Nowruz is Persian for"[The] New Day" and is the name of the Iranian New Year or the Persian New Year. It marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendarNowruz is celebrated and observed by Iranian people and their various religious groups

 

A few days ago, I joined members of the Baha'i faith, one of these groups, at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, to celebrate it.

I doubt there is anyone that has ever visited Israel that has not been to visit and see the spectacular  beauty of the Baha'i gardens in Haifa and Akko. This site serves as the Bahá'í World Center which is much the result of a successive number of persecutions and imprisonments of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith who was banished from Persia by Nasser-al-Din Shahin 1853, 

 

It is not only their contributions to the Israeli landscape, however, that connect Israel to the Baha'i Faith. A close examination of its principles reveals a common link between them and those of the State of Israel. They both share the understanding that "human rights must be applied irrespective of differences of racial background, ethnic origin, religious belief or national identity." All one had to do in order to grasp the truism of this principle was to look around the reception hall. There were members of every creed, every race, nationality and religious entity among the participants.

After the warm welcome at the entrance by the leaders of the community, the guests were invited to enjoy the abundance of delicacies and the traditional symbolic foods associated with the special day, all nicely displayed on the tables across the reception hall.

 

Following the reading of President Shimon Peres festive greetings to the Baha'i community, Secretary General, Joshua Lincoln delivered his welcoming speech. He shared with the guests the Baha'i's global activities and goals for the coming year. He specifically stressed the role of the Baha'I youth in their various projects of volunteering activities.  Ami Palmor, Director General of the Ministry of Justice of the State of Israel spoke last. She described the special relationship that has evolved between the Baha'i community and the Ministry.

 

Finally, in line with the Baha'i faith's emphasis on the role of youth to serve humanity in shaping the future of our world, a group of young boys and girls performed the late Arik Einstein's song, "Ata V'Ani Neshaneh et Haolam," (You and I will change the world).

 

 This New Spring Season, we wish our Baha'i friends – and all of mankind  - a year full of Hope, Celebrations, Productivity and great Collaborations in our efforts to make this world a better place for all.

 

Photos Silvia Golan

 

 

 

You don’t have to speak French, but it helps.

 Hundreds of guests turned up at the annual celebration of French speakers, held this year at the Arab-Hebrew Center in Jaffa. The Francophone Celebration is an annual event, celebrated worldwide – Israel included, with events taking place throughout the month of March.

 

Twelve embassies in Israel participated this past Friday morning (in alphabetical order – to avoid any diplomatic incident): Belgium, Canada, Cameroun, Cypress, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, France, Greece, Republic of Congo, Romania, Switzerland and Vietnam.

 

The ambassadors of almost all the countries honored the invited guests with their presence at an exclusive performance of the play “Neighbors”; a play by the Nephesh Theater. You don’t have to speak French; in fact, you don’t have to speak any language to enjoy this moving and humorous production: it is non-verbal and there are no “lines”. Yes, there are sounds, and even “conversations”, but in gibberish that becomes universally understood by the action on stage. In fact I identified only two words, both of which I believe are pretty universal: mama and baby. Yet I understood everything, especially the theme: what separates, or binds, neighbors is often found right next door.

 

 

 

After the performance the invitees mingled with the crowds in the courtyard where the various embassies offered tastings from their home countries. These included French cheese and wine, Swiss raclette with beer, Romanian delicacies, Belgian frites, Canadian waffles, and and and … the choices and generous offerings were overwhelming.

 

The Arab-Hebrew Theater is a longstanding effort at reducing possible tensions between the various racial, religious and ethnic groups that so characterize multicultural Jaffa. The director, Yigal Efrati, addressed the audience before the play. He explained that the name as “Arab-Hebrew” and not “Arab-Jewish” was chosen so as to remove any perceptions of religion from the organization.

 

At the party after the performance the Romanian ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Andreea Păstârnac addressed the gathering. She spoke eloquently – in French, which unfortunately, your diplomacy correspondent could not follow. C’est la vie – I guess you do have to speak French after all …

 

 

Photos  Silvia Golan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, February 13, the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Israel, Mr. Alexander De La Rosa, held a reception to celebrate the Dominican Republic's 107th Anniversary of the Independence of the Dominican Republic.

 

Many distinguished guests, including Mr. Silvan Shalom, Minister of National Infrastructures, Water and Energy, Minister for Regional Development and the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, came to congratulate the Ambassador and the embassy staff the on this special day.

 

The ceremony started with the national anthems of the Dominican Republic and Israel.

 

Mr. Silvan Shalom greeted the Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Missions in Israel in name of the Government and People of Israel, and conveyed their warm congratulations to the Dominican Government and Dominican People on the occasion of the 170th Anniversary of their Independence. He wished health, prosperity, and happiness for all of the Dominican Republic's citizens.

 

Part of the facts pointed out by Mr. Silvan Shalom is listed below:

· The ties and history which link the Dominican Republic with the Jewish People go beyond the modern State of Israel.

· The origin of these relations at the Evian Conference in 1938, which took place before Israel was a sovereign nation.

 

· During that international conference, the Dominican Republic announced it would provide visas to 100,000 Jews in Europe fleeing from the tyranny of Nazi Germany.

 

 

· In doing so, the Dominican Republic saved the lives of thousands of Jews from Europe who moved to the Dominican Republic and established the town of Sosúa, where their descendants continue to live in peace and harmony to this day.

· The Dominican Republic supported the 1947 UN Partition Plan and was among the first nations to officially recognize the new State of Israel.

· The two nations enjoy extensive cooperation in the economy, industry, media, and agriculture.

 

· The close cooperation and friendship is also evident from the high level visits between our two countries.

· Former Dominican President Leonel Fernández's officially visited Israel in 2009, and participated in President Shimon Peres' 2011 Presidential Conference of Tomorrow.

 

· Israel's former Minister of Agriculture Orit Noked visited the Dominican Republic in November 2011.

· Israel and the Dominican Republic enjoy a robust cultural exchange.

· In the Dominican Republic, Israel's Embassy participates in the annual Carnival Celebration and is actively working to expand Israeli-Dominican cultural cooperation.

 

Mr. Silvan Shalom concluded by asking the Dominican Republic's Ambassador, convey the best wishes of the Government and the People of Israel to the Government and the People of the Dominican Republic. He wished the Dominican Republic to enjoy peace, stability, and prosperity, and that the good relations and friendship between the State of Israel and the Dominican Republic grow ever stronger in the years to come.

He ended by saying in Spanish: "Viva La República Dominicana!"

 

The Ambassador, Mr. Alexander De La Rosa, welcomed all the distinguished guests, including Minister Silvan Shalom, Authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and Mrs. Ilana Neumann, Mayor of the City of Sosua in the Dominican Republic.

He said that: "This is a most auspicious day for us as Dominicans. It is a great celebration the One Hundred Seventy (170) Anniversary of our Independence"

 

He mentioned the following important facts:

· That in 1844, the Dominican Republic got the independence from Haiti, and during all these years the Dominicans have been a very solidary country with Haiti. Also, the Dominican Republic supported the partition plan in 1947, and was among the first nations to officially recognize the new state of Israel.

· At the present time, the President of the Dominican Republic, His Excellency Mr. Danilo Medina, has initiated a cooperation dialog with Israel, and the result of it is very important agreements that have already being signed between the two countries due to the historical relations that exist between the State of Israel and the Dominican Republic.

 

· One of our aims and objectives is to intensify even more the bilateral commercial relations, in the areas of high technology, health, agriculture, energy and tourism. In this last area we are initiating an important promotion to get Israelis to know and visit our beautiful country.

· To achieve this, an important delegation from the Dominican Ministry of Tourism has arrived to Israel. A important member of this delegation is Mrs. Ilana Neumann, Mayor of the city of Sosua, the place were the Jewish refugees settled, after the Dominican Republic gave them one hundred thousand visas for saving them from the holocaust. This year the Jewish community of Sosua is commemorating the seventy fifth anniversary of their historical establishment at the Dominican Republic.

 

Mr. Alexander De La Rosa concluded by presenting the Dominican Republic's new Honorary Consul in the city of Haifa, Mr. Asaf Touchmaier, wishing him great luck and success in his new position.

He also said that in this occasion, he would like to thank the collaboration of their our sponsors, their honorary consuls and also the attendance of all the guests this evening

 

He ended by saying in Hebrew: "TODA RABA!"

Brief history of the Jews in the city of Sosua:

The city of Sosua, whose Mayor is Mrs. Ilana Neumann, has a unique and interesting history involving Jews.

 

About 800 Jews, refugees of the Nazi persecution during the holocaust, arrived to this city.

In 1938, the most important nations of the world to try to solve the problem of the Jewish refugees facing the Nazi invasion in Europe met in Evian, France. One by one, the representatives of these countries denied the entrance of the Jews in their respective countries. By the end of the meeting, when it almost closed, the representative of the Dominican Republic offered 100.000 visas for the Jewish refugees.

 

The Jewish immigrants received not only visas, but also land to work on agriculture in the area of Sousa.

In the beginning, they lived like in a kibutz, with common education and culture. They developed the whole region, with a factory of cheeses and sausages, as well as the field of tourism.

Today, Sosua is a touristic place with thousands of visitors. It has a little synagogue and a museum that shows the absorption of the refugees.

 

Photo credit Silvia G Golan

At the photo Rep Dominicana Ambassador Mr. Alexander De La Rosa with Mrs. Ilana Neumann

 

 

On Monday, March 3, H.R. Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to Israel, Mr. Dimitar Mihaylov and his wife, Mrs.Nora Mihaylova, held a reception at the Dan Accadia Hotel in Herzliya, to celebrate the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria, following the Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878.

 

Honorary guest was Mr. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Communications and Home Front Defense, who came to congratulate the Ambassador and the embassy staff the on this special day.

 

The ceremony started with the national anthems of the Republic of Bulgaria and Israel.

Then the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Bulgaria in Israel presented the Bulgarian Ambassador

 

The H.R. Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria delivered most of his speech in excellent Hebrew, and also spoke in English and Bulgarian. He welcomed all the guests by saying:

 

"Your Excellency Gilad Erdan, Minister of Communications and Home Front Defense, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

 

It is a distinguished honor to welcome you to the National Day of Bulgaria. This is the day when the Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878 ended the Russo-Turkish war and enabled the establishment of an independent Bulgarian State.

 

Today, Bulgaria, who is a member of the European Union, continues its democratic development within a country that has been able to instill the vision which our founding fathers envisioned: a precious republic of the people, by the people, and for the people in which members of all ethnicities and religious affiliations live together harmoniously; united by a common destiny and common future.

 

Now as never before, our bilateral relations with the State of Israel are increasingly growing into a partnership of mutual trust, with common aims of turning the adjacent Middle East and Europe into areas of prosperity, development and tolerance. The message that Bulgaria always sends to our Israeli friends is that the binding force between our two nations is rock-solid and it is our actions that lay the strong foundations for lasting bond of our generations to come."

 

Mr. Gilad Erdan greeted the H.R. Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to Israel, Mr. Dimitar Mihaylov and Mrs. Mihaylova, the Distinguished Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Missions in Israel, and the other Honored Guests.

 

He conveyed the warmest congratulations to Bulgaria on behalf of the government and people of Israel. He said that in Israel we wish peace, prosperity and happiness for the Bulgarian people, and that we are honored to celebrate this day with them. That Bulgaria is one of Israel's most important friends in Europe. That the bonds of collaboration and friendship shared by the two countries are strong, and growing more expansive.

 

That our nations have formal cooperation in several areas: politics, economics, sciences and culture. That in the past years we have signed new bilateral agreements dealing with homeland security, communications and health.

 

He continued by mentioning the following facts:

· In 2013, Israel gave hundred of Bulgarians work permits and employed them in construction, which helped them enrich their lives with dignified work.

 

· 2015 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic ties between Bulgaria and Israel. Since then, our nations have enjoyed high-level official visits, which stand as testimony to our renewed friendship. The peak of this process was the Government-to-Government (G2G) meetings, first in Sofia, then in Jerusalem.

· In the multilateral arena, Israel is grateful for Bulgaria's efforts to strengthen Israel's standing with the EU as well as the rest of the international community. In particular, Israel is grateful for the tremendous effort invested by Bulgaria in helping place Hezbollah in EU's Official List of Terrorist Organizations after the cowardly and despicable attack in Burgas (July, 2012).

 

· Israel gladly acknowledges Bulgaria's firm stance against anti-Semitism. We deeply appreciated the uncompromising statements across Bulgaria's political spectrum denouncing the infamous Lukov March, and the action taken by Bulgaria's lawmakers to ban the march from taking place. This act underlies the atmosphere of tolerance and humanity in Bulgaria, which the Jews know of all too well.

· Israel will always remember the salvation of the Jews of Bulgaria during WWII and the holocaust. The help of brave Bulgarians, who did not stand idle, marks a proud chapter in Bulgarian's history, which must never be forgotten. We all have the responsibility to learn and teach future generations the history of the holocaust and its lessons.

 

· The National Day of Bulgaria marks the nation's liberation and its freedom after many years of repression. The Jewish people also share the experience of a national rebirth after ages without political sovereignty.

Mr. Gilad Erdan ended by congratulating the government and people of Bulgaria on their National Day, and wishing Bulgaria a future of peace, economic growth, and continued friendship and cooperation with the State of Israel.

 

Photos  by Silvia Golan

 

 

 

  Despite the cold and rainy weather in Tel-Aviv, while snowing in Jerusalem, covering the capital with a thick white "blanket",

 

A very warm and friendly reception was held in the Dan hotel – Tel-Aviv, by the Kenyan embassy, Thursday evening dec.19 2013.


To this special event, marking the celebration of Independence Day Jubilee: the 50th Anniversary of a free and independent Republic of Kenya, many distinguished gests were invited:


The Israeli Minister Meir Cohen, and some other Israeli officials, Ambassadors, members of the Diplomatic Mission in Israel, and other Honored Guests.


The special atmosphere of the event, was felt and seen already at the entrance to the ballroom, where some beautiful female Kenyan receptionists, dressed in authentic colorful dresses, were checking the guests list and providing the participants with souvenirs from Kenya.


Entering the ballroom, one could see, feel and taste the hospitality of the Kenyan people, presented by the Kenyan Ambassador and the Kenyan embassy staff.

 

 


Excellent food and beverage was served, the room was decorated with flags, flowers, a large video screen, on which a Kenyan tour attractions were shown...


After some delay, caused by waiting for The Minister Meir Cohen, and some other officials, which finally could not leave Jerusalem because the roads were blocked by snow,the official opening  was declared.

 

Both National anthems: the Kenya an the Israeli, were played, accompanied by singing of the both countries present guests and staff members. Then speeches were made.


His Excellency, Ambassador Augostino Njoroge, accompanied by Mrs. Margaret Njoroge, spoke about the founding of the free and independent Republic of Kenya, fifty years ago, the progress that the Kenyan people have made since then and what Kenya is like today.


The Ambassador mentioned also the firm and special relationship, friendship and cooperation, between Kenya and Israel, since the first days of Kenya's independence in 1963 and until now, hoping for many years of such relationship to come.


After the Ambassadors speech, raising glasses of wine as a toast to both countries, their Presidents and people, a special message of greetings and wishes was presented on the video screen, by the Israeli President Mr. Shimon Peres.
The speech on behalf of the Israeli Minister Meir Cohen and the Government and People of Israel, was red by the representative Mr Avraham(Avi) Granot, Deputy Director General for Africa, MFA ,who congratulated the Republic of Kenya on the occasion of its 50th Independence day "this celebration is special for Israel, as it also marks the a Jubilee year of Israel-Kenya diplomatic relations.


The past 50 years we have witnessed a blossoming friendship between Kenya and Israel based on economic, cultural, strategic and humanitarian ties as well as shared values

 

 

 

After the official part of the event, a fashion show held place, showing Kenya's style designed dresses, shown by beautiful Kenyan models, giving the present guests a taste of a sweet "desert".

 

 

Photos Silvia Golan