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Back to Newspaper articles archive: 2001

Joyful Welcome! - Returning Baha'i representatives give report on Israel trip

Some of the Baha'i representatives show their Jamaican Bandanna in Israel. - Contributed

BAHA'IS CONVERGED on the Norman Manley International Airport last week Sunday evening to give a jubilant, hand-clapping welcome to 12 fellow Baha'is returning from a historic visit to Mount Carmel, Israel. Undaunted by a bomb scare in Tel Aviv airport, they all arrived safely back in Jamaica.

Over 3,000 members of the Baha'i Faith gathered in the Holy Land recently to participate in a dramatic and moving celebration of the inauguration of a series of majestic terraces and gardens surrounding the Shrine of the Bab (Prophet-Herald of the Baha'i Faith).

As thousands streamed up the terraces, hearts throbbed with deep emotions and minds were sparked by this unique experience. Here are some impressions of the Jamaican celebrants in their own words:

An educator/linguist... "The week was eventful without being stressful... so many people herded around from early in the morning until late at night, yet everyone was smiling and happy... peace, harmony, order and punctuality prevailed... many languages were spoken, and a multiplicity of cultures blended with amazing smoothness... being in Haifa was like going to Heaven without having to die!"

A farmer from Ginger Ground, St. Elizabeth... "For me, it was a good experience... first time I was seeing so many people from so many different cultures, with so much harmony and unity.. there was order... it was good to see so many young people present.. a sign of hope for the next generation..."

A young scientist/lecturer... "I am greatly amazed by the enormity of the task of building on such a steep and rocky mountain... the engineer and architect shared their ideas.. one could see the humility and gratitude they felt... something else that struck me was the level of humility and hospitality shown by all the Baha'i staff... it was hard to tell who was the supervisor and who were the subordinates...."

A young lawyer " .. we were treated to a video presentation on the decade long construction project. Baha'is, Jews, Muslims, and Christians involved in the project were interviewed. Notable.... was the recurring theme of the impossibility of the project... and the belief that its realisation could only have been possible by virtue of divine assistance."

Indeed, for Baha'is the event was not only a celebration of US$250m majestic terraces and sacred gardens, but was a perfect setting to demonstrate the beauty of the oneness of the world of humanity, and the Baha'i commitment to the unity of all races -- a commitment which must in time be translated into the transformation of the fortunes of the masses of mankind. The younger generation were the focus of the Baha'i Faith's international governing council, who noted in an address to the youth that the great majority of humanity remains engulfed in heartbreaking "suffering and deprivation".

"Humanity's crying need will not be met by a struggle among competing ambitions or by protest against one or another of the countless wrongs afflicting a desperate age," said the message. "It calls, rather, for a fundamental change of consciousness, for a wholehearted embrace of Baha'u'llah's teaching that the time has come when each human being on earth must learn to accept responsibility for the welfare of the entire human family".

"Commitment to this revolutionising principle will increasingly empower individual believers and Baha'i institutions alike in awakening others to the Day of God and to the latent spiritual and moral capacities that can change this world into another world," the statement said. "We demonstrate this commitment... by our rectitude of conduct towards others, by the discipline of our own natures, and by our complete freedom from the prejudices that cripple collective action in the society around us and frustrate positive impulses towards change."

©Copyright 2001, The Jamaica Gleaner

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