Last Monday, the mayor of Akka, Shimon Lankri, and dignitaries representing the city’s religious communities and other local organizations gathered to honor Abdu’l-Baha at a tree-planting ceremony coinciding with the start of the construction of His Shrine.
“For Baha’is, diversity is beauty,” Mr. Lankri said in his remarks at the ceremony. “Like the flowers and plants of a garden, their worldview is that diversity creates beauty. I think this worldview is true, and we embrace it here.”
The ceremony, held on the site of the Shrine, was attended by around 50 guests including leaders of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze communities, officials of local government, and academics from educational institutions in the area. David Rutstein, Secretary-General of the Baha’i International Community, and Hossein Amanat, architect of the Shrine, were among several representatives of the Baha’i community who were also present.
After a viewing of the design concept for the Shrine and a recitation of prayers revealed by Abdu’l-Baha, Mr. Lankri and Dr. Rutstein gave brief remarks before carrying an olive tree together to a chosen location. Guests helped plant the tree in a spot in the garden where it will be able to grow for years to come.
“The spirit of Abdu’l-Baha shines through a hundred years later,” says Dr. Rutstein. “Seeing the many segments of Akka’s population coming together in their happiness that Abdu’l-Baha is returning to their city – this calls to mind how he worked to create unity here.”