher Joel joined Lodge Bexley 328 in 1930 and was raised in 1931. He affiliated to four NSW Lodges including the Army and Navy in 1974 and also joined Lodge Renown 270 in Victoria. In 1984 he had the rank of Past Grand Director of Music conferred on him.

Brother Sir Asher Joel was a man who started life in humble circum­stances yet rose to the top of his profes­sion. He walked with kings, world leaders and Popes, yet he never forgot his earlier beginning, Brother Rudyard Kipling wrote; ‘if you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch, you’ll be a man’.

Albert Einstein once wrote; ‘Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value’.

Asher Joel was such a man.


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