Bahai News - GRAPEVINE: Baha'i gardens open
GRAPEVINE: Baha'i gardens open
By Greer Fay Cashman
(May 24) FINALLY, after years of waiting, the fabulous and fabled garden
terraces of the Baha'i World Center on Haifa's Mount Carmel were completed
and opened to the public on Tuesday. Though billed as a Baha'i event, the
opening was one of the most ecumenical occasions, with people of many races,
faiths and nationalities coming together for the festive ceremony.
It was a day in which all roads led to Haifa. Aside from the people of the
Baha'i faith, who swarmed in from countries around the globe, there were
guests from all over Israel.
Among the early arrivals were Aura Herzog, president of the Council for
a Beautiful Israel, who, after fostering the concept of adding garden
surrounds to poor neighborhoods and factory premises, would certainly
not have missed out on the most beautiful gardens in the world. She was
accompanied by one of her sons, former cabinet secretary Isaac Herzog.
Also spotted in the huge crowd which gathered in a mammoth white,
airconditioned marqee for a pre-ceremony reception were US Ambassador
Martin Indyk, ministers Sallah Tarif and Rehavam Ze'evi, Knesset members
Eliezer (Mudi) Sandberg, Roman Bronfman and Gideon Ezra, former Knesset
members Moshe Shahal and Yona Yahav, former Supreme Court justices Meir
Shamgar and Yitzhak Zamir, Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna, Nazareth Mayor
Ramez Jeraise, and many other dignitaries.
Hungarian Ambassador Janos Hovari, who played hooky from a Jerusalem-based
conference on Hungary and the Holy Land, was one of the many diplomats who
traveled to Haifa.
Guest of honor was Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, whom the Universal House
of Justice, the nine-member international governing board of the Baha'i,
holds in great esteem. Fourteen years earlier, Peres, then a member of
another national-unity government, signed an agreement settling the status
of Baha'i in Israel, thus enabling them to begin the project, the completion
of which drew world attention on Tuesday.
PERES, who came home from Moscow in time to hit the Haifa trail, will also
be on hand next week for the official opening in Jerusalem of the Konrad
Adenauer Conference Center, an extension of the newly renovated Mishkenot
All ambassadors are busy when dignitaries of their home countries visit
Israel, but German Ambassador Rudolf Dressler will really have his hands
full at this affair with German participants such as Konrad Adenauer
(the younger), Wolfgang Clement, prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia,
Eberhard Diepgen, the Mayor of Berlin, Marlies Mosiek-Urbahn, the Hessen
Minister of Social Affairs, parliamentarian and former president of the
German Bundestag Rita Sussmuth, Erwin Teufel, prime minister of
Baden-Wuerttenberg, Dr. Bernhard Vogel, prime minister of Thuringia and
chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and Dr. Otto Wolf, member of
the Executive Committee of the CDU Party in Germany.
Also due to attend the event is former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, who
will be celebrating his 90th birthday. Kollek in fact turns 90 on Sunday,
but the celebrations had to be delayed owing to the Shavuot festival.
AMONG his relatives who flew in from abroad to attend the festivities
was public relations executive Vered Kollek, who is relocating from the
US, from where she has been commuting to her native Jerusalem for
Her husband, Farrell Meisel, was recently appointed chief operating officer
of Media Corporation of Singapore, so Kollek's friends who want to visit
her will now have to travel in a different direction.
PRESIDENT Moshe Katsav, having inherited the mantle from someone who had to
step down before his time due to a financial impropriety, is very careful
about anything related to money in general, and to the public purse in
particular. Thus when he learned that the use of the Israel Air Force plane
which usually takes presidents and prime ministers abroad would cost the
tax payer NIS 1.3 million, he decided that he would take a regular El Al
commercial flight for his upcoming state visit to the US.
Katsav and his wife, Gila, will leave for Washington on May 29 and will
also visit New York and Los Angeles. They are due to return on June 8.
AFTER 17 years covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, Howard
Goller, the popular and personable chairman of the Foreign Press
Association, is shipping out. Goller, who has spent 12 years on the FPA
board and was anticipating a further few years of involvement, is being
transferred to London, where he will be deputy head of the Reuters World
Desk responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
"We will be back," he promised while delivering his report last week at
the FPA's annual general meeting. Goller has a dream for the FPA, and he
wants to be part of its realization. In his dream the FPA has a place of
its own right on a line straddling east and west Jerusalem.
It has a meeting room suitable for news conferences and a pub jam-packed
with Internet connections and satellite TV, beers of all kind and good food.
Goller's FPA dream premises attract Israeli and Palestinian politicians,
diplomats from all around, businesspeople, researchers and journalists who
come together for speeches and panels and seminars that make news week after
In this dream the FPA is so active that secretary Renee Singer needs three
coworkers, one of them running a Web site that features a list of coming
events, transcripts and audio and video presentations of past events and
links to all the local and foreign news media based in Israel.
Goller is convinced that someday the dream will come true.
THE meeting of the Board of Governors of the Jerusalem Academy of Music
and Dance opened with an opera performance of Hansel and Gretel which
was preceded by the usual request that members of the audience silence
their cellphones. That's a very tall order when it comes to the academy,
since its chairman of the board of governors happens to be Cellcom
president Ya'acov Perry.
Prior to the opera there was a reception at which veteran piano duo Bracha
Eden and Alexander Tamir were plied with congratulatory comments, having
been named Worthies of Jerusalem the previous evening.
Other well-known faces at the reception belonged to Israel's fifth president
Yitzhak Navon, who also happens to be chairman of the academy's board of
directors, Shoshana Netanyahu, David Rivlin, Younes and Soraya Nazarian,
Shmuel Toledano, Avner Rothenberg and Professor Chaim Alexander.
Just before the opera started the academy presented its own awards to
Victor Stone and Seymour Reich. Because Reich was unable to come from the
US at this time, the award was accepted on his behalf by his friend Hillel
Notwithstanding his absence, news buzzed around about the glittering
fund-raiser Reich recently hosted on behalf of the academy. So if his
ears were burning because people were talking about him, he should know
that they said only good things.
GIVING credit where it's due. Jerusalem Day has now become something
everyone takes for granted, but in its celebrations this week few people
were aware of who initiated it. The idea which grew into a tradition was
that of Jerusalem lawyer Shmuel Lahiss, who in a former life as
director-general of the Jewish Agency made a proposal which was roundly
accepted.At least one former member of the Jewish Agency executive
called him this week to tell him she hadn't forgotten.
IN its Today in History series, Israel Radio this week featured a
1970 interview with Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who
had been given the lyrics of Jerusalem of Gold by the interviewer. The
microphone caught Ben-Gurion reading the poem to himself in a tone that
didn't have nearly the same emotional appeal as the now immortal
rendition by Shuli Natan.
Ben-Gurion asked who wrote the words, and the interviewer told him that
it was Naomi Shemer. "Naomi Shemer?" repeated B-G. "Who is Naomi Shemer?"
"A native of Kinneret," he was told. "Really? That's interesting." he
Asked whether he wanted to hear the melody, he responded in the affirmative,
realizing only after the record began that the song was already familiar to
him. He sang along in a cracked and tuneless voice.
Meanwhile the whole world has come to know the name and works of Naomi
Shemer, who is still producing wonderfully stirring songs.
BEZEQ has decided to sponsor the Australian delegation and immediate
family of the athletes to the 16th Maccabiah taking place in July this
year. The sponsorship is valued at around $500,000.
One can't help wondering if the initiative came from former Bezeq
chairman Izzy Tapoohi, who hails from Australia.
AUSTRALIAN Ambassador Dr. Richard Rigby has already started making his
farewells before he returns home next month. One of his last official
duties will be his attendance at the 2000 Trade Awards luncheon hosted
by the Israel-Australia, New Zealand and Oceania Chamber of Commerce.
Also flying in for the event is Alan Cook, the non-resident ambassador
of New Zealand.
©Copyright 2001, Jerusalem Post
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