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METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY VOL. 20 ISSUE VI <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

CITY<br />

on<br />

FIRE<br />

THE 1967 RIOTS’<br />

LONG SHADOW ON<br />

DETROIT AND<br />

ITS CHALDEAN<br />

COMMUNITY<br />

Featuring:<br />

Chaldean Foundation’s<br />

Iraq Mission Update<br />

U.S. Resolution Supports<br />

Iraqi Minorities<br />

Aramaic Project<br />

Preserves Language


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 3


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4 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY | <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | VOL. 20 ISSUE VI<br />

AP PHOTO<br />

ON THE COVER<br />

16 1967: City on Fire<br />

The Detroit Riots and the<br />

Chaldean community<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

FEATURES<br />

18 A Historic Recognition<br />

Resolution supports minorities in Iraq<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

20 Chamber Advocacy Pays Off<br />

Liquor code amendment<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

22 The Aramaic Project<br />

Saving the ancient language<br />

By Weam Namou<br />

Congressman John Conyers encourages African Americans in Detroit’s riot area to go home.<br />

16<br />

24 Remembering Clarence Dass<br />

By Christina Salem<br />

26 Reinventing GG<br />

It’s never too late for a second act<br />

By Crystal Kassab Jabiro<br />

DEPARTMENTS<br />

6 From the Editor<br />

A look back, the view forward<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

8 Foundation Update<br />

Oakland University, Dance Class,<br />

Little Scholars<br />

9 Guest Column<br />

Iraq Mission<br />

By Mike Sarafa<br />

10 Iraq Today<br />

The Development Road<br />

12 Religion<br />

Chaldean Language Classes<br />

By Michael Antoon<br />

14 In Memoriam<br />

Honoring our recently-lost<br />

community members<br />

30 Chaldean Pioneers<br />

Jerry Yono<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

34 Life Skills<br />

Buying that first car<br />

By Crystal Kassab Jabiro<br />

36 Sports<br />

Adrianna Kattoo’s special season<br />

By Steve Stein<br />

38 Family Time<br />

Summer Road Trips<br />

By Valene Ayar<br />

40 Economics and Enterprise<br />

In Banks We Trust<br />

By Paul Natinsky<br />

42 From the Archive<br />

Chaldean Town Remembered<br />

Photos submitted by Alexa Saffar<br />

28 East Side Story<br />

Bridging the divide<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

32 Profile: Our Man in Blue<br />

Sgt. Lamar Kashat<br />

By Paul Natinsky<br />

30<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 5


PUBLISHED BY<br />

Chaldean News, LLC<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

Martin Manna<br />

EDITORIAL<br />

EDITOR IN CHIEF<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS<br />

Cal Abbo<br />

Michael Antoon<br />

Valene Ayar<br />

Crystal Kassab Jabiro<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

Weam Namou<br />

Paul Natinsky<br />

Christina Salem<br />

Mike Sarafa<br />

Steve Stein<br />

ART & PRODUCTION<br />

CREATIVE DIRECTOR<br />

Alex Lumelsky with SKY Creative<br />

GRAPHIC DESIGNER<br />

Zina Lumelsky with SKY Creative<br />

PHOTOGRAPHERS<br />

Alex Lumelsky<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

Nico Salgado<br />

SALES<br />

Interlink Media<br />

Sana Navarrette<br />

CLASSIFIEDS<br />

Sana Navarrette<br />

CONTACT INFORMATION<br />

Story ideas: edit@chaldeannews.com<br />

Advertisements: ads@chaldeannews.com<br />

Subscription and all other inquiries:<br />

info@chaldeannews.com<br />

Chaldean News<br />

30095 Northwestern Hwy, Suite 101<br />

Farmington Hills, MI 48334<br />

www.chaldeannews.com<br />

Phone: (248) 851-8600<br />

For publishing consideration, please submit all<br />

announcements and news items by the 15th day<br />

of the month, prior to the month of publication.<br />

The Chaldean News does not make revisions<br />

to articles after publication unless there is a<br />

security-related issue. Errors are published as<br />

“Corrections” in subsequent issues.<br />

Publication: The Chaldean News (P-6);<br />

Published monthly; Issue Date: July <strong>2023</strong><br />

Subscriptions: 12 months, $35.<br />

Publication Address:<br />

30095 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 101,<br />

Farmington Hills, MI 48334;<br />

Permit to mail at periodicals postage rates<br />

is on file at Farmington Hills Post Office<br />

Postmaster: Send address changes to<br />

“The Chaldean News 30095 Northwestern<br />

Hwy., Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334”<br />

FROM THE EDITOR<br />

A look back, the view forward<br />

This month as we celebrate our country’s independence,<br />

it is a good time for Americans<br />

to reflect on where we came from as well as<br />

where we are going. Many efforts are underway to<br />

preserve Chaldean culture, and most visibly, the language.<br />

Some call it “Chaldean Aramaic,” and others<br />

call it “Sureth,” but what is indisputable is that the<br />

language of our forefathers connects us to the past.<br />

In the article “Chaldean Language Classes,” Michael<br />

Antoon shares his personal experience in preserving<br />

the words and dialect spoken by his ancestors.<br />

Learning the language involves more than just<br />

a textbook; in fact, Antoon emphasizes<br />

SARAH KITTLE<br />

EDITOR<br />

IN CHIEF<br />

Thanks to a generous grant from<br />

Michigan Humanities, we are embarking<br />

on a year-long quest to tell the Chaldean<br />

community’s Michigan stories and<br />

highlight their contributions to the state.<br />

that the classes he instructs, offered by<br />

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church<br />

in West Bloomfield, teach oral tradition<br />

rather than written.<br />

The Aramaic Project is another effort<br />

to preserve history in the form of<br />

language. Weam Namou shares her<br />

knowledge of the purpose (to preserve<br />

the pronunciation, vocabulary, and<br />

syntax of Aramaic in the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala)<br />

and project (it has 7 parts).<br />

This month’s issue includes a few profiles. Crystal Kassab<br />

Jabiro writes about her friend GG, who has reinvented herself<br />

(and inspired an article) at midlife. Contributing writer<br />

Paul Natinsky offers a glimpse into the motivations of Sgt.<br />

Lamar Kashat of the Sterling Heights Police Department,<br />

and Cal Abbo writes about his grandfather, Jerry Yono, and<br />

his incredible journey from Iraq to Southfield Funeral Home.<br />

Cal also penned a couple of stories about the advocacy<br />

work the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is engaging<br />

in, including an amendment to the Michigan liquor<br />

code that should help retailers and a resolution introduced<br />

at the federal level calling for international support of minorities<br />

and indigenous communities in Iraq.<br />

Mike Sarafa imparts his experience as part of the Iraq delegation<br />

in the fall of 2022 and the initiatives that were born out<br />

of that visit, Dr. Miri gives us his interpretation of the “Chaldean<br />

divide,” and new writer Christina Salem<br />

shares her personal revelations about<br />

her cousin, the late Clarence Dass.<br />

Family Time author Valene Ayar shares<br />

some tips for saving your sanity while driving<br />

with kids (HINT: keep them busy!) and<br />

some fun activities to take part in. In our<br />

new Life Skills section, Crystal Kassab Jabiro<br />

gives tips for buying a car to new Americans.<br />

The Economics and Enterprise article<br />

by Paul Natinsky this month is about<br />

banking, rising interest rates, and understanding<br />

inflation. It is not an easy subject to discuss,<br />

but our interviewees do it with aplomb.<br />

In From the Archives, Remembering Chaldean<br />

Town features photos submitted by readers like<br />

you. We are looking for more of these submissions<br />

for this and other projects.<br />

Last (but not least), thanks to a generous grant<br />

from Michigan Humanities, we are embarking on<br />

a year-long quest to tell the Chaldean community’s<br />

Michigan stories and highlight their contributions to<br />

the state, using print, podcasts, and in-person events.<br />

Stay tuned to hear more about this exciting project.<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Editor in Chief<br />

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6 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


PUBLISHER'S CIRCLE<br />

Introducing the<br />

Publishers Circle<br />

As the publication of record for Michigan’s<br />

Chaldean community, the mission of the<br />

Chaldean News is to preserve and archive<br />

Chaldean heritage and history, and to tell the<br />

ongoing story of Chaldean contributions to the<br />

communities in which we live and work — in Michigan<br />

and around the world.<br />

Since being acquired by the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation in 2019, the Chaldean News has substantially<br />

increased its readership and social media following,<br />

introduced new digital and website content, and expanded<br />

storytelling with the help of small grant funding.<br />

The Publisher’s Circle initiative will empower community<br />

members to provide major support for the Chaldean News and<br />

its important mission. With the generous help of individuals<br />

and organizations, together, we can ensure that this vital<br />

resource continues to educate and connect the community,<br />

while evolving to meet the needs of future generations.<br />

The Chaldean News has ambitious plans which include<br />

launching a CN app and continuing to expand into new<br />

media such as radio and TV, all with the goal of preserving<br />

our culture and telling the story of our people. You<br />

can take part in helping to preserve your Chaldean<br />

heritage by joining the Publisher’s Circle today.<br />

Jibran “Jim” Manna<br />

Martin and Tamara Manna<br />

We are grateful for the generous and<br />

continuing support of our community.<br />

To learn more, visit chaldeannews.com<br />

or contact us at 248-851-8600<br />

Let’s grow the circle.<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 7


FOUNDATION UPDATE<br />

Members of the CCF Team pictured with Oakland University representatives.<br />

Oakland University Visits the CCF<br />

Representatives from Oakland University visited the CCF recently to learn more about<br />

the projects and work done at the center. Open for discussion were ideas to strengthen<br />

the current strategic partnership between Oakland University and the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation and future scholarship opportunities.<br />

With the growing number of Chaldeans enrolling at Oakland University, the CCF is<br />

looking to create more engagement between the community and the university.<br />

For example, Oakland University alumnus (and proud Chaldean) Derek Dickow has<br />

established a new scholarship fund this year to help support the education of young<br />

Chaldeans attending Oakland University. For more information regarding this and<br />

other scholarship opportunities, visit chaldeanfoundation.org/scholarship-program.<br />

Stepping Up to Dance<br />

As a new educational offering, the Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

held traditional dance classes on June 7 and 14. Those in attendance<br />

were able to learn four different styles of dance from instructors<br />

Vinos Kassab and Raquel Orow. The diverse group included<br />

everyone from young Chaldeans trying to learn and maintain their<br />

own culture to a couple seeking to become competent at traditional<br />

dances before their wedding celebration later this year.<br />

Participants engaged in step-by-step and group instruction<br />

as they learned about bagyie/peda, khigga yaqoora, chobi, and<br />

gushiani traditional dances. Learning as a group was not only fun<br />

but also helped to create confidence amongst the group and led to<br />

the group picking up the steps very quickly. The goal of the pilot<br />

program, supported by the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, is<br />

to preserve the cultural dances performed during various celebrations<br />

within the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Syriac communities.<br />

Record Breaking Year<br />

in Scholarships<br />

For the first time in its program history, the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation Academic Scholarship Program is expected to<br />

award more than $100,000 in scholarships to Chaldean students<br />

for the upcoming school year. Since the program’s inception in<br />

2016, the CCF has awarded more than $350,000 in scholarships.<br />

“This is a major milestone in the scholarship program,” said<br />

CCF president Martin Manna, “and it really shows the need for<br />

financial assistance for a large portion of the community.” The<br />

deadline to apply for the <strong>2023</strong> program is Friday, July 7 at 5PM.<br />

Upcoming Events<br />

August 10: Warren Consolidated Schools Back to School Event<br />

August 17: Utica Community Schools Back to School Event<br />

September 22: 5th Annual Awards Gala<br />

Creating Future<br />

Scholars<br />

Thirty-six adorable preschoolers graduated<br />

from the Little Scholars Program<br />

at CCF on Monday, June 12. Katie<br />

Geekie, the Department of Education<br />

qualified teacher, led the graduates<br />

who performed by singing and showing<br />

off what they learned this year before<br />

walking across the stage.<br />

Each student was handed a certificate<br />

of completion. The shared luncheon<br />

was their “last hurrah” before many<br />

of the students will head to kindergarten<br />

or other learning opportunities in<br />

the next school year. Parents received<br />

some goodies and memorabilia from the<br />

school year as well, ensuring the memories<br />

from the program last a lifetime.<br />

For more information regarding<br />

our Little Scholars Program, contact<br />

our office at 586-722-7253 or visit us at<br />

3601 15 Mile Rd in Sterling Heights for<br />

more information.<br />

Little Scholars Program graduates are recognized at the June 12 ceremony.<br />

8 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


GUEST COLUMN<br />

Making Great Strides<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation’s Iraq Mission<br />

It was day two in<br />

Iraq. We were still jet<br />

lagged. Several in our<br />

delegation were born in<br />

Iraq but had never been<br />

back. We stepped off the<br />

van and into a tiny village<br />

that appeared to be<br />

unchanged from a couple<br />

hundred years ago. While<br />

modernity and progress<br />

had passed it by, war and<br />

destruction did not. Maybe<br />

250 families live here, we were told.<br />

It was the Christian village located<br />

in the Nineveh Plain just a short mile<br />

from Telkaif. For this group, it was<br />

our first opportunity to see what had<br />

become of our ancestral homeland.<br />

Emotions were raw.<br />

We boarded back on the van after<br />

a short visit, anxious to head into<br />

Telkaif before dusk. You could have<br />

cut the silence with a knife. As tears<br />

rolled down the eyes of these grown<br />

men, it was then that we vowed to<br />

turn this trip into more than a sightseeing<br />

opportunity. Action was needed.<br />

Arkan Jonna later stated, “[this]<br />

must be seen and dealt with.”<br />

Making good on a pledge that<br />

was made that day, a fundraiser was<br />

held at the home of Wissam and Efnan<br />

Kashat, raising $35,000. Those<br />

funds will support the construction<br />

and furnishings of a workshop in the<br />

town Batnaya, described above, that<br />

will create jobs and help support a<br />

small group of special needs children<br />

and adults that live there.<br />

“You can’t look at the situation of<br />

these people and go home and forget<br />

about it,” said Wissam Kashat, a delegation<br />

member. “We wanted to make<br />

sure we did something to help.”<br />

Wissam relayed this story about<br />

the evening at his home: The event<br />

included a presentation, some short<br />

talks, and a video regarding the<br />

plight of Christians in the Nineveh<br />

Plain. The hosts had hired some staff<br />

to help with service and cleaning.<br />

They were Chaldean and more recent<br />

immigrants and were listening<br />

and watching during the program.<br />

MIKE SARAFA<br />

SPECIAL TO<br />

THE CHALDEAN<br />

NEWS<br />

At the end of the evening, the<br />

Kashats went to pay for their<br />

service. Having been moved<br />

by what they heard and saw<br />

and having themselves fled<br />

that exact situation, they refused<br />

to accept the money.<br />

They asked that those funds<br />

be donated to assist the people<br />

back home.<br />

Karamlesh is a small<br />

Chaldean town, also in Iraq’s<br />

Nineveh Plain, with a long<br />

agricultural history. For centuries,<br />

the town has been known for its fertile<br />

lands, which have produced a<br />

variety of crops such as wheat, barley,<br />

and vegetables. However, due<br />

to a lack of water supply, which is<br />

required for irrigation, the town’s<br />

agricultural output has declined in<br />

recent years. The canal that irrigates<br />

Karamlesh’s lands has been suffering<br />

from a lack of water due to a variety<br />

of factors, including low rainfall,<br />

climate change, and water diversion<br />

to other regions.<br />

The town’s growth and prosperity<br />

have been hampered by a lack of water.<br />

Many farmers have been forced<br />

to abandon their lands, causing the<br />

town’s economy and overall wellbeing<br />

to suffer. For years, residents<br />

have been looking for a solution to<br />

the water crisis, with little success.<br />

Thanks to a generous $50,000 donation<br />

from Michigan businessman<br />

Chris Yatooma, and the efforts of retired<br />

civil engineer Dave Nona, the<br />

CCF’s Iraq Mission is going to spearhead<br />

the building of a water well in<br />

Karamlesh. “You can’t help but be<br />

moved into action,” said Yatooma,<br />

a delegation member and owner of<br />

Citizen’s State Bank.<br />

Several other initiatives borne<br />

out of last fall’s trip to Iraq are being<br />

spearheaded by the Foundation.<br />

The Nineveh Plain Box Initiative<br />

intends to let Iraqi Americans and<br />

others subscribe to a quarterly program<br />

where goods and merchandise<br />

made in northern Iraq are shipped<br />

to people’s homes here in the United<br />

States. “It’s a win/win kind of program,”<br />

said Tommy Haji with the CCF.<br />

“Chaldeans here will receive items<br />

from their ancestral homeland while<br />

supporting small businesses there at<br />

the same time.” It is modeled after a<br />

program that does something similar<br />

in partnership with the Holy Land.<br />

Also, the CCF has partnered with<br />

a travel agency to begin annual pilgrimages<br />

to the Nineveh Plain region.<br />

These trips promise to reconnect<br />

Iraqi American immigrants<br />

to their ancestral homeland while<br />

also creating an opportunity for<br />

American-born Chaldeans to visit<br />

the birthplaces of their parents and<br />

grandparents.<br />

“All of these things are equally<br />

important,” said Martin Manna,<br />

president of the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation and Chaldean American<br />

Chamber of Commerce. “But<br />

amongst equals, these ongoing pilgrimages<br />

will expose more people to<br />

the situation on the ground in northern<br />

Iraq. That will help create more<br />

awareness and ultimately more resources<br />

to continue our work there.”<br />

Importantly, the Iraq Mission and<br />

all the related projects are being supported<br />

by the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation – Iraq Mission. This includes<br />

two full-time staff people in<br />

Iraq that oversee the Mission’s projects<br />

and help ensure accountability<br />

and progress. They will also be directly<br />

involved in helping to host the<br />

participants of the annual pilgrimages.<br />

This entity is being legally formalized<br />

and recognized in Iraq both<br />

by the central government in Baghdad<br />

and the by the Kurdish Regional<br />

Government.<br />

Finally, in an historic achievement,<br />

through the encouragement<br />

the Iraq Mission Committee of the<br />

CCF, Congress has introduced a resolution<br />

that will further the politics<br />

necessary to achieve greater equality<br />

inside Iraq for religious minorities.<br />

It reads in part:<br />

Resolved, That the United States<br />

House of Representatives—<br />

(1) protects and upholds that the<br />

fundamental human right and dignity<br />

of the religious and ethnic minority<br />

communities of Iraq should be<br />

a policy priority of the United States<br />

and the international community;<br />

(2) supports the restoration of<br />

security, stability, and economic opportunity<br />

of, as well as the safe, dignified,<br />

and voluntary return of the<br />

displaced Indigenous peoples to the<br />

territories of Mosul, Baaj, Sinjar, and<br />

the Nineveh Plain, and other ancestral<br />

homelands of minority religious<br />

and ethnic communities, and should<br />

be a policy priority of United States<br />

and the international community;<br />

(3) supports the restoration of<br />

homes, schools, churches and other<br />

religious sites, and community buildings<br />

of religious and ethnic minority<br />

communities in these regions should<br />

receive a specific and enduring budget<br />

allocation by the Iraqi Government,<br />

as well as continued support<br />

from international aid donors;<br />

(4) supports the effective representation<br />

in consultation with members<br />

of the Indigenous population,<br />

including internally displaced members<br />

of religious and ethnic minority<br />

communities is essential to restoring<br />

and upholding the rights of these<br />

communities, in line with Article 125<br />

of the Constitution of Iraq, which<br />

states that the Constitution ‘‘shall<br />

guarantee the administrative, political,<br />

cultural, and educational rights<br />

of the various nationalities, such as<br />

Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and<br />

all other constituents, and this shall<br />

be regulated by law’’; and<br />

(5) supports greater regional integration<br />

for minority groups in Iraq<br />

and encourages the Secretary of State<br />

to promote opportunities for affected<br />

minority groups to achieve greater administrative<br />

autonomy within the federal<br />

structure of the Republic.<br />

In conclusion, there is much work<br />

to be done, but many hands (and<br />

hearts) make the work lighter.<br />

Mike Sarafa is one of the original<br />

publishers of the Chaldean News<br />

and host of a short-form podcast,<br />

Mike’s Musings.<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 9


IRAQ TODAY<br />

IRAQI PARLIAMENT MEDIA OFFICE VIA AP<br />

This photo from Iraqi parliament shows the Iraqi lawmakers attend a parliamentary session to vote on the federal budget at the parliament headquarters in<br />

Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, June 11, <strong>2023</strong>. Iraq’s parliament approved a record $152 billion budget for <strong>2023</strong> after months of wrangling over the sharing of oil<br />

revenue between the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region in the north.<br />

Iraq launches $17 billion road and rail<br />

project to link Asia and Europe<br />

BY TIMOUR AZHARI<br />

Baghdad, May 27 (Reuters)<br />

Iraq launched a $17 billion project<br />

to link a major commodities port<br />

on its southern coast by rail and<br />

roads to the border with Turkey, in a<br />

move designed to transform the country’s<br />

economy after decades of war<br />

and crisis.<br />

The Development Road aims to tie<br />

the Grand Faw Port in Iraq’s oil-rich<br />

south to Turkey, turning the country<br />

into a transit hub by shortening travel<br />

time between Asia and Europe in a<br />

bid to rival the Suez Canal.<br />

“The Development Road is not<br />

just a road to move goods or passengers.<br />

This road opens the door to<br />

development of vast areas of Iraq,”<br />

Farhan al-Fartousi, director general<br />

of the General Company for Ports of<br />

Iraq, told Reuters.<br />

Iraq’s government envisions<br />

high-speed trains moving goods and<br />

passengers at up to 300 kilometers<br />

(186.41 miles) per hour, links to local<br />

industry hubs and an energy component<br />

that could include oil and gas<br />

pipelines.<br />

It would mark a significant departure<br />

from the country’s existing<br />

aged transport network.<br />

Iraq’s train service currently operates<br />

a handful of lines, including<br />

slow oil freight and a single overnight<br />

passenger train that trundles<br />

from Baghdad to Basra, taking 10 to<br />

12 hours to cover 500 kilometers.<br />

The Grand Faw Port, which was<br />

devised over a decade ago, is halfway<br />

to completion, Fartousi said.<br />

Passenger transport between Iraq<br />

and Europe harkens back to grand<br />

plans at the turn of the 20th century<br />

to create a Baghdad to Berlin express.<br />

“We will make this line active<br />

again and tie it to other countries,”<br />

Fartousi said, noting plans to ferry<br />

tourists and pilgrims to Shiite holy<br />

sites in Iraq and Mecca in Saudi Arabia<br />

for the Haj pilgrimage.<br />

The project was announced at a<br />

conference aimed at courting Arab<br />

interest, including from Arab Gulf<br />

states, Syria and Jordan. A senior<br />

government aide said regional investment<br />

was on the table.<br />

Promises of development are<br />

long-standing in Iraq but infrastructure<br />

remains decrepit even as<br />

the government of Prime Minister<br />

Mohammed Shia al-Sudani makes a<br />

push to rebuild roads and bridges.<br />

But officials say the Development<br />

Road is based on something new: a<br />

period of relative stability since late<br />

last year that they hope can be maintained.<br />

If work starts early next year, the<br />

project would be completed in 2029,<br />

Fartousi said.<br />

“Even if Iraq was absent for a year<br />

or two or a decade or two, it must return<br />

one day or another. Hopefully<br />

these days are the beginning of the<br />

return of Iraq,” he said.<br />

10 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 11


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Chaldean Language Classes<br />

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A TTORNEYS & C O UNSELORS AT LAW<br />

Preserving our beautiful language<br />

is the responsibility of<br />

every person who has been<br />

blessed to be born into our Chaldean<br />

culture. The language is being spoken<br />

less and less in homes and is becoming<br />

exclusive to the older generation.<br />

What a shame it would be for our thriving<br />

community in Michigan to allow<br />

our language to die!<br />

Thankfully the Chaldean Diocese of<br />

St. Thomas the Apostle U.S.A. has begun<br />

taking the initiative to preserve the<br />

language by creating course material.<br />

The language course is designed to be a<br />

guideline to learn, speak, and pass down<br />

the language for generations to come.<br />

The curriculum “Let’s Learn How to<br />

Speak Chaldean - Level 1” was created<br />

by Shamasha Khairy Foumia and Lina<br />

Yaldo for the Chaldean Diocese. This<br />

book introduces the spoken Chaldean<br />

language using English letters and<br />

characters. The curriculum consists<br />

of six chapters—Introduction, Calendar,<br />

School, Family, Descriptions, and<br />

Food—with five lessons in each. There<br />

are also three extra lessons on Christmas,<br />

Easter, and Prayers.<br />

This specific curriculum (Level 1)<br />

was designed and intended for children<br />

of younger ages, but it could be<br />

used as an introductory course for<br />

people of all ages who are interested<br />

in learning how to speak the language.<br />

The book features pictures and is full<br />

color to enhance interaction with the<br />

course material. Each chapter and<br />

lesson has its own learning objective,<br />

with the material on the first page and<br />

approximately three pages of in-class/<br />

homework activities that follow.<br />

This book is the first of its kind because<br />

it has successfully provided the<br />

outline to learn our spoken Chaldean<br />

language without the need to know the<br />

written language. I hope that this first<br />

level of speaking classes plants the seed<br />

in students’ hearts to return and learn<br />

more as more levels are being developed.<br />

In March of <strong>2023</strong>, St. Thomas Chaldean<br />

Catholic Church in West Bloomfield<br />

began the first session of their Level<br />

1 Chaldean Speaking Classes. The program<br />

was led by Shamasha Khairy Foumia<br />

and myself, Michael Antoon, with<br />

the support of nine other great teachers:<br />

Lina Yaldo, Andre Yono, Travis Kajy,<br />

Sarmad Hanna Kachal, Sara Kaskorkis,<br />

Zachary Yono, Seminarian Yousif<br />

Habeeb, Hailey Odish, and Patrick Kakos.<br />

The program was also supported<br />

by Father Stephan Kallabat, who made<br />

many appearances and shared many encouraging<br />

messages with our students.<br />

The original plan of the class was<br />

to have two classes with one teacher<br />

in each, but after seeing the demand<br />

from the community, it was evident we<br />

would need to accommodate more. By<br />

the grace of God, we found amazing<br />

teachers and were able to open 4 different<br />

levels of classes. These were split by<br />

grades 2-5, 6-8, 9-12, and age 18 and up.<br />

Still, as the days to the first class<br />

approached the sign-ups kept coming,<br />

which brought the need for 3 separate<br />

classes of elementary kids alone. By<br />

the beginning of the classes, we had<br />

almost 150 students split among six<br />

classes. Wow! Never did I expect such<br />

a turnout. I saw parents and students<br />

with a zeal for themselves and/or their<br />

children to learn our mother tongue.<br />

After the 10-week course ended<br />

this past June, the elementary, middle,<br />

and high school classes had a party to<br />

celebrate their great accomplishment.<br />

Each student also received a signed certificate<br />

of completion. We plan to hold<br />

the next session of this class in the fall.<br />

Keep an eye on the St. Thomas social<br />

media pages for more information.<br />

Michael Antoon serves Chaldean and<br />

English Masses in the Diocese and reads<br />

and writes Aramaic (Chaldean). He is<br />

a part of the Chaldean Voice Radio as<br />

well as a writer for the Chaldean News.<br />

His passion is preserving the Chaldean<br />

language and church liturgy.<br />

Other sources for learning<br />

the Chaldean language<br />

include Classical Aramaic by<br />

Fr. Michael Bazzi & Dr. Rocco<br />

Errico, Preserving the Chaldean<br />

Language by Roy Gessford, and<br />

Mango Languages’ Chaldean<br />

Aramaic course, created in<br />

conjunction with the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation.<br />

12 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 13


IN MEMORIAM<br />

Hanna<br />

Shamoon Taan<br />

Jul 1, 1941 –<br />

May 22, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Habeeba<br />

Hesano<br />

Jany 10, 1925 –<br />

May 23, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Hayat Elias<br />

Fattohi Karam<br />

Nov 15, 1931 –<br />

May 23, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Zahia Hanna Putrus<br />

Kas-Shamoun<br />

Feb 6, 1958 –<br />

May 23, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Saad Nissan Yono<br />

Dec 2, 1951 –<br />

May 25, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Essam Erimya<br />

Namou<br />

Jul 1, 1960 –<br />

May 25, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Oliver “Ollie”<br />

Khadher<br />

Aug 15, 1990 –<br />

May 27, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Benyamin<br />

Shamona Alsindi<br />

Nov 9, 1938 –<br />

May 28, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Haifaa Jameel –<br />

Yousif Qajee<br />

Jul 1, 1955 –<br />

May 28, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Faiza Faraj<br />

George<br />

Jul 7, 1958 –<br />

Jun 1, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Touma Oraha<br />

Korail<br />

Jul 1, 1948 –<br />

Jun 1, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Bassmi<br />

Hermiz Yako<br />

Jul 1, 1934 –<br />

Jun 1, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Nazhat<br />

Mansour Abbo<br />

Jul 1, 1933 –<br />

Jun 2, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Kamil Maroke<br />

(Yelda Jadan)<br />

Jul 1, 1934 –<br />

Jun 3, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Rafie Yousif Jamil<br />

Jan 22, 1951 –<br />

Jun 5, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Andy Sanawye<br />

Jan 17, 1982 –<br />

Jun 6, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Sabah Zia Shunia<br />

Mar 15, 1940 –<br />

Jun 9, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Baso Toma Saka<br />

Jul 1, 1941 –<br />

Jun 10, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Mary Kinaya<br />

Khames<br />

Jun 15, 1943 –<br />

Jun 11, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Amira Hormiz<br />

Shabilla<br />

Jul 1, 1949 –<br />

Jun 11, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Eshmail Shaba<br />

Jul 1, 1957 –<br />

Jun 12, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Habiba Hady<br />

Halata<br />

Jul 1, 1937 –<br />

Jun 12, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Moukhles<br />

Al – Tawil<br />

Jan 10, 1945 –<br />

Jun 13, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Kamal Mousa<br />

Shamo Allos<br />

Aug 4, 1950 –<br />

Jun 13, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Jolit Daoud Garmo<br />

Mar 20, 1949 –<br />

Jun 13, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Youhanna<br />

Hanna Mazi<br />

Jul 1, 1941 –<br />

Jun 14, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Sharif Abdulahad<br />

Shango<br />

Jul 1, 1943 –<br />

Jun 14, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Intisar Jirjis –<br />

Abboo Aldaimi<br />

Jul 1, 1945 –<br />

Jun 15, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Randy Raymond<br />

Asker<br />

Apr 24, 1974 –<br />

Jun 17, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Senaa Dallo<br />

Jan 26, 1958 –<br />

Jun 18, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Mark Sami<br />

Shakkuri<br />

Jul 16, 1982 –<br />

Jun 18, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Sarah Yousif<br />

Hermiz Abaya<br />

Aug 8, 1934 –<br />

Jun 19, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Issam Ghanim<br />

Pattah<br />

Apr 15, 1967 –<br />

Jun 20, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Shamasha Farouk<br />

Dawood Samona<br />

Nov 16, 1947 –<br />

Jun 21, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Jelbart<br />

Joseph Dado<br />

Jun 14, 1980 –<br />

Jun 22, <strong>2023</strong><br />

14 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 15


COVER STORY<br />

1967: City On Fire<br />

The 1967 Riots’ long shadow on Detroit<br />

and its Chaldean Community<br />

BY CAL ABBO<br />

Plant, located in Warren, produced<br />

more tanks than the entire country of<br />

Germany during the war years. To do<br />

so, Chrysler fused together five six-cylinder<br />

engines they had been using in<br />

their pre-war cars. Among other things,<br />

General Motors produced 120 million<br />

artillery shells, 200,000 artillery shells,<br />

13,000 navy planes, 38,000 tanks,<br />

854,000 trucks, 3.8 million electric motors,<br />

and 198,000 diesel engines.<br />

In this July 23, 1967 file photo, a man is taken into custody by police during the riots that engulfed the city for five<br />

days. Many Chaldean-owned businesses were affected.<br />

“<br />

All I remember is the sound<br />

of gunshots. I was swiftly<br />

snatched up by my mom,”<br />

recalled Carrie Davis, who lived<br />

through the Detroit Riots of 1967 as a<br />

child. “That was only the beginning<br />

of what would be a nightmare. Fire<br />

would later fill the skies … and the<br />

loud buzz and smell of burning electric<br />

wire [was] all around us.”<br />

In many ways, the Detroit Riots of<br />

1967 represent a turning point for the<br />

city. At the time, few could see into<br />

Detroit’s future. Distorted memories<br />

of life before the summer of ‘67 offer<br />

a nostalgic glimpse into what the<br />

city was and a painful image of what<br />

it could have been. Recollections<br />

of the riots offer a chance to see the<br />

moments that tore Detroit apart, a<br />

city pushed to the brink by economic<br />

stagnation in a changing world, a<br />

hostile police force, and a downtrodden<br />

minority population.<br />

The Rise of Detroit: A Brief History<br />

Driven by exponential growth in the<br />

automotive industry and the factory<br />

hands it required, Detroit doubled its<br />

population in the 1910s and served<br />

as the fourth most populous city in<br />

the United States. By 1930, it nearly<br />

cracked the list of the top-10 biggest<br />

cities worldwide. At that point, Detroit<br />

was home to nearly three times<br />

as many residents as it is now. The<br />

key innovation in Detroit’s industrial<br />

boom was the scalable manufacture of<br />

large machines by an unskilled labor<br />

force. This attracted many immigrants,<br />

including the city’s first Chaldeans.<br />

Its crowning achievement, and one<br />

that will last for centuries to come, is<br />

Detroit’s miraculous contribution to<br />

the Allied victory in World War II. Beginning<br />

in 1942, Detroit ceased production<br />

of all commercial automobiles and<br />

converted its factories to building tanks,<br />

jeeps, planes, ammunition, arms, and<br />

much more for the war effort. The prime<br />

challenge was to apply assembly-line<br />

strategies to building war machines, a<br />

feat that had yet to be accomplished.<br />

The success of Detroit’s grand efforts<br />

changed the course of history as we<br />

vastly outproduced the opposition.<br />

The Willow Run Bomber Plant built<br />

nearly half of the B-24 planes ever<br />

made. Ford and Willys-Overland built<br />

a combined 660,000 military vehicles<br />

originally called “blitz buggies.” These<br />

cars were the first jeeps ever created<br />

and the quality of the vehicle spawned<br />

an entire brand of cars that enjoy extraordinary<br />

popularity today.<br />

Chrysler’s Detroit Arsenal Tank<br />

PHOTO BY ALVIN QUINN/AP<br />

The Chaldean Mark<br />

Many of the first Chaldeans came to<br />

Detroit to participate in the wave of<br />

new labor joining the factory floors<br />

of the newfound automobile industry.<br />

The original Chaldeans came just after<br />

the turn of the century and secured<br />

jobs to send money home or eventually<br />

bring their families to the States.<br />

While some Chaldeans arrived in<br />

Canada and Mexico in 1899 and 1901,<br />

the first Chaldean in Detroit is probably<br />

Zaia Acho, who arrived around 1912 and<br />

started working for Ford. During WWI<br />

and the Sayfo, a genocide of Assyrians,<br />

Chaldeans, and Syriacs in the Middle<br />

East, many more Chaldeans made the<br />

journey. By 1925, there were about 35<br />

Chaldeans in Detroit, and their families<br />

began arriving at an exponential rate.<br />

The Chaldean immigrants were<br />

centralized in an area around 7 mile<br />

and Woodward that would later become<br />

known as “Chaldean Town.” The<br />

community began to build around that<br />

area, organizing churches, community<br />

centers, restaurants, and many other<br />

developments. As the older Chaldeans<br />

became seasoned Americans, they<br />

and their children began down an entrepreneurial<br />

path and specialized in<br />

the party store business. By 1923, there<br />

were already four Chaldean stores in<br />

the city. Today, about 60% of Chaldean<br />

households own a business.<br />

More and more Chaldeans came to<br />

Detroit and sought employment within<br />

their own community. It was intimidating<br />

to go into the world and seek out<br />

a job without knowing the language<br />

of the new country. The original Chaldeans<br />

were happy to employ newer immigrants<br />

in their stores because of the<br />

family ties and trust that was present<br />

in those from the same villages. This<br />

led to a compounding of knowledge on<br />

how to run stores, and Chaldean families<br />

looked to buy their own stores once<br />

they had saved enough money.<br />

16 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


A Great City Falls<br />

In the decades prior to the Riots, the<br />

process of decline slowly took root. A<br />

combination of mild factors contributed<br />

to the slow and steady decline of<br />

the once-burgeoning city. Automotive<br />

decentralization, which describes the<br />

process by which the automotive industry<br />

spread itself throughout metro<br />

Detroit, was a key factor. Between 1945<br />

and 1957, the “Big Three” auto companies<br />

built twenty-five new plants<br />

in suburban areas like Plymouth,<br />

Madison Heights, Wixom, Livonia,<br />

and Warren. Many lower-tier manufacturers<br />

that supported the plants with<br />

parts and machines relocated as well.<br />

A particularly salient example is<br />

that of Ford’s famous River Rouge complex.<br />

According to historian Thomas<br />

Sugrue, after its workers joined the<br />

United Automobile Workers union<br />

in 1941, Ford executives realized that<br />

such a large and centralized plant left<br />

the company increasingly vulnerable<br />

to strikes. River Rouge workers were<br />

known to be organized and racially<br />

diverse. To diffuse union power and<br />

reach new labor markets, Ford set up<br />

parallel operations in the suburbs. By<br />

1960, only 30,000 people worked at<br />

Rouge, down from over 100,000 at its<br />

peak in the 1930s. This was the beginning<br />

of the end of automotive production<br />

in the city of Detroit.<br />

As Detroit’s population exploded<br />

during WWII, it fell into a deep housing<br />

crisis, especially for the people who<br />

worked in its factories. The city’s Black<br />

population bore the brunt of the hardship<br />

as they were not welcome in many<br />

neighborhoods and new housing developments.<br />

Racial issues came to the<br />

forefront of politics as segregation continued<br />

to plague the city, which led to<br />

white flight from the city to the suburbs.<br />

In the early 1940s, the issue of segregation<br />

became seriously escalated.<br />

Frequent fights broke out over the racial<br />

makeup of housing projects and<br />

attempts to integrate factory work. In<br />

June 1943, a fight and subsequent riot<br />

broke out on Belle Isle in which 34<br />

people died. This and similar events<br />

changed many of the residents’ perspective<br />

on the city.<br />

White families relocated to the<br />

suburbs because of their perception<br />

that the city was becoming dangerous,<br />

as well as the promise of a new life offered<br />

by the spacious cities just outside<br />

of Detroit. This created a self-fulfilling<br />

prophecy: businesses followed<br />

suit and moved out of the city, which<br />

led to a more depressed and dangerous<br />

Detroit.<br />

The Black community, which slowly<br />

gained a greater share of Detroit’s<br />

population, was systematically disadvantaged<br />

in housing, employment,<br />

services, and infrastructure. Studies<br />

show they paid nearly 40% more in<br />

rent for the same units as Whites. Businesses<br />

moved away from their neighborhoods,<br />

and their housing units<br />

faced neglect and fell into disrepair. At<br />

the same time, the Black community<br />

in Detroit gained a sense of pride and<br />

purpose as a result of the growing Civil<br />

Rights Movement.<br />

The 1967 Detroit riots marked a<br />

significant turning point for the Chaldean<br />

community and the city as a<br />

whole. Following these riots and the<br />

decline of the automobile industry,<br />

many of Detroit’s wealthier residents<br />

and business owners left the city. This<br />

exodus had a double effect on the<br />

Chaldean community. First, it created<br />

a vacuum that Chaldean businesses,<br />

especially grocery stores, stepped in<br />

to fill. White business owners fled<br />

from the city and sold their destroyed<br />

businesses to eager Chaldeans. At the<br />

same time, Detroit would still never<br />

fully recover from the damage accrued<br />

during 1967.<br />

After the ‘60s, the Chaldean community<br />

remained resilient and continued<br />

to play a significant role in the city’s<br />

economy and social fabric, albeit under<br />

more challenging circumstances. Many<br />

Chaldeans who were able moved their<br />

families to the suburbs but continued<br />

to operate stores within the city.<br />

The Riot and the Chaldean Experience<br />

By the 1960s, race riots in urban areas<br />

were infamous for destroying large<br />

portions of cities. The Detroit Police<br />

Department was largely seen by the<br />

Black community as an abusive force<br />

that singled out their community. On<br />

the morning of July 23, 1967, cops raided<br />

an after-hours club and arrested 85<br />

people on 12th Street. A crowd began<br />

to form, and someone threw bottles<br />

at the police and their vehicles, who<br />

retreated quickly. The damage was<br />

done, however, and the riot only escalated<br />

from there. In less than an<br />

hour, thousands of people were on the<br />

Throughout the three days of unrest, store owners did what they could to protect<br />

their property: Signs with appeals for unity with their customers were the first<br />

choice but rifles served as backup. Jerry Yono is wearing a white T-shirt, on the<br />

right, with his late brother, Sam, to his left. Customer volunteers hold rifles.<br />

streets, looting whatever they could.<br />

Sharkey Hesano was in the National<br />

Guard when the riots broke out.<br />

He lived just three blocks from where<br />

the riots began, and his family owned<br />

a store that quickly succumbed to the<br />

riot. “I got called in at 6 a.m.,” he said.<br />

“We were bussed down to the police<br />

headquarters by Greektown.”<br />

Hesano and his crew were assigned<br />

to protect critical infrastructure<br />

like water treatment plants and power<br />

stations. It was mostly boring, he said,<br />

because rioters were focused on looting<br />

retail stores. He and his fellow<br />

service members walked perimeters<br />

around these critical properties but<br />

were never met with any resistance.<br />

Perhaps the most surprising thing<br />

for Hesano was his experience with<br />

non-rioters. During a break, he would<br />

go into a fast-food joint to refuel. He<br />

found that all the customers were<br />

endlessly thankful for his service and<br />

helping protect the city from the riots,<br />

so much so that he never paid for his<br />

own food.<br />

The next day, Hesano was deployed<br />

at the Jeffersonian Apartments, specifically<br />

a bank on the lower level that the<br />

government wanted to protect from<br />

looters. During parts of his rotation, he<br />

was stationed on the roof of the 30-story<br />

building, overlooking the city on fire.<br />

1967 continued on page 41<br />

PHOTO BY LEE BALTERMAN<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 17


FEATURE<br />

A Historic Recognition<br />

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin introduces resolution to<br />

support religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq<br />

BY CAL ABBO<br />

For centuries, Christian communities<br />

in Iraq have served as<br />

soft targets for other groups to<br />

conquer. The evidence is laid out in<br />

history books, generational memories,<br />

and the stories of constant immigration<br />

that leads to today’s diaspora.<br />

The most recent enemy, known to<br />

the world as the Islamic State (ISIS),<br />

was one of the most evil our community<br />

has experienced. As noted in U.S. Rep.<br />

Elissa Slotkin’s resolution, ISIS committed<br />

countless atrocities against ethnic<br />

and religious minorities in Iraq and<br />

elsewhere. Murder, subjugation, forced<br />

conversion, kidnapping, human trafficking,<br />

torture, rape, and destruction<br />

of ancient artifacts are only some of the<br />

crimes committed against Chaldeans<br />

and other Christians in the region.<br />

ISIS looted and destroyed many<br />

Chaldean villages after its invasion began<br />

in the summer of 2014. Fortunately,<br />

many residents were warned and fled before<br />

ISIS arrived. Still others were killed<br />

or kidnapped. This left a sizable refugee<br />

population, and even after the defeat of<br />

ISIS in late 2017, few have returned to<br />

their dilapidated and destroyed towns.<br />

Efforts by the international community<br />

and the diaspora to rebuild the<br />

destroyed areas are rapidly expanding,<br />

but many Chaldeans would rather<br />

forget the old way of life and move to a<br />

safe city like Erbil or a different country<br />

altogether. Without the continuing<br />

support of the Iraq government, these<br />

old towns will fall off the map or become<br />

repurposed and their ancient<br />

treasures will die with them.<br />

Empty villages have since become<br />

the favorite target of land grabbers trying<br />

to abuse the precarious situation<br />

of Christians. They don’t expect these<br />

indigenous populations to return to<br />

their homes, and current policy is only<br />

aiding this way of thinking.<br />

That’s why Rep. Slotkin, whose 7th<br />

congressional district includes Lansing<br />

and extends as far East as South Lyon,<br />

introduced the resolution to address<br />

18 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Elissa Slotkin speaks at the 20th Annual CACC Awards Dinner on April 28, <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

various Christian communities and call<br />

for Iraq to create an ongoing fund dedicated<br />

to rebuilding their towns.<br />

“Michigan’s vibrant Chaldean<br />

community has a long history in our<br />

state, which is why I met with Chaldean<br />

leaders in Iraq last fall as part of<br />

a Congressional Delegation to the Middle<br />

East,” Slotkin said in a statement<br />

to the Chaldean News. “I took what I<br />

learned back to D.C. and that’s why I’m<br />

introducing a resolution to uphold the<br />

human rights and dignity of religious<br />

G:\M\18\SLOTKI\SLOTKI_017.XML<br />

and ethnic minorities in Iraq.”<br />

Slotkin said it’s critical for U.S. policy<br />

118TH CONGRESS<br />

1ST SESSION<br />

to support the security, stability, integration,<br />

and political representation of various<br />

minority groups including Yezidis,<br />

Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean-Mandeans,<br />

Kaka’i, and indigenous Christians.<br />

The resolution recognizes that<br />

these communities “have been an integral<br />

part of the cultural fabric and<br />

history of Iraq and the broader Middle<br />

East for millennia … internally displaced<br />

members of these religious and<br />

ethnic minority communities continue<br />

to face significant challenges to returning<br />

to their ancestral homelands.”<br />

The resolution has five main points of<br />

.....................................................................<br />

(Original Signature of Member)<br />

H. RES. ll<br />

Affirming the nature and importance of the support of the United States<br />

for the religious and ethnic minority survivors of genocide in Iraq.<br />

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES<br />

Ms. SLOTKIN submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the<br />

Committee on lllllllllllllll<br />

RESOLUTION<br />

Affirming the nature and importance of the support of the<br />

United States for the religious and ethnic minority survivors<br />

of genocide in Iraq.<br />

action for the House of Representatives.<br />

The fundamental human right and<br />

dignity of the religious and ethnic minority<br />

communities of Iraq should be a<br />

policy priority of the United States and<br />

the international community.<br />

The restoration of security, stability,<br />

and economic opportunity as well as<br />

the safe return of displaced indigenous<br />

peoples to their homeland should be a<br />

policy priority of the United States and<br />

the international community.<br />

The restoration of homes, schools,<br />

churches, and other religious sites and<br />

community buildings should receive a<br />

specific and enduring budget allocation<br />

from the Iraqi Government as well<br />

as continued support from international<br />

aid donors.<br />

The effective representation in the<br />

government of indigenous populations,<br />

including those who are displaced, is<br />

essential to restoring and upholding<br />

the rights of these communities.<br />

The Secretary of State should support<br />

greater regional integration for<br />

minority groups in Iraq and promote<br />

opportunities for affected minority<br />

groups to achieve greater administrative<br />

autonomy within the federal structure<br />

of the Republic of Iraq.<br />

For millennia, Christians in the<br />

Middle East have lived under the rule of<br />

someone else and have had to give up<br />

control over their own lives. Rarely have<br />

they been free from an overbearing influence,<br />

whether it’s Persians, Parthians,<br />

Sassanians, Islamic caliphates, Mongols,<br />

Ottomans, the British, or the nation<br />

of Iraq, these indigenous communities<br />

have long struggled for independence.<br />

The resolution’s call for greater administrative<br />

autonomy is a challenge<br />

to that history. Many efforts have been<br />

made to create a government or nation<br />

out of the minorities in northern Iraq<br />

especially. After the Sayfo, a genocide of<br />

Chaldeans and Assyrians in the Middle<br />

East, and the end of WWI, indigenous<br />

communities proposed a sovereign<br />

Assyro-Chaldean nation in the North of<br />

Iraq at the Paris Peace Conference, but<br />

were neglected by the British empire<br />

that gained control of the territory.<br />

This was the most recent serious<br />

effort to gain autonomy from a higher<br />

power, however, new demands are being<br />

made for administrative autonomy,<br />

and this resolution only adds to those<br />

voices.


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 19


FEATURE<br />

Chamber Advocacy Pays Off<br />

Michigan reps introduce bills to amend liquor code<br />

BY CAL ABBO<br />

Legislators in the Michigan House<br />

of Representatives have introduced<br />

two bipartisan bills to<br />

amend Public Act 58, which is widely referred<br />

to as the liquor code. After months<br />

of advocacy and planning by the Chaldean<br />

American Chamber of Commerce<br />

(CACC) on behalf of the Chaldean community’s<br />

liquor store and supermarket<br />

owners, the bills can finally be considered<br />

by elected representatives.<br />

For decades, the Chaldean community<br />

has entrenched its position<br />

in metro Detroit by selling liquor at<br />

convenience stores and supermarkets.<br />

The structure of these businesses<br />

bodes particularly well for an immigrant<br />

to raise their family and tap their<br />

community for help. Now, stores that<br />

sell liquor may be getting a raise.<br />

There are two bills being proposed<br />

to help retailers. The first, House Bill<br />

(HB) 4757, amends the liquor control<br />

code of 1998 and increases the state<br />

minimum percentage profit earned on<br />

liquor sales. The second bill, HB 4758,<br />

would restrict the Michigan Liquor<br />

Control Commission from considering<br />

violations of the liquor code older than<br />

two years when it decides to issue,<br />

deny, suspend, or revoke a license.<br />

As someone who grew up in metro<br />

Detroit, Representative Samantha<br />

Steckloff, who represents Farmington<br />

and Farmington Hills, said she knows<br />

the value of neighborhood liquor<br />

stores. That’s why she sponsored both<br />

bills. “I am so proud to sponsor this bipartisan<br />

package that would ease the<br />

Michigan Liquor Control Code,” she<br />

said. Steckloff added that this package<br />

will help small business owners<br />

thrive, boosting our economy. Currently,<br />

small business liquor retailers face<br />

stiff competition from big box stores<br />

alongside rising wages and costs.<br />

At the current moment, the state<br />

minimum retail price for a bottle of liquor<br />

is set at a fixed 17% higher than<br />

what a retailer purchased the item for. In<br />

recent decades, big-box and corporate<br />

stores have taken control of the liquor<br />

market. As large businesses that make<br />

money through high volume of sales,<br />

they can afford to sell liquor at the state<br />

minimums, which forces small business<br />

owners to do the same to compete.<br />

The current margin of 17% on liquor,<br />

however, fails to cover the overhead<br />

costs of many small businesses.<br />

One study used by the CACC said it<br />

costs the average liquor store owner<br />

24% of their gross profit just to stay<br />

open. Effectively, small stores are taking<br />

a loss on liquor sales. If this bill<br />

passes, that number will change to<br />

35%, doubling the margin for big-box<br />

and small business owners alike and<br />

allowing them to make a profit. The<br />

margin of 35% aligns more closely with<br />

the average markup in other states, according<br />

to the CACC.<br />

Representative Graham Filler, who<br />

sponsored HB 4578 and represents a<br />

rural district that overlaps with Saginaw,<br />

Gratiot, and Clinton counties,<br />

wants to help reduce the bureaucratic<br />

burden on small business owners. “I<br />

have been talking for years with Martin<br />

Manna, the Chaldean community, and<br />

other small business owners about the<br />

best way the Michigan Legislature can<br />

support small businesses, including<br />

convenience stores,” he said.<br />

Tom Kuhn represents mainly Troy<br />

and Sterling Heights. He sponsored<br />

both bills, and recognized the CACC<br />

as the primary reason for the potential<br />

changes to the liquor code. “The Chaldean<br />

American Chamber of Commerce<br />

has served as the catalyst, educating<br />

legislators on behalf of local businesses,”<br />

he said, adding that without the<br />

CACC’s leadership, the bills would not<br />

have been introduced.<br />

Overall, Michigan legislators offered<br />

the bipartisan nature of the bills<br />

as the main reason it has staying power<br />

and the potential to pass the legislature.<br />

20 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 21


FEATURE<br />

The Aramaic Project<br />

Preserving an ancient language<br />

BY WEAM NAMOU<br />

Caption<br />

Clockwise from above: His Excellency Mar George Alencherry, Major<br />

Archbishop of Syro Malabar Catholic Church; His Excellency Mar Francis<br />

Kallabat with an Aramaic tutor and parishioner of St. Joseph Chaldean<br />

Catholic Church and Subdeacon Samir Nissian; Rev. Dr. Joseph J. Palackal.<br />

The Aramaic language reached<br />

South India long before the<br />

Christian era. According to Rev.<br />

Dr. George Kurukkoor, a philologist<br />

and professor of Sanskrit and Malayalam<br />

languages, it arrived as far back<br />

as the 7th century BC when Sumerians,<br />

Babylonians, Jews, and others<br />

from the Middle East came to India in<br />

pursuit of commercial trade. In later<br />

centuries, its importance was replaced<br />

by other languages.<br />

Like Iraqi Christians, the Christians<br />

in Kerala, India, trace the origin of their<br />

faith to St. Thomas the Apostle. Until<br />

the 1960s, they celebrated the liturgy<br />

in Aramaic but over time, the language<br />

and its songs began to face extinction<br />

in the Syro Malabar Church, which has<br />

3.25 million members. This is one of the<br />

eight independent churches among the<br />

St. Thomas Christians (6 million out of<br />

about 30 million Christians in India)<br />

that follow the Chaldean (East Syriac)<br />

liturgical tradition.<br />

This inspired Rev. Dr. Joseph J.<br />

Palackal, an Indic musicologist, singer,<br />

and composer, to initiate the Aramaic<br />

Project.<br />

“The concept started after lifelong<br />

preparations,” said Palackal. In the<br />

1970s when he was a seminarian, he<br />

heard a priest (Father Probus Perumalil,<br />

CMI) sing a song with unfamiliar<br />

melodies and instrumentals, and he<br />

was mesmerized by its uniqueness. “I<br />

didn’t know at that time that it was Aramaic<br />

and came from the Middle East<br />

with the influence of the Chaldean<br />

Church.”<br />

In 1982, he wrote an article about<br />

the need to preserve this music’s heritage.<br />

He did his PhD dissertation on<br />

Aramaic chants in India. In 2006, he<br />

organized a recording of these songs<br />

by Rev. George Kurukkoor. He also<br />

worked on a commercial CD of Syriac<br />

chants; this has become a collector’s<br />

item because most of the singers have<br />

since died.<br />

“The Aramaic language has undergone<br />

change in its pronunciation, vocabulary,<br />

and syntax in the Syro-Malabar<br />

Church in Kerala,” Palackal said.<br />

“All this treasure will be lost if we don’t<br />

document it and preserve it for future<br />

generations.”<br />

The most challenging part of the<br />

project was locating Syriac (Aramaic)<br />

singers across Kerala. The word “Syr<br />

iac,” of Greek origin, was associated<br />

with the region in Syria conquered<br />

by the Greeks. Jose George is<br />

a Chaldean from India who resides in<br />

Troy, Michigan. He explains that it was<br />

brought to India by the Portuguese<br />

in the 15th century. The Portuguese,<br />

who colonized the country, viewed St.<br />

Thomas Christians as Nestorians and<br />

heretics and wanted them to speak<br />

Latin, Portuguese, or English. India<br />

thereafter adopted “Syriac” to refer to<br />

Aramaic, although they still use both<br />

words.<br />

“We don’t say Sureth because we<br />

don’t know that word; it’s used in<br />

Iraq,” said George. An engineer who<br />

provides IT services and consulting,<br />

he got involved in the Aramaic Project<br />

in 2016. He has since interviewed<br />

many people include Father Manuel<br />

Boji, Chaldean Catholic Christians<br />

from the Shlama Foundation, and<br />

most recently, Dr. Palackal.<br />

A challenge for Dr. Palackal was<br />

convincing the hierarchy of his church<br />

about the significance of this project<br />

and the importance of the language. “I<br />

still haven’t achieved that goal,” he said,<br />

but it is his dream to do so because once<br />

they’re convinced, they could ask the<br />

government of India to contact UNISCO<br />

and ask them to declare the Aramaic<br />

language in India an endangered language<br />

and request for financial support<br />

to preserve it. “Then we can do much<br />

more,” he said. “We can make an impact<br />

on an international level.”<br />

Palackal introduced two Aramaic<br />

chants to younger generations of Syro-<br />

Malabar Catholic Christians in America<br />

for the first time in 2013, at the National<br />

Basilica in Washington, DC, during the<br />

solemn celebration of Qurbana. There<br />

were 120 young singers from across<br />

America and they took to it—in fact,<br />

they were fascinated by it.<br />

“Now this has become an essential<br />

component of Qurbana in Malayalam<br />

and in English among the young<br />

people in America,” he said. “I didn’t<br />

think this would happen in my lifetime,<br />

but I’m happy to see that.”<br />

Recently, Palackal witnessed a<br />

Syro Malabar wedding in Queens<br />

where the young people sang in Aramaic.<br />

“That was a moment of great<br />

satisfaction,” he said. A very unexpected<br />

development was when a<br />

team from the Dharmaram, CMI study<br />

house seminary in Bangalore initiated<br />

an effort to compose new text in<br />

Aramaic. They wrote the poem and<br />

asked Palackal to compose it.<br />

St. Thomas Anthem<br />

With St. Thomas<br />

Our father,<br />

We glorify you,<br />

One who enlivened us<br />

By enlightening<br />

Our darkness-filled eyes.<br />

With him we proclaim<br />

Your revelations<br />

without doubt.<br />

Constantly we utter:<br />

Mar Walah, Mar Walah<br />

“The song is first to St. Thomas, but<br />

it is also dedicated to Jesus Christ,<br />

so I liked it and composed it,” said<br />

22 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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Palackal. “It’s now slowly becoming a prayer song in<br />

gatherings. Now we’re doing other songs, one which<br />

a community in Chicago took and assigned a priest<br />

to use it. I didn’t think I would live to see the fruits of<br />

my labor.” The project consists of seven parts:<br />

• Part I – Syro Malabar Church<br />

• Part II – Assyrian Church of the East<br />

• Part III – Chaldean Catholic Church<br />

• Part VI – Malankara Mar Thoma<br />

Syrian Church<br />

• Part V – Syrian Orthodox Churches<br />

• Part VI – Syro Malankara Church<br />

• Part VII – Music of Kerala Jews<br />

Five to ten years from now he envisions all the Syro-Malabar<br />

communities across the world developing a concept<br />

of bilingual Qurbana; one in the local language—whether<br />

English, Hindi, Malayalam, or another language, but<br />

to also incorporate a few hymns in Aramaic.<br />

“People will thus know that this used to be our liturgy,”<br />

said Palackal. “That might encourage some of<br />

them to learn the language at a deeper level and get a<br />

mastery of the language to uncover the treasures hidden<br />

in its tradition.”<br />

Another dream of Palackal’s is that his communities<br />

recite the Lord’s Prayer in the Aramaic language.<br />

“It’s an honor and privilege to utter those words<br />

which came from the mouth of Jesus,” he said. “Our<br />

umbilical cord will be reconnected 2,000 years back to<br />

the time when Jesus said that prayer.”<br />

He added, “Just by singing, ‘Marwala’ (My lord),<br />

that’s a profession of faith. In one phrase, you compress<br />

the entire Catholicity. You’re praising the Lord in<br />

your undivided humanity and divinity without doubt.<br />

What a profession of faith! We spend so many hours<br />

discussing pathology. Here is perfect pathology. Perfect<br />

explanation who Jesus is – he is God and Man!”<br />

To learn more, visit https://www.aramaicproject.com/.<br />

His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Louis Sako visits<br />

Mar Hormiz church in Angamali Kerala, India.<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 23


FEATURE<br />

Remembering<br />

Clarence Dass<br />

BY CHRISTINA SALEM<br />

As we mark the one-year anniversary of Clarence<br />

Dass’s death, I’d like to memorialize<br />

him for those of you who never had the privilege<br />

of knowing him.<br />

It’s so easy to begin this by listing off all the accomplishments<br />

that Clarence contributed to the community<br />

around the world. Many knew him for his friendly<br />

smile, witty one-liners, or the fact that he battled stage<br />

four colon cancer behind closed doors and still managed<br />

to provide pro-bono services for the Iraqi community<br />

while they fought deportations, alongside his<br />

own determination and valor to live life to the fullest.<br />

Clarence’s legacy will cement him as a timeless<br />

pioneer of everlasting grace and savvy wisdom in the<br />

multiple communities he led. However, Clarence was<br />

more than his achievements and his illness. He was a<br />

friend, a confidant, a man of God, a father of twins, a<br />

husband, a son, a brother, and my first cousin.<br />

We grew up together side-by-side for the 29 years I<br />

had with him. He set the tone for so many of the games<br />

and activities we played as kids. He was like my oldest<br />

brother (and the leader of my three brothers when<br />

they needed one). He was the biggest practical jokester<br />

but also had the deepest ocean of compassion and empathy<br />

for anyone who came to him with their most vulnerable<br />

feelings and secrets. He was patient and kind<br />

and had a calming charisma that would fill any room<br />

he entered. When he was around, people felt safe and<br />

enveloped by a peaceful joy that only Clarence could<br />

produce.<br />

I’ll never forget my sigh of relief when he surprised<br />

everyone in 2013 at my aunt’s apartment during<br />

our trip to Denmark for our little cousin’s wedding.<br />

I had someone closer to my age to hang out<br />

with—someone that spoke the same language as<br />

me! Since my aunties and other cousins weren’t native<br />

English speakers, he was the ideal companion to<br />

explore the city of Copenhagen with. We decided to<br />

give ourselves the nickname “Team USA”. Little did I<br />

know my experience and conversations with him on<br />

that trip would plant seeds which would change the<br />

trajectory of my life.<br />

He was in a brand-new role at the time for Oakland<br />

County; I didn’t really know what that meant and neither<br />

did my cousin, who asked him. It turned out Clarence<br />

had received a promotion to become prosecutor<br />

for the Special Victims Unit for the county. Yes, he<br />

was representing victims of child abuse and domestic<br />

violence, like they did on the TV show SVU. He was<br />

locking up the bad guys and giving the voiceless a microphone.<br />

I remember looking at him and thinking,<br />

“Wow. This is what a hero looks like.” He was a reallife<br />

hero to so many people. I never knew someone I<br />

was so close to could be so special and could selflessly<br />

give to so many people. It seemed so Christ-like. I was<br />

instantly inspired to change my entire life, which was<br />

already in a state of flux to begin with.<br />

When I got home, I changed my major from marketing<br />

to journalism, because after hearing that conversation<br />

I too, had dreams of being a prosecutor.<br />

When I told him how I made that choice and wanted to<br />

go to law school he instantly told me that as a founding<br />

member of our inside joke of “Team USA,” that his<br />

success was my success. To have someone like Clarence<br />

going to bat for you is something I can share with<br />

all the amazing people he’s helped, but when my big<br />

cousin who seemed so out of this world and amazing<br />

said those words to me, I was filled with an unshakeable<br />

confidence. I remember watching him in court<br />

pursuing justice in action, and it was like watching the<br />

righteous defend the meek, innocent, and forgotten.<br />

The wit and strength Clarence portrayed in a myriad of<br />

circumstances was spectacular to witness.<br />

If I ever wanted to reach the levels he did, I felt<br />

like his hand would always be there to stretch out to<br />

mine and help pull me to higher heights. He never let<br />

me down with those words, and although I strayed<br />

and shifted paths many times, he always ensured me<br />

that whatever my choices were—his success was still<br />

Top: The Dass Family at a baby shower for Clarence<br />

and his wife Renee in anticipation of their<br />

twins’ arrival. Left: Clarence’s favorite quote from<br />

his favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”<br />

my success. (Go, “Team USA!”)<br />

In that decade after the wedding in Denmark he<br />

founded his own law firm, the Dass Law Firm; became<br />

an adjunct professor at Rochester College; was the Assistant<br />

Prosecutor for Oakland County from 2012-2016;<br />

served as president of Leadership Oakland, and on the<br />

Board of Directors and Alumni Association of Wayne<br />

State University; served as an Advisory Board Member<br />

of Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit; won a Community Service<br />

Award Winner from the Oakland County Bar Association<br />

in 2017; and an Unsung Hero Award from the<br />

State Bar of Michigan in 2019, all while being an on-air<br />

legal expert for WXYZ Channel 7.<br />

These accolades don’t begin to scratch the surface<br />

of the number of lives Clarence touched in his short<br />

time on Earth—lives that extend far past Michigan<br />

and the United States. His kindness and love were<br />

known by members of our community around the<br />

world. His messages always seemed to have a timelessness<br />

to them, and I cherish one of the last nuggets<br />

of wisdom he shared with me before his passing:<br />

“You are the only you.” Clarence managed to forge<br />

a path we had never seen anyone take in our community<br />

and that last line reminded me that I have a<br />

similar path to follow, one that is constantly evolving<br />

and completely untraveled.<br />

Now I’m proud to carry on that legacy by supporting<br />

his family and wife and their twins, ensuring<br />

my success is their success. The twins will know the<br />

great love their parents shared and how their father<br />

had the ability to wholeheartedly connect with others<br />

because of his awareness of the preciousness of<br />

presence in an overstimulated world. They’ll be able<br />

to play the same games their father did with us as<br />

kids. They will hear about all the people he helped<br />

and feel seen and validated for their experiences.<br />

They’ll know even in his last days he was mentoring<br />

troubled youth in Mar Addai Church in Oak Park that<br />

no one knew about until after his passing.<br />

When the time comes, I am confident the newest<br />

additions of “Team USA” will continue to fight the<br />

battles of the less fortunate and strive to give a voice<br />

to the voiceless the same way their father did.<br />

24 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


CHALDEAN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION<br />

Educational programs<br />

Registration open.<br />

Please call for an appointment.<br />

All Nationalities Welcome!<br />

ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE<br />

GED (HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DEGREE)<br />

Provides individuals English<br />

instruction at basic/beginner and<br />

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Small group instruction for<br />

individuals working towards<br />

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CITIZENSHIP PREPARATION<br />

Prepares children for kindergarten<br />

through a variety of emergent<br />

literacy, early learning and<br />

development opportunities<br />

Offers instruction and training for<br />

successful completion of the U.S.<br />

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(USCIS) Naturalization interview<br />

We can’t wait to see you!<br />

Want to learn more? Please contact Rachel Rose at<br />

Rachel.rose@chaldeanfoundation.org or call (586) 722-7253<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 25


FEATURE<br />

Reinventing GG<br />

Never too late for a second act<br />

BY CRYSTAL KASSAB JABIRO<br />

Though some women approach<br />

turning 50 with trepidation, GG<br />

Benitez is arriving at that mile<br />

marker with confidence.<br />

With her 29-year-old daughter<br />

Alexis’s marriage a few months ago,<br />

her 19-year-old daughter Daniella completing<br />

her first year at Loyola, and her<br />

17-year-old son Gabriel entering his senior<br />

year of high school, GG decided to<br />

fuse her public relations skills with her<br />

affection for travel.<br />

Not-so-much empty nester syndrome,<br />

just a sort of “second act” for<br />

a mom who—after three decades—will<br />

have some time to pursue more of<br />

her passions away from pick-ups and<br />

drop-offs and all the other hectic dayto-day<br />

activities involving children.<br />

GG, a nickname of her birth name<br />

Ghada Ghattas, graduated from the<br />

University of California San Diego Revelle<br />

in 1995 with a degree in economics.<br />

She worked in pharmaceutical<br />

sales for seven years before opening<br />

GG Benitez Public Relations.<br />

While building her firm for the past<br />

14 years, she also co-founded Aloisia<br />

Beauty, whose products have been featured<br />

on the Today Show and in People<br />

magazine. As if she was not busy<br />

enough, she decided to obtain her<br />

real estate license after she traveled to<br />

Dubai last November.<br />

Mixing Cultures and Interests<br />

GG is proud of her Arab and Chaldean<br />

heritage. Her father is Jordanian, and<br />

her mother is Chaldean, so she naturally<br />

felt an affection for the Middle<br />

East. She also had some preconceived<br />

notions of what it would be like for a<br />

strong American-born woman like her<br />

to visit that region.<br />

Dubai broke those misconceptions<br />

down for her, making the 16-hour<br />

flight from Los Angeles worth it. GG<br />

felt most connected to her heritage<br />

after she visited Al-Fahidi, a historical<br />

neighborhood that takes you back to<br />

the 18th century with their souks, chai<br />

GG Benitez<br />

houses and coffee houses, and Arabic<br />

everywhere. By the second day, she<br />

felt like previously she had been missing<br />

out on something so special.<br />

“I was just in awe. ‘How did they<br />

make a desert look like this?’ and ‘How<br />

did they build this palm in the water?’<br />

It’s almost like a utopia,” GG said. “It<br />

was the combination of the cultural<br />

history, the food, and the shore… Everyone<br />

was just so happy to be there.”<br />

She wanted to be a part of it.<br />

“I was so fascinated by the incredible<br />

growth of Dubai, and started to<br />

research it,” GG revealed. “I discovered<br />

that real estate is one of their top<br />

sectors, so that’s what motivated me to<br />

immerse myself into their real estate<br />

market and understand how it works<br />

and how I can be part of their recordbreaking<br />

opportunities.”<br />

GG went back to Dubai for three<br />

weeks in February. There she connected<br />

with top developers and real estate<br />

associates. That’s where she learned<br />

that Dubai is very competitively priced<br />

with Southern California (SoCal).<br />

“It is much less expensive to buy<br />

waterfront property in Dubai than<br />

in coastal California,” asserted GG.<br />

“There are no capital gains on property<br />

taxes in Dubai, and by investing there,<br />

you can get a ‘golden visa’, which is a<br />

long-term residency authorization.”<br />

Dubai recently surpassed the United<br />

States for the first time in migration<br />

numbers of ultra-high net-worth<br />

individuals. That is why GG secured a<br />

position in Dubai as a real estate agent,<br />

and when she came back home, she obtained<br />

her California real estate license.<br />

Soon after, she launched her new<br />

international luxury real estate venture,<br />

GG Benitez International. Now,<br />

she is selling properties in southern<br />

coastal California and Dubai, and she<br />

is part of Realty Executives Dillon in<br />

San Diego—primarily Coronado, Del<br />

Mar, and La Jolla.<br />

GG has already sold investment<br />

properties in Dubai to Chaldeans in<br />

San Diego and is really excited about<br />

creating this bridge from the US to<br />

Dubai. Her partner there has 18 years<br />

of experience. She will be returning<br />

there for three months at the end of<br />

this year.<br />

“I’ve never been anywhere as culturally<br />

diverse, where nearly 90% of<br />

the people are expats speaking every<br />

language,” GG said. “They’re creators<br />

and movers and shakers. I just love it!”<br />

Enthralled by Dubai, GG pivoted<br />

her focus to a new endeavor that landed<br />

her there part-time. She reinvented<br />

the career side of herself as a luxury<br />

real estate maven but will still be taking<br />

on selective PR clients while growing<br />

Aloisia Beauty.<br />

She is still the same real, generous,<br />

vivacious GG; she is still the same<br />

kind, helpful, and loving wife to Daniel<br />

Benitez and mom of three (four if<br />

you include their goldendoodle Romeo)<br />

who works hard, enjoys the company<br />

of family and friends, and seeks<br />

new travel adventures.<br />

GG hopes that other middle-aged<br />

female professionals who are becoming<br />

empty nesters will realize that it<br />

is never too late to make a change and<br />

follow your passions; that they too can<br />

reinvent themselves while staying true<br />

to who they are.<br />

For more information, go to www.<br />

ggbenitezinternational.com or follow<br />

her on IG: ggbenitezinternational. To<br />

discuss luxury real estate in SoCal or<br />

Dubai, call (619) 339-7978.<br />

26 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


CHALDEAN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION<br />

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8:30AM - 4:00PM<br />

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clients identify goals and develop careers.<br />

• CAREER FAIRS<br />

• COVER LETTER WRITING<br />

• EMPLOYER REFERRALS<br />

• FAFSA COMPLETION<br />

• JOB APPLICATION COMPLETION<br />

• MOCK INTERVIEWS<br />

• RESUME BUILDING<br />

• TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES<br />

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STERLING HEIGHTS, MI 48310<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 27


FEATURE<br />

Above: Ishtar Restaurant in Sterling<br />

Heights offers Mediterranean cuisine<br />

such as lentil soup and grilled lamb;<br />

Left: In the same plaza, Dream Market<br />

offers a diverse selection of international,<br />

Arabic, and ethnic items.<br />

East Side Story<br />

Bridging the divide<br />

BY ADHID MIRI, PHD<br />

Albert Einstein has been credited<br />

with saying the only constant<br />

in life is change. Accordingly,<br />

the Chaldean community is in a<br />

constant state of change, evolving on<br />

all levels– social, educational, professional,<br />

economic, and geographic. This<br />

story pertains to the latter two levels.<br />

The Great Divide<br />

The first group of Chaldeans to gather<br />

in Michigan settled along the 7 Mile<br />

corridor in Detroit. The tightly knit<br />

and walkable community known as<br />

“Chaldean Town” included homes,<br />

shops, markets, and coffee houses. As<br />

they prospered, some moved north to<br />

the suburbs, crossing the Eight Mile<br />

divide. Southfield, Oak Park, and Sterling<br />

Heights may be the first places<br />

successful Chaldeans relocated to, but<br />

in the last few decades, West Bloomfield,<br />

Bloomfield Hills, and Commerce<br />

have welcomed their share as well.<br />

Unlike the north/south geographic<br />

and financial divide that defined the<br />

development of the community during<br />

the slow immigration years of the<br />

last century, a new east/west thinking<br />

seems to have entered the vernacular.<br />

This new divide is a figment of the<br />

imagination and lacks focus, making<br />

it ingenuous and erroneous—requiring<br />

clarity and correction.<br />

Terms like “Boater,” “Eastsider,”<br />

“Storechi,” and “Tahinchi” are degrading<br />

and should not be used. These<br />

derogatory terms have been applied<br />

to new immigrants and implies that<br />

people who arrived on boats, clinging<br />

to the ways of the old country, are not<br />

integrating into American culture. It is<br />

a stereotype with a negative connotation,<br />

a contrived division that does not<br />

represent our identity.<br />

The term “Storechi” (referring to<br />

owners of a convenience store) is outdated<br />

but still used. The wording is a<br />

subtle sign of ill-informed mindsets,<br />

and one wonders what might lie behind<br />

the misconception. Today, less<br />

than 16% of Chaldeans own convenience<br />

stores; they have shifted their<br />

interest to gas stations, cellular stores,<br />

hotels, real-estate, development, and<br />

professional services.<br />

Undelivered expectations, discrimination<br />

against newcomers, the blame<br />

game, and prejudices on both sides<br />

play an important role in perpetuating<br />

this fiction, although clashes of real<br />

interest or disagreements of substance<br />

surface from time to time. It is helpful<br />

to unbundle some of the key assumptions<br />

underlying the divide and check<br />

each one’s validity.<br />

This new divide does not seem to<br />

correlate with measures of integration<br />

or modernization. Certainly, there is<br />

a difference in the immigration timeline<br />

along with a steady evolution of<br />

people in Chaldean immigrant communities;<br />

however, one marked difference<br />

could be the economic status of<br />

inhabitants and access to education in<br />

each area.<br />

Myths and Misconceptions<br />

Although we acknowledge there is<br />

a divide, the idea that East Side and<br />

West Side Chaldeans have turned into<br />

discrete camps divided by many issues<br />

is a misconception. Apart from<br />

their relatively varied per capita incomes,<br />

the two groups have a lot in<br />

common besides just their shared<br />

Chaldean history. However, Chaldeans<br />

as a single “social bloc” are<br />

about as diverse as any other community<br />

in the US.<br />

Twenty years after the “big bang”<br />

immigration and refugee crisis that<br />

started with the US invasion of Iraq in<br />

2003, one would expect the dividing<br />

line between pre- and post-invasion<br />

myths and distinctions to have faded<br />

away. According to our observations<br />

and community members’ commentary,<br />

the opposite appears to be the<br />

case. The rift is often perceived to<br />

be one of the biggest challenges for<br />

the cohesion of the community, although<br />

the last three years have seen<br />

a decline in immigration numbers<br />

and the rift may be growing smaller.<br />

In addition to being immigrants<br />

from the same country and culture,<br />

there are many issues where the interests<br />

of the two groups are well<br />

aligned. One is the shared interest in<br />

a successful future, well-funded organizations,<br />

common goals, advocacy,<br />

and community interest policy that<br />

is based on accurate census data that<br />

can help reduce the gap in economic<br />

development among the community<br />

members and increase the profile of<br />

the community.<br />

Job security tops the priority list<br />

for newcomers, and there is no doubt<br />

that the industrial East Side is very<br />

different from the West Side marketplace.<br />

For the most part, issues result<br />

from weaknesses in governance and<br />

lack of effective community institutions—issues<br />

the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation (CCF) is working to<br />

remedy. It will take considerable time<br />

to create the required institutional ca-<br />

28 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


Above, right: Palm Sweets Bakery and Cafe, located next door to Ishtar, is the<br />

perfect after dinner destination for a wide range of traditional sweets.<br />

pacity, and the legacy of six decades<br />

of immigration is certainly an additional<br />

handicap.<br />

It may be overoptimistic to assume<br />

that the engagement process would<br />

remedy these deficits within a few<br />

years. But there is hope that over time,<br />

the situation will improve as it has<br />

in other communities. The real challenge<br />

for the Chaldean community is<br />

to develop incentives to support this<br />

process and sharpen the instruments<br />

to combat misinformation and misconceptions.<br />

Investments in the East Side<br />

A check of the experience of the past<br />

twenty years demonstrates that altogether,<br />

the community expansion and<br />

contributions to the East Side of the<br />

metro Detroit tri-county area has been<br />

an impressive success story.<br />

Over the last few years, nearly<br />

all the retail shops along Ryan and<br />

Dequindre Roads and 12 through 16<br />

Mile’s intersections have become occupied<br />

by Chaldean stores, clinics,<br />

pastry shops, restaurants, and markets—enough<br />

to feed the Middle East!<br />

Shopping centers, services and commercial<br />

real estate owned by Chaldean<br />

families are everywhere you look.<br />

Major organizations like the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation, the<br />

Chaldean Catholic Diocese, churches,<br />

social clubs, and banquet facilities<br />

have found homes where the community<br />

lives. This shows commitment and<br />

determination to grow and expand.<br />

Our Chaldean community is succeeding<br />

and contributing throughout<br />

the state of Michigan. The city of<br />

Sterling Heights is a prime example.<br />

The community invested $10 million<br />

in the development and expansion<br />

of the 30,000 square foot Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation facility at 15<br />

Mile and Ryan Road.<br />

Sterling Heights, voted recently<br />

as the safest city in the United States,<br />

will also house the CCF’s $30 million<br />

affordable housing mixed use development<br />

with 9,000 square feet of<br />

commercial space on the ground floor<br />

on Van Dyke Road between M-59 and<br />

19 Mile Road.<br />

Conclusion<br />

We can’t firmly determine which of the<br />

cultural systems of East Side or West<br />

Side Chaldean communities is more<br />

advantageous. What is more important<br />

is how people of both sides respect<br />

and accept each other’s values,<br />

path and living system.<br />

Today as well as in the future, our<br />

organizations, churches, social clubs,<br />

and civic activists from both sides<br />

should consult with each other more<br />

frequently, take joint initiatives across<br />

the divide, and help find common<br />

ground for collaboration and unity. Investing<br />

more community and cultural<br />

resources, promoting round tables<br />

educational discussions, and sharing<br />

civil society activities could make a<br />

difference in keeping our community<br />

united and moving forward.<br />

Wherever we live, a greater awareness<br />

of these facts can help us all understand<br />

our own minds a little better. We<br />

are one people; the differences are imaginary,<br />

irrational, and sentimental.<br />

Sources: 100 Questions and Answers<br />

about Chaldean Americans by<br />

Michigan State University School of<br />

Journalism; Chaldean Iraqi American<br />

Association of Michigan; Chaldeans in<br />

Detroit by Jacob Bacall; Wikipedia.<br />

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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 29


CHALDEAN PIONEERS<br />

A Self-Made Man<br />

Jerry Yono’s story<br />

BY CAL ABBO<br />

Jerry Yono’s story begins in the<br />

famed town of Telkeppe, Iraq, on<br />

June 7, 1940. Most were farmers<br />

back then, according to Jerry, and his<br />

father was no different. His most nascent<br />

memory is walking to and from<br />

the well to fetch water.<br />

His mother, Hayat Yono, is from Mosul,<br />

and her family mostly spoke Arabic.<br />

Jerry’s father Aziz brought her to<br />

live in Telkeppe. He had an uncle who<br />

had lived in the United States for years.<br />

“I remember my house,” Jerry recalled,<br />

“and the dirt street in front of<br />

us. We had a nice home. But it was not<br />

an easy life. Not easy at all … Everybody<br />

always talked about going to America.<br />

A beautiful country. A new life.”<br />

At 9 years old, his life changed forever<br />

when his family decided to leave<br />

the village.<br />

First Steps<br />

According to Jerry, young Iraqi boys<br />

were prone to kidnapping, especially<br />

when traveling through the Middle<br />

East. “In those days, they used to<br />

put earrings on the children so they<br />

couldn’t be kidnapped,” he said, remembering<br />

how they changed his appearance<br />

to make his travels safer. The<br />

journey was a long one, but his family<br />

eventually made it to Detroit, uniting<br />

with his uncle and the small-but-growing<br />

Chaldean community.<br />

“There must’ve been a foot of snow<br />

when I arrived,” Jerry said. “I couldn’t<br />

believe my eyes.”<br />

Opportunity, in the Oxford dictionary,<br />

means “a set of circumstances that<br />

makes it possible to do something.”<br />

The land of opportunity does not guarantee<br />

comfort nor success. It must be<br />

earned. For Jerry and his family, that<br />

set of circumstances meant living in<br />

his uncle’s attic for half a year when<br />

they arrived.<br />

Aziz went to work as a baker. He<br />

worked on a factory line because he<br />

couldn’t speak English and it was difficult<br />

to learn at his age. “My dad was a<br />

wonderful man,” Jerry remarked. “He<br />

took care of us as best he could. He never<br />

Jerry enjoying the fruits of his labor.<br />

complained if he had to work all day.”<br />

After six months, his family found<br />

their own place to live. Once he and<br />

his family settled, Jerry had to go to<br />

school and begin learning English. This<br />

was difficult, but with an immigrant’s<br />

mindset, he was committed to<br />

learning the native language in his<br />

new homeland. Still a young child,<br />

his mind was ripe for this activity<br />

and he quickly assimilated to life<br />

in the “Middle West.”<br />

In addition to studying, Jerry<br />

had to help his parents earn money<br />

to live. While his father worked<br />

in the factory, he found a job as<br />

a stockboy at another Chaldean<br />

family’s convenience store. He<br />

was just 9 years old. This foundational<br />

experience would pave the way for his<br />

business success later.<br />

Balancing school, work, and adapting<br />

to a new culture all at once is possible,<br />

but thriving is not as easy. Nevertheless,<br />

that’s what Jerry did. As a teenager<br />

in high school, he began to neglect his<br />

studies so he could work harder and<br />

earn more money for his family.<br />

The First Store<br />

“When I was 15, there was a store<br />

available on the east side, St. Antoine<br />

and Leland,” Jerry said. “I bought my<br />

first store, called The Black Bottom.”<br />

From then on, he employed his father<br />

Aziz to work at his store. He was<br />

likely one of the first Chaldeans to do<br />

so. “After a few years, I really helped<br />

lead the family. I was running everything,”<br />

Jerry said.<br />

When he was still in high school,<br />

Jerry would go and open the store in<br />

the morning, then go to school during<br />

the day. After school, he would go back<br />

to the store and, around 6 p.m. when<br />

business slowed down, close it. Finally,<br />

he went to another Chaldean’s store<br />

and worked for the rest of the night,<br />

finishing around 10 p.m.<br />

Jerry’s hard work and determination<br />

to support his family left him in<br />

peril of failing out of Catholic school.<br />

His saving grace, however, came from<br />

the nuns who counseled him and<br />

helped him pass. They came up with a<br />

plan to keep Jerry on track to graduate<br />

with a GED while also allowing him<br />

the time to develop his business and<br />

make enough money for his family. He<br />

attributes his success to these women,<br />

without whom he would not have a<br />

high school degree.<br />

Jerry continued down the path of<br />

hard work and success, opening, building<br />

up, and selling several stores while<br />

cementing himself as part of the business<br />

community in Detroit. In his early<br />

20s, he made friends in the city with<br />

local politicians, community members,<br />

and many Chaldeans alike. He filled<br />

the role of community liaison between<br />

the Black community and the growing<br />

Chaldean population. In many instances,<br />

he was called upon to resolve disputes<br />

and give his perspective on issues<br />

between the two communities.<br />

Politics and Power<br />

Thus began his political career. In<br />

1964, in his early 20s, Jerry made his<br />

first and only attempt to run for office.<br />

“Everyone knows Yono,” his slogan<br />

read. “Experienced – Vigor – Sober<br />

Judgement.”<br />

According to him, he became the<br />

youngest person in the state of Michigan<br />

to ever run for a seat in its legislative<br />

house and was certainly the first<br />

Chaldean to ever run for state office<br />

in the U.S., inspiring countless other<br />

Chaldeans to get involved in politics<br />

since then.<br />

His loss in the election, however,<br />

did not end Jerry’s political<br />

career, but instead spurred it.<br />

Rather than serving the public as<br />

an elected official, he dedicated<br />

his efforts to serving the growing<br />

Chaldean business community<br />

and its customer base, especially<br />

those dealing in grocery and corner<br />

stores. He always maintained one<br />

foot in the political sphere and knew<br />

how fruitful it would be to develop<br />

those relationships.<br />

“I worked with Dennis Archer on<br />

a campaign for a man named Ed Bell<br />

in the early 1960s,” Jerry said. “Later<br />

on, of course, Archer ran for mayor<br />

and won. We were pretty close.” Based<br />

on relationships like that, Jerry started<br />

getting invited to lots of events and<br />

meetings in Detroit and Lansing. He<br />

was even invited to the governor’s<br />

mansion a few times. Despite this, he<br />

never ran for office again, and focused<br />

on the community on the ground.<br />

30 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


“In the city itself, a lot of the stores<br />

were having problems with the Black<br />

community, with the local customers,”<br />

he said. “I was involved quite a<br />

bit with the police department. Everyone<br />

had my pager number back in the<br />

day. They would call on me to go to a<br />

specific location and take care of an issue.<br />

Sometimes it was theft or threats.<br />

We did have a lot of store owners killed<br />

in those days.”<br />

Much of the community strife culminated<br />

in the Detroit riots of 1967.<br />

Jerry’s store, called Imperial Market,<br />

was right in the middle of the action<br />

– as Jerry himself stood outside and<br />

talked with the folks who were protesting<br />

and marching. His store was<br />

featured in the August 4, 1967, issue<br />

of Life Magazine, in which you can see<br />

a large sign reading, “Soul Brother,”<br />

and two of Jerry’s African American<br />

friends, armed and ready to defend his<br />

store. They protected his store because<br />

they saw Jerry as such a crucial part of<br />

the community.<br />

In contrast, the drug store across<br />

the street, owned by a Jewish family,<br />

was looted in its entirety. “I watched<br />

them carry out a large safe, put it<br />

into the back of a Cadillac, and drive<br />

away,” Jerry said. “Other people went<br />

in and took everything they could carry<br />

before they burned down the store.”<br />

Over the years, Jerry became increasingly<br />

involved in the Associated<br />

Food Dealers, which later became<br />

known as the Associated Food and<br />

Petroleum Dealers. This association<br />

helped organize independent retailers,<br />

like the small shops owned by Chaldeans,<br />

to compete with large organizations.<br />

It developed relationships with<br />

suppliers and politicians that gave its<br />

members an advantage in the market.<br />

When Jerry opened his first store,<br />

he cultivated these relationships for<br />

himself. But power comes in numbers,<br />

and few understand how to leverage<br />

your community better than Chaldeans.<br />

He brought those relationships<br />

to AFPD and used them to establish<br />

Chaldean businesses even further.<br />

He became seriously involved in<br />

the organization in the ‘60s and ‘70s<br />

and served on the board for much of<br />

that time. Twice he was elected President<br />

of AFPD and grew the organization<br />

substantially while also strengthening<br />

its political relationships during<br />

his tenure.<br />

From left: Jerry Yono speaks at the Food Dealers Trade Dinner at Cobo Hall; Jerry and Firyal Yono.<br />

His work as President was so appreciated<br />

that his colleagues wanted him to<br />

run for a third term, which was unprecedented<br />

at the time. Jerry knew how important<br />

he was to the organization, and<br />

many on the board begged him to stay<br />

on, so he ran once again, and won. In<br />

the style of George Washington, he declined<br />

to serve the third term, deferring<br />

instead to the runner-up.<br />

Jerry would continue his work with<br />

AFPD for decades. After he finally retired,<br />

he was presented with a surprise<br />

banquet by the organization and accepted<br />

a lifetime service award and a<br />

mouthful of praise from then-Governor<br />

Jennifer Granholm.<br />

Southfield Funeral Home<br />

Long before he retired from his position<br />

at AFPD, Jerry opened and sold seven<br />

stores in metro Detroit, all of which are<br />

still operating successfully today.<br />

Throughout his life, Jerry was<br />

heavily involved in the Church, both<br />

personally and financially. As a result,<br />

he was plugged into the nuanced issues<br />

that Chaldeans faced as they established<br />

themselves as a large part<br />

of the metro Detroit community. Chaldean<br />

immigration to the Detroit area<br />

was accelerating, and one question<br />

still loomed large as the first generation<br />

began to age and pass away: How<br />

would we bury our dead, under our<br />

own circumstances?<br />

To some, it might seem out of the<br />

ordinary to go from a store owner and<br />

politician to a funeral home operator;<br />

however, this versatility is the sign of<br />

a true community leader. Jerry saw the<br />

needs of his people, gleaning their desire<br />

for a trusted funeral service they<br />

could trust to give a fair price. Price<br />

gouging, which refers to a business<br />

that exploits its customers with exaggerated<br />

prices, is a common practice<br />

against immigrant communities that<br />

speak English as a second language.<br />

“I consulted with Bishop George<br />

Garmo and the elders of the community,<br />

and they thought it was a great<br />

idea,” he said. “I opened the funeral<br />

home on February 9, 1981,” Jerry said.<br />

He remembers the day of his first funeral<br />

because he was close with the<br />

family whose father had died.<br />

“They wanted a visitation the next<br />

day,” he remembered. “The furniture<br />

wasn’t in the building yet, but I called<br />

the warehouse and had them deliver<br />

it the next morning. From then on, all<br />

my people came to me.”<br />

Thus, Jerry’s second career, and<br />

that which he is most known for, was<br />

born. For decades, he dutifully served<br />

the Chaldean community and their deceased.<br />

His reputation as a leader and<br />

pioneer became yet more established<br />

as he filled a role that was vacant for<br />

decades. Southfield Funeral Home has<br />

buried thousands of Chaldeans over the<br />

years, and it remains a staple to this day.<br />

It was not easy, according to Jerry.<br />

He would answer calls in the middle<br />

of the night and go to peoples’ homes<br />

to pick up their loved ones. “I did it<br />

because I cared. I wanted to talk to<br />

people and tell them not to worry. Everything<br />

will be okay. We’ll take care<br />

of you,” he said. “I don’t know anyone<br />

who would have done this if I hadn’t.”<br />

Jerry described many sleepless<br />

nights, and long days of going between<br />

the funeral home and the AFPD.<br />

Eventually, he had to resign from the<br />

AFPD as the community and its need<br />

for funeral services grew ever larger.<br />

“It was a bit scary because I didn’t<br />

even go to funeral homes before. I was<br />

afraid to see dead people,” Jerry said.<br />

“There were times when I took my<br />

mother to funerals, and I would stay<br />

in the car. It’s been 40 years, and it’s<br />

not been easy, seeing my mother, my<br />

father, my sisters, and my brother in<br />

the funeral home. A lot of friends’ relatives.<br />

But I did it and I did it well.”<br />

Only in the last few years did Jerry<br />

begin to pass the funeral home into<br />

new hands. Now, Southfield Funeral<br />

Home is run by his son, Anthony Yono,<br />

and Nibras Hanna.<br />

Legacy<br />

“I’ve not really thought about if I had<br />

stayed in Iraq,” he said. “I probably<br />

shouldn’t say this, but I don’t think I<br />

would be alive today.”<br />

Jerry constantly professes his love<br />

for his community and the Chaldean<br />

people in Detroit. “I love to be with<br />

my community. Serving it has been my<br />

life,” he said.<br />

Through all his hard work and<br />

business success, Jerry is still as frugal<br />

as he was during his childhood and<br />

teenage years when his family was<br />

struggling. That’s something that stays<br />

with you. “The last car I had, I used it<br />

for 17 years,” he said, talking about his<br />

GMC Yukon built in the early 2000s.<br />

“I don’t mind spending money on my<br />

kids and grandkids. They’re my life.”<br />

Jerry is married to his wife, Firyal<br />

Yono, upon whom he heaps praise<br />

whenever he has the chance. “Firyal is<br />

a wonderful, wonderful woman. She is<br />

a gift from God,” he said. “She’s a great<br />

wife, a great mother and grandmother.<br />

She’s a wonderful cook. I don’t think<br />

there’s another woman that could take<br />

her place.” His favorite food is dolma,<br />

which she makes frequently.<br />

His advice for those who want to follow<br />

in his footsteps is this: “If you can<br />

help someone, do it,” he said. “Do the<br />

right thing. You should know, in your<br />

mind, what the right thing is. It’s easy to<br />

know what’s right. Don’t do the wrong<br />

thing and don’t hurt anyone.”<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 31


PROFILE<br />

Our Man in Blue<br />

Lamar Kashat brings Chaldean culture to<br />

Sterling Heights Police Department<br />

BY PAUL NATINSKY<br />

Sometimes a career change can<br />

happen before a career even<br />

starts. Such was the case for<br />

Lamar Kashat, a would-be pediatrician<br />

who is now a police sergeant<br />

with aspirations to be the top cop in<br />

Sterling Heights.<br />

“Being from a Middle Eastern background,<br />

my parents had always driven<br />

me toward the medical field. I have<br />

five other siblings, so they always had<br />

a plan on what every sibling was going<br />

to do,” said Kashat, whose parents had<br />

him slated for a career in pediatrics.<br />

But despite the careful planning,<br />

Kashat’s parents did not count on their<br />

son’s long-held fascination with police<br />

work.<br />

Kashat, 39, says he always had an<br />

interest in law enforcement, from the<br />

time he was young and working in his<br />

father’s Saginaw convenience store,<br />

chatting with the police officers who<br />

stopped by.<br />

“Their professionalism and demeanor<br />

is what attracted me to the<br />

job,” he says. An appeal enhanced by<br />

viewing police shows on television<br />

and movies with police storylines,<br />

such as “Colors,” a 1988 Los Angeles<br />

police drama.<br />

Still, Kashat might be treating earaches<br />

and sore throats in 10-year-olds<br />

if it wasn’t for a community college tutoring<br />

session and a science instructor<br />

who dispensed life-changing advice.<br />

A Fortuitous Encounter<br />

“I had this chemistry teacher, Mrs.<br />

Peck, and one day we were sitting in<br />

the library, and she was tutoring me,<br />

and she could really see that I was<br />

not interested in the material. She just<br />

asked me—she said, ‘You really don’t<br />

want to do this, do you?’ I said ‘No, I<br />

don’t.’”<br />

She shared that she too had aspirations<br />

of entering police work, but<br />

when she was in school it was much<br />

harder for women to travel that career<br />

path, so she ended up a teacher.<br />

Sergeant Lamar Kashat<br />

“She said you need to do something<br />

that you are never going to regret,”<br />

said Kashat. He closed his book,<br />

left the library, and enrolled in Saginaw<br />

Valley State University, majoring<br />

in criminal justice with a minor in psychology.<br />

He went on to earn a Master’s<br />

Degree in Administration.<br />

Along the way, Kashat completed<br />

his training in the police academy and<br />

landed his first law enforcement job at<br />

the Frankenmuth Police Department.<br />

He then made a move to his native<br />

Saginaw and served that community<br />

for seven years.<br />

With the Saginaw area facing hard<br />

economic times and budget cutbacks,<br />

Kashat began to explore other options.<br />

It was at that point that he went on a<br />

“ride along” with the Sterling Heights<br />

Police and was called into action as a<br />

civilian translator.<br />

Shortly after, in 2015, Kashat was<br />

hired as the first Chaldean speaking<br />

officer in Sterling Heights, a community<br />

with a sizable Chaldean population.<br />

Troubleshooting<br />

Working the road patrol division brought<br />

him face-to-face with some of the issues<br />

confronting the community. Kashat’s<br />

experiences on the street with SHPD<br />

showed him that crime victims often<br />

did not understand the options for help<br />

available to them. All the forms were in<br />

English, and many of the injured parties<br />

had a tentative grip on the language.<br />

Kashat went right to work, assisting in<br />

translation, diffusing conflict and building<br />

programs. Working with the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation, Kashat<br />

implemented the first domestic violence<br />

form that was translated into Arabic.<br />

During this time, Kashat was asked<br />

by the chief of police to become the department’s<br />

community police officer.<br />

Kashat has recently been promoted to<br />

sergeant.<br />

“It has caused me to take a stepback<br />

approach, to develop a wider-angle<br />

sense of problems. If I was to give<br />

any advice to officers dealing with people<br />

in the community, the best thing I<br />

can suggest is there has to be a familiarization<br />

and an education about why<br />

Chaldean people respond to certain<br />

circumstances the way that they do.”<br />

A Family Affair<br />

“For example, it is a 100 percent understood<br />

fact that if a Chaldean community<br />

member is involved in a traffic crash<br />

or serious incident within the Chaldean<br />

community, that within minutes you<br />

will have 20-plus family members on<br />

each side responding to the scene.<br />

“For some (officers) this can be<br />

very overwhelming. For you and I, one<br />

of our relatives gets into a traffic crash,<br />

we make a phone call, ‘Honey, I’ve<br />

been involved in an accident.’ ‘Okay,<br />

I’m on my way to pick you up.’ You<br />

may have your wife or other relative<br />

show up. Not in the Chaldean community;<br />

you will have carloads show up.<br />

“In Iraq, (confidence in) law enforcement<br />

is significantly diminished.<br />

For the older generation, they do not<br />

view law enforcement as problem solvers.<br />

It’s not that they don’t trust them.<br />

It has nothing to do with trust. In the<br />

Chaldean community, they solve their<br />

own problems.”<br />

As a member of a community he is<br />

policing, in which there is a language<br />

barrier for the rest of the police force,<br />

Kashat walks a thin line. He works<br />

hard to be trusted by both his fellow<br />

officers and the community.<br />

He works to ensure the community<br />

members understand what the police<br />

are trying to do, while, at the same<br />

time, keeping police informed when<br />

individuals under investigation are using<br />

the language barrier to conceal, for<br />

example, the location of a gun.<br />

“I would recommend that officers<br />

have a deeper understanding of why<br />

the culture is assimilated the way it<br />

is, which has changed greatly with the<br />

newer generation, the generation that<br />

grew up here and are attending the<br />

schools. But we have a lot of these families<br />

that were raised in Iraq or came to<br />

the United States when they were very<br />

young, and they have raised their children<br />

with those values.<br />

“I would really suggest that patience<br />

be one of the biggest virtues.<br />

When you see the inability of these<br />

community members that we encounter<br />

to understand what you are asking<br />

of them…In terms of following processes<br />

there is a delay,” said Kashat.<br />

As an ambitious man, Kashat’s<br />

drive for educational achievement and<br />

career advancement are partly driven<br />

by a friendly rivalry with his wife, who<br />

is an attorney.<br />

Kashat now has three children and<br />

15 years of police work behind him. As<br />

he looks to the future, he looks forward<br />

to putting in his 25 year on the<br />

SHPD and maybe landing behind the<br />

chief’s desk.<br />

32 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 33


LIFE SKILLS<br />

Buying That First Car<br />

What newcomers need to know<br />

BY CRYSTAL KASSAB JABIRO<br />

As immigrants and refugees acclimate<br />

to American life, they<br />

quickly discover that reliable<br />

transportation will majorly impact<br />

their quality of life. In most parts of<br />

the United States, especially in suburban<br />

and rural areas, a car is essential<br />

for work and school commutes as well<br />

as for everyday living, like grocery<br />

shopping. Before buying that first car,<br />

newcomers must obtain a driver’s license.<br />

Having a driver’s license from<br />

another country does not automatically<br />

allow you driving rights in the<br />

US, and every state sets their own<br />

conditions.<br />

In Michigan, for example, foreigners<br />

may legally and temporarily drive<br />

if their home country license is in English<br />

or provides an English translation,<br />

and if they can provide proof of their<br />

legal presence in Michigan. Newcomers<br />

are encouraged to obtain a Michigan<br />

Driver’s License as soon as they<br />

establish residency, and they must<br />

show proof of the following: a Social<br />

Security Number, legal presence, identity,<br />

and Michigan residency.<br />

Of course, the applicant must pass<br />

a written test. Michigan’s Secretary<br />

of State offers the knowledge test in<br />

multiple languages, including Arabic.<br />

People also must pass the road<br />

test, and once they obtain a driver’s<br />

license, , the next logical step is acquiring<br />

a vehicle.<br />

It may not be as easy as it sounds,<br />

however - a car comes with a lot of expenses!<br />

Not only does one have to have<br />

money to buy or lease a car, but he<br />

or she also must have good credit if<br />

they’re purchasing from a dealership.<br />

Immigrants and refugees do not have<br />

established credit in the US and must<br />

either use cash (if they have it) or<br />

have a co-signer.<br />

Car broker Byron Bahoura of S &<br />

P Auto in Sterling Heights, Michigan,<br />

likened the process to 18-year-olds<br />

getting their first cars as legal adults.<br />

“When people don’t have credit,<br />

and financing expects a 700-credit<br />

score, it’s hard to get approved,” Bahoura<br />

claimed. “That’s why they’ll<br />

typically need a co-signer. Young people<br />

usually have their parents. So it’s<br />

the same with newcomers– they will<br />

need somebody to co-sign for them to<br />

help build their credit.”<br />

In his professional opinion, Bahoura<br />

suggests leasing first as there<br />

are always some sorts of rebates. That<br />

may be a good deal for those who can<br />

afford a new car every three years,<br />

but it may not be a good deal for costconscious<br />

buyers in the long run. As<br />

far as used cars go, if buying from a<br />

dealership he cautions potential buyers<br />

about the high interest associated<br />

with no or low credit scores. Private<br />

sales are another matter.<br />

That is why first, a buyer/lessee<br />

must assess the purpose that car<br />

will serve to make a decision about<br />

what kind of car would best suit their<br />

needs. Is it just for work or is it for the<br />

whole family? Will it be shared? Is<br />

it safe in the winter, and how much<br />

mileage per gallon does it get? These<br />

are important questions to ask, especially<br />

when it comes to safety and expenditures.<br />

Then, with a new car comes another<br />

new expense – insurance.<br />

Those who have never had their own<br />

insurance before can expect to pay<br />

a high insurance rate for at least the<br />

first six months.<br />

In order to get an insurance quote,<br />

the buyer/lessee must have a VIN<br />

(Vehicle Identification Number), and<br />

from there can compare prices with<br />

different companies to see which<br />

would be more affordable. Zip codes<br />

affect those rates; insurance companies<br />

set fees based on the risk factors<br />

of that location. They examine data<br />

that shows where and why residents<br />

file claims. In Michigan, everyone<br />

must have a no-fault policy.<br />

Finally, it is time to choose the<br />

best car for the moment.<br />

It is important to note that the list<br />

price is almost never what is paid at a<br />

dealership, and buyers should try to<br />

negotiate the purchase price, not the<br />

monthly payment.<br />

Bahoura recommends people go<br />

to different banks and see what kinds<br />

of loans they could get. Even though<br />

it is hard to get financing as an immigrant<br />

or refugee, is it not wholly impossible.<br />

Credit unions typically give<br />

the best deals, whereas dealer financing<br />

is often higher. Not only do some<br />

banks offer special financing for newcomers,<br />

but also some community<br />

organizations can help. The Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation in Sterling<br />

Heights offers new immigrants access<br />

to transportation through the Michael<br />

J. George Chaldean Loan Fund. They<br />

provide auto loans of up to $15,000.<br />

Purchasing a used car from a private<br />

seller is usually the cheapest way<br />

to go. Websites like www.cars.com and<br />

www.carvana.com, as well as Craigslist<br />

and Facebook Marketplace, offer<br />

a plethora of used cars. Buyers should<br />

get a vehicle history report, like a Carfax,<br />

that shows all the services and<br />

repairs done to that car. A buyer can<br />

also bring a car scanner, a handheld<br />

device that connects to most modern<br />

cars, that shows exactly what needs to<br />

be repaired to calculate costs. One can<br />

also pay an independent mechanic to<br />

do a full inspection of the car. A buyer<br />

should not expect to buy a used car<br />

that needs no repairs. A car less than 5<br />

years old has depreciated already but<br />

still has a long life. The sale price of<br />

a used car can usually be negotiated<br />

down by 10%-20%.<br />

The downside of buying a used car<br />

could be spending as much money<br />

on it as you would have on a newer<br />

car. It’s definitely a case of “buyer beware.”<br />

Newcomers should network<br />

with people who know about buying<br />

and leasing cars, and who can communicate<br />

more effectively than they<br />

can so they have a full understanding<br />

of what will likely be their first major<br />

purchase.<br />

It’s always exciting to acquire that<br />

first car, no matter the circumstances.<br />

It is certainly more difficult as newcomers<br />

to get low-cost insurance and<br />

financing, but those beginning years<br />

are a steppingstone to financial freedom<br />

and success in America.<br />

For more info on the Michael J.<br />

George Chaldean Loan Fund, visit<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org.<br />

Byron Bahoura can be reached at<br />

586.615.5900.<br />

34 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 35


SPORTS<br />

Special Season<br />

Adrianna Kattoo emerges from the shadows<br />

BY STEVE STEIN<br />

Adrianna “Adri” Kattoo was<br />

never in the starting lineup for<br />

the Birmingham Marian High<br />

School girls’ soccer team before this<br />

season. She never played forward for<br />

the Mustangs before; she was a centerback<br />

on defense.<br />

But the senior needed to be in the<br />

Marian starting lineup this season.<br />

And she needed to play forward.<br />

It was part of a lineup shuffling necessitated<br />

by an almost unbelievable<br />

string of bad luck. Five Marian starters<br />

were sidelined for the season because<br />

of the same injury — a torn ACL (anterior<br />

cruciate ligament).<br />

What did Kattoo do in her new role?<br />

She was the team’s leading scorer with 17<br />

goals. (She had scored just one goal previously<br />

for Marian, at the end of a lopsided<br />

game.) And she had eight assists.<br />

After the season, Kattoo was named<br />

to the Michigan High School Soccer<br />

Coaches Association’s Division 2 First<br />

Team All-State Squad. Remarkable.<br />

“Beyond remarkable,” said Marian<br />

coach Reid Friedrichs. “It was something<br />

special. Adri scored our first and<br />

last goals of the season, and plenty in<br />

between.”<br />

Kattoo scored Marian’s opening<br />

goal in its season opener vs. Walled<br />

Lake Central. It came off a corner kick.<br />

“I couldn’t believe it when it happened,”<br />

she said. “I thought, ‘Is this<br />

real?’” It was.<br />

She scored Marian’s second goal<br />

against WL Central. Friedrichs said it<br />

was part intuition, and part Kattoo’s<br />

soccer skills and intellect that led him<br />

to move Kattoo to forward. “She was<br />

good with the ball, and she had a good<br />

left-footed shot,” he said. “And, just as<br />

importantly, she was a good learner.”<br />

Kattoo was happy to help her team.<br />

She didn’t have many opportunities<br />

to do that before this season, playing<br />

about 5-10 minutes a half as a junior<br />

and about 100 minutes total as a sophomore.<br />

The COVID-19 pandemic wiped<br />

out her freshman season.<br />

“The toughest part of the position<br />

PHOTOS BY LEON HALIP<br />

Clockwise from top right: Adrianna Kattoo’s school portrait; Adrianna Kattoo (14) and her Birmingham Marian teammates<br />

celebrate Kattoo’s game-winning goal against Warren Regina in the Catholic League Bishop Division championship<br />

game; Birmingham Marian’s Adrianna Kattoo (14) keeps her eyes on the ball during the Catholic League Bishop Division<br />

championship game against Warren Regina.<br />

change was transitioning from stopping<br />

plays to making plays,” Kattoo<br />

said. “And have faith that I could win<br />

the one-on-one battles. I’ve always<br />

been a hard worker, so I wasn’t worried<br />

about that. I learned a lot from watching<br />

game film during the season.”<br />

Going into the season, perennial<br />

power Marian had played in the last<br />

five Division 2 state championship<br />

games, winning four of them. Kattoo<br />

was a member of a state championship<br />

team as a sophomore, and a state<br />

runner-up team as a junior.<br />

The Mustangs (15-2-2) didn’t make it<br />

to the promised land this season. They<br />

lost 3-2 in a penalty-kick shootout to<br />

eventual state champion Grosse Pointe<br />

North in the regional semifinals. It was<br />

the only time Marian went into overtime<br />

or had a shootout in the state<br />

playoffs during Kattoo’s time there.<br />

Despite the tough loss to a team<br />

that was in Division 1 before this season,<br />

it was a fantastic year for Marian,<br />

especially considering the injuries and<br />

its young roster. Kattoo was one of<br />

only five seniors. “It would have been<br />

great to play in another state championship<br />

game. But if anyone could have<br />

done it with all those injuries, it would<br />

have been Marian,” she said.<br />

Kattoo’s shining moment of the<br />

season was the Catholic League Bishop<br />

Division championship game.<br />

“Best day of my life,” she said. She<br />

scored both Marian goals in the Mustangs’<br />

2-1 win over arch-rival Warren<br />

Regina, including the game-winner<br />

with 10:38 remaining on a laser shot<br />

from seven yards out.<br />

Moments after the final whistle,<br />

Kattoo was mobbed by her teammates<br />

as Marian celebrated its 19th Catholic<br />

League championship. It was the third<br />

game of the season between the two<br />

teams. Marian scored just one goal<br />

against Regina in the first two meetings<br />

but had a scoreless tie and a 1-0<br />

win to show for it.<br />

Kattoo was a member of Marian’s<br />

leadership team, made up of the five<br />

seniors. “Adri was going to be one of<br />

our leaders even if she didn’t play<br />

much this season because of the way<br />

she treats others and exemplifies Marian<br />

soccer,” Friedrichs said.<br />

Kattoo also was a star in the classroom<br />

at Marian. She graduated with a<br />

3.9 grade-point average and was one of<br />

the school’s Ambassadors for all four<br />

years. Ambassadors help new students<br />

transition into the school.<br />

Kattoo currently lives in West<br />

Bloomfield with parents Patrick and<br />

Gardenia and her brother Jordan, 14,<br />

who will be a freshman at Birmingham<br />

Brother Rice High School in the fall,<br />

and her brother Roman, 9, who will<br />

be a fourth grader at St. Regis Catholic<br />

School in Bloomfield Hills.<br />

Her soccer playing days behind her,<br />

Kattoo’s next stop is Michigan State<br />

University, where she will focus on her<br />

studies. Friedrichs is headed to East<br />

Lansing, too. The former MSU soccer<br />

star will be an assistant coach for the<br />

Spartans’ men’s soccer team.<br />

36 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 37


FAMILY TIME<br />

Summer Road Trips<br />

(Or “Don’t Make me Turn This Car Around”)<br />

BY VALENE AYAR<br />

It’s summer and the kids are out<br />

of school; now is the perfect time<br />

to hit the road and make some<br />

memories. What better way to do that<br />

than with a family road trip? There is<br />

no shortage of ideas when it comes<br />

to choosing a destination – whether<br />

staying within Michigan or traveling to<br />

other states. The only hiccup, however,<br />

is how passengers spend their time<br />

on those long car rides – especially the<br />

younger ones. As great as an iPad and<br />

some snacks are at keeping kids occupied,<br />

the whole point of a family trip is<br />

to bond and make memories. There is<br />

no reason that you must wait until you<br />

reach your destination to do so.<br />

Here are some great ideas to keep<br />

your kids (and you) entertained during<br />

those long car rides.<br />

Family-Friendly Audiobook<br />

As a lifelong reader, this is my number<br />

one pick. But don’t worry, you don’t<br />

have to have your nose constantly in a<br />

book to enjoy reading— not when you<br />

have audiobooks.<br />

Audiobooks are a great way to<br />

escape into another world and let a<br />

professional voice actor make you<br />

forget all your worries. One of my alltime<br />

favorite book series is Harry Potter,<br />

which appeals to kids of any age.<br />

While any version of that story would<br />

be top-notch, my favorite audio version<br />

is the one read by well-renowned<br />

actor, Stephen Fry. And the beauty of<br />

YouTube is, you don’t even need to<br />

pay for most audiobooks! Do a simple<br />

search for “Harry Potter audiobook -<br />

Stephen Fry” and you should have no<br />

problem finding it, along with many<br />

other titles.<br />

Kids Travel Tray<br />

Travel trays are great for kids of all<br />

ages. They have the perfect-sized cup<br />

holder for a sippy cup and serve as a<br />

little lap table/desk with tons of pockets<br />

and pouches to hold their favorite<br />

crayons and other knick-knacks. Why<br />

not go old-school with a coloring book<br />

and crayons, or even a large-piece<br />

puzzle? The possibilities are endless.<br />

Search “kid road trip activities” on<br />

Amazon and you will find the kids<br />

travel tray as well as other fun toys and<br />

games.<br />

Turn Your Car into a Movie Theatre<br />

If all else fails, and the kids still insist<br />

on watching something on a tablet,<br />

make it a fun shared experience. If you<br />

have a car with tv screens, play a show<br />

or movie you can all enjoy together.<br />

Fun Fact: The Harry Potter movie series<br />

is available on the HBO Max app! If<br />

you want to watch something else, the<br />

Disney+ app is a great alternative. My<br />

personal favorites on Disney+ are Boy<br />

Meets World and Once Upon A Time.<br />

With most streaming services, you can<br />

even sign up for a free month so don’t<br />

fret if you don’t have subscriptions to<br />

either platform. Just sign up for a trial<br />

account and enjoy!<br />

Classic Car Games<br />

“Classics” are called that for a reason—they<br />

are timeless and something<br />

you can always fall back on. This category<br />

offers a plethora of ideas. The<br />

best part is, with these, you can find<br />

a way to combine activities. For example,<br />

whoever wins the game gets<br />

to pick the next activity/show/movie/<br />

audiobook.<br />

The Alphabet Game - Starting<br />

with the letter A, go clockwise, and<br />

each person takes turns naming things<br />

that start with the letters of the alphabet<br />

that they see in the car or on the<br />

road. If they get stumped for longer<br />

than 3 seconds, they are “out.” The<br />

last one left is the winner. (“Q” and “X”<br />

are tricky!)<br />

Classic or Road Trip Bingo - You<br />

can go old-school here and play a<br />

basic Bingo game or get creative and<br />

make your own Bingo cards. Before<br />

you set out prepare sheets with things<br />

you may come across on your travels<br />

(e.g., a yellow car, a car with a dog, a<br />

car with an empty car-seat, etc.) and<br />

whoever gets “Bingo” first is the winner.<br />

Whether you go with regular or<br />

road trip Bingo, it will be a fun experience<br />

– especially if there is a fun prize<br />

at the end (a snack, or activity of the<br />

winner’s choice).<br />

The License Plate Game - Set a<br />

timer and see who can spot the most<br />

out-of-state license plate games in the<br />

given time. Or go with the alphabet<br />

theme again and find the letters on license<br />

plates in alphabetical order.<br />

I Spy – This is a classic road trip game<br />

for a reason. In an automobile, the scenery<br />

is always changing, and this game<br />

helps you notice details as you pass. Kids<br />

love to say, “I spy, with my little eye…”<br />

Road trips are a great way to bring<br />

your whole family closer together. Use<br />

these ideas or create your own to make<br />

some lasting memories as a family,<br />

and you won’t ever have to threaten to<br />

turn the car around.<br />

38 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 39


ECONOMICS & ENTERPRISE<br />

In Banks We Trust<br />

Navigating the current financial storm<br />

BY PAUL NATINSKY<br />

Conventional wisdom has it that<br />

the best way to beat inflation is<br />

to raise interest rates. It makes<br />

sense—a rapidly growing economy creates<br />

increased demand for goods and<br />

services and heightened demand strains<br />

supply. Prices increase as a result.<br />

“From an Economics 101 perspective,<br />

in the last 100 years, every time<br />

we’ve had an inflationary environment<br />

and interest rates have risen it’s supposed<br />

to slow down inflation because<br />

money becomes more expensive,” says<br />

Dan Fischer, president and chief executive<br />

officer at Citizens State Bank.<br />

“Money becomes more expensive<br />

because there is less activity,” says Chris<br />

Yatooma of OCG Companies, a building<br />

restoration firm in Bloomfield Hills.<br />

“There are less loans, less construction,<br />

less purchasing of other companies, less<br />

acquisitions. Everything slows down a<br />

little bit, which would then slow down<br />

inflation,” he concludes. Inflation then<br />

decreases as demand slows down and<br />

goods and services become more abundant<br />

and available.<br />

“It also puts pressure on companies<br />

to reduce jobs, which pushes the<br />

unemployment rate up. That is supposed<br />

to throw water on the flame from<br />

inflation,” says Fischer. “There is less<br />

demand because people aren’t working<br />

and have less disposable income.”<br />

Unprecedented Times<br />

But the age-old formula is not working.<br />

Despite frequent interest rate<br />

hikes, inflation continues its upward<br />

trend. Demand, particularly in the<br />

housing market, remains high.<br />

Beth Spadafore Chris Yatooma Dan Fischer<br />

“On the commercial side, at the beginning<br />

of the year most of my real estate<br />

investors started stockpiling their cash.<br />

If they had a property that was worth<br />

$6 million and they only had a loan for<br />

$2 million on it, they would put a line<br />

of credit on it without withdrawing but<br />

keeping the money in reserve, waiting<br />

for a fire sale,” said Beth Spadafore,<br />

business development officer at Community<br />

Choice Credit Union in Farmington.<br />

“What we’re seeing now is something<br />

we’ve never seen in the history of<br />

this country, where we’ve had interest<br />

rates move up so quickly in the fed’s<br />

quest to quash and slow down inflation.<br />

Where we’ve had pretty much<br />

zero interest rates for 11 years—there<br />

probably hasn’t been enough time between<br />

rate hikes to let that effect take<br />

place,” said Fischer. “It’s kind of like<br />

we water boarded the consumer, the<br />

small businesses, because of this rapid<br />

rise in interest rates.”<br />

Slow Down<br />

Fischer, who has worked in the banking<br />

industry for 30 years, thinks it’s<br />

time to slow the interest rate hikes and<br />

develop realistic expectations.<br />

Spadafore agrees. “I’ve never understood<br />

raising the rate to decrease inflation.<br />

To me it’s almost like a Catch-22,<br />

and so I think we need to stop raising<br />

the rates and give people a chance to<br />

catch their breath and get onto an even<br />

keel,” she says. “I don’t know if you’re<br />

ever going to see a commercial loan at<br />

3 percent fixed again. When I was doing<br />

those loans a year or so ago, I was in<br />

awe because I’d never seen it.”<br />

“What we’re seeing now is something we’ve never seen in the history<br />

of this country, where we’ve had interest rates move up so quickly in<br />

the fed’s quest to quash and slow down inflation … It’s kind of like we<br />

water boarded the consumer, the small businesses, because of this<br />

rapid rise in interest rates.” – Dan Fischer<br />

Like Fischer, Spadafore has worked<br />

in the banking industry for several decades,<br />

mostly in commercial lending<br />

for large banks. In contrast to super<br />

low rates in recent years, she remembers<br />

writing loans early in her career<br />

at 21 percent.<br />

Fischer says trying to bring inflation<br />

down to 2 percent again might not<br />

be the answer. He says 4 or 5 percent is<br />

more realistic, paired with a break in<br />

interest rate hikes to give stakeholders<br />

a break to catch their breaths.<br />

“Right now, there is so much uncertainty<br />

in the marketplace because<br />

we’ve had variables that we have never<br />

seen before,” says Fischer. “We’ve not<br />

seen (a pandemic like) COVID since<br />

the early 1900s. We haven’t seen bank<br />

failures in a long time, since 2008. And<br />

we have never seen interest rates rise<br />

this quickly.”<br />

Sensible Moves<br />

Spadafore was happy to see the federal<br />

government recently move to keep<br />

the prime interest rate at 8.25 percent,<br />

which she says is still high. The prime<br />

interest rate is the rate that commercial<br />

banks charge their most creditworthy<br />

customers based on the rate<br />

the federal government charges banks<br />

to borrow money overnight.<br />

Spadafore says she has heard that<br />

the fed is going to raise rates again in<br />

third or fourth quarter, “and that really<br />

locks down a lot of big borrowers from<br />

borrowing.”<br />

Part of the problem, according to<br />

Fischer, is that the steep interest rate<br />

increase on federal investment vehicles<br />

such as treasury notes would<br />

increase a cash shift to the feds and<br />

diminish deposits in banks, creating a<br />

shortage of money to loan customers.<br />

“I don’t think there’s going to be<br />

a recession,” says Spadafore, “but I<br />

don’t think there is going to be a lot of<br />

buying. I think people are going to toe<br />

the line and hold tight to see what’s<br />

going to happen.”<br />

Fischer thinks that if a recession<br />

does occur it could be a short one, with<br />

a recovery coming by the first quarter<br />

of 2024.<br />

A recession is a significant, widespread,<br />

and prolonged downturn in<br />

economic activity. A common rule of<br />

thumb is that a recession creates two<br />

consecutive quarters of negative gross<br />

domestic product growth.<br />

“More reasonable interest rates<br />

over the longer term and a realistic expectation<br />

for inflation going forward<br />

are good ingredients for a stabilization<br />

of the economy,” said Fischer.<br />

Whether there is a recession or not<br />

and whether interest rates and prices<br />

settle down or continue their current<br />

volatility, the conventional wisdom<br />

in this turbulent time is caution over<br />

panic.<br />

Fischer says it will be important<br />

for people to maintain cash reserves<br />

during this period, but to move forward<br />

cautiously with plans…and trust<br />

strong relationships with banks, including<br />

local institutions.<br />

40 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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FAX: (586) 722-7257<br />

elias.kattoula@chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

MARIAM ABDALLA<br />

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH STACY THERAPIST BAHRI<br />

STRATEGIC INITIATIVES MANAGER<br />

3601 36011515 Mile Mile Road Road<br />

Sterling Sterling Heights, Heights, MI MI 48310 48310<br />

TEL:<br />

TEL: (586) (586) 722-7253 722-7253<br />

FAX:<br />

FAX: (586) (586) 722-7257 722-7257<br />

mariam.abdalla@chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

stacy.bahri@chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

SANA NAVARRETTE<br />

MEMBERSHIP MANAGER<br />

1967 continued from page 17<br />

As the riots calmed down, Hesano<br />

and the National Guard made their<br />

way to the Belle Isle bathhouse, where<br />

thousands of arrested people were being<br />

kept and looked after by the guard.<br />

“Detroit was home for me,” Hesano<br />

said. “I watched it burn, including my<br />

family’s store.”<br />

Jerry Yono, who owned and operated<br />

a store on Linwood Street in Detroit,<br />

was present for most of the riots. “I<br />

stood outside my store while it was going<br />

on, talking to people in the street<br />

as they rolled by,” he said.<br />

Yono’s store, which was popular<br />

30850 TELEGRAPH ROAD, SUITE 200<br />

BINGHAM FARMS, MI 48025<br />

TEL: (248) 996-8340 CELL: (248) 925-7773<br />

FAX: (248) 996-8342<br />

snavarrette@chaldeanchamber.com<br />

www.chaldeanchamber.com<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

Twitter: @ChaldeanChamber<br />

in the Black community, was labeled<br />

with a special sign reading “Soul<br />

Instagram: @ChaldeanAmericanChamber<br />

Brother.” After the riots broke out,<br />

Black customers from his store took up<br />

arms to defend his shop from looters<br />

and arsonists.<br />

“The drug store across the street,<br />

which was owned by a Jewish family,<br />

was looted completely,” he said. “I<br />

watched them carry out a safe, put it<br />

into a Cadillac, and drive away from<br />

the store.” Yono added that other people<br />

went into the store and cleaned it<br />

out before burning it down.<br />

Imperial Market, the name of<br />

Yono’s store, holds a special place in<br />

history. Its photo appears in the August<br />

4, 1967, issue of Life Magazine<br />

that featured words and images of<br />

the riots. In the photo, you can see<br />

two Black individuals defending<br />

the store from inside as well as the<br />

words “Soul Brother” handwritten<br />

on a poster.<br />

Other Chaldeans had their stores<br />

completely looted and burned. Mike<br />

Denha, who had a store with his family,<br />

tried to go to it when the riots<br />

started. The road leading to their store<br />

was completely blocked off by police,<br />

rendering the building inaccessible.<br />

Eventually, looters took the whole<br />

store and arsonists burned down what<br />

was left.<br />

The Aftermath<br />

Much like the Chaldean community<br />

experienced shared trauma from<br />

events in Iraq, they now have a shared<br />

trauma with the citizens of Detroit.<br />

Chaldeans are a resilient people; they<br />

persisted and prospered in the city<br />

and the surrounding suburbs. Many<br />

made the transition from convenience<br />

store owners to real estate developers,<br />

restaurant owners, and entrepreneurs,<br />

sending their kids to college, medical<br />

school, and law school.<br />

The roots they planted in Detroit<br />

will continue to grow and enrich the<br />

communities in which they live, work,<br />

and play.<br />

<strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 41


FROM THE ARCHIVE<br />

Chaldean Town Remembered<br />

This month, we feature more photos of the old neighborhood. We love to see<br />

old photos; they evoke memories of a simpler time. These were submitted<br />

by CN reader Alexa Saffar.<br />

Clockwise from top of page: Alexa Saffar and her cousin Randy<br />

Abboud playing with the hose in the front yard; From left: Alexa,<br />

grandmother Sabriya Jajou, and sister Samantha Kajy; Alexa’s<br />

grandfather Jurjis Bajawa; Alexa (in middle) with her mother<br />

Sundus Saffar and sister Samantha Kajy pose by a tree.<br />

42 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JULY</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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