About Israel Israel
A Patriot of the American Revolution for DELAWARE. DAR Ancestor # A060678
Following is an excerpt from the book, "The Jews of Philadelphia" by Henry Samuel Morais (1894)
"[Israel Israel] was neither a Jew, nor the son of a Jewish mother—despite his doubly Biblical name. Mr. Israel's descendants to this day are found in Philadelphia and Washington, D. C., and the writer has succeeded in tracing them. Information given leaves no doubt that, originally, the family was Jewish; perhaps of Dutch extraction, but no clue is at hand that can trace its origin. Mr. Israel's father, Michael Israel (whose place and date of birth are not known), married Mary J. Paxton, and of their children one, who died in infancy, was interred in the cemetery of an Episcopal Church. Three, however, are specially mentioned (and, what is more peculiar, Biblical names are preserved), viz.: Israel, Abigail, and Joseph. Descendants of the last-named reside in this city, and Joseph Israel's sword is in possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He had been a Grand Mason in New Castle, Delaware.
We have been enabled to give these statements for the first time, else many an incident might tend to strengthen the impression that has been hitherto conveyed as to Israel Israel being a member of [the Jewish] race. As recent as June 24th, 1882, Honorable Thomas Clayton, in an address on "The Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania," delivered before the Grand Lodge, referred to Past Grand Master Israel as an " Israelite in whom there was no guile." Apparently, nothing could be more convincing. But this observation is disproved by the inscription on Israel Israel's tombstone, which stands in South Laurel Hill Cemetery, near the division line of Fairmount Park, and which inscription settles the question beyond all dispute: "A Christian patriarch, firm in the faith," and other words of a still more emphatic character, could not be found on the memorial stone of any Jew. A portrait of Israel Israel hangs in the Grand Master's room of the Masonic temple, Philadelphia. His clean-shaven face is indicative of a foreigner rather than of a native, yet it is not indisputedly Jewish. His dress—somewhat of the style among Quakers—was common to many, not exclusively of that sect, in his days.
Thus much of this story which relates to a man who "was of Jewish extraction, but was never a Jew" (the words of a descendant are quoted); nor is there evidence to warrant the statement that he was a Quaker, but it is more than probable that he was connected with the Protestant Episcopal Church."
Info added per DAR's "Lineage Book of the Charter Members" by Mary S Lockwood and published 1895 stating he "was a member of the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania and a recognized active patriot"
Israel Israel was the eldest of four children of Michael Israel (an innkeeper in the Society Hill district of Philadfelphia and owner of the "Sign of the Blue Lion" tavern) and Mary J. Paxton.
Israel was a merchant and as a young man went off to find his fortune in Barbados, where he remained for about ten years. He returned to Philadelphia around the time of the Revolution.
Israel was a shopkeeper in Carter's Alley, below Third Street; then from 1785 to 1801.
He was proprietor of the "Sign of the Cross Keys" tavern at Third and Chestnut Street.
In 1797 Israel was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Pennsylvania State Senate and served one term [1797 - 1798].
In 1816 Israel was justice of the peace for Philadelphia's Fifth District.
Israel's political interests led him to become an active member of the Sons of St. Tammany .
Along with a fellow Mason, Jonathan B. Smith, he joined the Society of Constitutional Republicans  and became its first vice-president.
Israel also played a prominent role during the devastating yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
With fellow Mason Stephen Girard, he served on the volunteer citizen's committee, which did much to alleviate suffering of orphans and the poor.
In the same year Israel was also a member of a committee formed to provide relief to French exiles from Santo Domingo, to which, incidentally, President Washington contributed $250.
Israel showed further charity by serving on the board of trustees of a special citizen's committee to collect funds for the ransom of Philadelphians captured and enslaved by Algerian pirates.
When he died, Israel lived at 103 Walnut Street.
Israel was buried in the graveyard of the Universalist Church in Lombard Street west of Fourth, in which he had been active since 1788. His remains, as well as those of other family members, were removed to Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1860.
Israel Israel was made a Mason, and was admitted to Lodge No. 3 Philadelphia, in May 1794.
He was also a member of Royal Arch Chapter No. 3  and served as Grand High Priest while he was Grand Master.
Info added per the DAR's "Lineage Book of the Charter Members" by Mary S Lockwood published in 1895 stating he was "a member of the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania and a recognized active patriot."
Israel Israel's Timeline
October 20, 1746
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
February 20, 1773
June 10, 1776
July 12, 1778
June 17, 1780
Wilmington, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
September 17, 1782
July 20, 1784
June 24, 1786
March 22, 1788