Haifa structure refitted, strengthened to withstand earthquake, while building’s dome covered with 11,790 new gold-glazed porcelain tiles
Followers of the Bahai faith unveiled their newly renovated holy site on the coast of Israel on Tuesday, drawing attention to one of the Holy Land’s lesser-known religions.
The renovation of the Shrine of the Bab, a UN-designated World Heritage site, lasted two-and-a-half-years and cost $6 million dollars, according to the Bahai leadership.
The structure has been refitted and strengthened to withstand an earthquake, and the building’s dome — the most distinctive feature of the landscape in the Mediterranean port city of Haifa — has been covered with 11,790 new gold-glazed porcelain tiles.
The Bahai religion has roots in 19th century Iran. The man known to believers as the Bab, or “gate,” and venerated as a prophet was executed for heresy in 1850 and later buried in Haifa. Today, the faith claims between five and six million adherents worldwide.
In Haifa, the domed Bahai shrine is positioned on a densely populated hillside, at the midpoint of a striking green strip of manicured gardens that cuts up the slope from top to bottom.
A Bahai engineer from California, Saeid Samadi, oversaw the project. Samadi was born in Iran, where Bahais have long suffered persecution for their beliefs and where the Bahai faith was declared illegal after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Samadi said much of the renovation work was carried out free of charge by Bahai volunteers. “The spirit of it was more important than the actual work,” he said.
While the three world religions that have historically vied for control of the Holy Land — Islam, Christianity and Judaism — venerate Jerusalem, the Bahais are alone in centering their faith in Haifa, which is known more for its factories and busy port than for religious sentiment. Around 750,000 people visited the Haifa shrine last year, the Bahais say.
They maintain a second site, the faith’s holiest, a short drive to the north in the Israeli coastal city of Acre. The Acre site marks the tomb of the religion’s founder, Baha’u'llah, who was imprisoned in the city by the Ottoman Turks and died there in 1892.
Israeli actor, known in US as Jonah Lotan, to star alongside Christina Ricci in ABC’s new drama series
Israeli actor Yair Lotan, who has been active in Los Angeles for several years, has landed the male leading role in ABC’s new drama series “Pan Am”, a remake of a 1960s series focusing on the American airline’s pilots and flight attendants.
The leading female role was given to critically acclaimed actress Christina Ricci, American media reported Monday. The new series will be written by Jack Orman and directed by Thomas Schlamme.
Lotan, who is known in the Unites States as Jonah Lotan, will portray Dean, a charismatic and confident pilot, who has been made captain of the Majestic clipper.
Ricci will star as Maggie, a stewardess with a double life – beautiful and professional at work, but living a wild life in Greenwich Village, New York.
Lotan, 37, has starred in several TV series in the United States, mostly in supporting roles and in guest performances. The most memorable ones were his roles in “CSI New York” alongside Israeli actress Noa Tishby and “24″. He also took part in several low-budget movies and television films.
Ahead of Passover, My Israel movement seeks to deliver leavened food to residents of tsunami-hit areas with Foreign Ministry’s help
While Israelis are busy removing chametz (leavened food) from their homes ahead of Passover, Japan is still dealing with one of the greatest disasters in its history. A group of social activists has found a connection between the two.
In the coming days, volunteers of the My Israel movement plan to visit homes across Israel, wait at the entrances to supermarkets and try to collect all the Israeli chametz and send it, with the Foreign Ministry’s help, to tsunami-hit areas in Japan.
Every year, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, Israel holds a ceremony in which it sells its leavened products to a non-Jew. According to Jewish Law, all food which is not kosher for Passover must be sold for holiday and bought back after the mid-holidays.
Tradition allows selling the leavened food to any person who is not Jewish, who can do with it as he pleases. Israel’s chametz is usually sold to a resident of the Arab village of Abu Gosh, but this year the association’s volunteers will try to send part of it to the Japanese. Following the natural disaster and nuclear crisis in Japan, the country’s residents are experiencing a shortage of products like flour and noodles, which are considered chametz in Israel.
“We call on all readers to bring us the products they won’t be eating on Passover, because there are those who need them,” says My Israel Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked. “We want to implement the value of mutual commitment not just within our people, but with other nations as well.”The chametz shipment will be prepared by Foreign Ministry workers, who will load crates bearing flags of Israel and the caption “From Israel with Love” on one of the next planes leaving for Japan.