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Israel’s Bahai Community

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Last Updated on November 13, 2021

The Bahai Community Living in Israel.

Hebrew: קהילת הבהאים בישראל

bahai gardens haifa
View of Haifa Port from the Bahai Gardens

The Bahais in Israel

Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze live in Haifa as do most of the many hundreds of the Bahai community who live in Israel

What is the Bahai Faith?

Founded one hundred and fifty years ago, the Bahá’í Faith, a monotheistic religion, is the youngest of the of the world’s independent religions and one of the fastest-growing world religions too. There are between five and six million followers worldwide. The faith’s founder was Bahá’u’lláh, a Persian nobleman from Tehran who left his life of princely comfort and security and, facing intense persecution and deprivation, brought a new message of peace and unity. Bahá’u’lláh claimed to be a new and independent messenger from God. The essential message of Bahá’u’lláh is that there is only one God, that there is only one human race, and that all the world’s religions represent stages in the revelation of God’s will and purpose for humanity.

Brief History of the Bahai Faith

In 1863 Bahá’u’lláh was forced to leave Baghdad for Constantinople. He passed through and stopped in Haifa. At this time he instructed that the remains of the Bab (the forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh), should be brought and interred in Haifa. Bahá’u’lláh was then forced into confinement, with his faithful followers, in Akko, about 25 kilometers north of Haifa where it was not expected that he would survive the harsh conditions. Eventually he was released from prison and Bahá’u’lláh spent the rest of his life in and around Akko. He finally moved to Bahji outside Akko where he lived out his final days. He is buried in Bahji making it the holiest of all Bahai shrines. The remains of the Bab, (the forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh) are interred on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, the second holiest shrine in the Bahai faith.

The Bahai Temple in Haifa

The Bahai Temple is probably Haifa’s most popular attraction. There are 4 options for viewing the grounds.

  1. A visit to the Temple (Shrine of the Bab) on Sderot HaZionut.
  2. From the lookout on Yefe Nof Street in the Central Carmel
  3. A pre-arranged tour of the terraces which starts on Yefe Nof. This tour operates daily, except Wednesdays. It’s free of charge and no reservation is needed
  4. A spectacular view from Ben Gurion Blvd in the German Colony.

Visiting hours

  • Inner gardens: 9:00–12:00 daily
  • Outer gardens: 9:00–17:00 daily
  • English tours are held at midday.

The Bahai Gardens & Temple

The gardens are a perfect blend of eastern and western styles. Varying shades of red and green form a wonderful display. In-fact, it is said, that the Bab always dressed in green and red is symbolic of his martyrdom.

A total of 225 meters high, there are 18 terraces in the garden that commemorate the first 18 disciples of the Bab. Light forms a major concept of the design of the terraces and this can clearly be seen when comparing day and night-time views of the terraces. Water is another significant feature of the terraces. Limited water supplies and water conservation was an important factor when choosing the plants and trees in the garden. As already mentioned, color is an important part of the garden. For example there is a purple season when the Jacarandas are in bloom. There is also a red, yellow and pink season.

Please remember when visiting the Bahai shrines and grounds to dress modestly. No short skirts or bare shoulders. No chewing gum. Take plenty of water with you if you are participating in the walking tour.

Bahai Holidays & Festivals

Month of Fasting – March
Naw Ruz – Baha’i New Year – March 21
Ridvan – 21 April – 16 May
Declaration of the Bab: – May 23
Ascension of Baha’u’llah: – May 29
Martyrdom of the Bab: – July 9
Birth of the Bab: – October 20
Birth of Baha’u’llah: – November 26

Bahai Practices & Customs

There are no man-made customs in the Bahai Faith – although cultural influences do exist in various parts of the world. There are Holy Day celebrations and commemorations, times of gift-giving, fasting, daily prayer, daily reading of Holy Writings, marriage ceremony requirements, consultation in all matters, holding meetings the first day of the Baha’i Month. There are 19 months of 19 days in the Bahai calendar – each month is named after an attribute of God, such as Glory, Beauty, etc.

Pilgrimage to the Bahai World Center and Holy Shrines

Followers of the Bahai faith may undertake a pilgrimage to visit the holy shrines in Israel. The pilgrimage lasts 9 days and must include prayer and meditation in the holy shrines. Bahai followers may also undertake, as part of their pilgrimage, to climb up the stairs of the terraces in Haifa. If you are not a Bahai you are forbidden to climb up the stairs – you can only walk down the stairs.

Volunteer Services

Volunteering is a big part of the Bahai faith and members of the Bahai community spend time in Haifa fulfilling this requirement within their community.

Bahai Food Restrictions

The Bahai teachings permit the eating of all foods. There is nothing in the Bahai teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw, it is not forbidden to eat meat but it is preferred. The only dietary law concerns the prohibition of alcohol, which is forbidden except for medicinal purposes.

Other tourist attractions in Haifa

While you are in Haifa, you may want to take in the German Colony (closest to the lowest terrace) on Ben Gurion Blvd and some of Haifa’s beaches or museums and other interesting sites and attractions.

From Zelda’s Blog

Over the years, Zelda, an American olah in Haifa, has befriended many members of the Bahai community.  She shares her thoughts…

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