In Haifa we walked though an Arab neighborhood with lots of public art, mostly in the form of murals. Here are a couple I liked.
Some had social/political messages like this one. The blue shape is the Mediterranean and the wire of the safety pins echoes the shape. The artist says that she will close the pin when there is peace in the area and all are in the safety zone.
Our guide pointed out this sign that identifies the home of a Muslin fellow who dresses as Santa and leads a parade through the streets at Christmas. He then distributes gifts to the children regardless of their religion.
Haifa, the 3rd largest city in Israel, is located on the slopes of Mount Carmel that descend to the Mediterranean. It is an ideal port and has a very long history of being taken over by one group of people after another. Today it is an active and major port unlike Tel Aviv where the port has filled with sand that has washed up from the Egyptian delta.
In the foreground is Haifa and in the background is the city of Akko (Acre.)
In the 13th century, the Carmelite Monastic Order was founded in Haifa and in 1909 became the international headquarters for the Baha’i Council. The Baha’i religion was established by Bahá’u’lláh in 1863 based on the concepts formulated by Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad of Shiraz who was tortured and died in 1850. He had the title of “Bab.” The religion initially started in Iran and parts of the Middle East, but followers were highly persecuted. Today there are 5 – 7 million adherents all over the world.
From Wikipedia: Bahá’í teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths: God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Bahá’u’lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by one God through Manifestations of God who are the founders of major world religions throughout history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. There is a similar emphasis on the unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. At the heart of Bahá’í teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.
The Bab is buried in a shrine in Haifa surrounded by magnificent gardens. It has become a pilgrim destination for believers of the faith who spend a year or two in Haifa tending the gardens.
We also visited the city of Safed. At 3000 ft. above sea level, it is Israel’s highest city. Safed is a center of Jewish mysticism where many Hasidic and Orthodox Jews study Kabbalah. Jewish Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between God, the unchanging, eternal, and mysterious and the mortal and finite universe. We visited a Kabbalah Center and learned about the teachings. Here I am with the Director who explained how the spiritual and the everyday life are connected.
We also visited an important Synagogue in Safed where our guide explained various aspects of the Jewish faith to us.
We had time to explore the historic city with its narrow streets.
And then we explored art galleries that displayed a lot of art with Jewish symbols and meaning as well as non-religious art and fine crafts. I enjoyed the contrast of viewing contemporary art in galleries in very old buildings.
Betsey and I chatted with David Friedman, an artist who uses Kabbalah numerology and symbolism in his work. Come to find out that he had attended RISD. To learn more him, check out his website. http://www.kosmic-kabbalah.com/