Thursday, March 5, 2015

Christianity that dogged me until college’

Jack Gordon, 30, is a Bahá'í in Washington DC who is the Producer of Faith In Action DC ( Here he tells us about his religious identity. 

You could say I’m the product of an interfaith relationship that didn’t work out so well. My father and his family have a conservative Jewish eastern European background and my mother is from a Christian background, and there was a cultural clash in my household growing up. On my father’s side, based on the lamentable history that the Jews had at the hands of people who professed to believe in Christ, there was a distinct view that anything associated with Christianity was corrupt and phoney.

So I grew up with a very strong Jewish identity and a resentment of Christianity that dogged me until college. At college I got involved in community organising and started to re-examine the prejudices I had against Christians and Christianity and I began to open myself up a bit more. Part of that was due to a revelation I had at a Gospel concert I attended. Not that I became a Christian; I just realised Jesus was basically a really good community organiser, and that was something I could appreciate and value.

At the same time I was aware I had on my mom’s side a handful of family members in the Baha’i faith, starting with my grandmother who joined the Baha’i community in the Sixties. As I became more open to the spiritual side of things I decided to explore the Baha’i teachings. The more I read, the more I thought, ‘This is something I believe.’ It didn’t ask me to abandon my Jewish cultural heritage or identity; in fact, being a Baha’i has affirmed my desire to learn more about Judaism. It also encouraged me to be more open to Christianity because the Baha’i faith recognises Jesus as a divine messenger, just as it does Mohammed, Baha'u'llah and so on. It’s given me a totally different worldview about spirituality.

Representing a faith community that’s relatively obscure, I feel an imperative to explain my faith to others and strive to live a good example of the Baha’i teachings. There’s an explicit mandate in the Baha’i faith to commune with followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and to increase the bonds of cooperation. That has to start with trying to make peace in my own family, before extending it to my neighbourhood and the world at large.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Baha'is mourn the death of Ariel Sharon

Israel bid its last farewell to the late Ariel Sharon on Monday with a state ceremony outside the parliament building before his flag-draped coffin was taken on a cross-country procession to its final resting place at his family home in the country's south.

With a high-powered crowd of VIPs and international dignitaries on hand, Sharon was eulogized as a fearless warrior and bold leader who devoted his life to protecting Israel's security. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair headed the long list of visitors that included the representatives from the Baha’i World Centre.

Sharon died at the age of 85 on Saturday after spending the last eight painful years in a coma caused by a massive stroke clinging to life in his final days even after his kidneys had stopped functioning.

Sharon's life will be remembered for its three distinct stages: First, was his eventful and contentious time in uniform, including leading a deadly raid in the West Bank that killed 69 Arabs, as well as his heroics in the 1973 Mideast war and as a friend and supporter of Baha’i Faith

He was branded responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps outside Beirut when his troops allowed allied Lebanese militias into the camps. After an uproar over the massacre, the supreme court of Israel found him guilty that cost him his job.

For Baha’is, Sharon was more than a well wisher, always eager to protect the Baha’i community. He visited the Baha’i World centre many times like his predecessors, during and after the Arc project, ensuring Baha’is of all possible support inside and outside Israel. I was at the gate to receive the guest from the Government at that time. Sharon entered with grace. He looked at me, shook his hand and said “How are you young lady”. I was taken back with his sudden gesture. Sharon remained with the Baha’is and had a meeting with the Members of Universal House of Justice and International Teaching Centre and assured them full support. He even inquired whether it is possible to meet Baha’i community outside Israel. Mr. Ali Nakhjawani took a world tour of the Baha’i community to find out if they were prepared to receive and welcome a dignitary like Mr. Sharon. I am sure the request of Sharon must have been recorded in the minutes of NSA meetings of every country. No doubt it was Sharon’s heartfelt desire to see the progress of Baha’i Faith in other parts of the world. Alas his long illness which decapacited him prevented him from his desire.

During the US-Iraq war Sharon asked one of the Patriot missiles to be fitted just above the Baha’i World Centre. He remarked that these Buildings are very important for the state of Israel and protection of these buildings is responsibility of the state.

Sharon died slow but painful death for more than 8 years when he suffered the second, devastating stroke in January 2006. But the he will have a very blessed life in the Abha Kingdom with the blessing of Bahá'u'lláh, Abdul Baha and Guardian Shoghi Effendi.

I am sure the Baha’is will have condolence meeting for Sharon all over the world as he was a Friend and well wisher of Baha’is in fact even more than this.

Sharon has gone, but his many services for the Baha’i Faith will always be remembered.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An open letter to Dr. Payman Mohajer

Dear Dr. Payman Mohajer,

Sub : The Greatest Mystery of Bahá'í Faith is now solved; Teaching in Holy Land of Israel

Your concern towards morality is well known in the Bahá'í Faith. Indeed you have contributed immensely (both directly and indirectly) in giving due importance to this aspect in the Bahá'í Faith. You would agree that as Bahá'ís, we are also concerned of the morality of our immediate environment, as the Faith aims at creating a conducive environment for the Faith to thrive and prosper. Also, adverse conditions of the society, could have an impact on members of Bahá'í Faith.

With this background, I sincerely appreciate your stand during one of the training secessions of Teachers/Animators of Study circle, you posed a thought-provoking question to the participants, "What is the purpose of our core activities?"

You then went on to share an explanation, by giving the example of a glass. You said, that while it is not inaccurate to say that the glass is transparent, it is evident that transparency is not the purpose of the glass. Transparency is one of the attributes of the glass, but its purpose is to hold liquid. Similarly, one of the attributes of our core activities is that they become portals for entry by troops or instruments for teaching - but that is not their purpose ! Now if someone were to ask us whether the purpose of our inviting them to join study circles is to make them Bahá'ís, we can confidently say 'NO' and tell them that the purpose of our core activities is to assist in the transformation and betterment of society."

This approach solves a puzzle. One of the biggest mysteries of the Bahá'í Faith, is not teaching the Faith in Israel. Mr. Payman Mohajer, as a die hard supporter of Persian Bahá'ís in Bahá'í Administration, you have initiated teaching Ruhi Book in Israel. Indeed Bahá'u'lláh guides us from one idea to another!

In the Message on behalf of Universal House of Justice you mentioned : “Let us start children moral classes in Israel of children age between 6 to 11 years, Jr. Youth classes of age between 12 to 15 years, launch Intensive program of growth, contact the parents of the children and Jr. youth invite them to study circles try to make them good human beings, develop essential virtues such as the knowledge of God, trustworthiness, honesty, and justice Build a strong moral framework that will assist children/Jr. Youths and their parents to achieve excellence in material, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of life.”

"If they (Israeli Jews) insist that we want to become Bahá'ís, we say to them,” Teaching of the Bahá'í faith is not permitted and hence we cannot accept any declaration from them. The purpose of our core activities is to assist in the transformation and betterment of society."

Mr. Mohajer your idea could not have come at a better time. The state of morality today in Israel is at its nadir. The western culture has penetrated to an extent that we find Israel a replica of USA. Be it addiction to drugs and alcohol, disrespect to parents, irresponsible behavior at school / colleges or any other vice – Israel today is in forefront. The matter is so grave that even a section of religious Jews have been staging demonstrations drawing attention of the Government towards need for reformation. At this hour of crisis, I think it is worth that Study Circles (Ruhi Book) be initiated. The Ruhi Books have been so systematically drafted that it is sure to touch the lives of the students.

Keeping in mind the sensitivities of ban on propagating the Faith in Israel, the Ruhi Book should be taught just with the aim of improving the moral standards.

I think, as Bahá'ís, we will be doing our bit to contribute towards the country which has sheltered us and in which our Holy Land is located.

We owe it to Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, that the land which has their shrines is kept pure and becomes model of morality.

Mr. Mohajer, would appreciate your initiative in this direction. I am sure the UHJ would also be supportive. Together let us work towards making the world a better place to live.

Taken from the Internet

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Israeli Gov't renews tax-exempt status of Baha'i Center


03/20/2012 03:19

Tax arrangement was originally agreed upon between the state and the Bahai movement in 1987.

The Justice Ministry announced on Monday that it has renewed a deal with the Bahai World Center in Israel exempting it from indirect taxes for another five-year term.

The announcement comes ahead of the holiday of Naw-Ruz, the Bahai New Year that takes place on Wednesday. The tax arrangement was originally agreed upon between the state and the Bahai movement in 1987.

Representatives of the Bahai faith, headed by Albert Lincoln, the secretary-general of the center, welcomed the signing of the agreement, which he said benefits both Israel and the Bahai community.

The implementation of the agreement is supervised by an interministerial committee, headed by the director of the Justice Ministry, Dr. Guy Rotkoff, who approved the continuation of the arrangement.

The Bahai have been a recognized religious community in Israel since 1971.

The government will transfer funds equivalent to any indirect outlays incurred by the World Bahai Center or any of its associated non-profit organizations for activities it carries out in operating and developing the sites.

Rotkoff underlined the importance of the relationship with the Bahai center, especially for the activities that it has done to help develop the Galilee region.

It is so good that the Tax exemption has been RENEWED by the Government of Israel. Now while Informing the Bahais about this RENEWED relationship the BELOVED HOUSE OF JUSTICE need not write CONFIDENTIAL.

• Why not freedom of teaching the Bahai Faith to the Jews citizen of Israel?

• Why the citizen of Israel should be deprived of the HEALING MESSAGE OF BAHA'U'LLAH?

• Why the Children and Jr. Youth of Israel should be deprived of opportunity of becoming a good human being and achieving excellence in material, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of life through our STUDY CIRCLES, CHILDREN MORAL CLASSES and JR. YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMMES.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dear Dr. Albert Lincoln

Dr. Albert Lincoln, Secretary-General, Bahá’í World Centre. Dr. Lincoln was born in the United States in 1945. He is a direct descendent of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, and a more distant relative of the sixteenth, Abraham Lincoln.

In 1994 he was appointed Secretary-General of the Haifa-based Bahá’í International Community. In this role, which is a form of volunteer service to the community, offered without remuneration, Dr. Lincoln has been responsible for the relations between the Bahá’í World Centre and all religions and communities in Israel. Noteworthy milestones in his sixteen-year period of service include the inscription of the Bahá’í sites in Haifa and Akko on UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List in 2008.

Over the years Dr. Lincoln’s efforts toward achieving equality and human brotherhood have been based on a positive view of diversity. This approach has earned much recognition, as expressed in the Tolerance Medal that he received from the District Governor of the Rotary Clubs in Israel in 2004 and the Award of Merit given by the Beit Hagefen Arab-Jewish Center in 2005.

Since 2000 the Department of Middle Eastern History and the Bahá’í World Centre under Dr. Lincoln’s leadership have collaborated in a series of public lectures on the Bahá’í Faith, opening the Bahá’í Community to the general public in Israel and contributing to the bridge of understanding between religions.

During his professional career, Dr. Lincoln worked as a lawyer in four countries (France, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire), three languages, and many different fields of the law, ranging from human rights, intellectual property and natural resources to torts and criminal law.

Dear Dr. Lincoln - Success will depend upon whether the Bahá’í World Centre and the State of Israel have agreed for giving freedom of teaching the Bahá’í Faith in Israel and to the citizen of Israel. Merely by making some arrangements of public lectures, establishing Chair for Bahá’í Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and bridging the understanding between different religions will not be an appropriate way of giving a certificate of success to you.

What the people of Israel want is the ‘Healing Messages’ of Baha’u’llah, Abdul Baha and Shoghi Effendi. The Bahá’ís of Jewish Background should be given an opportunity to be heard by the UHJ and the Authorities in Israel so that we can raise our Heads in Pride and say to the world that “The Ban on Teaching of the Bahá’í Faith in Israel is lifted and now we have absolute Freedom of Teaching the Bahá’í Faith in our beloved Holy Land.”

Image Courtesy : University of Haifa

Friday, March 2, 2012

Minister Baird Visits the Bahá’í World Centre

February 6, 2012
Haifa, Israel

Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, John Baird visited the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa.

Minister Baird has spoken up many times for the Bahá’í community around the world, including while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Bahá’ís continue to face persecution in Iran where its leaders are imprisoned on unfounded charges.

Speaking in London about human rights, Minister Baird said, “These abhorrent acts fly in the face of our core principals, our core values. And nowhere is religious intolerance more present than in Iran. Baha’i’s and Christians are consistently threatened with death and torture simply for believing.”

Baird used this latest opportunity to speak with Albert Lincoln, Secretary-General of the Bahá’í International Community, about the importance of religious freedom in emerging democracies and how Canada can continue to be a staunch advocate for these freedoms.

Our appeal to dear Mr. John Baird

We the Bahá'ís of Jewish background appreciate your concern about the religious freedom for Christians and Bahá'ís in Iran during your visit to our World Centre in Haifa Israel. Like you, we also believe that religious freedom is our core principal and our core values. But then why this fundamental freedom is not been given to Bahá'ís in Israel where the Christians, Muslims and Jews are allowed to teach and propagate their Faiths but the Bahá'ís are denied with this core principal and core values.

We Bahá'ís of Jewish background appeal to you to take up this very important matter with the Israeli authorities and raise this matter in the United Nations.

We are sure that by your sincere efforts these fundamental rights will be given to the Bahá'ís and the Bahá'ís will be able to teach the Jewish children and the Jewish Junior youth and give them the Healing Message of the Manifestation of this age, Bahá'u'lláh.

(Below are the two reference showing that Bahá'ís cannot teach their Faith in Israel.)

Reference 1

Universal House of Justice

Teaching the Faith in Israel

The Universal House of Justice has received your email message dated 29 June 1995 and we have been asked to respond. You have asked how the policy of not teaching Israelis applies in the situation in which you have contact with an Israeli via an "interactive relay chat" (IRC) connection. The House of Justice has not asked the friends to avoid contact with Israelis. When you discover that a person you are in contact with via IRC is an Israeli, you should feel free to maintain friendly contact, but you should not teach the Faith to him. If he has already developed a personal interest in the Faith and seeks more information, you should refer him to the Offices of the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa.

For your information, the people in Israel have access to factual information about the Faith, its history and general principles. Books concerning the Faith are available in libraries throughout Israel, and Israelis are welcome to visit the Shrines and the surrounding gardens. However, in keeping with a policy that has been strictly followed since the days of Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'ís do not teach the Faith in Israel. Likewise, the Faith is not taught to Israelis abroad if they intend to return to Israel. When Israelis ask about the Faith, their questions are answered, but this is done in a manner which provides factual information without stimulating further interest.

With loving Bahá'í greetings,
Department of the Secretariat

Reference 2

Whenever an Israeli citizen living in the West, irrespective of his background and religious affiliation, declares his belief and interest in becoming a member of the Bahá’í community ,he should be informed that the Faith is not taught in Israel and that there is no Bahá’í community there apart from those who are associated with the Bahá’í World Center. He cannot be accepted into the Bahá’í community if he is planning to return to Israel to reside there.

If he plans to continue to reside outside Israel, his enrollment can be accepted, but he will then be subject to the same restrictions about travel to Israel as any other Bahá’í, in that he could do so only with the express permission of the Universal House of Justice.

In any event, the Universal House of Justice should be informed of any such declaration.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 20, 1994, to several National Spiritual Assemblies

Friday, December 30, 2011

Shoghi Effendi’s sayings regarding teaching of Jews

"Regarding your question concerning the future of the Jews: They certainly have, as explicitly stated by the Master, a great spiritual destiny, and will gradually enter the Faith in large groups."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1937, Lights of Guidance, no. 1681)

"...You should certainly Endeavour to establish further contacts with your Jewish fellow-citizens, as their spiritual destiny is assuredly bright. The age-long sufferings and tribulations which the Jews all over the world have so cruelly experienced will be terminated during the Bahá'í era, as they will be gradually led to embrace the Faith which, indeed, constitutes the only means of salvation to their race."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1937, Lights of Guidance, no. 1817)

"...If the Jews study the teachings they will find in them the hopes and aspirations that they have always cherished. Bahá'u'lláh bears a wonderful message to the Jews and many of them have come to appreciate it and are active in carrying it to others of their race. Through Bahá'u'lláh, the Master tells us, they shall regain their ancient glory and become loved by all the people of the whole world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 14, 1932, Lights of Guidance, no. 1818)

There are also some pilgrim's notes which speak to their having a special role in the future as administrators, protecting/championing the Faith in the Holy Land, etc. Moreover International Teaching counselor Mr. Ayman Rohani and Mr. Bijan Farid during their visit to an Asian country in 2008 have clarified that, very soon the teaching activities will start in the Holy Land of Israel. In fact it has already started in one of the University of Israel. The present House of Justice Member Mr. Payman Mohajer has also assured the Bahá'is that Universal House of Justice has made elaborate plans to teach in the Holy Land.

As Jew Bahá'is we are sure that once the teaching activities will start in our Holy Land, the progress of the Faith in Israel will become an example for the whole World.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Very soon ‘Teaching Activities’ will start in the State of Israel for our Jewish brethren

Letter of The Universal House of Justice to a Baha'i :

Dear Bahá’i Friend,

In reply to your email of 23 October 2002 to the Universal House of Justice, we have been asked to convey the following. It is not possible, given all of the instructions and exhortations addressed to the believers by Baha’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, that the House of Justice would ever advise communities that are free to pursue teaching plans that it was not timely to talk about such efforts and enroll new Bahà’is.

Nor could it, contrary to Baha’u’lláh’s explicit command, allow any other activity in the Bahá’i community to diminish the responsibility of individuals to teach the Cause. Precisely the opposite is true. A major object of the recent emphasis on establishing training institutes is to increase the capacity of individuals to teach the Cause effectively. Study circles, which are local extensions of an institute, are intended to serve this purpose. While it is highly desirable to include seekers in study circles wherever possible, the individual believer retains the inescapable duty to teach the Faith on his or her own initiative. Anyone who carefully reads the messages of the House of Justice will find that it has consistently exhorted and encouraged individuals to teach the Faith, pointing to the many possibilities of exploiting the opportunities that the turmoil of the present age provides. In this regard, there is abundant evidence from countries around the world, including the United States, that the institutions of the Faith at all levels and institutes through their courses focus attention on the importance of teaching.

The friends should not allow discussions that go on in the community to confuse or divert them from what has always been a clear understanding of their individual responsibility for teaching the Cause of God. The unfortunate consequence of so much discussion about teaching is that the friends often talk themselves out of taking action, when this is clearly a matter in which action speaks louder than words. Indeed, it is always time to teach the Faith and enroll new believers.

We are to assure you of the prayers of the House of Justice in the Holy Shrines on your behalf that your individual efforts to teach the Faith may be divinely confirmed.

With loving Bahá’i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

This letter of the Universal House of Justice clearly states that the Bahà’is can teach in Israel. Only two very important aspects should be considered : One is WISDOM while Teaching the Faith and Second, the Message of Universal House of Justice Regarding TEACHING THE FAITH IN SENSITIVE COUNTRIES b'coz Israel is one of the sensitive countries. The day is not far that we will have numbers of Study circles, Children classes, of course Moral ones and IPGs of Bahà’i Faith in every city of Israel.

This picture is imaginary. We pray to Baha'u'llah to give us success and make it true.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jewish groups urge release of Baha'i Academics in Iran

Wednesday 17 August, 2011 THE JEWISH CHRONICLE ONLINE

By Marcus Dysch , August 17, 2011

Iran's detention of 11 Baha'i academics has been condemned by the Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students. British Jews have repeatedly raised concerns about the treatment of Iran's Baha'i community. More than 100 are being held in Iranian prisons, including seven of the community's most senior leaders, some having been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Those detained worked for the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which had been established to meet the educational needs of young Baha'is denied access to Iran's higher education system.

In a joint statement calling for the academics' immediate release, the Board and UJS said the detention was "totally unacceptable and a violation of Article 27 of the UDHR, which guarantees all citizens the right to freely 'participate in the cultural life of the community'.”Only through fostering a culture of mutual respect can Iran progress to a legal and political situation worthy of all its citizens. We believe that all people, and all Iranians, should be given equal access to higher education on the basis of merit, and not de-barred because of their religious beliefs." Iran has repeatedly repressed its Baha'i community and has for more than 30 years barred Baha'i academics from working in universities.

Dear Jewish Brothers and Sisters (Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students),

We are indeed very thankful to you for taking up our cause and calling for the immediate release of the Academics in Iran. We acknowledge that this is not just your first support but since the emergence of the Baha’i Faith our Jew brothers and sisters are on forefront for help and support. Since the Establishment of our beloved holy Land the State of Israel. The government has left no stone unturned to help and support us.

We also take this opportunity to convey to you that please bring your generous pressure on the Israeli Government, because we Baha’is are not permitted to Propagate Baha’i Faith in Israel. This prevention of Teaching and propagation of Baha’i Faith in Israel is totally unaccepted and it is clear violation of Religious Freedom. We also believe that the State of Israel should give same opportunity of teaching and propagation of Baha’i beliefs as it has been granted to the followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Since the Establishment of State of Israel in 1948 the prevention and prohibition is only for the Baha’is. Although we are very sure that the State of Israel takes all the care for the Baha’is, not only in Israel but through out the world. In fact the Israeli ambassadors in every country takes a deep interest in well being of Baha’is of that country taking utmost care to see that no law is made to prevent the Baha’is from teaching the Baha’i Faith in that country. So then the natural question arises is why the Baha’is are not allowed to teach in Israel?

In 2009 the beloved Universal House of Justice gave a Message in which they exhorted the Baha’is to “Go and teach the Iranians, and face whatever consequences are there”. Although the law of obeying the government is still not abrogated in Baha’i Faith.

There is a very strange contradiction here! The Iranian Government is deadliest Enemy of Baha’i Faith, yet the House says go and teach the Iranians and become Martyrs, whereas The State of Israel is so friendly with Baha’is - extending all the facilities and hospitality to Baha’is - yet we are not supposed to teach the Israelis.

Please campaign for removal of this discrimination. We would be greatly obliged and forever pray for your well-being.