Rochester Jay Lodge member awarded Golden Spur in surprise ceremony

COURTESY OF THE ORDER OF KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS

The Order of Knights of Pythias is an international, non-sectarian fraternal order, established in 1864 in Washington, D.C., by Justus H. Rathbone and was the first fraternal order to be chartered by an Act of Congress.  

Rochester Jay Lodge 639 is a subordinate lodge of that order. Its marketing slogan “We Help People” encompasses the work of the organization, raising funds for various charities. 

The Golden Spur is the highest honor a lodge can bestow on a brother. It is awarded via a double-blind selection procedure and by surprise to the recipient, normally at a special event arranged for the purpose. The recipient is entitled to use the honorary title of “sir.”  

The brothers of Lodge 639, Knights of Pythias had a problem. They received the Golden Spur pin and documentation for one of their brothers. A committee was formed to set up an event, such as a brunch or dinner for the presentation. 

They contacted many restaurants and party houses, but due to shortage of staffing and COVID restrictions, they were refused by all possible venues. After a couple of months of trying, they didn’t want to hold off the presentation any longer. 

At a regular meeting in early October, when it came time for “Good of the Order,” Sir Saul Rasnick stood and announced that he had a special presentation to make. An impromptu ceremony then took place to announce that the Lodge’s fifth Golden Spur would be bestowed upon Mort Stein. 

Sir Saul Rasnick conducts the Golden Spur ceremony for Sir Mort Stein.

Stein has served in the lodge in all the elected positions, working his way up to chancellor commander. He served as a deputy grand chancellor and is the outgoing assistant to the chief deputy grand chancellor of the Grand Lodge of New York. 

Professionally, he holds a Doctor of Education degree, and taught sixth and eighth grade science for many years in the Brighton Central School District. He also taught courses at Nazareth College and is a part-time professor at the University of Rochester. Stein previously served on the Brighton Board of Education. 

Outside of Pythian activities, he is a past Scoutmaster of Troop 3 in Rochester and worked on many committees in the Rochester area Scouts, BSA Council. He was the assistant council commissioner, and is a holder of the Wood Badge, Silver Beaver Award and Shofar Award. Stein also served for several years as a member of the E3 Science and Engineering Fair for middle school students.