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METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY VOL. 20 ISSUE XI <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

The<br />

Gift of<br />

Family<br />



FOR MANY<br />

Featuring:<br />

Christmas in Iraq<br />

Who are the Chaldeans?<br />

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أكبر مكتب محاماة عربي وكلداني في<br />

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it’s Why We Care.<br />

نعيدك الى ماكنت عليه<br />

هذا هو سبب اهتمامنا<br />

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Attorney at Law<br />

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877-KAJY-CARES / kajylaw.com<br />

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



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

METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> | VOL. 20 ISSUE XI<br />


16 The Gift of Family<br />

Exploring options for adoption<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />


18 Christmas in Iraq<br />

A nostalgic look back<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

22 Needle and Thread<br />

Thamir Qoda preserves tradition<br />

one stitch at a time<br />

By Hanan Qia<br />

24 Beth Al-Nahrain<br />

Writers Conference<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

28 Chaldean Kitchen<br />

Fadi Babbie’s Mezza Supreme<br />

By Z.Z. Dawod<br />


6 From the Editor<br />

The Gift of Shared Experience<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

32 Sports<br />

Shaya Brothers<br />

By Steve Stein<br />

16<br />

42 From Mesopotamia to Michigan<br />

How Chaldean pioneers helped<br />

shape the state<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

44 Who are the Chaldeans?<br />

History of the Church of the East<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

8 Foundation Update<br />

Healing, Macomb and Oakland<br />

Community Colleges<br />

10 Noteworthy<br />

Reni Stephan, artist<br />

12 Chaldean Digest<br />

Iraqi president visits Pope, Sako calls for<br />

secular system in Iraq<br />

14 In Memoriam<br />

34 Family Time<br />

Yuletide good times<br />

By Valene Ayar<br />

36 Writers Contest Winners<br />

Miranda Kattula, Hayley Gappy,<br />

and Yara Bashoory<br />

46 Chaldean Scene<br />

Art Show, Veterans Day,<br />

Shining Light Award<br />

34<br />

30 Economics & Enterprise<br />

Post COVID Redux<br />

By Paul Natinsky<br />

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



Chaldean News, LLC<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

Martin Manna<br />



Sarah Kittle<br />


Cal Abbo<br />

Valene Ayar<br />

Z.Z. Dawod<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

Paul Natinsky<br />

Hanan Qia<br />

Steve Stein<br />



Alex Lumelsky with SKY Creative<br />


Zina Lumelsky with SKY Creative<br />


Alex Lumelsky<br />

SALES<br />

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Subscriptions: $35 per year<br />


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

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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 />

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

Published monthly; Issue Date: December <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 />

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Postmaster: Send address changes to<br />

“The Chaldean News 30095 Northwestern<br />

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

The Gift of Shared Experience<br />

Dear Readers,<br />

As we approach the season of goodwill<br />

and reflection, we are honored to present<br />

this special issue that delves into poignant<br />

themes of family, tradition, faith, and global perspectives.<br />

Our diverse collection of articles aims<br />

to illuminate the multifaceted nature of human<br />

experience, touching on aspects that resonate<br />

deeply within us all.<br />

Christmas in Iraq offers a tender glimpse into<br />

the rich cultural tapestry of the Iraq during the<br />

holiday season. Through Dr. Miri’s vivid storytelling,<br />

we witness the resilient spirit of<br />

communities celebrating amidst adversity,<br />

illuminating the universal themes of<br />

hope and unity transcending geographical<br />

boundaries.<br />

In Gift of Family, we explore the profound<br />

journey of adoption—a testament to<br />

the immeasurable love and resilience that<br />

binds families together. This heartfelt narrative<br />

shines a light on the transformative<br />

power of choice and the enduring bonds<br />

forged through the choice of unconditional love.<br />

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the festive season, issues<br />

of mental health take center stage, addressing the<br />

vital importance of nurturing our mental well-being. This<br />

season is an especially difficult one for those who are<br />

hurting, and Dr. Dalia Mammo, as reported in Serving Crises<br />

in the Community, is preparing to provide resources for<br />

young people in the community who are struggling with<br />

mental health.<br />

Cal Abbo’s Who Are the Chaldeans? delves into the<br />

significance of communal worship and spirituality in<br />

navigating life’s challenges. It celebrates the sanctuaries<br />

of faith where individuals find solace, community, and<br />

a sense of belonging, underscoring the enduring role of<br />

faith in shaping lives.<br />

Preserving tradition is a timeless endeavor that binds<br />

generations together. Thamir Qoda’s profile, written by<br />


EDITOR<br />

IN CHIEF<br />

Hannan Qia in Iraq, celebrates the richness of<br />

cultural heritage and the importance of safeguarding<br />

age-old customs in an ever-evolving world.<br />

Through Needle and Thread invites reflection on<br />

the significance of passing down traditions and<br />

traditional garb to honor our collective history.<br />

We also celebrate heritage through food, in<br />

Chaldean Kitchen’s special holiday recipe; through<br />

art as shown by the Bet Nahrain art show and writer’s<br />

conference in the CCF Update and the Events<br />

section; and even in sports, as the Shaya brothers<br />

unite to defeat all comers.<br />

As we navigate the complexities of our<br />

modern world, may these narratives<br />

inspire us to embrace empathy,<br />

understanding, and the enduring<br />

power of human connection.<br />

Each article in this issue is a testament to the diversity<br />

of human experiences and the universal themes that connect<br />

us all—love, resilience, faith, and tradition. As we<br />

navigate the complexities of our modern world, may these<br />

narratives inspire us to embrace empathy, understanding,<br />

and the enduring power of human connection.<br />

May this issue serve as a beacon of inspiration, fostering<br />

a spirit of unity, compassion, and appreciation for the rich<br />

tapestry of humanity. As we embark on this festive season,<br />

let us cherish our families, celebrate our traditions, and embrace<br />

the gift of shared experiences that unite us all.<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Editor in Chief<br />







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


Join 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 empowers community members<br />

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

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

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

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

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 />

Sylvester and Rita Sandiha<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 />

SEPTEMBER <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 7


H.E.A.L. participant using the interactive driving simulator during the driver’s training course.<br />

Driving the Way<br />

Understanding the Brain<br />

A workshop regarding brain<br />

health was presented by Macomb<br />

Community College<br />

Nursing students on November<br />

15. The event proved to<br />

be an invaluable resource for<br />

those in attendance to learn<br />

more about brain health, how<br />

to keep your mind healthy,<br />

proper nutrition and exercise<br />

to reduce stress.<br />

Preserving History through Art<br />

Attendees on Day 1 of the Beth Nahrain Art Show.<br />

The CCF’s H.E.A.L. (Hard of Hearing, E.S.L.,<br />

American Sign Language, Life Skills) Project<br />

is using a state-of-the-art driving simulator to<br />

help deaf students to learn how to drive. The<br />

H.E.A.L. Project helps better equip those with<br />

hearing impairments to live independent lives.<br />

Assisted by an American Sign Language interpreter<br />

for the deaf, the group will learn how to<br />

become licensed drivers.<br />

The program runs for 8 weeks; H.E.A.L.<br />

Project participants go through a modified drivers<br />

education course with in-course instruction<br />

and simulated driving practices to experience<br />

what driving is like before entering a vehicle.<br />

Macomb Community College nursing students and faculty.<br />

Nearly 700 attendees had the opportunity to<br />

experience the land between two rivers through<br />

paintings, woodwork and sculptures at the 2nd<br />

Annual Beth Nahrain Art Show held at the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation November 3-5.<br />

Featured artists included Reni Stephan, Sabah<br />

Wazi, Azhr Matti, Wilson Sarkis, Mark Georgies,<br />

Cassidy Azzow, Fr. Patrick Setto, Emad<br />

Tammo, Habib Hannona and Savannah Meyer.<br />

Proceeds from the event benefited the victims of<br />

the Bakhdida wedding fire through a fundraising<br />

effort supported by Nineveh Rising.<br />

CARF Accreditation<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation was recently<br />

issued a three-year CARF accreditation<br />

for the following programs and services:<br />

• Short-Term Immigration Support Services<br />

• Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Adults)<br />

• Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Children and Adolescents)<br />

The accreditation extends through October 31, 2026.<br />

CARF accreditation distinguishes a provider’s service delivery<br />

and signals to the public that the provider is committed to<br />

continuous performance improvement, responsive to feedback,<br />

and accountable to the community and its other stakeholders. It<br />

is evidence that CCF strives to improve efficiency, fiscal health,<br />

and service delivery creating a foundation for continuous quality<br />

improvement and consumer satisfaction.<br />

Shining Light Award from<br />

Macomb County Habitat<br />

for Humanity<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

was selected to receive<br />

the Macomb County Habitat for<br />

Humanity Shining Light Award<br />

at their annual gala on Friday,<br />

November 10 as a result of excellent<br />

advocacy for a family of six<br />

from the Republic of the Congo.<br />

Patrick N’Golo was granted<br />

asylum in December of 2018,<br />

arriving in the U.S. from the<br />

Left to Right: Susan Smith,<br />

Sharon Hannawa, Patrick<br />

N’Golo and Nicha Nzuiki.<br />

Democratic Republic of the Congo. Taking all the proper steps to<br />

bring his family to the U.S. with help from Macomb County Habitat<br />

for Humanity, Patrick had temporary housing but little else.<br />

CCF was able to assist Patrick with his green card and social<br />

security cards for his family and helped with approval for Medicaid,<br />

food assistance and back rent. Five agencies, including PNC,<br />

the Department of Health & Human Services-Warren office, and<br />

the U.S. Department of Justice collaborated with the CCF to resolve<br />

issues for the N’Golo family.<br />

“Tonight will be the first time we can relax a little and maybe<br />

sleep,” shared Patrick after his first CCF visit.<br />

Planning for College Costs<br />

Prospective college students<br />

and their families<br />

attended the Oakland University<br />

Admissions and<br />

Financial Aid Night on<br />

November 15. Guests were<br />

able to meet with Oakland<br />

University staff and ask<br />

Oakland University and CCF staff.<br />

questions about the Free<br />

Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the associated<br />

costs of higher education, and the overall admissions process.<br />

The event proved to be an invaluable resource for students as<br />

well as parents to better plan for the future.<br />

For more information regarding any of these announcements,<br />

please contact the Chaldean Community Foundation at<br />

586-722-7253.<br />

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



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The city of Sterling Heights’ new Featured Artist<br />

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Reni Stephan, 42, was born in Baghdad and<br />

moved to the U.S. when he was 11. He said his<br />

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shares a love of music, his artistry is more visual<br />

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Stephan is a sculptor and painter who owns the<br />

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Road in Sterling Heights. As the latest “Featured<br />

Sterling Heights resident Reni Stephan is the city of Sterling Heights’ latest Featured Artist.<br />

Artist,” his work will be on display at the Sterling<br />

Heights Community Center, 40250 Dodge Park<br />

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Stephan explained to the Sterling Heights Sentry<br />

that Ishtar Restaurant offered him a big opportunity<br />

to showcase his work when, around eight<br />

years ago, it commissioned him to make a rendition<br />

of the famous Ishtar Gate, as well as other Mesopotamian<br />

art. Multiple pieces of Stephan’s work are<br />

also on display at the Chaldean Community Foundation’s<br />

headquarters at 15 Mile near Ryan Road.<br />

While the Mesopotamian art style isn’t prevalent<br />

in his Featured Artist display at the Community Center,<br />

he said he might show more of that art style if he<br />

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10 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

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


Iraq’s president<br />

meets Pope<br />

Francis<br />

Iraqi president Abdul Latif Rashid met with the head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis on November<br />

18, <strong>2023</strong>. Photo: Iraqi President’s office.<br />

Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Rashid met with the head<br />

of the Catholic Church Pope Francis in the Vatican after<br />

a controversial dispute earlier this year with the<br />

head of the Chaldean Church.<br />

According to a statement released by the president’s<br />

office, Rashid and Pope Francis discussed the<br />

situation of Christians in Iraq with the president saying<br />

they are a “key component in the building of the<br />

country, its progress and prosperity.”<br />

The Vatican described their discussion as “cordial”<br />

and covering “topics of common interest.”<br />

“The need was reiterated for the Catholic<br />

Church in Iraq to be able to continue to carry out<br />

its valued mission and for all Iraqi Christians to be<br />

a vibrant and active part of society and the territory,<br />

particularly in the Nineveh Plain,” read the<br />

statement from the Vatican.<br />

Four months ago, Rashid revoked a 2013 presidential<br />

decree that formally recognized Chaldean Patriarch<br />

Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako and granted him<br />

powers over Christian endowment affairs. Rashid<br />

cited constitutional grounds as a basis for the revocation<br />

of the decree that was issued by late Iraqi President<br />

Jalal Talabani.<br />

Iraq’s Christian community has been devastated<br />

in the past two decades. Following the US-led invasion<br />

in 2003, sectarian warfare prompted followers of Iraq’s<br />

multiple Christian denominations to flee, and attacks by<br />

ISIS in 2014 hit minority communities especially hard.<br />

– Rudaw<br />

Patriarch Sako calls for establishing secular system in Iraq<br />

Cardinal Sako recently called for a secular system in Iraq that<br />

separates religion from the state, citing it as the optimal choice for<br />

governance in Iraq. Speaking at the Peace and Security Forum in<br />

the Dohuk province, Sako urged for a constitutional amendment<br />

in the country, emphasizing the importance of “establishing a civil<br />

democratic state that adopts citizenship, embraces diversity, and<br />

respects rights, civilizations, religions, and sects.”<br />

He added, “The secular system is the best option for us, not the<br />

sectarian system,” further stating, “We need to separate religion<br />

from the state in Iraq. The state has no religion; it is a moral entity,<br />

and religion is for us as individuals.”<br />

Sako stressed the necessity of “promoting a culture of citizenship<br />

and human rights,” lamenting, “Unfortunately, we have not seen all<br />

of this, and I believe that such a project can easily be achieved in the<br />

Kurdistan Region, which has taken practical steps in this direction.<br />

We hope the region maintains this model of peaceful coexistence.”<br />

Sako called for Iraqi families to educate their children on respecting<br />

minorities, embracing diverse opinions, accepting others, and<br />

fostering brotherhood. He highlighted the necessity to reform educational<br />

programs, especially social and religious curricula, moving<br />

away from extremist ideologies and marginalizing other religions,<br />

and proposed amending the Iraqi constitution to separate religion<br />

from politics, adopting a system that respects all religions, and establishing<br />

a framework that does not interfere in religious affairs.<br />

He concluded by stating that “the federal government must not<br />

allow militias to control the destinies of Christians in the country,”<br />

emphasizing that, “there is still solidarity with the tragedy of Hamdaniya,<br />

indicating that the spirit of coexistence still prevails in the<br />

feelings of Iraqis.”<br />

–Shafaq<br />

Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean Catholic Church in<br />

Iraq and worldwide, advocated for a secular system that separates religion from the state.<br />

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


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


Hanan Yalda<br />

Dawood Hankla<br />

Nov 30, 1975 –<br />

Oct 16, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Sargon Emmanull<br />

Yokhana<br />

Jun 29, 1957 –<br />

Oct 16, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Shoshan Nissan<br />

Oraha<br />

Jul 1, 1932 –<br />

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

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes<br />

July 27, 1930 –<br />

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

Raheem<br />

Polus–Hirmiz Dakha<br />

May 3, 1943 –<br />

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

Isho Yacoub<br />

Salman<br />

Jul 1, 1939 –<br />

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

Nadwa Jamal<br />

Qustantin<br />

Jul 1, 1951 –<br />

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

Acoubi Wadea<br />

Yakoob Kaja<br />

Sep 7, 1932 –<br />

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

Widad (Hanna)<br />

Abdulahad Attisha<br />

Oct 22, 1946 –<br />

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

Romana Yousif Akko<br />

Foumia (Romana Polus)<br />

Jul 1, 1941 –<br />

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

Victoria Hermiz<br />

Apr 1, 1931 –<br />

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

Salwa Freij<br />

Feb 21, 1935 –<br />

Oct 24, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Steven Yousif Hanna<br />

May 19, 1982 –<br />

Oct 24, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Bahjat (Ben)<br />

Jamel Yacob<br />

Mar 8, 1956 –<br />

Oct 24, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Laya Yousif<br />

Jul 1, 1943 –<br />

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

Nabil Dawoud<br />

Salman Istephan<br />

Jun 22, 1947 –<br />

Oct 26, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Vera Faraj Hakim<br />

Nannoshi<br />

May 1, 1963 –<br />

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

Adiba Elias Daman<br />

Jul 1, 1940 –<br />

Oct 29, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Salim Zia<br />

Marogi Akkm<br />

Jul 1, 1939 –<br />

Oct 30, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Anton Saleem<br />

Ghniem<br />

Apr 24, 1929 –<br />

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

Isteevan Haitham<br />

Butrus<br />

Jul 21, 1997 –<br />

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

Sana Yousif<br />

Kando Nessan<br />

Dec 22, 1958 –<br />

Nov 4, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Mary Yousif Meza<br />

Alraihani<br />

Jul 21, 1931 –<br />

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

Sabah Hermiz Yousif<br />

Bahri<br />

May 2, 1940 –<br />

Nov 8, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Ihab Nafea Mansor<br />

Al–Nawfali<br />

Jan 15, 1974 –<br />

Nov 8, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Aliza Maroki<br />

Kenaya Kirma<br />

Jul 1, 1920 –<br />

Nov 8, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Yousif Maya<br />

Jul 1, 1937 –<br />

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

Basim Elias Yousuf<br />

Jun 6, 1954 –<br />

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

Mary Assi<br />

Shammami Yaldo<br />

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

Ayad Hanna Michael<br />

Mar 9, 1961 –<br />

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

Loai KasYouhanan<br />

Sep 15, 1964 –<br />

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

Jamila (Goryoka) Paul<br />

Mar 10, 1932 –<br />

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

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

3601 15 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48310


protect them are more suspicious than others. They<br />

may have coping mechanisms that don’t serve them<br />

well, anger issues, or problems with authority. These<br />

are the kids that need love and stability the most, and<br />

unfortunately, they are also the ones most likely to<br />

have given up on having a family of their own.<br />

The Gift<br />

of Family<br />

Fostering, Adoption and<br />

the Chaldean Community<br />

According to the OOL, in recent years, the number of<br />

Chaldean children experiencing the need for out-ofhome<br />

placement into foster care has increased. We<br />

know from research that keeping children in homes<br />

with similar cultural and religious identity reduces<br />

the trauma they will experience. The main goal is to<br />

return children back to their homes when it is safe.<br />

The OOL needs your help to provide a safe, nurturing<br />

home for these children until they can be returned<br />

to their families. They are also suffering from<br />

the trauma of being removed from their families.<br />

Children and youth enter foster care because<br />

they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned<br />

by their parents or guardians. All these children<br />

have experienced loss and some form of trauma.<br />

In other ways, foster children are no different from<br />

children who aren’t in foster care: they are learning<br />

and growing, like to play and hang out with friends<br />

their age, and need the love and stability a permanent<br />

home provides.<br />

Hoping to highlight the need, the OOL is actively<br />

working to recruit families willing to accept the calling<br />

to become foster parents to children in need. In<br />

some cases, these children may not be able to return<br />

to their parents and becoming a foster parent will<br />

give you the opportunity to provide a “forever home”<br />

through adoption.<br />


To quote St. Pope John Paul II in 2000, “To adopt<br />

a child is a great work of love. When it is done,<br />

much is given, but much is also received. It is a<br />

true exchange of gifts…”<br />

When, during a crisis pregnancy, a decision is<br />

made to have the baby, a gift of life is given. When<br />

the birth mother decides to place the baby for adoption,<br />

that’s a gift of family.<br />

There are approximately 11,000 children in foster<br />

care in the state of Michigan, according to the Chaldean<br />

Catholic Diocese’s Office of Life (OOL). Of those,<br />

approximately 3,000 Michigan foster children are<br />

available for adoption at any given time.<br />

Children enter foster care when the state determines<br />

that they are in danger in their family home;<br />

at that point, the state agency intercedes on behalf of<br />

the child and removes them from the home. The goal<br />

of foster care is to eventually unite children with their<br />

birth families. Adoption is different.<br />

There are two paths to adoption. One is when the<br />

court makes a decision that reunification with the<br />

birth family is no longer possible. The other is when<br />

the birth parents choose to relinquish their rights and<br />

give another family a chance; a chance to provide all<br />

the love and stability and material goods that a baby<br />

needs to have a good start in life.<br />

Maybe the birth mother is alone in this decision;<br />

maybe she has no family support, no known resources<br />

and sees no way to move forward. Maybe she’s in<br />

denial, or maybe in complete acceptance. She (or her<br />

family) may be worried about her reputation. But as<br />

Destiny Delly of the Chaldean Diocese’s Office of Life<br />

says, “Babies are born every day to single parents.”<br />

If you are dealing with an unwanted or crisis<br />

pregnancy, Delly wants you to know you have options.<br />

“First of all, pray on it,” she says, “Then call<br />

the Office of Life.”<br />

Adopting a child of any age is not for the faint of<br />

heart. Biological parents will tell you that creating<br />

and birthing a child does not protect you from being<br />

hurt by them. And children that have suffered abuse<br />

or neglect at the hands of those who are supposed to<br />

Types of Adoption<br />

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services<br />

(MDHHS) searches for adoptive families that will<br />

best meet the needs of the child. Whenever possible,<br />

adoptive placements are made with relatives and foster<br />

parents. Every effort is made to keep siblings together.<br />

In addition to private adoption, when all points<br />

are discussed and agreed upon through a lawyer,<br />

there are three other types of adoption: open, which<br />

means the birth parents are known by the child and<br />

expected to be involved in their life; semi-open,<br />

where adoptive parents send photos and updates to<br />

the birth parents; and closed, where the adoptee is<br />

able to get information about the birth parents from<br />

the agency at age 18 if they so choose.<br />

If you make the choice to give the gift of family<br />

and adopt a child, your agency will ask you about the<br />

types of children for whom you are willing to care.<br />

The agency’s final recommendation will be based<br />

on your preferences and the agency’s assessment<br />

of your skills and abilities. Ongoing training opportunities<br />

are offered to foster parents to increase the<br />

knowledge and skills needed to meet the needs of the<br />

children placed in their home.<br />

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

Making the Choice<br />

Anonymity can be tricky in a small, close-knit community.<br />

For those who fear reprisal or are trying to<br />

avoid the stigma of being labeled promiscuous, the<br />

OOL offers options. Delly, as an employee of the Diocese,<br />

regularly counsels women who are in crisis. She<br />

provides resources to free therapy, adoption agencies,<br />

and even helps find housing. The focus at OOL<br />

is first and foremost the birth mother.<br />

“You’re not alone,” Delly emphasizes. She recently<br />

counseled an unwed mother who felt unready<br />

for parenthood and was wavering on the decision to<br />

terminate her pregnancy. Once shown her options<br />

and resources, the birth mother chose adoption. She<br />

chose to give the gift of life and the gift of family. That<br />

is a “win” for the OOL, which also organizes pro-life<br />

marches and prayers; not only for the mother choosing<br />

life, but with the grace of God, healing the hearts<br />

of all those involved.<br />

One other birth mother was told her baby would<br />

not live very long after birth and was considering<br />

abortion for that reason. After counseling and many<br />

weeks of soul-searching, she decided to have the<br />

baby naturally and was able to spend a few precious<br />

hours with them before they died. This made it easier<br />

for the birth mom to grieve and mourn the loss of her<br />

child, rather than feeling responsible for the death of<br />

her baby.<br />

Through the Office of Life, priests are also available<br />

to counsel expectant parents in crisis and provide<br />

mentorship through the process of keeping their<br />

baby or placing it for adoption. No one is forced to<br />

decide either way, and the birth mother and her state<br />

of mind is always made a priority.<br />

One family made the choice to adopt after finding<br />

out that there was a Chaldean child in the system. “It<br />

was in 2019 when we first heard that there were Chaldean<br />

children in the foster care system, which really<br />

stirred our hearts,” recalls Heather Kas-Shamoun.<br />

“Our hearts went out for all children in the foster care<br />

system, but we felt that a Chaldean child would do<br />

better in a Chaldean home where they can stay connected<br />

to their faith and culture. We wanted to be<br />

there for our community if there was really a need.”<br />

Although they had biological children of their<br />

own, upon hearing of this child, Heather and Robert,<br />

her husband of 22 years, felt called to offer a home.<br />

“The foster care licensing allows you to set criteria<br />

of what you’re open to for fostering including<br />

age, ethnicity, etc.,” explains Kas-Shamoun. “We had<br />

listed that we were open to only Chaldean children to<br />

service the need in our community. The system didn’t<br />

easily identify the children as Chaldean or not at the<br />

time, but the Office of Life has made efforts to bring<br />

more awareness to MDHHS and they are working<br />

on updating the system to have a category for Chaldean.”<br />

For a culture where family is the number one priority,<br />

it is an undeniably difficult choice to take that<br />

child from the home and place them elsewhere. This<br />

child was placed with a loving family that does not<br />

differentiate between “biological” and “adopted.”<br />

They will know the culture they come from and hopefully<br />

will feel the pride that comes with it.<br />

“We immediately connected with this sweet<br />

girl,” says Kas-Shamoun. “She fit in with us and our<br />

family right away.” The Kas-Shamouns set her on a<br />

path with good schools and taught her to embrace<br />

the beauty of her Catholic faith and Chaldean community.<br />

She began to thrive in all aspects of her life<br />

because of the sense of belonging, love, and security<br />

she felt with them.<br />

“The adoption process took close to 9 months,”<br />

says Kas-Shamoun, “but we didn’t need the legal paperwork<br />

because we knew it was written by God that<br />

she was to be our daughter.”<br />

According to the United States Conference of<br />

Catholic Bishops, “the miracle of adoption is about<br />

the pain, resolution, and growth that comes when a<br />

young girl and her family face the issues of an untimely<br />

pregnancy, and when adoptive families accept<br />

their infertility and face their fears about adoption.<br />

“Today, adoption is a legal transfer of parental<br />

rights and duties. It is governed by state laws that<br />

protect the child, first and foremost, and then the<br />

biological mother and adoptive parents. There is a<br />

clearly defined process that involves social workers,<br />

lawyers, and judges. The history of adoption, however,<br />

begins much earlier. Ancient civilizations practiced<br />

it and codified adoption in their laws. One of the<br />

first written accounts dates back 4,000 years to the<br />

Code of Hammurabi.”<br />

Finding a Forever Family<br />

Children and teens enter foster care through no fault<br />

of their own because they have been abused, neglected,<br />

or abandoned and are unable to continue living<br />

safely with their families.<br />

But we as a community can help. Consider fostering<br />

children who have been removed from their families.<br />

The system is full of sad stories about siblings<br />

who have been separated or children that have been<br />

abused, even within the system. Delly wants you to<br />

know that not all the horror stories are true, however;<br />

there are many instances of families who opened<br />

their hearts and homes to a foster or adoptive child,<br />

and it worked out wonderfully.<br />

“It’s a beautiful thing,” says Delly,” not something<br />

to be scared of.”<br />

“Opening up our family this way has provided<br />

us fruits beyond measure,” says Kas-Shamoun. “We<br />

have grown in ways we didn’t know possible.”<br />

You don’t need a lot of money or a fancy home –<br />

you don’t even necessarily have to be married to foster<br />

or adopt and provide a forever home.<br />

As we prepare our hearts this Christmas to welcome<br />

the birth of Jesus, through whom we became<br />

welcomed into God’s family, we must also be willing<br />

to give, from our hearts, the gift of family.<br />

Find out more about fostering and adoption by<br />

visiting the website chaldeanchurch.org/life.<br />

Sarah Kittle, center, with granddaughters,<br />

Samantha (left) and Sarah.<br />

Finding Family<br />

As a 15-year-old Catholic girl who found herself “in<br />

the family way” in 1982, I didn’t have a whole lot of<br />

options. My parents enrolled me in counseling at<br />

Catholic Social Services in preparation to place my<br />

baby for adoption. It wasn’t what I wanted to do,<br />

but I was still in school and lacking resources to be<br />

independent, so I went along.<br />

Just recounting this story makes me extremely<br />

emotional; for decades, I didn’t allow myself to<br />

hope that someday I might meet her, my only<br />

daughter. You see, I went on to marry my childhood<br />

sweetheart and have more children with him before<br />

we divorced nearly a decade later. I had four sons<br />

before I was done and thought to myself that God<br />

wouldn’t give me another daughter because I gave<br />

mine away. I had resigned myself to not knowing<br />

her and was telling myself that she didn’t need to<br />

know me because she was happy with her life.<br />

Then one day earlier this year, I got a phone call<br />

from my older brother who lives in Illinois. “Sarah,”<br />

he said, “I found your daughter!” He had connected<br />

with her on 23 and Me, to whom both had sent DNA<br />

samples. He messaged her, she messaged back, and<br />

with my permission, he gave her my phone number.<br />

She was to message me after work. After 4 long decades<br />

of being apart, those last few hours of waiting<br />

for her text stretched out forever. Finally, she<br />

messaged me. It was a long text that included the<br />

sentence, “Thank you for doing what was best for<br />

both of us all those years ago.” She understood and<br />

wasn’t upset with me! Immediately we got on the<br />

phone and talked for more than 5 hours.<br />

She did have a good life, I found out, with loving<br />

parents to whom she was their pride and joy.<br />

Her adoptive mother passed away a while ago, but<br />

her dad is still alive and living next door to her. She<br />

has two children, both daughters, the oldest named<br />

“Sarah,” even though she didn’t know that was<br />

my name. Since then, we have spent many hours<br />

together. She and her kids have met her biological<br />

father, her brothers and sister (from dad), the girls’<br />

cousins, some of my siblings, and so many more<br />

people that are now a part of their lives. She was<br />

the gift 41 years ago, and my huge and loving family<br />

is the gift that she and her girls are now receiving.<br />

I see God’s hand in all of this and am grateful<br />

for the opportunity to know her and my granddaughters,<br />

who all live nearby. As this chapter of<br />

my life unfolds, I begin to see all the choices and<br />

events that had to happen for us to meet. It is one<br />

hundred percent a “God job.”<br />

– Sarah Kittle<br />

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


Iraqi Christians attend a<br />

Christmas Eve Mass at the<br />

at the Sacred Heart Church of<br />

the Syriac Catholics in Basra,<br />

Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022.<br />

Christmas in Iraq<br />

Recalling holiday traditions from the homeland<br />


would be given a gift, usually a box of<br />

chocolate or liquor.<br />

Iraqis schedule the festivities of<br />

Christmas Day according to interests<br />

and priorities of visits, which usually<br />

begin with the family and the grandfather’s<br />

house, followed by family gatherings<br />

that help strengthen social relations<br />

and exchanging conversations<br />

about memories of the beautiful past.<br />

In addition to preparing food for the<br />

guests, they meet for the meal at one<br />

dining table. These scenes do not occur<br />

very often the rest of the year, but they<br />

provide an important opportunity for<br />

Iraqi families to bond together. It also<br />

constitutes an occasion for resolving<br />

disputes and problems, as well as for<br />

visiting relatives whose work conditions<br />

do not allow frequent visits.<br />


Christmas celebrations vary from<br />

nation to nation owing to their<br />

distinct customs, culture, and<br />

religious practices. Christmas in Iraq,<br />

surrounded by those with different beliefs,<br />

is unique.<br />

Many Christians in the West celebrate<br />

Christmas with door-to-door<br />

caroling, special church services, and<br />

family gatherings to share the joy of<br />

the birth of baby Jesus. But that is not<br />

the case in many restrictive and dangerous<br />

countries around the world,<br />

including Iraq.<br />

In Iraq, Christmas is a unique occasion<br />

for Christians; the celebrations,<br />

customs, and traditions are very religious<br />

in nature. Persecuted for their<br />

faith, the people in Iraq associate the<br />

festival of Christmas with two things<br />

— the birth of Jesus Christ and celebrations<br />

of the mid-winter holidays.<br />

With great devotion, the Christians<br />

celebrate the festival of Christmas by<br />

carrying out religious services and<br />

reciting prayers. The celebrations are<br />

historically serene and peaceful.<br />

Unfortunately, Christmas has not<br />

been the same in Iraq for some time<br />

now. In today’s Iraq, traditions of<br />

Christmas are disappearing quickly,<br />

and many are found only in the memories<br />

of our oldest community members.<br />

Since militants of the Islamic<br />

State stormed the Nineveh Plain towns<br />

near Mosul and began killing and driving<br />

out Christians, people fled to safety<br />

in Baghdad.<br />

Celebrating Christmas in the “Cradle<br />

of Civilization” was once truly a<br />

distinctive experience, one this author<br />

would like to share with you.<br />

Christmas Eve<br />

The Christmas practices in Iraq are<br />

quite different when compared to<br />

other countries. A popular custom<br />

includes the lighting of the bonfire in<br />

the courtyards of houses on Christmas<br />

Eve. On that special night, Iraqi Christian<br />

families would gather and, following<br />

tradition, one of the children<br />

in the family would read the Nativity<br />

story from the Arabic Bible while other<br />

family members held lighted candles.<br />

Once the story is over, a bonfire<br />

made of dried thorns would be lit in<br />

one corner of the house. According to<br />

the Iraqi people, they can predict the<br />

future of their household in the coming<br />

year by just watching the way the<br />

fire burns in the bonfire. For them, if<br />

the dried thorns burn to ashes, the<br />

family will be blessed with good fortune.<br />

A psalm was sung while the fire<br />

continued to burn. As the fire burnt<br />

out and the thorns reduced to ashes,<br />

the members of the family leapt over<br />

the ashes three times and completed<br />

the ceremony by making wishes towards<br />

the end.<br />

On Christmas Eve, families and relatives<br />

came together and made elaborate<br />

preparations of cookies, cakes, and<br />

special dishes for their children. Families<br />

decorated real Christmas trees and<br />

put-up decorations like garlands and<br />

lights around the house. The young<br />

and old would dress up nicely for<br />

Christmas. Everyone would be joyous,<br />

and kids would always look forward<br />

to getting gifts. Outings to amusement<br />

parks, the movies, cousins, and relatives’<br />

houses were truly special.<br />

Christmas Day<br />

On Christmas Day, religious services<br />

were held at all the churches around<br />

various cities. Christian families from all<br />

localities attended these services. In the<br />

villages and towns, a bonfire was lit inside<br />

the main church, followed by a procession.<br />

Church officials would march<br />

along with the bishop, who would be<br />

carrying a figure of the infant Jesus<br />

Christ, which was placed on a red cushion.<br />

After the procession, the bishop<br />

touched the hand of one person and the<br />

touch was passed on to all those present<br />

in the ceremony. This custom is known<br />

as the “Touch of Peace.” Thus, when<br />

Christmas service for the day ended, all<br />

the people in the church were blessed.<br />

Families would eat breakfast together<br />

before going to church and<br />

then spent the day visiting relatives,<br />

wishing them a Merry Christmas. It<br />

was usual that some family members<br />

stayed in their own homes to receive<br />

guests, well-wishers, and relatives<br />

during the day. Each household visited<br />

Gifts<br />

Iraqi parents did not buy traditional<br />

Christmas gifts presents for their children,<br />

as that custom was not common.<br />

Instead, the children received<br />

a new outfit. Some more well-off parents<br />

would give their children money,<br />

which was spent on chocolate, ice<br />

cream and other sweets.<br />

Greetings were exchanged<br />

amongst the families. Visitors were<br />

typically offered special food and an<br />

aromatized fortified wine drink (Vermouth)<br />

served with winter citrus jam<br />

(Tringe /Ugly Fruit).<br />

In Baghdad, Muslims were often<br />

known to share the rituals of the occasion<br />

with Christians, exchanging<br />

congratulations, gifts, and visits. Social<br />

media has made meeting from a<br />

distance possible through the virtual<br />

world, but nothing can replace the<br />

feelings of in-person visits and the real-world<br />

exchange of congratulations,<br />

gifts, and greetings between people.<br />

Recalling the holidays of my youth, it<br />

was all first-class food and new clothes.<br />

The church was warm, beautiful, and<br />

full of happiness. On a holiday like<br />

Christmas, we would always share food<br />

with our neighbors, and they would do<br />

the same for us during other holidays.<br />

I love the memory of my parents<br />

taking me and my siblings to see relatives<br />

during Christmas. We didn’t have<br />

a car, but as kids, we would get excited<br />

to take the bus or a taxi and would<br />

enjoy the long drive from downtown<br />

Baghdad to the suburbs. We would<br />

make time to go to different relatives’<br />

18 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

From left: Pacha (stuffed tripe); Fruitcake; and trays of kleicha.<br />

houses, taking a couple of days around<br />

Christmas to make those trips. As kids,<br />

we loved it and were often rewarded<br />

with a monetary gift, 250 Fils (about<br />

$1) — enough to buy a chocolate bar!<br />

Baba Noel<br />

There is neither snow in Iraq during<br />

Christmas nor chimneys to climb down,<br />

so Baba Noel (Santa Claus) was rumored<br />

to come in with his 4-wheel modified<br />

sleigh pulled by his trusted reindeer.<br />

Baba Noel brought gifts and presents<br />

for the kids in Iraq just as he does for kids<br />

in the west. Dressed in red and white, he<br />

carried a brown sack filled with gifts and<br />

placed them under the Christmas tree<br />

while everyone was asleep at night.<br />

As kids, we were led to believe<br />

that Santa’s favorite cookie was kleicha,<br />

and we would leave him those<br />

on a plate with a glass of milk on the<br />

kitchen table. Santa ate them all, and<br />

the note he left behind stated that he<br />

preferred the ones stuffed with dates!<br />

Kleicha & Cake<br />

In fact, Christmas was not complete<br />

unless kleicha were made. This traditional<br />

Iraqi delight is the queen of the<br />

season, a staple in many households,<br />

served during special occasions such as<br />

Christmas, Easter, weddings, and Eid.<br />

It is loved by all Iraqi groups, including<br />

Muslims, Christians, Chaldeans, Assyrians,<br />

and Kurds. Baked pieces are usually<br />

filled with Iraqi dates (the Khastawi<br />

type), plain or walnuts, and served to<br />

guests accompanied by tea.<br />

Kleicha can be traced back to ancient<br />

Mesopotamia, where the cookie<br />

was called qullupu, a name that suggests<br />

it was shaped round like the<br />

moon. The qullupu cookies were<br />

prepared by filling portions of dough<br />

made with fine wheat flour and sesame<br />

oil with raisins or dates and baking<br />

them in a mud-made oven called<br />

a tannoor. Pottery molds were discovered<br />

in the palace at Mari (in presentday<br />

Syria near the Iraqi border) dating<br />

to around 1780 BCE. Tannoors are believed<br />

to have been used for forming<br />

breads into various decorative shapes,<br />

the initial versions of kleicha.<br />

Iraqi kleicha is unlike any other<br />

baked cookie you’ll find in the world.<br />

The date cookies are a bit like Fig Newtons<br />

but with a wonderfully aromatic<br />

cardamom undertone; they’re much<br />

prettier, too! They are typically made<br />

with a combination of flour, sugar, butter,<br />

and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon,<br />

and nutmeg. The dough is rolled<br />

out, filled with fillings such as crushed<br />

walnuts and sugar or with coconut, and<br />

garnished with sesame seeds. They are<br />

typically filled and folded over in halfmoon,<br />

round, or rectangular shapes before<br />

being baked to perfection.<br />

Baking kleicha had a process of<br />

its own. Since the stoves in most Iraqi<br />

homes had only gas burners and no<br />

ovens, the women would place the<br />

kleicha in large trays and walk them<br />

over to the local bakery (sometimes<br />

with the help of strong brothers and fathers)<br />

to be baked. The women would<br />

sometimes balance the trays of kleicha<br />

on their heads as they made the trip.<br />

At the bakery they would either<br />

wait or come back to pick them up<br />

in 30 minutes. After the kleicha were<br />

baked, they would be brought back<br />

home to cool off. The aroma of the<br />

warm kleicha filling the house was<br />

heavenly and irresistible.<br />

In previous years, every home prepared<br />

kleicha, but for years families<br />

have been buying them ready-made<br />

from sweets and pastry shops.<br />

Another traditional iconic delight<br />

in most Christian homes in Iraq and<br />

the US is the fruitcake. It makes an appearance<br />

at Christmas and all special<br />

occasions like engagement parties,<br />

weddings, anniversaries, communion<br />

celebrations and so on.<br />

It is a good, rich, dark, and sometimes<br />

boozy Christmas fruitcake studded<br />

with a wide variety of tart and<br />

sweet dried fruit like golden raisins,<br />

dark raisins, figs, prunes, cherries,<br />

orange peel, apricots, and peaches. It<br />

is enriched with almonds and walnuts<br />

and soaked in brandy/sherry/<br />

vermouth/gin for a wonderful spicy<br />

holiday flavor. It is a must-have and<br />

holds a very prominent spot on a typical<br />

Christmas platter.<br />

Pacha<br />

If kleicha is the queen of Christmas delights,<br />

then pacha (stuffed tripe) is the<br />

king of the Christmas table. For Chaldeans,<br />

Christmas dinner isn’t complete<br />

without pacha. This delicious lamb<br />

dish is at the heart of a Chaldean Christmas<br />

dinner and a star at every table.<br />

Iraqis have a deep appreciation for<br />

their own cuisine. Pacha is more than<br />

just a food, it is a symbol of Iraqi culture<br />

and identity. It represents the resilience<br />

and creativity of the Iraqi people<br />

who have endured many hardships<br />

and challenges. It also reflects the diversity<br />

and richness of Iraqi cuisine,<br />

which has been influenced by various<br />

civilizations and regions. Pacha is a<br />

dish that brings people together and<br />

celebrates life.<br />

Comparing the Babylonian recipes to<br />

what we know of medieval cuisine and<br />

present-day culinary practices suggests<br />

that the stews represent an early stage of<br />

a long tradition that is still dominant in<br />

Iraqi cuisine. Boiling the meat into stew<br />

with spices and other ingredients was<br />

the basic culinary technique. Iraqi pacha<br />

is prepared in similar ways to those<br />

described in Babylonian tablets.<br />

Pacha is believed to have been invented<br />

by poor people who could not<br />

afford to waste any part of the animal.<br />

They used every bit of the sheep, including<br />

the organs, bones, and skin,<br />

cooking them for hours until they became<br />

tender and flavorful. The stomach<br />

lining and intestine would be<br />

filled with rice and diced lamb and<br />

stitched with sewing thread; sheep<br />

brain is also included. Pacha is usually<br />

cooked in broth, boiled slowly, and<br />

eaten with bread. Serving it has come<br />

to be a symbol of hospitality and generosity<br />

in Iraqi culture.<br />

The dish is incredibly hearty, perfect<br />

for cold winter months. It totally<br />

makes sense as a Christmas dish. Pacha<br />

is not easy to make at home, but<br />

you can find it in many restaurants<br />

and street stalls in Iraq. In Iraqi restaurants<br />

in the US, when customers<br />

order a pot of pacha they can supply<br />

their own pot or use the restaurant pot<br />

— provided they agree to bring it back!<br />

This special delicacy could terrify<br />

someone from any other part of the<br />

world. It may sound strange or even<br />

gross to some of you, but trust me, it is<br />

delicious and nutritious!<br />

Other Christmas and<br />

New Year Classics<br />

Kubba yachnni is an Iraqi-Mosuli dish<br />

substantial enough to be a meal on<br />

its own. It is a combination of lamb<br />

dumplings cooked in lamb stock with<br />

chickpeas and onions; lamb shanks<br />

and stuffed intestine are later added to<br />

the broth. Some call it a soup, others<br />

call it white tashreeb or stew.<br />

Iraqi recipes are always done<br />

from memory. Iraqis don’t cook with<br />

measurements; they cook with their<br />

senses. The correct tastes and textures<br />

were passed on through generations<br />

because they grew up watching their<br />

mother cook and eating her food.<br />

There is no way to describe the secrets<br />

of the mother’s recipes, and Iraqi<br />

food is just that; it is the food of your<br />

mother’s taste, and her taste is deeply<br />

rooted in Mesopotamian history.<br />

Still in the kubba family, this time<br />

we have kubba qiesi. This is another<br />

Iraqi-Mosuli recipe, usually served at<br />

New Year celebrations to begin the new<br />

season with a sweet start. It is a sweet<br />

stew that is full of dark and light dried<br />

raisins, apricots, plums, and almonds.<br />

This home delicacy is not served in<br />

any restaurant I know of; to have the<br />

real thing, you must go to the source<br />

and ask them to make it for you. It’s a<br />

certain truth that Iraqis will argue all<br />

night about the ‘correct’ way to make<br />

kubba qiesi, and the best answer always<br />

is, “How my mother makes it,”<br />

regardless of the chef. Believe me—the<br />

CHRISTMAS continued on page 20<br />

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

Christmas decor at Mar Adi Church in Karemlesh.<br />

CHRISTMAS continued from page 19<br />

dish is lovely, and the taste is kingly.<br />

Although turkeys aren’t native to<br />

Iraq, turkey (or in some cases, chicken)<br />

is served on New Year’s Eve. Contrary to<br />

how it is done is the States, Iraqi families<br />

usually buy the live bird around<br />

October to feed and fatten it before it<br />

becomes the centerpiece of the traditional<br />

New Year’s dinner. I n my memories,<br />

while in custody, the bird was kept<br />

on the roof of the house or in a cage for<br />

safe keeping and to keep it away from<br />

dogs or cats. To prevent it from flying<br />

away, it was tied with a strong rope to a<br />

pole or attached to a wall.<br />

Just before the poor Alou-Alou/<br />

Phsephes (as it was commonly called)<br />

was martyred, Cognac or Scotch was<br />

forced down the throat of the bird with<br />

the belief that it would improve taste<br />

and reduce the pain of the ultimate<br />

guillotine and beheading.<br />

Christmas Past and Present<br />

Baghdad Christmases were once magical<br />

affairs, shared by Christians and<br />

Muslims alike. The streets were lit up,<br />

the municipality sponsored fireworks,<br />

and the last week of the year, from<br />

Christmas right through New Year’s,<br />

was one long party.<br />

Christmas is no longer a big celebration<br />

in Iraq, now dominated by a Shia-<br />

Muslim government. Every year without<br />

fail, some Muslim clerics criticize<br />

parishioners for celebrating Christmas.<br />

Today in Iraq, homes decorated<br />

for Christmas are a rarity, and holiday<br />

excursions, fireworks, or feasts during<br />

Christmastime are hard to find. You can’t<br />

see the friends you used to know; they<br />

are either dead or have left the country.<br />

Nowadays, it is hard to find a natural<br />

Christmas tree in the Middle East.<br />

The Christmas wish lists of young boys<br />

reflect the country’s tragic trajectory.<br />

In the past, boys asked for train sets or<br />

a soccer ball or a toy car. Today, they<br />

ask for toy guns or a tank.<br />

It’s not utterly hopeless, however;<br />

in 2018, the Iraqi government classified<br />

December 25, Christmas Day, as a<br />

national holiday. Only four other nations<br />

out of 20 in Iraq’s vicinity — Sudan,<br />

Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon — officially<br />

recognize Christmas.<br />

And Christmas traditions practiced<br />

in Baghdad and other towns less than<br />

a century ago are like many of the traditions<br />

Chaldeans celebrate in the<br />

United States. Kleicha and pacha are<br />

more than just food. They are symbols<br />

of Iraqi Chaldean culture and identity.<br />

They represent the resilience and creativity<br />

of the Iraqi people who have endured<br />

many hardships and challenges.<br />

They also reflect the diversity and richness<br />

of Chaldean cuisine, which has<br />

been influenced by various civilizations<br />

and regions. Kleicha and pacha bring<br />

people together and celebrate life.<br />

In the West, we continue to do the<br />

same things our ancestors did. We put<br />

a Christmas tree up, make kleicha,<br />

Christmas fruitcake, and pacha; we visit<br />

grandparents and cousins, but it felt<br />

more magical when we were kids. It’s<br />

now a blend of both ways, East and West.<br />

In the United States, we adapted<br />

to the Christmas gift exchange, which<br />

we didn’t really do in Iraq. We decorate<br />

the exterior of our homes and surrounding<br />

trees with Christmas lights.<br />

Things change as we get older, however,<br />

one thing remains intact. Christmas<br />

is centered on the appreciation of<br />

one’s family, the blessings of the gifts<br />

of life along with never forgetting the<br />

reason for the holiday celebration: the<br />

birth of Christ.<br />

Sources: The NY Times, Reuters,<br />

DW Deutsche Welle, Jonathan Pinto,<br />

Taghreed Thomas, Hanna Yousif, and<br />

Wikipedia.<br />

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

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


Left: Thamir Qoda with his wares.<br />

Above: Thamir and his wife outside<br />

their shop in Alqosh.<br />

Needle and Thread<br />

Thamir Yousif Qoda preserves<br />

tradition one stitch at a time<br />


In the heart of the Nineveh Plain,<br />

nestled in the ancient town of<br />

Alqosh, a masterful craftsman<br />

weaves stories and tradition with every<br />

stitch. Meet Thamir Yousif Qoda, a man<br />

who has dedicated his life to the art of<br />

crafting traditional garments that hold<br />

the essence of Chaldean, Assyrian,<br />

Kurdish, Arab, and Yazidi cultures. His<br />

passion for preserving the rich history<br />

and culture of this region has made him<br />

a beloved figure in the community.<br />

Born in 1968, Thamir Yousif Qoda<br />

has deep roots in Alqosh, a town renowned<br />

for its cultural significance<br />

and historical heritage. With six children<br />

to his name, he is not just a devoted<br />

family man but also a tireless advocate<br />

for the traditions of his homeland.<br />

Thamir’s journey as a tailor began<br />

in his childhood when he worked<br />

alongside his father in the bustling old<br />

bazaar of Alqosh. His fascination with<br />

the town’s history and culture, and his<br />

love for preserving them, kindled a passion<br />

for sewing traditional garments.<br />

What started as a hobby turned into a<br />

lifelong commitment to craftsmanship.<br />

Garments for All Occasions<br />

Thamir Qoda is a versatile tailor,<br />

skilled in crafting a wide array of traditional<br />

garments. He seamlessly sews<br />

the intricate garments of Chaldean<br />

towns like Alqosh, Batnaya, Telskuf,<br />

Baqofa, and Telkeif, catering to men,<br />

women, and children. Beyond Chaldean<br />

attire, he creates authentic Assyrian,<br />

Kurdish, Arab, and Yazidi garments.<br />

The scope of his work extends<br />

even to doll clothes, highlighting his<br />

remarkable attention to detail.<br />

These traditional garments are<br />

not mere fabric and thread; they carry<br />

with them the heritage and stories of<br />

generations. Thamir’s garments are<br />

worn on various occasions, from weddings<br />

to the vibrant town carnivals,<br />

Palm Sundays, folklore plays, dancing<br />

troupes, school celebrations, artistic<br />

festivals, and delegations’ welcoming<br />

ceremonies. These garments serve as a<br />

bridge connecting the past to the present,<br />

and Thamir is the dedicated architect<br />

of this bridge.<br />

Connecting Communities<br />

Thamir’s clientele extends far beyond<br />

the borders of Iraq. He proudly serves<br />

customers from around the world, with<br />

reasonable prices that make these garments<br />

accessible to Chaldeans and other<br />

community members abroad. Many<br />

purchase his creations as thoughtful<br />

gifts for their loved ones, carrying a<br />

piece of their heritage with them, no<br />

matter where they are in the world.<br />

Thamir’s reputation as a traditional<br />

garments tailor spreads through<br />

word of mouth and social media. He<br />

is a cherished figure in his community<br />

and has become the go-to craftsman<br />

for anyone seeking authentic,<br />

handcrafted traditional attire in the<br />

Nineveh Plain.<br />

Global Connection<br />

The materials for Thamir’s creations<br />

are sourced from various countries,<br />

highlighting the interconnectedness<br />

of cultures. His belts, earrings, and<br />

female head turbans rely on materials<br />

imported from Syria, Turkey, and<br />

China, while his man’s Shmagh (head<br />

cover) hails from India. This intricate<br />

web of materials represents the collaborative<br />

nature of culture and craftsmanship,<br />

where borders blur and traditions<br />

blend.<br />

Thamir Yousif Qoda embraces<br />

modern technology and can work with<br />

customers remotely. By receiving a<br />

full-length photo and some essential<br />

measurements, he ensures that the<br />

garments fit perfectly. The flexibility of<br />

traditional garments allows for a relatively<br />

forgiving fitting process, making<br />

remote tailoring an accessible option<br />

for those who wish to wear these pieces<br />

of history.<br />

Committed to sharing the rich cultural<br />

heritage of the Nineveh Plain<br />

with the world, Thamer ships his work<br />

not only within Iraq but to destinations<br />

around the globe, including the<br />

United States, Europe, Canada, and<br />

Australia. His aspirations reach beyond<br />

his homeland, as he dreams of<br />

expanding his exports and promoting<br />

his products, especially in the USA.<br />

Currently, he collaborates with several<br />

shops in Sterling Heights, such as<br />

“Habeeb, your brother.”<br />

Preserving Tradition in the<br />

Face of Challenges<br />

While Thamir’s dedication to preserving<br />

tradition is unwavering, he faces<br />

several challenges. The migration of<br />

his people has resulted in fewer cultural<br />

events, diminishing the demand<br />

for traditional garments. Additionally,<br />

the high cost of materials and the<br />

time-consuming, handcrafted nature<br />

of his work present hurdles. However,<br />

Thamir’s unwavering commitment<br />

and the support of his community<br />

keep the flames of tradition burning.<br />

In the ancient town of Alqosh,<br />

Thamir’s nimble fingers and artistic vision<br />

continue to weave the intricate tapestry<br />

of history and culture. With each<br />

garment he crafts, he reminds us of the<br />

enduring power of tradition and the invaluable<br />

connections between generations<br />

and communities. As we celebrate<br />

the artistry of Thamir, we are also reminded<br />

of the importance of preserving<br />

our cultural heritage, ensuring that it<br />

endures for generations to come.<br />

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



Gift Cards available online at<br />

JaxKarWash.com/gifts or scan here!<br />

Happy Holidays from the Jax Family!<br />




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


Dr. Sabah Yacoub, Saad Murad,<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri, Weam Namou,<br />

and Roy Gessford.<br />

Beth al-Nahrain<br />

2nd Annual Writers of Mesopotamia Conference<br />


The Chaldean Community Foundation,<br />

in partnership with the<br />

Chaldean Heritage Center in<br />

West Bloomfield (Shenandoah Country<br />

Club), took the initiative to host the<br />

second annual Mesopotamian Writers<br />

Conference (Beth al-Nahrain) on Saturday,<br />

November 11 in the Wireless Vision<br />

Gymnasium located in the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation building<br />

in Sterling Heights.<br />

This gathering was attended by several<br />

participating writers and guests<br />

interested in literature, poetry, culture,<br />

and heritage. The symposium covered<br />

different topics, and participating writers<br />

made brief presentations. Roy Gessford,<br />

who has been studying the Aramaic<br />

language for years, talked about<br />

developing new writers in the Aramaic-speaking<br />

community. Saad Murad<br />

spoke about writing about the Yazidi<br />

genocide and survival. Weam Namou,<br />

executive director of the Chaldean<br />

Cultural Center, addressed the legendary<br />

women of Mesopotamia. Dr. Sabah<br />

Yaqoub spoke about certain aspects of<br />

Arabic poetry, and Dr. Adhid Youssef<br />

Miri shared the experience of writing,<br />

the importance of education, and the<br />

Chaldean identity.<br />

Roy Gessford<br />

Roy Gessford is the author of Preserving<br />

Chaldean Aramaic, an English<br />

teacher, publisher, Aramaic educator,<br />

public speaker, and founder of Let<br />

the Light Shine Through Publishing,<br />

which he founded for the purpose of<br />

sharing knowledge with others and<br />

encouraging aspiring authors to submit<br />

and print completed language<br />

manuscripts.<br />

In his presentation, Roy discussed<br />

This gathering was<br />

attended by several<br />

participating writers<br />

and guests interested<br />

in literature, poetry,<br />

culture, and heritage.<br />

in detail the practical steps and studies<br />

that he took to educate himself and<br />

enhance his strong desire to preserve<br />

the precious Aramaic language, which<br />

he considers the mother of all languages.<br />

He believes the history of humanity<br />

has been intertwined with this<br />

language since ancient times.<br />

Gessford highlighted his passion<br />

and love for languages and explained<br />

the reasons that started his personal<br />

journey to learn the Aramaic language<br />

(which according to Roy is an<br />

endangered language worth saving)<br />

through an experimental project to<br />

teach the Aramaic language in cooperation<br />

with Chaldean Father Michael<br />

Bazzi in San Diego, California.<br />

In 2013, he began publishing Bazzi’s<br />

books that deal with heritage<br />

and linguistic topics such as modern<br />

and classical Aramaic, Chaldean, the<br />

village of Tel Kaif, and the speakers<br />

of variations of Aramaic languages<br />

such as Chaldean, Syriac, Assyrian,<br />

Hebrew, Arabic, Nabataean, and other<br />

Semitic languages.<br />

Gessford concluded by summarizing<br />

his findings and made recommendations<br />

for future researchers and<br />

academics to encourage students and<br />

those interested in learning the Aramaic<br />

language to contact him directly.<br />

Saad Murad<br />

A journalist and human rights activist,<br />

Saad Murad has the passion and<br />

ambition to highlight the plight of<br />

the Yazidis in Iraq and hopes to bring<br />

change and develop awareness about<br />

the genocide of the 21st century. He<br />

currently serves as a board member of<br />

Yazda (the International Yazidi Organization)<br />

and the Yazidi Cultural Center<br />

in Lincoln, Nebraska. Previously, he<br />

held pivotal roles as Director of Media<br />

and Communications at Yazda and as<br />

Media and Administrative Director for<br />

Yazidi activist and 2018 Nobel Peace<br />

Prize laureate, Nadia Murad.<br />

Saad provided a detailed perspective<br />

not only about his work, his<br />

personal journey—a testament to his<br />

resilience, having survived the 2014<br />

genocide in Sinjar during ISIS attacks<br />

on Yazidis. He presented a comprehensive<br />

and clear historical picture of<br />

the extent of the Yazidi tragedy that<br />

resulted from ISIS campaigns and the<br />

ongoing decrees in Sinjar and Tal Afar,<br />

as well as tragedies that resulted from<br />

the massive killings in Yazidi villages<br />

and people as well as victims of captivity<br />

and what they were subjected to at<br />

the hands of ISIS members after they<br />

took control of the area in August 2014.<br />

Murad was an eyewitness and victim<br />

of that tragedy and listed evidence<br />

and pictures which included a set of<br />

compelling documents of the genocide,<br />

the mass graves of women, children,<br />

and the elderly.<br />

He stated that although government<br />

forces expelled the organization<br />

from the judiciary in November 2015,<br />

the conditions still lack security and<br />

stability because of rivalry between<br />

the armed groups in the Nineveh Plain<br />

region. This reflects negatively on the<br />

services and the faltering reconstruction<br />

campaigns, which leads to the<br />

reluctance of the displaced citizens to<br />

return to their homes.<br />

“The federal government in Baghdad<br />

is ineffective,” said Murad. “We have repeatedly<br />

asked our government to support<br />

survivors and their families without<br />

success. The displacement camps are<br />

hours away from Sinjar, and these camps<br />

represent an extension of the genocide<br />

that is tearing apart the entire fabric of<br />

Yazidi society. An entire generation of<br />

Yazidis remains without access to appropriate<br />

education, job opportunities, or<br />

basic rights such as personal privacy and<br />

freedom of belief. They need government<br />

aid and compensation.”<br />

There are about 3,000 Yazidis<br />

based in the state of Nebraska and a<br />

small group living in the city of Lansing,<br />

Michigan.<br />

Weam Namou<br />

Weam is the Executive Director of the<br />

Chaldean Cultural Center, an author<br />

of 16 books, and an award-winning<br />

film director of two feature films. The<br />

first is a documentary called The Great<br />

American Family, and the second is a<br />

feature film called Pomegranate. She<br />

is also the winner of the Eric Hoover<br />

Award and an ambassador for the Authors<br />

Guild of American Books, which<br />

is the largest and oldest book organi-<br />

CONFERENCE continued on page 26<br />

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

املؤمتر السنوي الثاين لكتّاب بالد الرافدين - بيت النهرين<br />

بقلم د عضيد يوسف مريي<br />

بادرت مؤسسة الجالية الكلدانية وباملشاركة مع املركز الرتايث الكلداين<br />

يف مدينة ويست بلومفيلد ‏)نادي شانندوا(‏ باستضافة املؤمتر السنوي<br />

الثاين لكتّاب بالد الرافدين ‏)بيت النهرين(‏ يوم السبت 11 نوفمرب<br />

<strong>2023</strong> يف قاعة األلعاب الرياضية ‏)وايرلس فيشن(‏ الواقعة يف بناية<br />

مؤسسة الجالية الكلدانية – ستريلنك هايتس.‏<br />

حرض هذا التجمع عدد من الكتاب املشاركني والضيوف املهتمني<br />

باملعرفة واألدب والشعر والرتاث،‏ وتناولت مواضيع الندوة<br />

اختصاصات مختلفة شارك يف تقدميها مجموعة من الكتاب وهم:‏<br />

روي كًيسفورد:‏ تطوير الكُتاب الجدد وسط مجتمع الناطقني<br />

باآلرامية ومن املهتمني األخرين<br />

سعد مراد:‏ الكتابة عن اإلبادة الجامعية لألزديني والبقاء<br />

وئام نعمو:‏ املرأة األسطورية يف بالد ما بني النهرين<br />

د.‏ صباح يعقوب:‏ جوانب معينة من الشعر العريب<br />

د.‏ عضيد يوسف مريي:‏ تجربة الكتابة وأهمية التعليم وتثبيت الهوية<br />

الكلدانية املستقبلية<br />

روي كًيسفورد هو مؤلف كتاب الحفاظ عىل اللغة الكلدانية<br />

اآلرامية،‏ وهو مدرس للغة اإلنكليزية ونارش،‏ ومعلم آرامي،‏ ومتحدث<br />

عام،‏ ومؤسس دار النرش ‏)دعوا الضوء ينفذ(‏ التي أسسها لغرض<br />

مشاركة املعرفة مع األخرين وتشجيع املؤلفني الطموحني عىل تقديم<br />

وطبع املخطوطات اللغوية املكتملة.‏<br />

وتناول يف محارضته القيمة وبالتفصيل الخطوات والدراسات العملية<br />

التي قام بها لتعليم نفسه ورغبته القوية يف الحفاظ عىل اللغة اآلرامية<br />

الثمينة التي يعتربها أم اللغات وإن تأريخ اإلنسانية يسري بجوار هذه<br />

اللغة منذ القِدم،‏ كام وبنيّ‏ شغفه ومحبته للغات التي بدأت برحلته<br />

الشخصية لتعلم اللغة اآلرامية،‏ وبني األسباب التي تجعل اللغة اآلرامية<br />

املهددة باالنقراض تستحق اإلنقاذ من خالل مرشوع تجريبي لتدريس<br />

اللغة اآلرامية وبالتعاون مع األب الكلداين مايكل بزي يف سان دييغو<br />

– كالفورنيا.‏ إذ يف عام 2013، بدأ بنرش كتب أالب بزي وغريها التي<br />

تعني باملواضيع الرتاثية واللغوية مثل اآلرامية الحديثة والكالسيكية،‏<br />

والكلدان،‏ وعن قرية تلكيف والناطقني مبشتقات اللغات اآلرامية<br />

األصول مثل الكلدانية والرسيانية واألشورية والعربية والعربية والنبطية<br />

وغريها من اللغات السامية.‏<br />

كام وضح كًيسفورد أن التدريس ميكن أن يكون وسيلة فعالة للحفاظ<br />

عىل اللغة وكشف عن بيانات وقياسات مختلطة تدعم بحوثه<br />

وتؤسس ألهمية تدريس اللغة اآلرامية،‏ إذ قام بتدريس ونرش اللغة<br />

اآلرامية يف العديد من املواقع واملراكز مبا يف ذلك الكنائس،‏ واملركز<br />

الثقايف الكلداين يف مدينة ويست بلومفيلد-‏ ميشيغان،‏ وجامعة<br />

دوشيشا يف كيوتو-‏ اليابان.‏<br />

وختم بتلخيص النتائج التي توصل إليها وتوصياته للباحثني<br />

واألكادمييني يف املستقبل وشجيع الطالب والراغبني املهتمني بتعلم<br />

اللغة اآلرامية باالتصال به مبارشة.‏<br />

سعد مراد هو صحفي وناشط يف مجال حقوق اإلنسان،‏ ولديه<br />

شغف كبري وطموح يف إحداث التغيري والتطوير املعريف املتعلق<br />

مبحنة إبادة األزديني يف العراق ويشغل حاليًا منصب عضو مجلس<br />

إدارة يف يزدا ‏)املنظمة اليزيدية العاملية(‏ واملركز الثقايف اليزيدي يف<br />

لينكولن،‏ نرباسكا.‏ وشغل يف السابق،‏ أدوارًا محورية كمدير اإلعالم<br />

واالتصال يف يزدا وكمدير إعالمي وإداري للناشطة اليزيدية والحائزة<br />

عىل جائزة نوبل للسالم عام 2018، نادية مراد.‏<br />

قدّم سعد منظورًا مفصالً‏ لعمله،‏ ورحلته الشخصية التي هي شهادة<br />

عىل صموده،‏ حيث نجا من اإلبادة الجامعية عام 2014 يف سنجار<br />

أثناء هجامت داعش عىل اإليزيديني.‏ واستعرض صورة تاريخية شاملة<br />

وواضحة عن حجم مأساة األزديني التي نجمت جراء حمالت االبادة<br />

والفرمانات املستمرة عىل مناطقهم يف سنجار وتلعفر وحمالت االبادة<br />

واملأساة التي نجمت عن عمليات القتل والسبي التي تعرّضت لها قرى<br />

ومدن اليزيدين عىل يد عنارص ‏»داعش«‏ بعد سيطرتهم عىل القضاء يف<br />

أغسطس ‏)أب(‏ 2014 وأعطى فكرة حقيقية كشاهد عيان وضحية عن<br />

تلك املأساة باإلضافة اىل مالحق وصور تتضمن مجموعة من الوثائق<br />

الدامغة لإلبادة واملقابر الجامعية للنساء،‏ واألطفال،‏ والشيوخ.‏<br />

وبني انه بالرغم قيام القوات الحكومية بطرد التنظيم من القضاء يف<br />

نوفمرب ‏)ترشين الثاين(‏ 2015، فإن أوضاع القضاء ما زالت تفتقر إىل<br />

األمن واالستقرار نتيجة تناحر الجامعات املسلحة هناك،‏ وكل ذلك<br />

ينعكس سلباً‏ عىل طبيعة الخدمات وتعرث حمالت اإلعامر؛ ما يؤدي<br />

إىل عزوف الكثري من املواطنني عن العودة إىل ديارهم.‏<br />

وذكر أن الحكومة االتحادية يف بغداد غري فعّالة ‏“لقد طلبنا من<br />

حكومتنا مراراً‏ وتكراراً‏ دعم الناجني وعوائلهم،‏ وإن العيش يف مخيامت<br />

النزوح عىل بعد ساعات من سنجار ليس حالًّ‏ وأن هذه املخيامت هي<br />

عبارة عن إبادة أخرى متزق نسيج املجتمع بأكمله،‏ كام وأن جيل كامل<br />

من اليزيدين بقوا دون الحصول عىل التعليم املناسب أو فرص عمل أو<br />

الحصول عىل حقوقهم األساسية مثل الخصوصية وحرية املعتقد وإن<br />

هؤالء يف حاجة إىل املساعدات والتعويضات الحكومية”.‏<br />

هناك حوايل 3000 إيزيدي يتمركزون يف والية نرباسكا ومجموعة<br />

قليلة تسكن يف مدينة آلنسنغ يف ميشيغان.‏<br />

وئام نعمو هي املديرة التنفيذية للمركز الثقايف الكلداين،‏ ومؤلفة<br />

ل 16 كتابًا ومخرجة أفالم حائزة عىل العديد من الجوائز لفيلمني<br />

روائيني،‏ أحدهام فيلم وثائقي بعنوان العائلة األمريكية العظيمة،‏<br />

والثاين فيلم روايئ طويل يسمى الرمان،‏ وكذلك حائزة عىل جائزة<br />

إيريك هوفر،‏ وهي أيضً‏ ا سفرية نقابة املؤلفني األمريكية،‏ التي تُعد<br />

أكرب وأقدم منظمة للكتاب يف الواليات املتحدة.‏ تم نرش مقاالت<br />

وأشعار السيدة نعمو يف مجالت وطنية ودولية،‏ وكمتحدثة رئيسية<br />

ألقت قراءات ومحارضات وورش عمل يف املكتبات،‏ واملدارس،‏<br />

والجامعات،‏ واملنظامت.‏<br />

استعرضت نعمو يف محارضتها تأريخ وإنجازات وابتكارات مجموعة<br />

من نساء بالد الرافدين ودورهن يف مجاالت معرفية متعددة كام يف<br />

الكتابة والفلسفة واألدب والشعر والفنون والعطورات والجعة وغريها<br />

من اإلبداعات التي غريت مجرى الحياة واملجتمع يف بالد الرافدين.‏<br />

ويف الجانب املجتمعي كان الطريق مفتوح أمام النساء السومريات يف<br />

تعلم العزف عىل اآلالت املوسيقية يف املعابد او دخول األديرة وإيقاف<br />

أنفسهن للعبادة فقط وما يليق بها من حيث األهمية املكانية.‏<br />

ومبا ان املجتمع السومري هو الذي اخرتع الكتابة عىل اللوح الطيني<br />

الذي وبأنه طيف الرافدين الخالد فكان العراق بلد أول معلم وأول<br />

من اهتم بالنشء الجديد انطالقاً‏ من مقولة ‏)العلم يف الصغر كالنقش<br />

يف الحجر(‏ وكان تعليم الكتابة يف املجتمع السومري يعني التوجه<br />

نحو التثقيف واالستفادة من الفرص املتاحة األمر الذي أكسب املرأة<br />

مكانة مرموقة يف املجتمع السومري الذي حظي باهتامم الرجل<br />

وأدى فيام بعد اىل ازدهار الحضارة السومرية من خالل الحفاظ عىل<br />

تقاليد مجتمعية موروثة عززت فيها املرأة مكانتها يف املجتمع.‏<br />

ومن النساء السومريات املتميزات جاءت بذِكر ‏)ننهرساكً‏ ) إلهة<br />

الخصوبة و)إنهدوانا(‏ الكاهنة العالية وابنة امللك رسكًون العظيم التي<br />

كانت من أوائل الكتاب يف أور واألوىل التي وقّعت وثبتت إسمها عىل<br />

األلواح الطينية،‏ وامللكة ‏)كوبابا(‏ مسؤولة الحانات والجعة،‏ و)كًوال(‏<br />

الطبيبة الخبرية وإلهة الكالب،‏ ومن سيدات القرن الثامن عرش الشاعرة<br />

الكلدانية والقصصية الرحالة ‏)ماريا ترييزا أسمر(‏ من قرية تلكيف.‏<br />

وبينت نعمو بأن ثقافة املجتمع أي مجتمع يتميز مبا تقف عليه<br />

املرأة من ارض صلبة او رخوة،‏ أي ان للثقافة دورا مبارشا يف عملية<br />

تثقيف املرأة واملجتمع.‏<br />

د.‏ صباح يعقوب هو خريج كلية الطب ببغداد وحصل عىل شهادة<br />

الدراسات العليا من اململكة املتحدة وله اهتاممات أدبية وشعرية<br />

وشغل العديد من املناصب التحريرية يف املجالت الطبية،‏ وقام عىل مر<br />

السنني بتأليف أربع مجموعات شعرية،‏ وكتب مقاالت عن مختلف<br />

جوانب الحياة وهو مازال مستمراً‏ يف الكتابة عىل مواقع التواصل<br />

االجتامعي أو يف الصحف واملجالت الصادرة يف أمريكا الشاملية.‏ وهو<br />

من بدأ بفكرة تأسيس ‏“املنتدى الثقايف الكلداين”‏ يف مدينة وندسور -<br />

كندا،‏ عام 2014 ويُرشف عىل استمرار نشاطه املنتظم حتى اليوم.‏<br />

تناول د.‏ صباح يف محارضته جوانب من تأريخ الشعر العريب والتطور<br />

اللغوي منذ عهد الجاهلية مروراٍ‏ بالعرص األموي والعبايس والحديث<br />

وتطرق اىل أنواع القصائد عرب هذه املراحل والتعريف بأنواعه<br />

كالعمودي والحديث والحر مع قراءة لنامذج من أبيات عظامء الشعراء<br />

كإمرؤ القيس واملتنبي وإيليا ايب مايض،‏ والسياب،‏ والرصايف والجواهري،‏<br />

ومحمد صالح بحر العلوم ومظفر النواب وغريهم من الشعراء ومن بني<br />

الشعراء املشاهري املسيحيني املعارصين لويس شيخو اليسوعي.‏<br />

كام وشارك الدكتور صباح إنتاجاته الشعرية وكتبه املنشورة باللغة<br />

العربية واملرتجمة للغة اإلنكًليزية منها ‏)الرباعيات الشعرية<br />

وومضات األم الحارض وجدائل مزركشة ومعرش الكلدان متى نصحوا(‏<br />

وقال إن ‏“الشعر هو فكرة وإلهام وإيقاع موسيقي جميل”.‏<br />

د.‏ عضيد مريي هو كاتب مساهم ومحرر يف مجلة أخبار الكلدان<br />

التي تصدر عن مؤسسة الجالية الكلدانية يف والية ميشيغان ويركز يف<br />

كتاباته عىل أهمية حفظ الرتاث والتعليم والثقافة والهوية الكلدانية<br />

املهجرية وتاريخ بالد ما بني النهرين/العراق.‏ الدكتور مريي هو أستاذ<br />

جامعي سابق ولد يف بغداد،‏ العراق عام 1948، ومنذ وصوله إىل<br />

الواليات املتحدة عام 1981، أصبح عضوًا نشطًا يف الجالية العراقية<br />

األمريكية وشغل منصب رئيس الجمعية الكلدانية العراقية األمريكية<br />

يف ميشيغان ‏)نادي شانندوا(‏ من عام 2003 إىل عام 2005، ويشغل<br />

حاليًا منصب مدير املشاريع يف مؤسسة الجالية الكلدانية التي هي<br />

الذراع غري الربحي لغرفة التجارة الكلدانية األمريكية يف ميشيغان.‏<br />

تكلم د مريي عن مايض وحارض ومستقبل الجالية وأهمية البناء<br />

واستمرار النجاحات وتنمية العالمة والهوية املجتمعية يف املهجر والتي<br />

تأيت مبشاركة الجميع،‏ ودور املؤسسات والجالية العراقية املهجريه يف<br />

صنع وإعالء هوية مجتمعنا بواحدة مفيدة وقوية ومبنية عىل دعائم<br />

العلم واملعرفة والركائز الخاصة بثقافتنا وهويتنا التاريخية كام كنا يف<br />

الوطن األم.‏ وركز عىل أن هذه العالمة والهوية املجتمعية املوحدة<br />

واملتجذرة يف التعليم والباسقة يف املجتمع هي ليست مملوكة الحد ما<br />

يف الجالية،‏ بل هي أمانة ومسؤولية الجميع،‏ ورشح أهمية أن يكون<br />

للجالية إسرتاتيجية لالستفادة من نقاط القوة يف مجتمعنا،‏ ورفع مكانتنا<br />

بني املؤثرين،‏ واالستفادة من الداعمني وزيادة االعرتاف املجتمعي<br />

املحيل والفدرايل.‏ كام وأكد عىل رضورة دعم وتوحيد املجتمع خلف<br />

هوية موحدة نستطيع من خاللها بيان إنجازاتنا الالمعة امام أعني<br />

املواطنني يف مجتمع الوالية والدولة ونعلنها من خالل نشاطات أبناءنا<br />

وبناتنا الذين هم سفراء مجتمعنا وجاليتنا وهم األوصياء األمناء عىل<br />

هويتنا وعالمتنا املجتمعية املستقبلية.‏<br />

متكن الضيوف خالل الندوة من إجراء مقابالت شخصية مع املحارضين<br />

ورشاء بعض الكتب واإلصدارات،‏ وكذلك طرح األراء وتقديم األسئلة<br />

واستعراض منتوجاتهم الكتابية من بينهم املحامي مرشد ‏)مارشال(‏<br />

كَرمو ‏–الذي تحدث بشأن كتبه وكتاباته،‏ ونبيل رومايا حول كتابه<br />

‏“مسرية عراقية يف املهجر األمرييك”‏ والشامس سامل جدو يف مداخالته<br />

التوضيحية وحرض املؤمتر مجموعة كبرية من املهتمني باملعرفة والثقافة<br />

والكُتاب،‏ بينهم السيد نامق ناظم رئيس اتحاد الكتاب واالدباء الكلدان<br />

والسيدة د.‏ مها الريس وجنان يوسف من قناة القيامة يف سان ديكًو.‏<br />

يرسنا ان نؤرش الشكر الجزيل والتقدير لكافة الحضور الكرام والكتاب<br />

املشاركني واملتطوعني من مؤسسة الجالية الكلدانية وسيدات املركز<br />

الرتايث الكلداين الذين ساهموا يف إنجاح هذا املؤمتر الثقايف.‏<br />

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

CONFERENCE continued from page 24<br />

zation in the United States. Namou’s<br />

articles and poetry have been published<br />

in national and international<br />

journals, and as a keynote speaker,<br />

she has given readings, lectures, and<br />

workshops in libraries, schools, and<br />

universities.<br />

In her lecture, Namou reviewed<br />

stand,” meaning that culture has a<br />

direct role in the process of educating<br />

women and society.<br />

Dr. Sabah Yacoub<br />

A graduate of the College of Medicine<br />

in Baghdad with a postgraduate degree<br />

from the United Kingdom, Dr.<br />

Sabah Yacoub has a keen interest in<br />

after Islam) such as the contemporary<br />

Chaldean Jesuit monk, pioneering<br />

writer, historian, and theologian Louis<br />

Sheikho (1859 – 1927 AD).<br />

Dr. Sabah displayed his published<br />

work in Arabic and English, including<br />

Poetry Quatrains, Flashes of the<br />

Present Pain, Bobble Braids, and Chaldeans<br />

When Do We Rouse.<br />

tutions and duty of leaders, which requires<br />

the participation of everyone in<br />

the Iraqi diaspora community.<br />

I emphasized that this unified societal<br />

brand and identity, which is<br />

rooted in education and prevalent in<br />

society, is not owned by anyone in the<br />

community, but rather is the trust and<br />

responsibility of everyone. The im-<br />

Saad Murad, Weam Namou, Roy Gessford, Dr. Sabah Yacoub, and Dr. Adhid Miri.<br />

the history, achievements, and innovations<br />

of a group of Mesopotamian<br />

women. She explored their role in<br />

multiple fields of knowledge such as<br />

writing, philosophy, literature, poetry,<br />

arts, perfumes, and beer-making,<br />

along with other innovations that<br />

changed the course of life and society<br />

in Mesopotamia.<br />

On the societal side, Namou indicated<br />

that opportunities were available<br />

for Sumerian women to learn and<br />

play musical instruments in temples,<br />

enter monasteries, and to dedicate<br />

themselves to worship.<br />

The Sumerians invented writing<br />

on the clay tablet. Mesopotamia in<br />

Iraq brought us the first letter, the first<br />

teacher, and the first to take special<br />

care with youth education, believing<br />

that “learning in childhood is like<br />

engraving in stone”. Teaching writing<br />

in Sumerian society meant moving<br />

towards education and taking<br />

advantage of opportunities. This also<br />

gave women a prominent position in<br />

Sumerian society, which gained the<br />

attention of men and later led to the<br />

prosperity of the Sumerian civilization<br />

by preserving inherited societal<br />

traditions in which women played an<br />

important role and strengthened their<br />

status in society.<br />

Namou explained that “the culture<br />

of any society is characterized by the<br />

solid or soft ground on which women<br />

poetry and literature. Over the years,<br />

he held editorial positions in medical<br />

journals, authored four poetry collections,<br />

and wrote articles on various<br />

aspects of life. He continues to write<br />

in social media, newspapers, and<br />

magazines. In 2014, he established the<br />

Chaldean Cultural Forum in Windsor,<br />

Canada.<br />

Dr. Sabah’s presentation covered<br />

the history of Arabic poetry and linguistic<br />

development from the era of<br />

pre-Islamic times through the Umayyad,<br />

Abbasid, and modern eras. He<br />

spoke about the types of poems produced<br />

during these stages, such as<br />

classic, modern, and freestyle verse.<br />

Dr. Sabah believes “poetry is an<br />

idea, an inspiration, and a beautiful<br />

musical rhythm.” He read examples of<br />

verses from great poets such as Imru’<br />

al-Qais, al-Mutanabbi, Elijah Abu Madhi,<br />

Badir Shakir al-Sayyab, Ma’arouf<br />

al-Rusafi, al-Jawahiri, Mohammad<br />

Saleh Bahr Al-Olum, and Mudhaffar<br />

al-Nawab. He also covered Christian<br />

poets throughout the ages (before and<br />


STORY<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

As a contributing writer to the Chaldean<br />

News, my writings focus on the<br />

importance of preserving heritage,<br />

education, culture, Chaldean identity,<br />

community, and the history of Mesopotamia<br />

and Iraq.<br />

A former university professor, I<br />

was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1948.<br />

Since arriving in the United States in<br />

1981, I have been an active member<br />

of the Iraqi American community and<br />

served as President of the Chaldean-<br />

Iraqi American Society of Michigan<br />

(Southfield Manor-Shanandoah Club)<br />

from 2003 to 2005. Currently, I am a<br />

Project Director at the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation, which is the nonprofit<br />

arm of the Chaldean American<br />

Chamber of Commerce in Michigan.<br />

In my presentation, I had the opportunity<br />

to speak about: the past,<br />

present, and future of the community;<br />

the importance of continuity and<br />

building on current successes; developing<br />

a brand and community identity<br />

in the diaspora; and the role of insti-<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

portance of elevating the identity of<br />

our society into one that is strong and<br />

built on the pillars of science, knowledge,<br />

and the granite foundations of<br />

our culture and historical identity, just<br />

as we were in the homeland, cannot be<br />

understated.<br />

The community must develop a<br />

strategy and integrate its efforts to<br />

benefit from the strengths of our numbers,<br />

raise our profile position among<br />

influential people, benefit from corporate<br />

support and philanthropists, and<br />

increase local and federal community<br />

recognition.<br />

During the symposium, guests<br />

were able to conduct personal interviews<br />

with the lecturers, purchase<br />

some books and publications, ask<br />

questions, and review their books.<br />

Other highlights included lawyer Murshid<br />

(Marshall) Karmo, who spoke<br />

about his published books and writings;<br />

Nabil Rumaya, who spoke about<br />

his book An Iraqi Journey in the American<br />

Diaspora; and Deacon Salem Jiddo,<br />

who added his own commentary.<br />

The conference was attended by<br />

a large group of people interested in<br />

knowledge and culture, as well as fellow<br />

writers and media personnel, including<br />

Mr. Namiq Nadhum, President<br />

of the Chaldean Writers and Writers<br />

Union, Mrs. Dr. Maha Al-Rayes/Yacoub,<br />

and Janan Youssef from the Resurrection<br />

Channel in San Diego.<br />

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

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Join our ever expanding team!<br />

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For More Information<br />

HR@chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

586-722-7253<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org/careers<br />

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


Creating the Mezza Supreme<br />

New beginnings for the New Year<br />

BY Z.Z. DAWOD<br />

Ever since he can remember, Fadi<br />

Babbie has had warm memories<br />

of his family’s New Year’s Eve<br />

traditions, celebrated in his birthplace<br />

of Baghdad, Iraq. Not surprisingly,<br />

many of his memories are related to<br />

the food that was served.<br />

His mother would set the table<br />

with sweet-flavored dishes — symbolic<br />

for wishing a “Sweet New Year.” The<br />

spread would typically include staples<br />

such as sweet kibbi hamuth, along<br />

with apricots, dates with nuts, Jordan<br />

Almonds or mesquool (sugar-coated<br />

almond candies), and other sweets.<br />

A few savory dishes were always<br />

on hand as well, ensuring that no one<br />

would go to bed hungry. Among these,<br />

Fadi is particularly fond of a roast salad,<br />

invented by his mother as a creative way<br />

to make good use of all the available ingredients<br />

in the home. Over the years,<br />

this dish was enjoyed by all and became<br />

a family favorite, assuming a central role<br />

in their New Year’s Eve spread.<br />

In Search of a Career<br />

Like so many Chaldeans, Fadi’s family<br />

had to immigrate to the United States,<br />

uprooted by the instability that took root<br />

in Iraq during the past two decades. As<br />

is the case with many immigrant families,<br />

Fadi’s parents encouraged their<br />

children to look for careers that would<br />

provide stability and financial security.<br />

While he was growing up, Fadi<br />

recalls a strong curiosity for figuring<br />

out how things worked. As a result,<br />

in the search for a steady career, he<br />

was encouraged to pursue engineering,<br />

which was practical and secure.<br />

Mechanical engineering seemed like a<br />

sensible choice since it suited his nature<br />

for exploring how things worked.<br />

After graduation, Fadi pursued work<br />

in this field and worked as a mechanical<br />

engineer for Wayne County.<br />

After a few years of working as a<br />

mechanical engineer, Fadi did not find<br />

the field to be fulfilling. Deciding to<br />

make his first career switch, Fadi joined<br />

his brother, Ed, in the IT profession.<br />

The brothers worked closely together<br />

Fadi Babbie recreates his mom’s traditional New Year’s Eve dish.<br />

for many years but, still, Fadi found<br />

himself in a technical field — spending<br />

much of his time interacting with computer<br />

systems rather than people.<br />

Following His Calling<br />

During his tenure in the IT industry, an<br />

opportunity to work in a steak house<br />

presented itself. Although this may have<br />

seemed like an ‘out of left field’ choice for<br />

a tech professional, Fadi finally felt the<br />

spark that had previously eluded him, as<br />

he helped out Thursdays through Saturdays,<br />

cooking at the restaurant and preparing<br />

dishes for people to enjoy.<br />

After spending years studying<br />

diagrams and wiring networks, Fadi<br />

finally found his calling — a chef’s<br />

calling — that allowed him to bring<br />

joy and satisfaction to people directly,<br />

on a level he could never experience<br />

in the world of IT.<br />

As Fadi discovered his new-found<br />

passion, he gradually transitioned to<br />

cooking full-time, setting on a path<br />

to becoming a chef. Soon thereafter,<br />

Fadi launched CRSP Catering Co. and<br />

quickly began to establish a reputation<br />

as an in-demand private chef.<br />

Catering for private dinners, parties,<br />

and pop-up events, Fadi enjoys his<br />

work immensely. As an added bonus,<br />

the engineering skills honed during his<br />

years in engineering and technology<br />

continue to play an integral part in Fadi’s<br />

success as a chef. To maintain consistency,<br />

he relies on his technical skills<br />

by tracking the many factors which can<br />

affect taste, such as monitoring precise<br />

cooking temperatures closely.<br />


However, technical details are<br />

only part of the process. “You eat with<br />

your eyes,” Fadi says — so presentation<br />

is just as critical as the taste. “If<br />

it doesn’t look good, you won’t want to<br />

try it, even if it’s delicious. So, I try to<br />

give a good presentation and a good<br />

visual. I do things in a particular order<br />

to achieve that,” Fadi explains.<br />

Not unlike a wedding photographer,<br />

a chef hired to create a private<br />

dinner in someone’s home — for a<br />

special celebration such as anniversary<br />

or birthday — has just one shot<br />

to get all the components ‘just so.’<br />

In such situations, there is very little<br />

room for error.<br />

A Blooming Flower for the New Year<br />

On the day I visited Fadi’s kitchen, he<br />

made the Roast Salad which, upon<br />

tasting, we immediately dubbed the<br />

Mezza Supreme. Following his mom’s<br />

example from back home, planning<br />

for this dish must begin a couple of<br />

weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve.<br />

Starting with the pickling of cucumbers<br />

to make tourshi, then cooking the<br />

meat a day or two in advance, the ingredients<br />

are prepared prior to mixing it all<br />

together on the big day. Although these<br />

are the key ingredients that Fadi has adopted<br />

for his version of the recipe, with<br />

all the components made from scratch,<br />

he made sure to point out that there is<br />

room for flexibility in this recipe.<br />

Fadi recalls that his mom would<br />

make use of any and all ingredients,<br />

whether leftovers or fresh, to make<br />

this special New Year’s Eve spread.<br />

With nothing wasted and all available<br />

ingredients put to good use, Fadi’s<br />

mom modeled gratitude for all the<br />

blessings their family enjoyed, bringing<br />

in a sweet New Year (with bellies<br />

full), together with family and friends.<br />

If you’re looking for novel way to kick<br />

off 2024, you could do much worse.<br />

Watch the full instruction video at<br />

chaldeannews.com and explore<br />

Fadi Babbie’s culinary creations at<br />

instagram.com/crsp_co/<br />

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

RECIPE<br />

The Mezza Supreme:<br />

Roast with Romaine<br />

Recipe shared by Fadi Babbie<br />

Stuffed Cucumber Tourshi<br />

Ingredients<br />

2 lbs. of cucumber (Persian) tarooza<br />

2 cups of water<br />

1 cup and 4 tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar<br />

3 tablespoons of salt<br />

6 cloves of minced garlic<br />

2 bunches of curly parsley, finely chopped<br />

4 tablespoons of curry<br />

Instructions<br />

Wash cucumbers and pick parsley leaves. Slit the cucumbers lengthwise (a butterfly cut)<br />

without separating (like a hot dog bun). Mix garlic, curry, parsley and 4 tablespoons of<br />

white vinegar to create a paste. Stuff cucumbers with the paste without separating the<br />

cucumber halves. Place stuffed cucumbers into glass jar. Dissolve salt in vinegar and water<br />

and pour it into jar. Close the jar and let sit on your counter for at least one week. Mix<br />

by shaking the jar once per day. After opening, store in a refrigerator for up to 6 months.<br />

The Roast<br />

Ingredients<br />

4 lbs. chuck roast<br />

1/2 cup of avocado oil<br />

8 to 10 cloves<br />

4 bay leaves<br />

4 oz. white or apple cider vinegar<br />

5 to 6 cardamom<br />

5 to 6 whole all spice<br />

2 sticks of cinnamon<br />

Salt and pepper to taste<br />

Instructions<br />

Cut meat into large chunks. Use avocado<br />

oil to sear the meat on all sides.<br />

Deglaze the pot with about 6 to 8 cups of boiling water. Cook for about 30 minutes and<br />

place the meat in a separate container. Strain the water to remove any impurities. Add<br />

water back to the pot, along with your meat. Add spices, herbs, and seasonings.<br />

Cook on medium low heat, covered. Cooking time will vary depending on tenderness<br />

of the meat but, on average, cooking time is about 2.5 hours. When finished cooking,<br />

turn off the heat and let the meat cool. Refrigerate overnight; this will allow the<br />

meat to soak up the juices. Prepare the meat about one to two days ahead of serving<br />

the dish. The meat can also be cooked in a crockpot.<br />

Roast Salad<br />

Ingredients<br />

2 to 3 heads of Romaine lettuce<br />

2 cups of diced pickled cucumbers (tourshi)<br />

1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise<br />

1 lemon, juiced<br />

Instructions<br />

Wash and dry the lettuce. Separate the larger leaves from the hearts and keep to the side.<br />

Cut the hearts of the lettuce but leave the larger leaves intact. Dice the pickled cucumbers<br />

(tourshi) into small pieces. Cut the roast into small bite-sized pieces. Mix all ingredients<br />

— diced lettuce hearts, meat, cucumbers, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Place the large<br />

leaves of lettuce in a circular pattern on a serving tray. Add the salad mixture onto the<br />

lettuce leaves. Serve cold and enjoy.<br />

From above: 1. Pickled cucumber (tourshi) ingredients. 2. Tourshi can be placed<br />

in a jar or a plastic container. 3. Searing the meat locks in its juices. 4. The<br />

meat is prepared in advance and refrigerated. 5. Meat and tourshi, before the<br />

lettuce chunks and dressing have been added. 6. Romaine leaves create a<br />

flower shape for a ‘blooming’ presentation. 7. The completed mezza dish.<br />

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


Post-COVID Redux<br />

Businesses ‘muscle through’ lasting pandemic changes<br />


Metro Detroit employers felt<br />

the ground shift beneath<br />

them during the height of the<br />

COVID pandemic in 2021-2022. Precautionary<br />

measures intended to limit the<br />

spread of COVID-19 had the devastating<br />

unintended effect of slowing to a<br />

trickle the revenue streams of “in-person”<br />

businesses such as restaurants,<br />

concert venues and banquet halls.<br />

Simultaneously, office-based enterprises<br />

saw the birth of a new culture<br />

and attitude toward work. Characterized<br />

by the necessity to work at<br />

home—away from other people and<br />

the danger of infection—employees<br />

became accustomed to taking their<br />

meetings over video conferencing connections<br />

such as Zoom.<br />

As we head toward the end of <strong>2023</strong>,<br />

a largely vaccinated population has returned<br />

to work, to restaurants, to concerts<br />

and ball games. But in a very different<br />

way than many expected. Work<br />

and recreational culture have changed<br />

in ways that seem enduring if not irreversible.<br />

We spoke to a wide sample of Detroit-area<br />

businesspeople in the summers<br />

of 2020 and 2021—during the<br />

height of the pandemic. This month,<br />

we checked back with some of these<br />

sources to find out how their businesses<br />

are faring post-pandemic and to assess<br />

the changes COVID left behind.<br />

“The hangover is still there,” says<br />

Jason Najor, who owns several Detroitarea<br />

businesses including several Beyond<br />

Juice restaurants, a cell-phone<br />

repair and reconditioning business<br />

and a banquet hall. He says it is difficult<br />

to lure employees back to work in<br />

the post-COVID environment.<br />

Najor attributes much of the reluctant<br />

return to work to the largesse provided<br />

by emergency COVID funding,<br />

which included generous and lengthy<br />

unemployment benefits. He says there is<br />

still a small amount of government money<br />

to be had, and that is fueling some of<br />

the worker shortage. But employment<br />

under pandemic conditions unearthed<br />

new ways of looking at work…and life.<br />

Mike Sarafa Jason Najor Ziyad Hermiz<br />

The new normal is getting a better<br />

work-life balance, said Najor. There is<br />

no returning to what was normal before<br />

the pandemic. The flexibility of<br />

working from the house a couple of<br />

days a week is “way too hard to take<br />

back.”<br />

“I think employees’ attitudes have<br />

shifted sharply with respect to worklife<br />

balance and home-work balance in<br />

terms of where they are physically,” said<br />

Mike Sarafa, who owns an equity stake<br />

in 345 Supercuts value hair salons.<br />

Sarafa operates a small office to<br />

manage his business interests, and<br />

that workplace is seeing the same<br />

cultural changes experienced in traditional<br />

offices elsewhere. Workers in office<br />

settings have become accustomed<br />

to working from home in casual attire,<br />

with no commute and the flexibility<br />

of picking their kids up from school.<br />

The slowing of the pandemic has not<br />

quelled the desire for this new, balanced<br />

way of working.<br />

Ziyad Hermiz is a litigator at Varnum<br />

LLP. He says minor legal proceedings are<br />

made easier by retaining video conferencing<br />

adopted during the pandemic,<br />

and many are still conducted remotely.<br />

But, he says, many hearings and trials<br />

are moving away from the virtual courtroom<br />

back into the actual one.<br />

Hermiz says it makes sense to<br />

avoid taking the time to drive to minor<br />

proceedings, which can waste half a<br />

day. But he prefers conducting depositions<br />

and trials live. As a litigator, he is<br />

accustomed to live exchanges.<br />

Outside of office settings, employers<br />

face different challenges. Supercuts<br />

employs a large on-premise workforce,<br />

stylists have to be at the stores<br />

to do their job. But the shift to a more<br />

balanced work-life culture has not left<br />

them behind.<br />

Supercuts stores do a huge portion<br />

of their weekly business on weekends,<br />

and another chunk during evening<br />

hours. Sarafa says that while the very<br />

tight restrictions in force during the<br />

height of COVID are largely gone, his<br />

stores have difficulty getting enough<br />

employees to staff Sundays or work<br />

past 5 p.m. during the week.<br />

In addition to being short employees—Sarafa<br />

says he could fill 200 stylist<br />

positions immediately and Najor<br />

says his Beyond Juice businesses are<br />

often run by skeleton crews—they<br />

cost more. Inflation has settled down,<br />

bringing some relief, but wages that<br />

bulged during the pandemic have remained<br />

at escalated levels.<br />

In this environment, businesses<br />

find it hard to expand. In addition to<br />

a shortage of workers, high labor costs<br />

and the lingering effects of an inflation<br />

surge, demand for some services has<br />

not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.<br />

Office-adjacent businesses such as<br />

lunch spots, convenience stores and<br />

gas stations are not used as frequently<br />

as they were when the bulk of the<br />

workforce went to the office.<br />

The pandemic ushered in another<br />

enduring change. Interpersonal communication<br />

has deteriorated.<br />

“Communication skills are almost<br />

gone. Politeness is almost gone. People<br />

have no patience,” said Najor. He<br />

said it took 100 years of development<br />

since the industrial revolution to build<br />

this economy. “It’s amazing how far<br />

that’s regressed in one or two years of<br />

shutdown.”<br />

“We’re real old school family businesses.<br />

We come from the grocery<br />

industry, where customer service is<br />

number one. We come from the hospitality<br />

industry, where customer service<br />

is number one,” said Najor.<br />

But, he said, growth in the current<br />

environment will cause the customerfocus<br />

his family brings to its businesses<br />

to fade. He says “you can’t be in two<br />

places at the same time,” and without<br />

a family member always on hand to direct<br />

training, the strong customer service<br />

ethos will become diluted.<br />

The pandemic’s worst effects on<br />

business may be receding, but a host<br />

of unexpected consequences will challenge<br />

the Detroit area’s businesses for<br />

some time.<br />

As Sarafa says: “It’s a battle, but<br />

we just try to muscle through it day in<br />

and day out.”<br />

30 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

YOUR<br />

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healthiest version of yourself and living the best<br />

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Therefore, all counseling records are kept strictly confidential.<br />

Information is not shared without client’s written consent. Exceptions<br />

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In therapy your therapist will help you to establish<br />

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<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 31

SPORTS<br />

Connor Shaya (left) and Pierce Shaya<br />

show off the Bloomfield Hills High<br />

School boys tennis team’s Division 1<br />

state championship plaque and signs<br />

announcing their own accomplishments<br />

at the state tournament.<br />

Losing Isn’t in Their DNA:<br />

Pierce and Connor Shaya<br />


They never lose. Never.<br />

The Shaya brothers — Pierce<br />

and Connor — each won a flight<br />

championship at the Division 1 boys<br />

tennis state tournament this fall in<br />

Midland to maintain their perfect record<br />

at the sport’s biggest stage.<br />

They also helped lead No. 1-ranked<br />

Bloomfield Hills High School to its second<br />

straight team state title after being<br />

the runner-up in 2021.<br />

Pierce, a junior, has been in the Division<br />

1 state tournament three times<br />

and won his flight each time. Connor, a<br />

sophomore, has played in two Division<br />

1 state tournaments and been a flight<br />

champion twice.<br />

This season, Pierce won the No. 2<br />

singles state title. He played in four<br />

matches at the state tournament and<br />

won in straight sets in all of them.<br />

Connor played No. 3 singles. He<br />

also swept four state tournament opponents<br />

in straight sets.<br />

The resumes of these four-star, nationally<br />

ranked college recruits don’t<br />

end there.<br />

The brothers have not lost a singles<br />

match in high school competition.<br />

Pierce’s current record is 47-0. He’s<br />

72-1 overall in his high school career,<br />

with his only loss coming in 2022,<br />

when he was 25-1 in doubles.<br />

He was part of the state champion<br />

No. 1 doubles team in 2022. He won the<br />

No. 3 singles state title in 2021.<br />

Connor, a sophomore, is 53-0 in<br />

high school singles matches. He won<br />

the state title at No. 4 singles last year.<br />

How have the boys racked up such<br />

gaudy statistics?<br />

A good source is their uncle Chris<br />

Shaya, director of tennis at Bloomfield<br />

Tennis & Fitness and a former twoyear<br />

captain of the University of Michigan<br />

tennis team.<br />

Chris Shaya has worked with the<br />

brothers as a private tennis instructor<br />

for several years.<br />

“We’ve worked on being aggressive<br />

without being reckless,” he said. “And<br />

they use that training. They stick to the<br />

system.”<br />

Sticking with the system is important,<br />

Chris Shaya said, because of the<br />

nature of tennis and how it is scored. A<br />

match can go south very quickly.<br />

“With each game, the scoring restarts,”<br />

Chris Shaya said. “And you’re<br />

not protected by a clock if you’re leading<br />

a match. You have to earn each<br />

match victory.”<br />

Chris Shaya said he attended the<br />


state tournament in Midland to support<br />

the Shaya brothers. And watch<br />

them win state titles.<br />

“There was no doubt in my mind,<br />

no question, that the guys would win<br />

state championships in their flights,”<br />

he said. “Their opponents needed<br />

them to not be the best versions of<br />

themselves. That didn’t happen.”<br />

Pierce Shaya, 16, credits intense<br />

training for his unblemished high<br />

school singles record.<br />

“I also play tournaments outside<br />

of high school against the nation’s<br />

top players, so I know how to get into<br />

that mode when I’m playing the high<br />

school season,” he said.<br />

His brother also credits his training<br />

for his perfect high school singles<br />

record.<br />

“I work and train very hard every<br />

day,” Connor said. “I work with my<br />

brother, my dad and my uncle.”<br />

Unlike the high-level tournaments<br />

the brothers compete in outside of<br />

school, high school tennis is both a<br />

team and individual sport. Pierce and<br />

Connor each enjoy the team aspect of<br />

it.<br />

“Tennis tends to be a very lonely<br />

sport most of the time,” Pierce said.<br />

“So, to be training and competing as a<br />

team adds some excitement to it.”<br />

Connor said, “I love to compete<br />

and cheer for my team. Everybody on<br />

our team is very close. It’s fun to compete<br />

with my friends.”<br />

However, the brothers prefer playing<br />

singles over doubles.<br />

“I trust my singles game more than<br />

anyone else,” Pierce said. “I don’t like<br />

having to depend on someone else to<br />

get the job done.”<br />

Connor said he feels he’s better at<br />

singles than doubles.<br />

“I have a lot of experience playing<br />

singles, so I know what to do in pressure<br />

situations,” he said.<br />

The boys do have interests outside<br />

of tennis.<br />

“I like to read, play golf, fish, and<br />

watch football,” Pierce said.<br />

Connor, 15, said he likes to hang<br />

out with his friends and watch other<br />

sports.<br />

The Shaya brothers’ parents are<br />

Donovan and Amy Shaya. They have<br />

an older sister Grace Shaya, 19.<br />

32 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

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248.813.0700 ◆ www.loccino.com<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 33


Yuletide Good Times<br />


Michigan winters can be brutal.<br />

Between the cold weather,<br />

dark and early nights, and<br />

ice storms, it can be easy to fall into a<br />

seasonal depression and adopt a very<br />

mundane routine. But just because it<br />

can be that way does not mean it has<br />

to be that way. There are so many avenues<br />

to enjoy winter in Michigan with<br />

your family, and you can finally have<br />

answers to the dreaded question from<br />

the kids who are home from school<br />

this Christmas break when they ask,<br />

“What are we doing today?”<br />

Cadillac Lodge<br />

First and foremost, I must mention<br />

my absolute favorite. Located in the<br />

heart of downtown Detroit and full of<br />

fun activities and events for people of<br />

all ages, you would be hard-pressed to<br />

find a more comprehensive venue to<br />

enjoy this holiday season than Cadillac<br />

Lodge.<br />

Best described as a “pop-up”<br />

venue, the Lodge is encompassed inside<br />

a large, heated tent with food,<br />

drinks, and family-friendly interactive<br />

activities that will help bring you<br />

and your loved ones closer together.<br />

At the Lodge, you can enjoy some festive<br />

holiday drinks and a bowl of Detroit<br />

style chili (among other delicious<br />

menu items) next to a roaring fire; you<br />

can even listen to live music if you’re<br />

there on a Friday or Saturday night<br />

from 6:00-9:00 p.m.<br />

Or you can attend one of the free<br />

craft workshops on Thursdays (4:00<br />

p.m. - 7:00 p.m.) and Sundays (1:00<br />

p.m. – 4:00 p.m.). There, you and your<br />

family can make some holiday fun and<br />

spend quality time together enjoying<br />

activities you normally wouldn’t get<br />

an opportunity to do.<br />

Also plan to visit the Arctic Zone –<br />

an iconic gingerbread house-inspired<br />

concession stand right next to The<br />

Rink at Campus Martius. Grab a bite<br />

and go for a family skate! Not much<br />

of a skater? No problem! There is also<br />

Monroe Street Midway – across from<br />

Campus Martius Park – where you can<br />

slide down the Arctic Slide, enjoy their<br />

Cadillac Lodge in downtown Detroit.<br />

outdoor arcade, ride the winter bumper<br />

cars, or play a round of Puck Putt.<br />

Why not take in the new interactive art<br />

there as well?<br />

These are just a few of the many,<br />

many ways to enjoy this beautiful and<br />

interactive Detroit staple that will never<br />

leave you wondering “What should<br />

we do this winter break?”<br />

Visit cadillaclodge.com for more<br />

information.<br />

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo<br />

Until very recently, I always thought of<br />

the Detroit Zoo as being something to<br />

enjoy in the summertime. Boy, was I<br />

wrong! Their annual Wild Lights event<br />

includes nearly 500 festive displays<br />

with millions of beautiful LED lights.<br />

The lighted sculptures feature a variety<br />

of buildings, trees, flowers, and<br />

even a walk-through light tunnel! It is<br />

a beautiful experience for the whole<br />

family and is the perfect way to take in<br />

the Christmas season. Food and lights<br />

and animals – oh, my!<br />

Local Weekend Trip<br />

A great way to create memories that<br />

will last a lifetime is to enjoy activities<br />

as a family. Why not take a drive<br />

up to Boyne Mountain (or anywhere of<br />

your choosing) and embrace the winter<br />

season skiing and/or snowboarding?<br />

Don’t know how? Learn together<br />

as a family. This will create an even<br />

richer bonding experience as you all<br />

try something new together.<br />

If you aren’t interested in such an<br />

“active” an outdoor activity, you can<br />

drive up to Frankenmuth – known far<br />

and wide for its Christmas experience<br />

– and enjoy everything the majestic little<br />

German town has to offer. Your kids<br />

can also enjoy an indoor water park at<br />

the local inn. This was a personal favorite<br />

for me, and a yearly tradition I<br />

have always cherished!<br />

Canterbury Village<br />

Last, but certainly not least, is Canterbury<br />

Village. I first visited this amazing<br />

place last January for a Harry Potter<br />

event and let me tell you – I fell headover-heels<br />

in love with it! There are<br />

events and activities there year-round<br />

to satisfy kids (and adults) of all ages.<br />

This December, here are just a few<br />

of the activities and events taking place:<br />

Shopopoly, Breakfast with Santa and<br />

The Grinch, Grinch Weekends, Dinosaur<br />

Wonderland, Wonderland Walkthrough,<br />

Elf Weekend, and Cookie Crawl. You can<br />

stop at any one of those words and be<br />

happy. While you are down there, don’t<br />

forget to take a family photo in front of<br />

the majestic 45 Foot Dancing Tree! Better<br />

yet, take some videos too with the kids<br />

dancing with the tree!<br />

Conclusion<br />

I am constantly hearing people say<br />

“there is nothing to do in Michigan!”<br />

– especially in the wintertime. Quite<br />

frankly, nothing can be further from<br />

the truth. There is PLENTY to do here.<br />

Unfortunately, though, most just are<br />

not aware of all of the beautiful ways<br />

to spend time with loved ones locally.<br />

And the Christmas Season is the PER-<br />

FECT time to create memories with the<br />

family. When the kids grow up and<br />

start their lives, you will wish you had<br />

enjoyed more time together when they<br />

were younger. Now is the best time to<br />

make those memories! Merry Christmas<br />

to all of our readers! Tell us some<br />

of your favorite ways you like to celebrate<br />

this season!<br />

34 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

There are enough things<br />

out there going viral.<br />

Get your COVID-19<br />

and flu vaccines.<br />

Help keep your immune system<br />

from going viral. Talk to your<br />

health care provider.<br />

Michigan.gov/COVIDFluRSV<br />

Brush up for heart health! Studies found gum<br />

disease and heart disease to have similar<br />

underlying conditions. This includes age, genetics,<br />

stress, medication, poor nutrition, and obesity.<br />

Another factor is the buildup of dental plaque.<br />

Great oral health can mean better overall health.<br />


Delta Dental of Michigan<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 35


CATEGORY: AGE 14-18<br />

The Death and Revival of Sureth<br />


My great-grandfather read, wrote, spoke, and understood.<br />

My grandmother speaks and understands.<br />

My mother understands.<br />

I can neither speak nor understand.<br />

Those who forget their past have no<br />

future, we are rightfully told. Surely<br />

then, those who forget their mother<br />

tongue are befallen by an even more tragic<br />

fate. Language is the shared collective basis<br />

for the long-standing culture and traditions<br />

of a people, that which weaves it together.<br />

As a stateless and fragmented nation, our<br />

language is especially integral to our identity,<br />

as one of the last remaining links we<br />

share. Or rather, that which we are supposed<br />

to share. Sureth is presently on the path of<br />

endangerment, which if left unchecked, will<br />

lead to its eventual extinction. The exponential<br />

growth of the diaspora and the ever-present<br />

threat of cultural assimilation, both forced and otherwise,<br />

have slowly but surely eroded its usage. Although<br />

this is not an entirely modern phenomenon,<br />

as Arabization campaigns and urbanization sped up<br />

the process, it has accelerated to potentially irreversible<br />

levels.<br />

It begins slowly, with children stumbling over broken<br />

sentences at home, if they are fortunate enough<br />

to learn the language at all. As these children age and<br />

go through life’s milestones, their own children are<br />

no longer primarily taught Sureth at home, and their<br />

only exposure comes from older generations and religious<br />

use. Only grandparents still retain quotidian<br />

use of the language, and as these adults reach their<br />

elderly years, all that remains is minimal communication<br />

ability.<br />

As the slow passage of time marches on, those<br />

who were once children with a command of the language<br />

(albeit limited) pass away, and the language<br />

has been lost forever to that family tree. This process<br />

is a familiar story for many members of the<br />

Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people, whether our<br />

mother tongue was replaced with Arabic or English,<br />

in the diaspora or our homeland, externally or internally.<br />

Neglecting to pass down Sureth to one’s<br />

children leads to more than just an end to it in their<br />

own family, but the beginning of the breakdown of<br />

our broader community bonds.<br />

Matters are further complicated by a few key issues:<br />

a literacy crisis, a lack of media, and a variance<br />

of dialects. Written transmission of Sureth is exceedingly<br />

rare outside of religious contexts. The vast majority<br />

of the community who do, at a minimum, speak<br />

YARA<br />


AGE 18<br />

Sureth are not able to read or write it, barring clergy.<br />

Simply knowing how to speak and understand a<br />

language is not enough to preserve it for generations.<br />

Beyond the basic ‘alap-bet,’ functional illiteracy in<br />

Sureth is the norm. Part of the reason for this is a lack<br />

of media, whether it be novels, TV shows,<br />

social content, and so on. Consequently,<br />

immersion in the language becomes extremely<br />

difficult. The media we consume<br />

daily is in a second language and we grow<br />

accustomed to absorbing information<br />

through that lens. There is no entertainment<br />

or literature (and if so, far and few<br />

between and highly inaccessible) that one<br />

can use to retain and improve their fluency.<br />

In addition, the variety of dialects spoken<br />

(whether under the broad groupings<br />

of Eastern vs. Western Aramaic or specific<br />

villages) makes it difficult to agree on a<br />

so-called standardized version of the language. Our<br />

broad array of dialects showcases our diversity as a<br />

nation, but can also lead to our demise. Certain particularly<br />

rare ones are already entirely extinct, exacerbated<br />

by the impact of Seyfo. The Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac<br />

community is undergoing a steady decline<br />

in linguistic fluency in its mother tongue, but through<br />

the perseverance that has carried us throughout the<br />

millennia, it can be reversed.<br />

As a stateless people, and therefore one without<br />

a conventional country and leaders, our churches assume<br />

this duty. While the Church is first and foremost<br />

an institution established by God for the salvation of<br />

souls, the church (small-c) also plays an integral role<br />

in our community.<br />

Our faith has sustained us through hundreds of<br />

years of unfathomable persecution since our initial<br />

conversion in the 1st century. From baptisms to funerals,<br />

liturgies to chants, monasteries to cathedrals,<br />

it is our lifeblood. We, as a people, would not exist<br />

without the Church, and neither would our language.<br />

The Church’s role in the preservation of our religious<br />

texts and the prevalence of our liturgical language<br />

cannot be overstated.<br />

Flowing from this, our local churches, as community<br />

hubs, also have a role in preserving Sureth as a<br />

day-to-day language. Our parishes are effectively our<br />

cultural centers, and the implementation of language<br />

classes of varying levels and for all ages is a necessity.<br />

Starting young is optimal, but everyone from<br />

elementary school to the nursing home should have<br />

the opportunity to gain fluency and literacy in their<br />

mother tongue. Running such programs in local parishes<br />

ensures accessibility to those who wish to learn<br />

Sureth. It is not a language one can start learning on<br />

an app or pick up a guidebook on from the library.<br />

Therefore, the creation of widespread, high-quality,<br />

and accessible resources for learning would be a<br />

tremendous help. Textbooks, apps, podcasts, and the<br />

like would make the daunting task of learning an endangered<br />

language more approachable, thereby encouraging<br />

it. In truth, top-down change only means<br />

so much if it is not taken to heart by those whom it is<br />

supposed to affect. Even the best resources amount<br />

to nothing if they are not used.<br />

All members of the community should be encouraged<br />

to create in our language. Create music, create<br />

poetry, create videos, create anything. In this way,<br />

content in Sureth grows and becomes more relevant<br />

and commonplace.<br />

On a micro-level, adults and the elderly should<br />

attempt to only communicate in Sureth with children.<br />

Families should endeavor to keep their second<br />

language outside of the home. The family is the most<br />

basic unit of civilization, and if our society wishes<br />

to survive, then dedication on the individual level is<br />

what it will take. One Sureth-speaking person who<br />

successfully passes it on to their children can create<br />

a ripple effect that leads to the proliferation of our<br />

mother tongue for generations to come.<br />

The Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people, both<br />

those who can speak Sureth and those who do not,<br />

can sadly become ignorant of just how precious the<br />

language is. Blessed with the grace of an early national<br />

conversion, we have been practicing Christianity<br />

for nearly two thousand years in the language<br />

used by Our Lord on Earth.<br />

The Words of Consecration in the liturgy are not<br />

only echoes of the Last Supper, but presumably the<br />

exact words spoken by Our Lord Jesus Christ. A lingua<br />

franca for centuries is a predecessor to the rich<br />

melodies that our priests chant at Mass and the<br />

hushed tones with which our mothers soothe their<br />

babies. The prayers uttered around the dinner table<br />

and the jokes whispered between siblings have origins<br />

in the language of kings and warriors. Once written<br />

on stone tablets in the Near East, now its use has<br />

almost entirely ceased.<br />

I pray for a revival; to hear small children speak to<br />

each other in the language of their ancestors on the<br />

playground. Dreaming bigger, a vast array of novels<br />

fragile from use, masterfully bound. Shooting for the<br />

moon and the stars, the dialogue of a film the same<br />

speech as grandmothers on the phone. For a renaissance<br />

of language and rebirth of culture, entirely<br />

homegrown. That Sureth, a hallmark of our rich heritage,<br />

millennia of faith, and hard-fought struggles,<br />

will not find itself beneath a tombstone.<br />

I hope to one day speak and understand.<br />

I hope my children will read, write, speak, and<br />

understand.<br />

I hope future generations will faithfully preserve<br />

our mother tongue in the hopes of one day seeing our<br />

homeland.<br />

36 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

$500<br />

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$250<br />

$500<br />

$125<br />

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State Finalists who advance<br />

to the national competition<br />

will compete for prizes worth<br />

more than $50,000.<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

3601 15 Mile Rd<br />

Sterling Heights, MI 48310<br />

info@chaldeanfoundationg.org<br />

EST<br />

The National Civics Bee is presented by the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation and the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce with<br />

support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 37



Finding Beauty in a Broken World<br />


Life is full of many big and small moments.<br />

In this lifetime, we may experience<br />

many victories that leave<br />

us feeling accomplished, as well as plenty<br />

of defeats that can leave us feeling lost. As<br />

humans, we can feel alone during these<br />

moments in our lives, but we need to know<br />

and understand that these things never go<br />

unnoticed.<br />

The graces that God has bestowed upon<br />

us have guided me into the choices and decisions<br />

that I make today. In a world filled<br />

with hatred, destruction, and evil, many<br />

souls remain lost, never finding true fulfillment,<br />

and living solely for the material world. However,<br />

within the struggle and hopelessness, God’s<br />

love and mercy shine.<br />

God’s unconditional love defeats evil and brings<br />

peace, hope, redemption, and sanctification. God<br />

knows our deepest struggles, which is why He has<br />

equipped us with the necessary tools to fight in the<br />

spiritual warfare of our lives.<br />

I am incredibly blessed to have been born and<br />

raised in the Chaldean Church. The Church has<br />

been the foundation that has upheld my life. Once<br />

I learned the roots of the Catholic faith, it became<br />

clear to me that the Catholic Church is the One True<br />

Church. The knowledge I have learned regarding<br />

church history and theology has revealed the healing<br />

and love that I have received from Christ. Which,<br />

therefore, has made it impossible for my heart to<br />

ever want to leave the Catholic faith.<br />

The same God that healed the paralyzed man,<br />

that raised Lazarus from the dead, and that was<br />

resurrected from the grave, lives in me today. My<br />

most joyous moments have been spent leading<br />

youth groups, teaching catechism, singing in the<br />



AGE 22<br />

choir, and serving wherever the Lord has<br />

called me to. My most difficult moments<br />

have been spent in adoration, in the<br />

Mass, and on my knees in prayer.<br />

In this inconsistent world, God has<br />

been the only constant. The Lord’s will<br />

never felt forced upon me; they were divine<br />

callings that kindled a deep desire in my<br />

heart to serve God in any capacity that He<br />

provided. The personal relationship I have<br />

with Jesus has changed every aspect of my<br />

life, and every day, God has graciously provided<br />

me with confirmations of His love, so<br />

that I can live my life as a testimony to Him.<br />

While I did grow up in the Church, many times in<br />

my life I did not always place my identity in Jesus. As<br />

I grew older and began to understand our faith more<br />

deeply and intensely, it only made sense to turn<br />

to Jesus in everything that I do. Once I placed my<br />

identity in Christ, I recognized that all these earthly<br />

things come and go. Things such as the perfect job,<br />

the perfect grades, the perfect house, the perfect<br />

friends, are all temporary and will never satisfy the<br />

deepest desire of my heart. Everything in this world<br />

will pass away, but God will not pass away (Matthew<br />

24:35). The Chaldean Catholic Church has taught me<br />

to place everything about myself and everything in<br />

my life at the foot of the cross.<br />

The Church as an institution is vastly different<br />

from what my parents, and especially grandparents,<br />

describe. They describe church as somewhere you<br />

go on Sundays for Mass, Saturdays for Catechism/<br />

Communion, and when you need the priest’s assistance<br />

for his sacramental duties.<br />

Today, our churches are busy and thriving. At<br />

each church on any given day, there are adult bible<br />

studies (in both English and Arabic), youth groups<br />

for both middle and high school students, men’s<br />

and women’s groups and conferences, summer and<br />

winter camps, catechism and communion, special<br />

events held by different groups, charity organizations,<br />

prayer groups, and retreats.<br />

My parents and grandparents have also described<br />

that there was not always an emphasis on<br />

the importance of partaking in the sacraments, especially<br />

confession. Today, confession is widely encouraged<br />

and talked about with all age groups.<br />

While our Chaldean Church has been doing an<br />

amazing job at making improvements within the<br />

institution, we still have a lot of work to do. For<br />

one, I believe that Chaldean programs need to address<br />

the mental health stigma effectively. While I<br />

see major strides to make that happen, I have noticed<br />

that many Chaldeans still do not understand<br />

mental health. Conversations about mental health<br />

should be more prominent within homilies and different<br />

groups. Placing a greater emphasis on the<br />

topic of mental health and providing resources for<br />

the individuals struggling, can also help reduce<br />

the amount of drug abuse, self-harm, suicide, and<br />

eating disorders within our community.<br />

I think important things that need to be addressed<br />

when it comes to mental health are how<br />

children can speak to their parents about it, early<br />

signs to watch out for in oneself, red flags to look<br />

for in family and friends, medication, therapy, and<br />

hospitalization.<br />

What I see as the role of the church in 2050 is<br />

to be unapologetically Catholic and help evangelize<br />

to more people. Now that many families have been<br />

here for generations and have established roots, we<br />

can begin to reach out to more people who are not<br />

Catholic within our communities.<br />

I believe that if the Church properly prepares its<br />

parishioners, we can help all people of all different<br />

religions and nationalities. I pray that people will<br />

see Jesus shine through our people, even with the<br />

simplest interaction. What the world needs more of<br />

is radical Catholics who will speak the truth with<br />

love and conviction, and not back down from the<br />

good fight.<br />


“The older generation<br />

must encourage the<br />

younger generation to do<br />

what they love…we will see<br />

an abundance of Chaldean<br />

artists, journalists and musicians,<br />

because passion<br />

is what will help keep our<br />

values of hard work alive.”<br />

– Christine Sharrak<br />

“The true heart and backbone<br />

of our community<br />

is our women…Although<br />

I will never know the<br />

struggle they knew, I feel<br />

so privileged to have been<br />

raised in the presence of<br />

their determination.”<br />

– Jenna Elise-Hussam Abroo<br />

“My people have been<br />

starving for representation.<br />

When I stare into<br />

the pages of a book or the<br />

bright TV screen, I don’t<br />

see my reflection staring<br />

back at me…Where are our<br />

stories?”<br />

– Sophia Snell<br />

“We are lucky to have such<br />

a defined culture…It feels<br />

like yesterday when my<br />

grandma babysat me, and<br />

we would go on walks to a<br />

nearby park to pick grape<br />

leaves for Sunday dinner.”<br />

– Grant Foumia<br />

38 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>



JANUARY 9, 2024 – MARCH 21, 2024<br />

Tuesdays and Thursdays<br />


9:30 am – 11:30<br />

am<br />

OR<br />


5:00 pm – 7:00 pm<br />

REGISTRATION WILL BEGIN ON SEPTEMBER 25, <strong>2023</strong><br />

To register please call CCF at 586-722-7253<br />

$40 registration fee<br />


<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> NEWS 39



The Future of the Chaldean Community<br />


The future of the Chaldean community<br />

is something that I tend to contemplate<br />

quite often. I wonder how our<br />

cultural norms and language will evolve. I<br />

fear that while our faith persists, our culture<br />

and language are fading.<br />

When Chaldeans first immigrated to<br />

America, they arrived full of hope for a better<br />

life for themselves and their families.<br />

The journey to the United States is a story of<br />

strength, community, and cultural preservation.<br />

Michigan specifically has become a center<br />

for Chaldean immigrants, providing them<br />

with a sense of community and opportunity.<br />

Detroit had a flourishing automotive industry,<br />

which offered employment opportunities for immigrants.<br />

These individuals also found ways to support<br />

their families by opening their own businesses. The<br />

most common of these ventures were grocery stores<br />

and gas stations. Through these entrepreneurial endeavors<br />

and the establishment of our churches, immigrants<br />

have made a home for their families while<br />

creating an exciting, tight-knit community.<br />

Michigan has one of the largest and most well-established<br />

Iraqi-Christian communities in the United States,<br />

with over 187,000 Chaldeans as of September <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Over the years, as Chaldeans settled from Iraq,<br />

they faced the inevitable, acclimating to American<br />

customs while losing sight of their own. This acclimation<br />

has led to following generations of Chaldean<br />

Americans growing up without strong connections to<br />

their roots. Being American-born has led me, along<br />

with other individuals in my age group, to be naive<br />

to the customs that our families grew up with. We<br />

live completely different lives than we would have in<br />

Iraq. Being accustomed to these American customs<br />

has muted the richness of our own culture.<br />

The Chaldean journey to America was driven by<br />

40 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

HAYLEY<br />

GAPPY<br />

AGE 22<br />

hope and a dream for a better life, but little<br />

did they know that coming here would result<br />

in the culture slowly fading.<br />

Young individuals often lose their language<br />

connections as English becomes<br />

their primary means of communication. A<br />

majority of Chaldeans chose to learn and<br />

speak English at home after relocating to<br />

America, as it helped them communicate<br />

with others and adapt to their new lives.<br />

Teachers have also been known to advise<br />

parents that exposing their children solely<br />

to Arabic or Chaldean, commonly known<br />

as Aramaic or Sureth, could potentially<br />

hinder their academic prospects.<br />

My mom and her siblings experienced this firsthand<br />

when they began elementary school. My aunt was held<br />

back in kindergarten because she had only been exposed<br />

to Sureth at home and knew little to no English.<br />

This led my grandparents to be informed by school staff<br />

that if they didn’t speak to her in English, it could hinder<br />

her progress. To this day, my grandfather refrains<br />

from speaking Sureth to my mom and her siblings.<br />

As a result of this, my parents never spoke Chaldean<br />

or Arabic in our home because we were raised<br />

speaking English. It saddens me that I can’t speak or<br />

understand our native languages. As I’ve grown up,<br />

my desire to learn the language has increased because<br />

I want to be able to authentically communicate<br />

with family members and connect with my heritage.<br />

If I were to predict what our culture would look<br />

like in 2050, just 27 years away, the Chaldean American<br />

community faces a crossroads. If we think back<br />

to 27 years ago, the Chaldeans were more traditional<br />

than we are today. If patterns continue, I feel as<br />

though the culture and language will slowly fade until<br />

all that is known is something of the past.<br />

Today’s choices will dictate whether the vibrant<br />


“As much as I love my<br />

life, I want to live in the<br />

stories that my grandparents<br />

tell me.”<br />

– Annemary Boless<br />

“I never realized how<br />

many sacrifices my parents<br />

had to make for me.”<br />

– Tania Tobia<br />

“When you see the<br />

world in black and<br />

white, you are willingly<br />

neglecting its color.”<br />

– Meriam Youkhana<br />

“Because our community<br />

is such a small one, it is<br />

important that when we<br />

achieve something, it is<br />

celebrated.”<br />

– Giselle Sesi<br />

“God has gone from being<br />

a central motivating<br />

factor in our lives to an<br />

afterthought…We have<br />

given up our crucifixes in<br />

exchange for chains with<br />

crosses on them.”<br />

– David Meza<br />

Chaldean culture endures or diminishes. Preserving<br />

language, traditions, and identity becomes a collective<br />

responsibility, especially for those who grew up<br />

in the United States, to pass on this legacy to the next<br />

generations.<br />

Technology offers a potential solution to preserving<br />

our Chaldean culture. In an increasingly digital world,<br />

we can use the different facets of the internet for documenting<br />

and sharing our Chaldean language, traditions,<br />

and stories with future generations. It is a way to<br />

ensure that our unique and beautiful culture survives.<br />

We can preserve and share our customs and language<br />

via digital platforms to ensure that these valuable<br />

parts of our identity remain intact for future<br />

generations. The use of social media, websites, and<br />

digital archives can aid in safeguarding and sharing<br />

documents, images, and stories from our history that<br />

can be readily available for future generations to use<br />

to learn about our past.<br />

In addition to connecting us Chaldeans worldwide,<br />

this digital heritage serves as an anchor for<br />

coming generations to bring to light our cultural history.<br />

It will allow them to appreciate the beauty of our<br />

unique customs. Technology bridges the gaps in our<br />

culture as the world is constantly evolving.<br />

When I began working at the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation, I thought I had a complete understanding<br />

of everything about our culture. This assumption<br />

couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I<br />

was surprisingly ignorant about our cultural history.<br />

It’s a reminder that we can’t know everything, and<br />

that’s what makes life beautiful. Every day, I continue<br />

to learn and grow.<br />

As a Chaldean American, my mission is to impart<br />

our culture and language to my children and future<br />

generations to secure the enduring relevance of the<br />

Chaldean identity. I want them to grasp the distinctiveness<br />

of our traditions, such as our food, language,<br />

strong family bonds, and the significance of our faith<br />

in our lives. Preserving our language and principles<br />

is vital to prevent this cultural loss.<br />

It is a challenge the community must face headon,<br />

with unity and determination, to ensure the<br />

Chaldean culture remains vibrant for generations to<br />

come.<br />

“Many families’ American<br />

Dream was to heal and allow<br />

their children to grow<br />

in the land of the free and<br />

the brave without the fear.”<br />

– Yousif Salim


CAREER<br />




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

WHAT WE DO<br />

The Career Services Department at the Chaldean Community Foundation offers one-on-one assistance to help<br />

clients identify goals and develop careers.<br />










3601 15 MILE RD<br />


<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 41


From Mesopotamia<br />

to the Motor City<br />

Early Chaldean settlers successfully navigated the change<br />

from agrarian villages to an industrial city lifestyle<br />


Few members of the Chaldean<br />

community in Detroit still survive<br />

and remember what the village<br />

was like in the early 1900s, when<br />

our pioneers made the brave and challenging<br />

journey to America. What<br />

drove them to accomplish such a feat?<br />

To understand the enormity of<br />

such a journey, it’s necessary to recall<br />

the reality of village life and its simplicity.<br />

The vast majority of Chaldeans<br />

in the Middle East lived in small villages<br />

or towns with populations of a<br />

few thousand people. A small number<br />

of venturing families in the Nineveh<br />

Plain region moved to large, urban<br />

areas like Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad<br />

for economic opportunity, education,<br />

or a professional career.<br />

Chaldeans in the village tended to<br />

be farmers out of necessity and tradition.<br />

They grew crops like wheat,<br />

lentils, chickpeas, melons, fruits,<br />

and barley. Modern misconceptions<br />

characterize Iraq as a barren and dry<br />

desert, but the area where Chaldeans<br />

lived was green and fertile.<br />

As villagers who farmed for a living,<br />

there was not much wealth or opportunity<br />

to create it in the Chaldean community.<br />

In addition, villages were mostly<br />

unprotected, and had gone through<br />

hundreds of years of invasions, persecution,<br />

and repression. Despite these<br />

obstacles, the village provided the one<br />

thing that money couldn’t buy: closeness<br />

of family and community.<br />

In the late 1800s, word of economic<br />

opportunities in America began to<br />

reach the ears of young and enterprising<br />

Chaldean villagers. These pioneering<br />

men grew tired of the constant persecution<br />

they and their families had to<br />

deal with as well as a lack of opportunity<br />

to exceed. While Iraqi cities offered<br />


STORY<br />

higher education and professional careers,<br />

it was nothing compared to the<br />

stories coming from recent immigrants<br />

to the United States. Chaldeans heard<br />

tales of great wealth and a different life<br />

from Lebanese and Syrian immigrants<br />

who made the journey before them.<br />

During the period between the turn<br />

of the century and 1920, drastic changes<br />

took the world by storm. Industrialization<br />

finally reached its tipping<br />

point and began to create vast wealth<br />

for the masses. In addition, war and<br />

genocide plagued the Middle East –<br />

namely the Seyfo, in which hundreds<br />

of thousands of Assyrian, Syriac, and<br />

Chaldean people were slaughtered,<br />

impacting the hearts and minds of many<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

Chaldean people in the Nineveh Plains.<br />

In the Seyfo, Telkaif often served<br />

as a safe haven for Christians who fled<br />

Kurdish and Ottoman violence. Villagers<br />

who were already there heard<br />

stories of ungodly torture and killings.<br />

Importantly, this was not the first time,<br />

nor the last, that a genocide like this<br />

would plague Middle Eastern Christians,<br />

and Chaldeans had the foresight<br />

to predict such occurrences. This further<br />

motivated them to move to new<br />

lands and start new lives. First, they<br />

had to overcome the pressures of family<br />

and community, which certainly<br />

weighed on their hearts when they<br />

first made the journey.<br />

In addition, the industrial age had<br />

finally reached America, and even the<br />

most menial labor was offered fairly<br />

high wages. Famously, Henry Ford<br />

advertised a $5-per-day wage to build<br />

cars in Detroit, which intrigued many<br />

Chaldeans. A few made their final<br />

preparations, said their goodbyes, and<br />

went on their way.<br />

The first Chaldean who immigrated<br />

42 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

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to America from Iraq was likely Zia Attala.<br />

After arriving at Ellis Island, Attala<br />

went to Philadelphia to work in<br />

a hotel with dreams of opening one<br />

himself. Eventually, he saved enough<br />

money, and went back to his home<br />

country to start his own hotel.<br />

In the early 1900s, travel was much<br />

more difficult than it is today. The<br />

earliest Chaldeans would have to trek<br />

through the Middle East, through Marseille,<br />

France, and take a ship through<br />

the Strait of Gibraltar. Eventually,<br />

some made it to Ellis Island and traveled<br />

to Detroit for opportunity. Others<br />

would continue the journey by boat to<br />

Mexico to meet up with Lebanese and<br />

Syrian immigrants.<br />

Because of the language barrier,<br />

when Chaldeans originally moved to<br />

the United States, it was difficult to<br />

secure the jobs they wanted as store<br />

clerks, traders, or a worker on Ford’s<br />

factory line. As a result, most of the<br />

early Chaldeans were subjected to<br />

substandard and menial labor as<br />

well as living conditions that were<br />

both worse than what they experienced<br />

in their homeland. If anything,<br />

however, Chaldeans are adaptive<br />

and resilient people who stuck<br />

out the hardship to witness the light<br />

at the end of the tunnel.<br />

Over time, Chaldeans began to<br />

learn the language and see the potential<br />

of life in America. They also<br />

frequently sent money and written<br />

messages back to their families in Iraq<br />

telling of the life they encountered after<br />

crossing half the world.<br />

The first Chaldean from Telkaif<br />

entered Detroit through Windsor, Canada.<br />

Yousif Shamam would quickly<br />

learn English and begin his career as a<br />

salesman. When he had saved enough<br />

money, Shamam called for his brothers<br />

to join him and he helped establish<br />

a business and work for each of them.<br />

This foundational act of selflessness<br />

and support would serve as the driving<br />

force of the community’s constant<br />

renewal-by-immigration. By 1913,<br />

several Chaldeans made their way to<br />

Detroit and established a small community<br />

there.<br />

In 1915, according to research by<br />

Paul Manni, The Sunday Chronicle<br />

published an article about John Joseph<br />

with the headline “Chaldean in Ford<br />

Employ: Man Who Was Born in Region<br />

of ‘Garden of Eden’ Now a Mechanic.”<br />

The article went on to tell the story<br />

of Joseph, who lived back in the old<br />

country in a “one-room hut. The walls<br />

were made of clay, mixed with straw,<br />

and the roof consisted of a network of<br />

branches and marsh-cane, together<br />

with clay. The single room, although<br />

small, was still large enough to house<br />

himself, wife and two children, on one<br />

side, while the other served as a stall<br />

for the family goat.”<br />

Stories like this are much more<br />

common than they were reported.<br />

Soon, Chaldeans would adjust to the<br />

new life and begin to prosper. They<br />

would leave their menial labor jobs<br />

and venture into the store business,<br />

for which they would become known<br />

across the Detroit area.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 43


Who Are the Chaldeans?<br />

From ancient lands to modern times, a small<br />

community continues to leave its mark<br />


From left: Mar Addai of Edessa; Through store ownership, Chaldeans established a significant presence in the city of Detroit.<br />

Detroit is home to a unique Middle<br />

Eastern community who<br />

call themselves Chaldeans.<br />

This article attempts to illuminate the<br />

Chaldean heritage and religion, tracing<br />

its journey from the grand civilizations<br />

of ancient Mesopotamia to the culturally<br />

rich villages of Northern Iraq. We<br />

will explore the profound legacy of the<br />

Chaldeans and examine the integral<br />

role of the Church of the East in sculpting<br />

their identity across millennia.<br />

Historical Roots of the Chaldeans<br />

The Chaldean story begins in the fertile<br />

crescent of ancient Mesopotamia,<br />

where they established themselves<br />

as a notable civilization. Renowned<br />

for their advancements in astronomy,<br />

mathematics, and governance, the<br />

Chaldeans played a crucial role in<br />

the development of early human culture<br />

and technology. Centered around<br />

the city of Babylon, the society was<br />

marked by significant contributions to<br />

the arts, science, and literature, laying<br />

foundations that would influence generations<br />

to come.<br />

Many Chaldeans today, especially<br />

those in Detroit, claim an ethnic heritage<br />

from the Chaldean tribes and civilizations<br />

best known for their accomplishments<br />

in Ancient Babylon. As a<br />

minority in the Middle East as well as<br />

the United States, their identity today<br />

is centered on this fact.<br />

After Babylon was conquered by<br />

the Persian Empire, hundreds of thousands<br />

or even millions of Chaldeans<br />

migrated to different areas of the Middle<br />

East. Many resettled in the Northern<br />

parts of Mesopotamia as a result<br />

and established the villages and towns<br />

that modern Chaldeans come from.<br />

The Church of the East<br />

The Church of the East’s origins are<br />

intertwined with the early spread of<br />

Christianity. Established in the 1st century<br />

AD, the Church played a pivotal<br />

role in disseminating Christian teachings<br />

across Asia, reaching as far as India<br />

and China. Its inception marked a<br />

significant chapter in the religious and<br />

cultural history of the region, fostering<br />

a distinctive Christian theology that<br />

was both adaptive and expansive.<br />

After the death of Jesus Christ, his<br />

apostles began to travel the world to<br />

spread the good news and Christianize<br />

the world. Famously, the Apostle<br />

St. Thomas began his travels to the<br />

far east. Some of the first people he<br />

encountered were the Chaldeans and<br />

the surrounding communities. These<br />

places were already heavily influenced<br />

by Jewish culture and doctrine and accepting<br />

that the Messiah had arrived<br />

was a simple task.<br />

Mar Addai and Mar Mari were crucial<br />

in Christianizing the Chaldeans.<br />

As St. Thomas continued on his journey<br />

to India, these two men stayed<br />

in the Middle East to Christianize the<br />

people there and establish churches.<br />

Today, our liturgy still reflects the lessons<br />

given from these two men.<br />

Over the years, the Church of the<br />

East became a cornerstone of Chaldean<br />

cultural identity. As Christianity<br />

44 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


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spread and became a powerful movement,<br />

empires responded by persecuting<br />

its followers and leaders. This led<br />

to the tradition of martyrdom in our<br />

Church, which has influenced Chaldean<br />

culture and its extreme level of<br />

devotion and piety.<br />

The original Church of the East<br />

was a unique blend of Christian doctrine<br />

and Jewish ritualistic practices.<br />

The Church’s liturgy, conducted in the<br />

Aramaic language, served as a living<br />

link to the Chaldeans’ ancient past<br />

that we still enjoy today. Over centuries,<br />

it shaped the spiritual, cultural,<br />

and social life of the Chaldean people,<br />

influencing their values, customs, and<br />

community structure.<br />

In the face of modernity and the<br />

challenges of genocide and diaspora,<br />

the Chaldean community has shown<br />

remarkable resilience in preserving<br />

their unique identity. Language, traditions,<br />

and strong family bonds are<br />

central to maintaining their cultural<br />


STORY<br />

heritage. The community has navigated<br />

the complexities of integrating into<br />

new societies while holding steadfast<br />

to their roots, showcasing a remarkable<br />

ability to adapt and thrive in diverse<br />

environments.<br />

The Chaldean diaspora in Detroit<br />

is yet another testament to the<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

community’s enduring spirit and<br />

adaptability. Having established a<br />

significant presence in the city, the<br />

Chaldeans have contributed to its<br />

culture, economy, and religiosity. In<br />

Detroit, they have balanced the preservation<br />

of their ancient heritage with<br />

the integration into American society,<br />

facing unique challenges and achieving<br />

notable successes. The Chaldean<br />

Church, adapting to its new environment<br />

in Detroit, has played an essential<br />

role in education, community<br />

building, and maintaining a sense of<br />

cultural and spiritual continuity that<br />

traces all the way back to the mission<br />

of St. Thomas the Apostle.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 45


Beth Nahrain<br />

Art Show<br />

From November 3 through November<br />

5, pieces from select artists<br />

were displayed at the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation<br />

for the 2nd Annual Beth Nahrain<br />

Art Show. Featured artists<br />

included Reni Stephan, Sabah<br />

Wazi, Azhr Matti, Wilson Sarkis,<br />

Mark Georgies, Cassidy Azzow,<br />

Fr. Patrick Setto, Emad Tammo,<br />

Habib Hannona and Savannah<br />

Meyer. Proceeds from the event<br />

benefited the victims of the<br />

Bakhdida wedding fire through<br />

a fundraising effort supported<br />

by Nineveh Rising.<br />

Clockwise from above: Chris Salem, Fr. Patrick Setto and Ranna Salem, organizer of<br />

the event; A family looks at the display; Attendees of the Art Show pause for a photo.<br />

Veterans Day Rededication<br />

On November 11, <strong>2023</strong>, a small crowd gathered to witness the rededication of an almost forgotten<br />

relic at the corner of Walnut Lake and Inkster Roads. The Peace Memorial was originally<br />

raised by the now defunct Walnut Lake Women’s Club to honor area military members who<br />

fought in the Civil War and both World Wars.<br />

The memorial sits at the future site of the Chaldean Community Foundation’s west side<br />

campus, which will also house the offices of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and<br />

the Chaldean News. The memorial was discovered during the demolition process for the new<br />

center, and CCF president Martin Manna vowed to not only restore the memorial but to rededicate<br />

it. The ceremony was initiated by Burt Green and Steven Kay and was organized with help<br />

from CCF’s Tom Hajji and Sharkey Haddad.<br />

Left to right: Susan Smith, Sharon Hannawa, Patrick N’Golo<br />

and his wife Nicha Nzuiki; CCF staff with Macomb County<br />

Executive Mark Hackel; Left to right: Macomb County Habitat<br />

for Humanity Board Chair Mashell Carissimi, Susan Smith,<br />

Sharon Hannawa, President and CEO of Macomb County<br />

Habitat for Humanity Helen Hicks.<br />

Shining Light Awards<br />

From left: Burt Green and Steven Kay; West Bloomfield Historical Society’s Gina Gergory.<br />

The Macomb County Habitat for Humanity shone a spotlight<br />

on the Chaldean Community Foundation at their annual gala<br />

on Friday, November 10. CCF was chosen as a recipient of their<br />

Shining Light Award because of their above-and-beyond advocacy<br />

for a family of six from the Republic of the Congo.<br />

Patrick N’Golo was granted asylum in December of 2018,<br />

when he ran for his life from his homeland and was forced to<br />

leave his wife and four sons behind. Freedom House helped<br />

him with lodging, but he needed his family. A chance encounter<br />

between Habitat for Humanity – Macomb and Susan Smith<br />

of the CCF set Patrick on a path to home ownership and reunification<br />

with his family. Susan and Sharon Hannawa were<br />

recognized at the gala.<br />

46 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

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