What happened to Jeffrey Goldberg when he declared his acceptence of the Guardianship?


While I have a different view from either the Haifan branch or the Orthodox Baha'i Faith, I also found Jeffrey Goldberg's personal story poignant and hope others will take the time to read and reflect on it, especially paragraphs 26 through 33. They reveal a great deal about what the Haifan denomination has become.

Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury of Jeffrey Alan Goldberg

EXCERPT:

"26. On May 27, 1997, my wife and I were declared to be covenant-breakers and all of my friends in the Faith were instructed to shun me entirely and never to have any contact with me or face the same expulsion themselves. A true and correct copy of the NSA's letter of May 27, 1997, and the front page of The American Bahá'í for June 24, 1997, are attached as Exhibit 5).

27. My wife did not join the OBF at that time but she was also expelled and shunned because she refused to take my children and divorce me as they had insisted she must.

28. The NSA organization claims that shunning us as covenant-breakers is required to maintain the unity of the Faith. The OBF believe, on the other hand, that unity in the Faith is achieved and maintained by obedience to the Center of the Cause, the living Guardian, and that a covenant-breaker is one who rejects the authority of the Guardian.

29. Only one member of my former community, the Bahá'ís of Barrington, Illinois, was willing to speak with me (Janice Franco). At first, I was reluctant to tell Ms. Franco what I had learned because I did not want her to face the same dilemma that I now faced. She insisted, however, that I explain to her what I discovered. I then carefully explained the situation using only materials officially accepted by the NSA to show her my belief that the Hands wrongfully usurped authority and that their Universal House of Justice should have the Guardian as its head. Ms. Franco was declared to be a covenant-breaker and shunned after she dared to share these arguments with the rest of the community. The other community members rejected these arguments after they were threatened by a representative of the NSA's organization that they too would be shunned and cut off forever from many of their friends and family unless they rejected these ideas and shunned my family and I, and Ms. Franco.

30. Just before I had declared my acceptance of the Guardianship, my brother, who was not a Bahá'í at all, coincidentally became engaged to marry a believer under the NSA's organization.

31. I was not permitted to attend my brother's wedding, and my family thereafter had to hold separate family functions so that I would not be present at the same time as brother's wife who literally held the belief that I was satanic and my breath was poisonous so that mere contact with me would be dangerous.

32. After the birth of my nephew, I was not allowed to see him at all, nor does he even know of the existence of his uncle and the rest of my family.

33. My story is by no means unique. Many of my fellow believers within the OBF report similar experiences. Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East and Southeastern Asian history for the History department of the University of Michigan has written about the fanatical shunning behavior exhibited by the NSA and its organization, characterizing it as "cultlike." Attached as Exhibit 6 are emails written by Dr. Cole. Attached as Exhibit 7 is an article by Dr Cole detailing the shunning practices."

Source : https://fglaysher.com/bahaicensorship/shunning3.htm

Who is responsible for the death of Lydia Zamenhof?



January 23. On this date in 1946, Shoghi Effendi wrote, "HEARTILY APPROVE NATIONWIDE OBSERVANCE FOR DAUNTLESS LYDIA ZAMENHOF. HER NOTABLE SERVICES TENACITY MODESTY UNWAVERING DEVOTION FULLY MERIT HIGH TRIBUTE AMERICAN BELIEVERS. DO NOT ADVISE HOWEVER DESIGNATE HER MARTYR."
151-Lydia Zamenhof
[CIRCA 23 JANUARY 1946]
HEARTILY APPROVE NATIONWIDE OBSERVANCE FOR DAUNTLESS LYDIA ZAMENHOF.78 HER NOTABLE SERVICES TENACITY MODESTY UNWAVERING DEVOTION FULLY MERIT HIGH TRIBUTE AMERICAN BELIEVERS. DO NOT ADVISE HOWEVER DESIGNATE HER MARTYR.
78. Miss Zamenhof and her family, who were Jewish, had been arrested and taken to a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. Two years later, in August 1944, Lidia died in the death camp at Treblinka. Commemorative observances were held for her in Bahá'í communities throughout Canada and the United States in October 1946.
Lidia Zamenhof, the daughter of Esperanto creator L.L. Zamnhof, converted to the Bahá'í Faith around 1925. The description of her life in Esther Schor's "Bridge of Words" might be of some surprise to those who are only familiar with her portrayal from official Bahá'í sources.

Lidia Zamenhof, the daughter of Esperanto creator L.L. Zamnhof, converted to the Bahá'í Faith around 1925. In late 1937 she went to the United States to teach that religion as well as Esperanto. In December 1938, on the instructions of Shoghi Effendi, she returned to Poland, where she continued to teach and translated many Bahá'í writings.

The description of her life in Esther Schor's Bridge of Words might be of some surprise to those who are only familiar with her portrayal from official Bahá'í sources.

The Bahá'í leadership organized to have Lidia brought to tour and teach in the United States. Their plan was to have her work there, but they neglected her, failing to do proper legal paperwork and poorly accommodating her.

By the time Lidia's visa expired, her extension request was denied because she was found working without a work permit, which her Bahá'í handlers had not obtained. Her friends in the United States pleaded with her to not return to Poland, on account of her Jewishness and the expected invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, which would occur in 1939.

Lidia Zamenhof wrote Shoghi Effendi, pleading for guidance and help. In a final desperate plea she even asked him to give her asylum in Haifa, a request that was tersely denied. Shoghi Effendi told her she most return to Poland because they "need" her there to spread the Bahá'í Faith there. She returned to Poland and spent her last days recruiting for the Baha'is Faith, ultimately managing to convert one person. Even after her return to Poland, she wrote Shoghi Effendi stating her intention to stay in Poland a few weeks and then go to France. Again, Shoghi Effendi wrote her, telling her to remain in "your native country Poland, where the Faith is still practically unknown." Lidia Zamenhof would eventually be killed by the Nazis.

Later friends of Lidia petitioned the Bahá'ís to formally declare her a martyr of the Faith. Their request was denied.

The story is related in Bridge of Words, pages 181 to 195 in the 7th and 8th sub-chapters titled "The Priestess" and "Vanishings".

Here is a passage detailing her interactions with Shoghi Effendi:
...the day her visa expired, she learned that her extension had been denied on the ground that she had violated employment regulations. If there had been any doubt, it was now clear: she had been ill-advised and ill-served by her handlers, who had failed to apply for an available waiver for employment laws. Though her friend Ernest Dodge did his utmost for months to plead her case, he was only able to secure an extension until early December.
Advice from friends streamed in: she should go to Cuba, Canada, France, California--anywhere but Poland--and reapply for a visa. Panic was not in her nature, but anxious and fearful, she once again turned to the Guardian for advice. Heller quotes her cable in full:
EXTENSION SOJOURN AMERICAN REFUSED. FRIENDS TRYING TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT'S DECISION. OTHERWISE RETURNING TO POLAND. PLEASE CABLE IF SHOULD ACT OTHERWISE.
His response was decisive:
APPROVE RETURN TO POLAND. DEEP LOVING APPRECIATION. SHOGHI.[169]
Still she waited, hoping that her fate would turn for the better. For a time, an invitation seemed to be forthcoming from Canada, but "the Canadians aren't courageous enough. . . . they 'see difficulties.'" This time, when she requested Shoghi Effendi's permission to meet him in Haifa, she was seeking refuge, not transcendence. He cabled his reply:
REGRET DANGEROUS SITUATION IN PALESTINE NECESSITATES POSTPONEMENT OF PILGRIMAGE.
She wrote, with the humility of a medieval pilgrim, that she knew it was because "such privilege is not often received and that certainly one must deserve it, and second--because of the war in Palestine." Indeed, Haifa was dangerous. Strategically important because of an oil pipeline, Haifa had been the target of attacks by displaced fellahin, by the Irgun, and by the Royal Navy trying to stem the tide of gunrunner and terrorists. Surely Shoghi Effendi knew that to ensure Lidia Zamenhof's safety, he would have to shelter her in his compound, and this he was not prepared to do.
She told her anguished friends that she intended to return to Poland: after all, Shoghi Effendi had advised it, and it was God's will that she rejoin her family in a time of trouble.
From the following section:
Protest was not an option for Lidia Zamenhof when she returned to Warsaw in the winter of 1938. She was reconciled to her fate, and when her faith needed shoring up, she wrote long letters to her Bahai friends: "If I left America," she wrote, "perhaps it was because God preferred that I work in another land." She was writing bleak allegories: Christmas trees with candles that burn for a moment and go dark; a country called "Nightland," "where the sun had not risen for so long that it had nearly been forgotten."[176] After she wrote to Shoghi Effendi that she planned to stay in Poland a few weeks, then go to France, his secretary replied:
Although your efforts to obtain a permit [in the United States] . . . did not prove successful, you should nevertheless be thankful for the opportunity you have had of undertaking such a long and fruitful journey. He hopes that experiences you have gathered during all these months . . . will now help you to work more effectively to spread the Cause in the various European countries you visit, and particularly in your native country Poland, where the Faith is still practically unknown.[127]
In a postscript, the Guardian himself wrote that he looked forward to meeting her "face to face in the Holy Land" at a time "not far distant." In the meantime, she was to bring Bahai to the Poles, lecturing, paying calls, and translating sacred Bahai texts into Polish. After eighteen months of effort, she could count all the Bahais in Poland on one hand.
The chapter goes on to detail the circumstances of her capture and death, and the last paragraph is as follows:
A few months after the war ended, the Bahai National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada began to plan a memorial service for Lidia Zamenhof. They consulted Shogh Effendi: shouldn't she be designated among the martyrs of the Bahai faith? On January 28th, 1946, the eve of what would have been Lidia's forty-second birthday, Shoghi Effendi cabled his American followers:
HEARITLY APPROVE NATIONWIDE OBSERVANCE FOR DAUNTLESS LYDIA ZAMENHOF. HER NOTABLE SERVICES, TENACITY, MODESTY, UNWAVERING DEVOLUTION FULLY MERIT HIGH TRIBUTE BY AMERICAN BELIEVERS. DO NOT ADVISE, HOWEVER, THAT YOU DESIGNATE HER A MARTYR.[183]
She had intended to give her life for the Bahai faith, but died as an Esperantist, a Zamenhof, and a Jew.

Source : https://www.reddit.com/r/OnThisDateInBahai/comments/esavzv/january_23_on_this_date_in_1946_shoghi_effendi/

Why I left the Baha'i Faith?

Steven Scholl


When I received a letter from a Baha'i Continental Counsellor indicating that I was under threat of being declared a Covenant-breaker, the impact on me personally was less than on my family. My wife is a Baha'i as are many of her family members, . . . The very real threat of being declared a Covenant breaker meant my wife had to face the decision of joining me as a heretic or divorcing me so that she could maintain her relationships with her family and other lifelong friends. Since [my wife] had no intention of divorcing me, the choices then extended out to her family. Her sister would not refuse to socialize with us so she would automatically be declared a covenant breaker along with her husband and children. Many of my close Baha'i friends would also be faced with the decision of maintaining friendships or joining me as a heretic. The whole thing is absurd and quite medieval. But it does raise the issue which you point out so well; how anyone would want to belong to a group which is willing to act this way and be so cruel is beyond me. That is why I voluntarily left the religion. Not in order to escape punishment but because the Baha'i community had become such an unhealthy place spiritually. I was terribly saddened that my spiritual home of 25 years had turned into a prison and nightmare.

https://fglaysher.com/bahaicensorship/Scholl4.htm
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