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A.J.E.F. or Asociación de Jóvenes Esperanza de la Fraternidad (Association of Youth Hope of the Fraternity) is an appendant body to Freemasonry for youth aged 14–21 in Mexico, the United States, and Latin America.
Initially its local organizations were named Lodges (Logias AJEF), but have been renamed as Talleres (workshops) in order to emphasize that A.J.E.F. is not Masonry, but an appendant body. Each Taller is sponsored by a Masonic Lodge, in both economic and moral support.
It is similar in focus and function to the Order of DeMolay, albeit with stronger ties to Freemasonry.
Although it was originally exclusively for men, there are many women's bodies, according to the rules of the Sponsoring Lodge or of the Grand Lodge. Officially, mixed working is not usual, and the joint activities are supervised by a Master Mason.
Originally there was a body named "Consejo Central AJEF" (AJEF Central Council) as a superior body that supervised and organized, and it was conformed by active members of the A.J.E.F. In Mexico, there are not many Central Councils, though they still exist in Tamaulipas and Chiapas.
Every Chapter depends directly from its Lodge and Grand Lodge dispositions, but in order to maintain communication and fraternal working there are many events promoting fraternal activities. Almost every Grand Lodge in Mexico promotes the A.J.E.F. This is uncommon in the United States and in some other Latin American countries.
The members of a Chapter or Lodge are:
- Guide (Guía)
- First adviser (Asesor Primero)
- Second adviser (Asesor Segundo)
- Secretary (Secretario)
- Treasurer (Tesorero)
- Orator (Orador)
- Guardian (Guardián)
- Director of Choir (Director de Coro)
- Director of Ceremonies (Director de Ceremonias)
- Donations Collector (Colector de Obolos)
- Steward (Experto)
- Flag Bearer (Portabandera)
- Standard Bearer (Portaestandarte)
- Instruction Master (a Master Mason) (Un Maestro Masón es el Maestro Instructor)
Reaching 5,000 members by 1938, its rapid growth began to foster chapters overseas.
In 1939 the first Mexican A.J.E.F. Lodge, named after Benito Juárez, was established by the United Mexican Grand Lodge of Veracruz (Gran Logia "Unida Mexicana") due to the influence and motivation of Martin Dihigo Llanos. The second one was established at Mexico City, by the Mexican Valley Grand Lodge (Gran Logia "Valle de México") and its name was "Fernando Suárez Núñez".
Mystique and rituals
The original ritual was created by its Cuban founder Fernando Suárez Núñez.
In Mexico the Regular Grand Lodges of the United States of Mexico Confederation (Confederación de Grandes Logias Regulares de la República Mexicana) assigned the Mexican Valley Grand Lodge (Gran Logia "Valle de México") to adapt the ritual for the Mexican youth; but in 1991 the United Mexican Grand Lodge of Veracruz (Gran Logia Unida Mexicana) created the "Vademécum del AJEF", the first compilation of ceremonials and the AJEF Theory - symbols and philosophic principles. Because of that it is the basis for the subsequent documents elaborated by other Grand Lodges, as the "Prontuario del AJEF", created in 1994 by the Grand Lodge Valle de México.
The rituals that constitute the exercise of "Ajefismo" are aimed at developing moral values and social skills among the initiates.
The Letters A.J.E.F. have in themselves a deeper meaning, as these are the letters of the "fundamental words" Love, Justice, Hope and Fraternity (Amor, Justicia, Esperanza y Fraternidad).
The institution's motto, always at the bottom of essays and official papers, is "For the nation and humanity" (Por la patria y la humanidad).
The initiation process varies according to the region even though there is an official written liturgy with such cases noted, as are funerals and weddings; these initiations may vary from being verbatim to the liturgy to identical to those performed in adult Freemasonry.
In that same vein it is not uncommon for AJEF essays to be about esoteric themes as well as science, morals or history, and it is not uncommon to find young participants to be well-versed in different areas.
- Official Site for Caballeros del Temple No 6, Mexico City based A.J.E.F. chapter (in Spanish)
- Official Site for Jose Azueta No. 18 Veracruz Mexico based A.J.E.F. chapter (in Spanish)
- Official Site for Hijos de Nuevos Horizontes, Hialeah, Florida based A.J.E.F. chapter (in Spanish)
- Sitio Oficial de Logias AJEF Jurisdiccionadas a la Muy Respetable Gran Logia Valle de México (in Spanish)
- Official Site for Jose Martí No.4, Mexico City based A.J.E.F. chapter (Archived 2009-10-24)
- Official Site for Benito Juárez No. 4, Guadalajara based A.J.E.F. chapter (in Spanish)
- Official Site for Mexican A.J.E.F. community (in Spanish)
- Taller Ajef Francisco Lopez Gutierrez #10, Tijuana (in Spanish)