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Representatives of many faith communities and various embassies gathered last Tuesday evening, March 22nd, to celebrate Naw-Ruz, the Bahai New Year. The thoughtfulness and care that created the beautiful and world-renowned Bahai Gardens in Haifa were evident in the gorgeous display of bright flowers and lush greenery that were artfully arranged to create a calming mood as guests strolled by on their way into the main ballroom of the David Citadel Hotel. The positive energy continued as attendees, many of them diplomats in colorful national attire, were warmly greeted by the leadership of the Baha'i Community here in Israel, which is home to the World Center of this distinctive group. The joy at being able to finally celebrate together in person after so much pandemic-related isolation was palpable.
The Bahai faith, a recent addition relative to the other major world religions (1844), quickly spread throughout the world, because of its basic appeal to the higher aspirations of human nature. A monotheistic religion, it recognizes all prior prophets as messengers of a Supreme Being who desires humanity to understand and respect His will. The unity of God and the unity of humanity are both primary values and other basic tenets include the search for truth; strengthening the common elements of all religions; faith in fundamental harmony between religion and science; volunteering; equality between men and women; monogamy; denial of prejudices and superstitions; strict obedience to the laws of the local government, non-violence, and international cooperation. According to founder Bahá'u'lláh, these values of global peace, scientific progress and ethical behavior represent successive stages in the spiritual development of mankind.
To emphasize this focus on interrelatedness and a desire for connecting, the program opened with a beautiful song about unity performed by a trio of talented women harmoniously combining the musical contributions of clarinet, bass cello, piano, and voice. The Secretary-General's Dr. David Rutstein opening remarks noted that the main purpose of the evening was to bring joy to all the participants as a show of gratitude to Israel for its abiding acceptance and support of the Bahai World Centre since its inception until today.
There were several references to the power of timing. The first pointed out how appropriate it is to celebrate New Years at the beginning of spring as the earth and its inhabitants wake up from winter and embrace a new cycle of rebirth and renewal. This natural drive for growth fits well with the enhanced hope and confidence in man’s ability and commitment to meet the challenges we face expressed so eloquently by the members of the Bahai community. However, as the founder wisely points out, "Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require" so those who strive for improvement must be always aware and flexible.
Tjeriya Tjitendero, Head of Programming, then presented an amazing and informative survey of the abundant activities being conducted by the many caring Baha'i communities around the globe who are dedicated to the betterment of their fellow humans. This commitment to leave the world a better place has inspired innumerable projects on several continents from Honduras and Chile to Kenya, the Republic of Congo and Ethiopia to India and Kazakhstan all the way to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Bahai leaders have been active participants in international forums addressing women's equality, climate change & ecological stability.  Other worthy projects were spearheaded by local Baha'i communities to meet regional needs such as eliminating hate speech, food distribution, promoting peace discourse, encouraging collaborations between leaders of science and faith, and improving educational opportunities.
After being very warmly introduced, Aaron Davidi, the Director-General of the Ministry of Justice, addressed the participants and described the very special and unique relationship that has existed between the Israeli government and the Bahai World Centre and Community since Haifa became their spiritual headquarters. As Head of the Inter-ministerial Committee for relations between the State of Israel and the Bahai Community, he looks forward to further enhancing these close ties. He added that the Ministry of Justice recognizes the Bahai community as integral to Israeli society and is committed to protecting their holy places and their right to continue to practice their religion freely. Minister Davidi concluded by wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy Naw-Ruz.
Since man does not subsist solely on lofty ideals and positive energy alone, the upbeat evening included a sumptuous buffet with many aromatic and flavorful dishes of fish, chicken, beef, and vegetables representing many cuisines from Mexican to Asian to our own Middle-Eastern. Not surprisingly, the dessert table containing a wide variety of cakes, petit fours, and other sweet concoctions and fresh fruits was very popular. After the formal program concluded, guests were invited to stay and linger they did, greeting old friends and initiating new cordial relationships in an atmosphere of warmth and excitement for the possibility of what might develop from these connections
Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the Bahaim on this wonderful celebration, and wishes a happy Now-Ruz to all the Community

Photos credit Silvia G. Golan 

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