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METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY VOL. 21 ISSUE III <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

City<br />

of<br />

Faith<br />




IN NEW<br />

PBS FILM<br />

Featuring:<br />

Beyond the Silk Road Event<br />

Frank Jonna Honored<br />

Fundamentals of Arabic


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اتصل بنا على رقم<br />

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it’s Why We Care.<br />

نعیدك الى ماكنت علیھ<br />

ھذا ھو سبب اھتمامنا<br />

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Attorney at Law<br />

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 3

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 5

6 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY | <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | VOL. 21 ISSUE III<br />


20 Detroit: The City of Faith<br />

A new PBS film includes the Diocese<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />


22 Holy Cross!<br />

35-foot tall cross erected in California<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

24 Ice Wars<br />

Home City gives customers<br />

the cold shoulder<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

26 A Man of the People<br />

Frank Jonna: CACC’s<br />

Businessperson of the Year<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

30 Culture & History<br />

Fundamentals of Arabic<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />


7 From the Editor<br />

Back to Basics<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

10 Guest Column<br />

My Friendship with Chaldeans<br />

By Ibrahim Al Zobedi<br />

12 Foundation Update<br />

CCF celebrates 13 years, hosts Iraqi<br />

Consulate, Job Fair<br />

14 Noteworthy<br />

C.H.A.I Program, Rockman Somo, From<br />

Baghdad to Detroit, NFL Artist<br />

16 Chaldean Digest<br />

Dr. Hanna-Attisha champions program<br />

18 Iraq Today<br />

New Church in Baqofa<br />

By Hanan Qia<br />

42 Economics & Enterprise<br />

Marijuana Update<br />

By Paul Natinsky<br />

46 Sports<br />

Making the Cut: 20 Years of Good Sports<br />

By Steve Stein<br />

48 In Memoriam<br />

49 Obituary<br />

John Mikha Mackay<br />

20<br />

50 From the Archives<br />

Beauty in Baghdad, Kids at a Wedding<br />

32 The Mortgage Man<br />

Danny Marogy leads sales at UWM<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

34 Chaldean Kitchen<br />

Leanne & Amira Kizy’s Pozole<br />

By Z.Z. Dawood<br />

36 Beyond the Silk Road<br />

Great Michigan Stories event<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

40 Exploring April<br />

April covers through the years<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

28<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 7



Chaldean News, LLC<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation<br />



Sarah Kittle<br />


Cal Abbo<br />

Ibrahim Al Zobedi<br />

Z.Z. Dawod<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

Paul Natinsky<br />

Steve Stein<br />

Hanan Qia<br />



Alex Lumelsky with SKY Creative<br />


Zina Lumelsky with SKY Creative<br />


Alex Lumelsky<br />

SALES<br />

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

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

Published monthly; Issue Date: April <strong>2024</strong><br />

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

Publication Address:<br />

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

Farmington Hills, MI 48334;<br />

Permit to mail at periodicals postage rates<br />

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

Postmaster: Send address changes to<br />

“The Chaldean News 30095 Northwestern<br />

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

Back to Basics<br />

When spring cleaning this year, take a<br />

little time to do some internal decluttering.<br />

Our minds, like our homes, become<br />

cluttered without regular scrutiny. Spring, with its<br />

fresh air and rising temperatures, is a great time to<br />

do some self-evaluation.<br />

In a world often overwhelmed by complexity<br />

and distraction, returning to basics offers a profound<br />

sense of clarity and grounding. It’s about<br />

stripping away the layers of excess and reconnecting<br />

with the fundamental elements that nurture<br />

our well-being and sense of purpose.<br />

Whether it’s simplifying our daily routines,<br />

embracing nature, or focusing on the<br />


EDITOR<br />

IN CHIEF<br />

Just as the blossoming flowers reach<br />

towards the sun, we too can embrace<br />

this season to reassess our priorities.<br />

core values that define us, getting back to basics<br />

serves as a guiding principle for a more<br />

meaningful existence.<br />

In this month’s issue, we celebrate our core<br />

beliefs with the PBS documentary “Detroit:<br />

City of Faith.” The film explores the churches<br />

of Detroit’s immigrant community, which were established<br />

to support the early settlers and give them a sense of hope<br />

and home.<br />

We also examine the road traveled to get here. In “Beyond<br />

the Silk Road,” we offer four different stories of entrepreneurism<br />

and trade. This month’s Chaldean Kitchen,<br />

which is celebrating its one-year anniversary, takes us to<br />

Mexico for a new family recipe.<br />

Also included is a story about a 35-foot Chaldean cross<br />

that stands in California and a profile of Danny Marogy, top<br />

seller at United Wholesale Mortgage.<br />

The Chaldean Chamber’s <strong>2024</strong> Businessperson of the<br />

Year, Frank Jonna, is profiled as well. “Honest” is a word that<br />

has been applied to Frank, over and over, from people that<br />

know him. It is a basic core tenet of his philosophy.<br />

Cal Abbo writes about the difference in customer service received<br />

from U.S. Ice versus Home City Ice, and talks about good<br />

customer care, a basic quality in many Chaldean businesses.<br />

At its essence, getting back to basics involves a conscious<br />

shift towards simplicity and authenticity. It’s about rediscovering<br />

the joy in life’s simple pleasures – the warmth<br />

of a shared meal with loved ones, the tranquility<br />

found in a quiet moment of reflection, or the satisfaction<br />

of engaging in hands-on activities that reconnect<br />

us with our innate creativity.<br />

By decluttering our lives of unnecessary distractions<br />

and obligations, we create space for deeper<br />

connections with ourselves and those around us.<br />

This return to simplicity fosters a greater sense of<br />

gratitude and contentment, reminding us of what<br />

truly matters in the midst of life’s constant flux. In<br />

embracing the basics, we find not only a path towards<br />

inner peace but also a renewed appreciation for the<br />

beauty of the present moment.<br />

Spring emerges with a gentle reminder to return to basics.<br />

Nature sheds its winter coat, unveiling a vibrant tapestry<br />

of colors and scents. It’s a time for renewal, a call to<br />

simplify and reconnect with the essentials. Just as the blossoming<br />

flowers reach towards the sun, we too can embrace<br />

this season to reassess our priorities and strip away the unnecessary<br />

complexities that have accumulated over time.<br />

Spring encourages us to rediscover the beauty in simplicity,<br />

to revel in the joy of fresh beginnings, and to nurture the<br />

seeds of growth that lie dormant within us. It’s a season of<br />

rejuvenation, a time to refocus our energies on what truly<br />

matters, and to find solace in the pure and uncomplicated<br />

wonders of life.<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Editor in Chief<br />

8 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


As the publication of record for<br />

Michigan’s Chaldean community,<br />

the mission of the Chaldean News<br />

is to preserve and archive Chaldean<br />

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

ongoing story of Chaldean contributions to<br />

the communities in which we live and work – in<br />

Michigan and around the world.<br />

In the last 5 years the Chaldean News has<br />

substantially increased its readership and social<br />

media following, introduced new digital and website<br />

content and expanded storytelling and video offerings<br />

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

The Publisher’s Circle is a unique opportunity for community<br />

members to support the Chaldean News and its continuing<br />

mission to be a voice for the community, wherever they<br />

may be. With the warmhearted help of individual and<br />

organizational supporters we can ensure that this important<br />

resource remains to educate and connect the community<br />

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

The Chaldean News has recently launched a CN app<br />

and will continue to expand into new media such<br />

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

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

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

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

Jibran “Jim” Manna<br />

Martin and Tamara Manna<br />

We are grateful for the overwhelmingly<br />

generous support of our community.<br />

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

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

Let’s grow the circle.<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 9


My Friendship with Chaldeans<br />

My relationship of friendship, admiration,<br />

and deep mutual understanding<br />

with the Chaldean-Iraqi American<br />

community goes back to 1984, when I first<br />

arrived in the state of Michigan as an immigrant,<br />

or more accurately, an exile.<br />

I began my professional life with a<br />

weekly newspaper that I called TODAY.<br />

Then, after four weeks, I discovered that<br />

the readership of the Arabic language press<br />

was less than what was necessary for an<br />

excellent newspaper to withstand time and<br />

enjoy a long life.<br />

I closed it without regret. Subsequently,<br />

I went on to establish an Arab television channel<br />

called TV Orient, which gained the support of the<br />

Iraqi community who rallied around it, provided<br />

support, and made it a great success.<br />

This channel was a new bridge that deepened<br />

my relationship with the community members and<br />

a wonderful bridge to introduce and connect me to<br />

the “Forum/Al Muntada” group and its founder, Mr.<br />

Fouad Manna; we quickly became good friends. As<br />

a media man, I found joy in being amidst an atmosphere<br />

and weekly gatherings surrounded by a distinguished<br />

journalist, community activists, intellectuals,<br />

and visitors from all walks of life.<br />

My presence in Michigan since 1984 allowed me<br />

to make many new friends and distinguished scholars.<br />

With my consistent outlook, declared views, and<br />

well-known rejection of sectarianism, racism, and regionalism,<br />

I was fortunate to have dozens of sincere<br />

Iraqi Chaldean friends which were far more than the<br />

three friends from other Arab and Iraqi communities.<br />

I should also mention that successive Iraqi governments<br />

have proven to be the stupidest and most<br />

ignorant governments when it comes to understanding<br />

the value of the Iraqi communities outside Iraq.<br />

Its officials and representatives do not understand,<br />

know, and want to know the great value of Iraq’s immigrant<br />

or displaced countrymen in the diaspora.<br />

It is sad to know that they do not recognize the<br />

impact, strength, experience, traditions, knowledge,<br />

economic strength, and political weight of the community<br />

in the United States. If the Iraqi government<br />

was interested in embracing their worldly experience,<br />

broad knowledge, and diverse competencies, or<br />

sought to establish bridges of cooperation and hope<br />

to enable them to assist with important development<br />

experience gained in the countries they live in.<br />

My friend Dr. Adhid Miri, who is a contributing<br />

writer and member of the editorial staff at the Chaldean<br />

News magazine, was kind to share with me<br />

articles about the story of the immigration of Iraqi<br />

Christians to the United States, the reasons behind<br />

their long presence in the state of Michigan, and an<br />

analysis of the main motives that were behind their<br />




TO THE<br />


NEWS<br />

migration from their homeland, Iraq.<br />

Dr. Miri stated that “Between the years<br />

1910 and 1947, a small number of Chaldeans<br />

(mostly from Iraq) immigrated to the United<br />

States, and they were part of the era of mass<br />

immigration that brought millions from<br />

all over the world to America, which was<br />

then in dire need of workers to support its<br />

growing economy. Detroit was very popular<br />

among immigrant groups due to its growing<br />

automobile industry and the presence<br />

of a Middle Eastern community consisting<br />

mainly of Christian immigrants who came<br />

from Lebanon and Syria.”<br />

“In 1943, community statistics documented the<br />

presence of 908 Chaldeans in the Detroit area, and in<br />

1947, 80 Chaldean families lived within the city limits<br />

of Detroit. By 1963, this number had tripled to 3,000.<br />

A larger number of Iraqi citizens then immigrated to<br />

the United States due to Iraq’s political conditions<br />

and changes in US immigration laws during the mid-<br />

1960s, and the growth of the Chaldean-American<br />

community in Detroit became more dramatic, and<br />

this number gradually rose to 45,000 in 1986 - 75,000<br />

in 1992 - and 160,000 in 2017, reaching about 200,000<br />

currently in the state of Michigan.”<br />

I found the Chaldean community very patriotic and<br />

keen to maintain strong ties with their motherland Iraq<br />

and to preserve their Christian identity, culture, language,<br />

traditions, and heritage. When you delve into<br />

the details of the lives of Iraqi Chaldeans in their workplaces,<br />

homes, cultural, economic, and service institutions,<br />

social organizations, marketplaces, restaurants,<br />

and shops, you will feel that you have not left Iraq. One<br />

will quickly discover that they are more patriotic than<br />

other Iraqis who have not managed to preserve their<br />

roots, and national identity, unfortunately.<br />

Journalism in America was an interesting challenge.<br />

As the number of Iraqi immigrants increased,<br />

their first publications appeared in Arabic, while<br />

the second generation of journalists adopted Arabic<br />

and English in their journalism. The new generation<br />

of journalists who were born in the United States<br />

did not master the Arabic language and adopted<br />

English as a language but with a pure Iraqi spirit.<br />

The content of the Iraqi press in the United States<br />

remained a living part of the news of the national<br />

press, even if it was written in languages other than<br />

Arabic (English, Chaldean, Syriac).<br />

What Dr. Miri did not say in his article about the<br />

Iraqi Chaldean community, is that the community<br />

in Michigan and other American states is considered<br />

among the most important, most successful,<br />

most effective, most vibrant, and influential Middle<br />

Eastern communities in American political life, followed<br />

by the successes and impact of the Lebanese<br />

Muslim community in Dearborn, and the Palestinian<br />

Christian community, most of whose members<br />

come from the city of Ramallah.<br />

Worth noting that over time the Iraqi Chaldean<br />

community and families became most concerned with<br />

educating their sons and daughters. This enabled them<br />

to advance, possess experience, and competence, and<br />

establish a momentum that made many of them distinguished,<br />

and influential in the surrounding American<br />

society. They excelled in the economic field as well<br />

as politics, education, services, and investments. It is,<br />

without a doubt the richest Middle Eastern community<br />

with its prominent, successful scientists, doctors,<br />

engineers, politicians, and businessmen.<br />

The successes and size of the community attracted<br />

the attention of many politicians and statesmen.<br />

It has become a ritual for many American presidents,<br />

vice presidents, and state politicians to visit the community<br />

and seek to win its support.<br />

The community also became a destination for<br />

major officials, ministers, politicians, and visitors<br />

from Iraq, however, little was accomplished to help<br />

establish strategic relationships, organized communication,<br />

and continuity.<br />

Among the most prominent visitors to the Chaldean-Iraqi<br />

American community, were the late King<br />

Faisal II, Saeed Qazzaz, the last Minister of the Interior<br />

during the pre-1958 monarchy era, and Talib<br />

Shabib, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq during<br />

the era of the first Baath in 1963.<br />

President Bush Sr. visited the Chaldean community<br />

in Michigan 40 years ago, and former President<br />

Donald Trump told a group of community members<br />

when he visited them that he loved them. It is noteworthy<br />

to note that their votes were the decisive factor<br />

in his victory in the 2016 elections.<br />

The businessman, Mr. Adil Bacall, says “Iraqi<br />

Christians have not forgotten their Iraq, but Iraq has<br />

forgotten them.” The Iraqi Chaldeans blame the Americans<br />

for the troubles in their motherland. Iraqis, in<br />

Michigan and regardless of the nature of the regimes<br />

in Baghdad feel disappointed by the lack of representation<br />

and reversals in Iraq since 2003. This is strange<br />

when you consider how the participation of citizens<br />

in other Arab countries, where specialized ministries<br />

were established to communicate with the expatriate<br />

citizens, maintain a strong relationship with them and<br />

benefit from their experiences, capabilities, strength,<br />

and influence on American policy that can help to advocate<br />

for Issues in their home country.<br />

In addition to articles by my colleague Dr. Adhid<br />

Miri, the community historian and businessman Ayoub<br />

(Jacob) Bacall has published important books in English<br />

documenting the history of the Iraqi American Chaldean<br />

Christian community, supported by valuable facts,<br />

and pictures. They are an important source for anyone<br />

who wants to learn more about this distinguished Iraqi<br />

community in the United States of America.<br />

It gives me great pleasure to affirm without hesitation<br />

and confess my admiration of this kind and generous<br />

community that has given me the most beautiful,<br />

pure, sincere, and precious memories.<br />

10 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 11


Hosting the Iraqi<br />

Consulate<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation recently hosted the Consul<br />

General of the Republic of Iraq, Mr. Muhammad Hassan<br />

Saeed Muhammad, for a special visit.<br />

Martin Manna, President of the Foundation, warmly welcomed<br />

the Consul and his delegation, expressing joy at their visit.<br />

Together, they embarked on a tour of the Foundation, exploring<br />

its programs and services in Michigan. The Consul admired<br />

the Foundation’s initiatives and activities.<br />

This meeting marks an important step towards enhanced collaboration<br />

between the consulate and our Foundation and is a<br />

precursor to the Ambassador’s expected visit in April. The CCF<br />

will soon host a town hall meeting with the Consul that will be<br />

open to community members.<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation Center in Sterling Heights.<br />

Celebrating 13 Years<br />

On March 8, the Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

celebrated 13 years of community impact<br />

in Sterling Heights. Since opening doors in<br />

2011, the Chaldean Community Foundation has<br />

been a center of hope and support for refugees,<br />

immigrants, and the wider community. From<br />

humble beginnings in a 1,200 square foot space<br />

with a 10 member team, the Foundation has<br />

grown to a 30,000 square foot building with<br />

over 80 dedicated team members.<br />

Last fiscal year alone, the Foundation<br />

proudly served over 41,000 individuals from 58<br />

different countries of origin, providing essential<br />

services and support.<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation is<br />

anticipating embarking on new ventures in<br />

<strong>2024</strong> and beyond.<br />

Those projects include the attainable housing<br />

project on Van Dyke in Sterling Heights,<br />

which will provide much-needed housing for<br />

new Americans and the upcoming CCF Oakland<br />

County Campus, which will be a hub for the Chaldean<br />

American Chamber of Commerce, Chaldean<br />

News, and other affiliate organizations.<br />

CCF President Martin Manna greeting Consul General<br />

Muhammad Hassan Saeed Muhammad.<br />

CCF Attends Nonprofit<br />

Day at the Capitol<br />

The Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation celebrated<br />

Nonprofit Day with the<br />

Michigan Nonprofit Association<br />

(MNA) on February<br />

22. The MNA invited<br />

the CCF to the annual<br />

<strong>2024</strong> Nonprofit Day at the<br />

Capitol to speak about<br />

engaging voters for an inclusive<br />

democracy.<br />

We thank MNA for<br />

giving us and other nonprofit<br />

organizations a<br />

platform to support our<br />

communities.<br />

CCF Employees Stacy Bahri,<br />

Susan Smith and Sharkey Haddad<br />

attend Nonprofit Day in Lansing.<br />

Some of the women on staff at the Chaldean Community Foundation.<br />

International Women’s Day<br />

Also on March 8, the CCF celebrated the women who make what we do possible. In honor of International<br />

Women’s Day, we highlight the remarkable women who inspire us with their dedication, passion,<br />

and unwavering commitment. Their hard work and leadership drives the organization forward<br />

every day, and we are grateful to all of these wonderful women for their contributions.<br />

CCF Hosts Penske<br />

Logistics for Job Fair<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation hosted Penske Logistics<br />

for a Job Fair on February 28. Job seekers discussed potential<br />

warehouse employment opportunities with Penske staff.<br />

Our Multi-Employer Spring Community Job Fair will be held<br />

on May 1, <strong>2024</strong>. Please contact Elias Kattoula at elias.kattoula@<br />

chaldeanfoundation.org or call 586-722-7253 for more information.<br />

12 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 13


CCF’s C.H.A.I. Program Recognized<br />

CCF’s C.H.A.I. (Caregiver Helping Aid Initiative) has<br />

been recognized by ARCH (Access to Respite Care<br />

and Help) as an Innovative and Exemplary<br />

Respite Service. A three-year designation,<br />

CCF’s C.H.A.I. is one of only<br />

four respite services from across the<br />

country recognized with the highest<br />

level of distinction. CCF is pleased to<br />

have met the stringent set of criteria<br />

that addresses the needs of family<br />

caregivers of adults and older adult<br />

family members.<br />

C.H.A.I. strengthens CCF’s mission<br />

by continuing to improve the stability, health, and<br />

wellness of new Americans including refugees, immigrants,<br />

and vulnerable families. Caregivers oftentimes<br />

feel hesitant about leaving a loved one with<br />

disabilities and those with dementia in another’s<br />

care. CCF’s C.H.A.I. multilingual staff works to develop<br />

trust with caregivers over time.<br />

Respite is the most frequently requested support<br />

service among the nation’s 53 million family<br />

caregivers, yet 86% do not receive<br />

respite services, despite the proven<br />

benefits to caregivers and care recipients.<br />

Respite for these families<br />

can help reduce caregiver stress,<br />

improve caregiver and family health<br />

and well-being, help avoid more<br />

costly out-of-home placements, and<br />

may even help to reduce the likelihood<br />

of abuse or neglect.<br />

By recognizing high quality respite services<br />

across the country, ARCH hopes to encourage the<br />

study, expansion, and replication of such services.<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation will be recognized<br />

at the <strong>2024</strong> National Lifespan Respite Conference<br />

during May in Albany, New York.<br />

Chaldean Boxer Rocky “Rockman” Somo<br />

Rocky “Rockman” Salem Somo has been boxing for<br />

seven years. His professional career started in 2023<br />

with a May 26 win by unanimous decision over Carlos<br />

Escobedo in the fourth round. He fought for the first<br />

time in his home area of San Diego on March 2 of this<br />

year at the Four Points Sheraton and won by knockout<br />

in the second round.<br />

Somo bouts in the super middle division. The<br />

southpaw boxer is 26 years old and stands at 5’9”.<br />

Born in El Cajon, he is currently fighting out of Chula<br />

Vista and has a winning record of 3-0 as a professional<br />

boxer. Somo is looking to earn a world championship<br />

title. You can find him on Facebook and LinkedIn<br />

under Rockman Somo, and his Instagram handle<br />

is @rockmansomo.<br />

Chaldean Artist<br />

Featured in NFL Draft<br />

Juliana Rabban, a local Chaldean artist, was commissioned<br />

by City Walls Detroit to create a 5’ 8” tall football<br />

cleat sculpture to be displayed for the NFL Draft<br />

and auctioned off in May.<br />

Juliana calls her cleat “Unite & Ignite,” which she<br />

said embodies the shared human struggle as it relates<br />

to cancer. As someone who has watched close family<br />

struggle with cancer, she chose the charity Kids Without<br />

Cancer to receive her donation. Her cleat will be<br />

displayed at City Airport in Detroit in April.<br />

From Baghdad to Detroit: Four Poems<br />

In honor of April as Poetry Month, the Chaldean Cultural Center will host an event at the West Bloomfield<br />

Public Library on April 13 from 1-3pm. The event, held in the meeting room of the library at 4600<br />

Walnut Lake Road, features four Iraqi-born women including Weam Namou, director of the Chaldean<br />

Cultural Center, and Dunya Mikhail, poet, author, and professor at Oakland University. The women<br />

are in a short 10-minute documentary which was funded by the Knight Foundation.<br />

The film will screen for the first time on April 13, followed by discussion and poetry reading. The documentary<br />

includes a segment of each poet, in her home / work, or in certain significant locations with the<br />

poets reciting their poems which focus on the Chaldean / Iraqi American experience.<br />

More information may be found at https://westbloomfield.librarycalendar.com/event/<br />

baghdad-detroit-four-poems-poetry-iraqi-born-women-976.<br />

14 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 15



Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha visits with students from University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.<br />

Moms in Flint Receive Cash Aid<br />

In a story shared by NPR and featured<br />

on All Things Considered, Dr. Mona<br />

Hanna Attisha is again in the news.<br />

Penned by reporter Jennifer Ludden,<br />

the article details a new program cofounded<br />

and promoted by Hanna- Attisha<br />

called Rx Kids.<br />

Rx Kids is a cash transfer program<br />

that began in the city of Flint, Michigan<br />

in January <strong>2024</strong>. It benefits expectant<br />

mothers, regardless of income.<br />

The city has one of the highest poverty<br />

rates in the country, over 50%.<br />

Recipients of the program begin<br />

receiving help during pregnancy. The<br />

initial $1,500 payment helps expectant<br />

mothers receive adequate prenatal<br />

care. After delivery, mothers receive<br />

$500 a month over the course of the<br />

baby’s first year, for a total of $7,500.<br />

The idea is that the money will cover<br />

costs for diapers and formula, freeing<br />

up funds to put food on the table<br />

or pay the rent. Many new mothers<br />

must make a choice between returning<br />

to work and caring for their children<br />

themselves, and this amount, small<br />

though it may be, will make an impact.<br />

“What happens in that first year of<br />

life can really portend your entire life<br />

course trajectory. Your brain literally<br />

doubles in size in the first 12 months,”<br />

While critics worry<br />

that giving cash<br />

aid will encourage<br />

mothers not to work,<br />

evidence suggests<br />

otherwise.<br />

says Hanna-Attisha in the article.<br />

In addition to her practice, she also<br />

serves as a public health professor at<br />

Michigan State University.<br />

The article states that the United<br />

States is one of the only developed<br />

countries that doesn’t currently offer<br />

substantial child cash benefits. Studies<br />

have found such payments reduce<br />

financial hardship and food insecurity<br />

and improve mental and physical<br />

health for both mothers and children.<br />

Ludden’s article underscores the<br />

benefits that improving finances has<br />

on a family and cites the expanded<br />

child tax credits offered during the<br />

pandemic as proof. Luke Schaefer,<br />

co-director of the program and a<br />

poverty expert at University of Michigan,<br />

agrees. “We saw food hardship<br />

dropped to the lowest level ever,”<br />

Shaefer says in the article. “And we<br />

saw credit scores actually go to the<br />

highest that they’d ever been in at the<br />

end of 2021.”<br />

While critics worry that giving cash<br />

aid will encourage mothers not to work,<br />

evidence suggests otherwise. Hanna-<br />

Attisha and Shaefer will measure outcomes<br />

of the babies that are in the program,<br />

tracking their prenatal care, birth<br />

rates, whether fewer people move out<br />

of Flint, gun violence, voter participation,<br />

and faith in government — which<br />

took a major hit during the lead water<br />

crisis, according to the article.<br />

The program is currently funded<br />

for three years. Sources of funding<br />

include foundations, health insurance<br />

companies and a small part of<br />

the state’s Temporary Assistance for<br />

Needy Families.<br />

Hanna- Attisha has heard from other<br />

places around the country who are<br />

interested in creating similar programs<br />

of their own. She was happy to learn<br />

recently that her mother received cash<br />

payments when she was born in the<br />

UK. “And my mom just shrugged her<br />

shoulders and said, ‘Of course we did,’”<br />

shared Hanna-Attisha. “Everybody got<br />

money. That was normal.”<br />


16 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 17


New Church<br />

in Baqofa<br />


This past March 14 was a significant day for the<br />

Christian community of Baqofa, Iraq in the<br />

Nineveh Plain. Bishop Mar Thabit led the consecration<br />

ceremony of the newly built Virgin Mary<br />

Church, an effort that has taken five years. Speaking<br />

exclusively to Chaldean News, Bishop Mar Thabit<br />

expressed his gratitude towards the generous contributions<br />

from various Catholic organizations and<br />

compassionate locals, which made the construction<br />

of the church possible.<br />

The ceremony was attended by numerous locals<br />

from the towns and villages of Alqosh diocese, including<br />

the Chaldean residents of Baqofa. The new<br />

church, a modern and spacious place of worship,<br />

symbolizes a new chapter for the community. The village<br />

has also an old church, St. George (Mar Gorgis),<br />

which has been under restoration for many years.<br />

The consecration ceremony was a moment of joy<br />

and celebration for the residents of Baqofa, who eagerly<br />

embraced the new church as a symbol of hope<br />

and faith for generations to come. As the sun set on<br />

this historic day, the Virgin Mary Church stood tall,<br />

ready to welcome all who seek solace and communion<br />

with the divine.<br />

From top of page: 1. The new Virgin Mary Church in Baqofa 2. The clergy — bishop,<br />

priests, and deacons — in the consecration Mass of the new church. 3. Young girls in<br />

traditional Chaldean attire presenting the chalice and the Holy Host to the bishop.<br />

18 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 19


Detroit: The City of Faith<br />

Chaldean faith traditions featured in new PBS documentary<br />


Nestled along the shores of a<br />

great river, Detroit’s story is<br />

one of triumph over adversity.<br />

From its humble beginnings as a<br />

French fur-trading post to its rise as<br />

the automotive capital of the world,<br />

Detroit has weathered economic<br />

downturn, social upheaval, and urban<br />

decay. Yet, amidst the challenges, one<br />

constant has remained – the power of<br />

faith to inspire, unite, and uplift.<br />

In a new PBS documentary, producer/director<br />

Keith Famie explores<br />

the aspect of faith through the lens<br />

of family – the family of churches in<br />

metropolitan Detroit. Saint John’s Resort<br />

in Plymouth hosted a premier of<br />

the new film on Sunday, March 17; it<br />

seemed fitting to explore faith on St.<br />

Patty’s Day surrounded by men in<br />

kilts, cassocks, and headdresses.<br />

The short film explores the Polish,<br />

German, Irish, Hispanic, African<br />

American, Scottish, Lebanese, Chaldean,<br />

Jordanian, Palestinian, Syrian<br />

and Armenian communities of faith.<br />

These are all immigrant communities.<br />

In a program for the event, Famie<br />

states, “We often take for granted<br />

just how hard that must have been for<br />

those early travelers who came to our<br />

country, often by themselves or to meet<br />

up with a brother or sister or cousin,<br />

in hopes that this new foreign land,<br />

where they do not speak the language,<br />

was going to become their home.”<br />

My father was first generation Scottish<br />

American, a Presbyterian who<br />

converted to Catholicism to marry my<br />

mother. He shared with me his wonder<br />

at the faith of immigrants, many who<br />

boarded a ship to a strange land not<br />

knowing if they would see their parents,<br />

family, or homeland ever again.<br />

Famie’s introduction in the premier<br />

program book goes on to say,<br />

“This is faith, not only in one’s spiritual<br />

beliefs, which I’m sure drove a certain<br />

level of confidence, but also faith<br />

in one’s self, faith in family and faith<br />

in their community who offered open<br />

arms to these weary travelers.”<br />

Prior to the screening there was<br />

a reception in the Wine Grotto that<br />

featured food from all the different<br />

communities. It was interesting to see<br />

how many of these groups prioritized<br />

faith, food and family, just like Chaldeans.<br />

Many of the communities share<br />

an emphasis on family celebrations.<br />

A photo of the store “Big Dipper” in<br />

1957, which was founded by the Jonna<br />

family, is seen in the film, as well as a<br />

beautiful Chaldean wedding.<br />

The film begins with Fr. Patrick<br />

Setto setting brush strokes onto canvas.<br />

“Painting is entering the spiritual<br />

realm,” he explains. He talks about<br />

the conversion of his community in<br />

the Middle East during apostolic times<br />

and how true Chaldean priests have<br />

been to the Mass, even speaking the<br />

same language as Jesus.<br />

Fr. Patrick discusses Christian<br />

churches and why he thinks having different<br />

practices shouldn’t keep faiths<br />

from supporting each other. That’s<br />

exemplified here in Detroit, where<br />

“church people” from many faiths do<br />

support each other, especially people<br />

that have been oppressed for their faith.<br />

A priest from Kirk in the Hills, a<br />

Scottish Presbyterian church in Bloomfield<br />

Hills, talks about “kirking in the<br />

tartan,” a practice where Scots wore<br />

their tartans to church under other<br />

clothes when they were banned from<br />

doing so as a show of support for all<br />

whose religious beliefs were oppressed.<br />

Armenians share a lot of similarities<br />

with Chaldeans. They, too, were converted<br />

by early apostles; in fact, they lay<br />

20 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

claim to the first Christian nation. The<br />

history of their religious oppression includes<br />

the Persian Empire, which tried<br />

to forcibly covert them, and the Ottoman<br />

Empire, which nearly erased them. They<br />

escaped to America and settled in metro<br />

Detroit. But they had no church.<br />

In an act of solidarity that local<br />

faith communities continue to exhibit,<br />

St. John’s Episcopalian Church<br />

on Woodward in Detroit allowed the<br />

Armenian worship community to hold<br />

services there until 1931, when the first<br />

Armenian church was built.<br />

Detroit is home to a vibrant array<br />

of immigrant churches that reflect the<br />

city’s status as a melting pot of cultures<br />

and faiths. From the Polish Cathedralstyle<br />

architecture of St. Florian Church,<br />

built by Polish immigrants in the early<br />

20th century, to the history-rich halls of<br />

Second Baptist Church, founded by 13<br />

African Americans in 1836 and serving<br />


STORY<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

as a stop on the Underground Railroad,<br />

each immigrant church tells a unique<br />

story of resilience, community, and cultural<br />

identity.<br />

Observing the timeline of Detroit’s<br />

historic churches is like watching the<br />

community develop in stages. These<br />

churches serve not only as places of<br />

worship but also as centers of cultural<br />

preservation and community engagement,<br />

offering support, resources, and<br />

a sense of belonging to generations of<br />

Detroit residents from diverse backgrounds.<br />

Through their architecture,<br />

traditions, and ongoing contributions<br />

to the fabric of the city, Detroit’s historic<br />

and immigrant churches continue to<br />

play a vital role in shaping the spiritual<br />

and cultural landscape of our city.<br />

The Detroit: The City of Faith film<br />

crew spent time with the “Ignite the<br />

Spirit” group at St. Joseph Chaldean<br />

Catholic Church this past January, capturing<br />

the congregation’s Eucharistic<br />

adoration, meditation and song and<br />

emphasizing the significance of music<br />

to religion. A social media post of<br />

the taping states that, “The melodies,<br />

harmonies, and rhythms in religious<br />

music evokes emotions and creates a<br />

sense of unity among worshipers.”<br />

The film is more than just a historical<br />

retrospective. It’s a celebration of<br />

the enduring faith that sustains Detroit’s<br />

residents through both triumph<br />

and tragedy. From the grassroots efforts<br />

of faith-based organizations to<br />

the innovative approaches to social<br />

justice and community development,<br />

we witness the profound impact of<br />

spirituality on the city’s ongoing revitalization<br />

efforts.<br />

“Having a great deal of admiration<br />

and respect for our Chaldean community<br />

here in Michigan,” states Famie,<br />

“I was so honored to be able to feature<br />

their rich story of faith as well as their<br />

community leadership in our film Detroit:<br />

The City of Faith.”<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 21


Holy Cross!<br />

New 35-foot monument in San Diego<br />


Atop Rancho San Diego Hill sits the California<br />

Chaldean community’s most recent achievement:<br />

A 35-foot tall, 20,000-pound Chaldeanstyle<br />

cross pierces the landscape for thousands to see.<br />

Last year, on December 14, 2023, the largest cross<br />

in San Diego was airdropped into place by a Chinook<br />

heavy-lift helicopter. After nearly four years of hard<br />

work, negotiations with the county, and fielding<br />

questions and opposition from the public, the cross<br />

stands tall as a testament to and memorial for the<br />

hardships and persecution that Chaldeans and all<br />

Christians have faced.<br />

Vince Kattoula is a San-Diego based land use<br />

consultant and registered lobbyist who specializes in<br />

large projects like this that require extensive permitting<br />

and government approval. In 2019, Samad Attisha<br />

approached him, who had purchased land on<br />

this hill in order to place a cross on it.<br />

“This property is about 80 acres, with very rugged<br />

terrain, completely surrounded with sensitive and endangered<br />

species,” Kattoula said, explaining how difficult<br />

it was to get approval to build anything on the land.<br />

“In fact, it’s adjacent to the national wildlife refuge.”<br />

Mountain lions, rattlesnakes, golden eagles, and<br />

other dangerous animals frequent the property. Poor<br />

terrain meant the cross could not be moved over the<br />

ground. These issues, nor any others, would not stop<br />

Kattoula and Attisha from reaching their goal and establishing<br />

the site of the cross on this large hill.<br />

The hill’s location is significant too. It stands on<br />

the highest peak in the Rancho San Diego area across<br />

from a large Chaldean neighborhood where many admirers<br />

can see the cross at all times of the day and<br />

night. It means a lot, then, that the cross is designed<br />

in a distinct Chaldean style. Its features hearken back<br />

to that of the ancient churches, with three red circles<br />

on each point, imitating what Chaldeans are used to<br />

seeing in their own communities.<br />

Attisha conceived the idea from the beginning when<br />

he purchased the property. His reasons for pursuing the<br />

project range from his personal faith experience to honoring<br />

persecuted Christians around the world.<br />

“It’s hard to describe the feeling,” Attisha said,<br />

reflecting on how he feels since the project was completed<br />

and the cross was installed. “The cross gives<br />

me ongoing pleasure. Ongoing happiness. I can see<br />

it from every part of my house. I cannot help but to<br />

be happy.”<br />

Attisha gets frequent thanks from his neighbors<br />

who revere the cross and pray to it daily, but he defers<br />

the glory to God. “What else could someone wish in<br />

his life besides achieving a project like that?”<br />

Sam Attisha and Vince Kattoula in front of the cross.<br />

San Diego has some history with putting crosses<br />

on top of mountains. Since 1913, Mt. Soledad in La<br />

Jolla has been home to a few different styles of crosses<br />

over the years. The original cross was stolen and<br />

later burned; a second cross was blown down in<br />

1952; the present cross was installed in 1954.<br />

There was some public and legal opposition to<br />

the cross over the years that caused some problems.<br />

For a long period, it was unclear whether the cross<br />

was a war memorial or a symbol of the Christian religion,<br />

legally speaking. Finally, in 2015, a private organization<br />

purchased the land from the Department of<br />

Defense, which resolved its legal issues and helped<br />

pave the way for future crosses like Attisha’s.<br />

Kattoula negotiated with the county to get out of<br />

the various permits that, if required, would grind the<br />

project to a halt and increase its costs significantly.<br />

The biggest issue that remained was how to transport<br />

the massive cross to the top of the hill. While there<br />

was a road leading up to the designated area, it was<br />

far too small to carry the cross all the way up, so Attisha<br />

suggested a Chinook helicopter.<br />

Normally, helicopters cannot carry anything of<br />

this size, but Kattoula found a company in Washington<br />

with aircraft that can airlift up to 25,000 pounds<br />

with a Chinook helicopter. After his own firm designed<br />

the cross, he found a great partner in Coastline<br />

Steel to manufacture and deliver it. In its fabrication,<br />

Coastline Steel used a welding technique called<br />

complete joint penetration, which makes the connections<br />

extremely strong and stable, essentially making<br />

it one solid piece of steel.<br />

When the Chinook helicopter arrived at the site with<br />

the cross, Kattoula and his team realized the wind from<br />

the helicopter would make it impossible to secure the<br />

cross standing up, so they laid it down gently. Later,<br />

they brought a crane to hold it while his team bolted it<br />

down in the foundation. By pure chance, according to<br />

Kattoula, the cross happens to be facing true North.<br />

This is not the end of the project, however, nor the<br />

hassle from various government agencies. Kattoula had<br />

to find a way to light up the cross at night without getting<br />

approval for a permanent fixture. To that end, he<br />

brought some construction lights and a diesel generator<br />

to the cross. Every morning, someone hikes to the site<br />

and turns the light on. Every night, someone returns to<br />

turn it off. Every few days, someone fills the generator<br />

with fuel. Kattoula is working with a team of electrical<br />

engineers to design an off-grid solar-powered battery<br />

that will light up the cross at night automatically.<br />

In addition, Kattoula and Attisha have plans to<br />

add various features to the site. For example, they<br />

envision a “crown of thorns” by placing a fence with<br />

barbs surrounding the cross. They also plan to include<br />

a centerpiece that will feature the heart of Jesus<br />

and the heart of mercy.<br />

Attisha mentioned two people specifically whom<br />

he called his “heroes” and dedicated the cross to.<br />

Each is a martyr in the Chaldean Church and was a<br />

victim of a brutal murder.<br />

Fr. Ragheed Ganni was killed in June 2007 after<br />

receiving multiple death threats. Walking out of his<br />

church, Holy Spirit Chaldean Church in Mosul, he and<br />

a few deacons were stopped by a group of armed men.<br />

According to news reports, when asked why he hadn’t<br />

closed the church like he was ordered to, Fr. Ragheed<br />

replied, “How can I close the house of God?” He and<br />

his colleagues were shot down shortly after.<br />

Bishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and<br />

killed in Mosul in early 2008. Bishop Rahho was taken<br />

from his car after his kidnappers killed two of his bodyguards.<br />

Reports say that Bishop Rahho got on his cell<br />

phone and asked the church not to pay his ransom because<br />

the money would be used to do more evil things.<br />

Two weeks later, his body was found in a shallow grave.<br />

These stories among others inform Attisha’s devout<br />

worship and faith. “Hopefully, the cross will be<br />

there for thousands of years,” he said. Attisha added<br />

a special thanks to the Chaldean community in Michigan,<br />

which played a huge role in spreading the word<br />

about the cross and celebrating its installation.<br />

While the cross is not open to the public, there is<br />

a path to walk there. It’s a narrow trail and there are<br />

some dangerous animals on the way, according to Kattoula.<br />

Nobody is stopping anyone from making the<br />

trek, he added, if someone wanted to take their chances.<br />

He and his family walk up there a few times a week.<br />

“We have so many people in our community that<br />

are successful and have humble roots,” Kattoula said.<br />

“This is the tallest cross in San Diego and it serves<br />

as an inspiration. It serves as a reminder to look up<br />

and thank God for all the blessings he’s bestowed on<br />

our families, on our community, and on the people<br />

around us.”<br />

22 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>



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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 23




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to win a limited edition Made in Nineveh gift box.<br />

Winner will be notified by email on March 31.<br />

Ice Wars<br />

Home City Ice gives customers<br />

the cold shoulder<br />


Chaldeans in Detroit are known<br />

for owning various businesses,<br />

often party stores or gas stations,<br />

or industries affiliated with<br />

them. They have a specific kind of<br />

quality that separates them from other<br />

operators: excellence of service and<br />

dedication to their customers.<br />

There are many examples of the<br />

Chaldean factor in business, but none<br />

as clear as the recent shakeup in the<br />

retail ice market. In late 2022, Saad<br />

Abbo sold his successful ice company,<br />

U.S. Ice, to a large corporate firm called<br />

Home City Ice. Since then, retailers<br />

have reported a dramatic increase in<br />

prices and a substantial reduction in<br />

the quality and frequency of service.<br />

Sam Bakkal owns a BP gas station<br />

on the corner of 13 mile and Greenfield.<br />

Before the acquisition, he was a<br />

loyal customer to U.S. Ice. In his own<br />

words, “I, for one, never considered<br />

calling anybody else.”<br />

Abbo’s entire business model was<br />

focused on providing good service for<br />

his customers. In today’s corporate<br />

world, this attitude is often lost. Even<br />

as Abbo’s ice empire grew larger, and<br />

perhaps because of it, his focus never<br />

shifted to making money alone. It was<br />

always about the customers.<br />

The idea for U.S. Ice was born<br />

when the ice delivery service failed to<br />

deliver to the family store and Abbo’s<br />

father suggested the family start their<br />

own ice company. The rest is history.<br />

“My father was aggressive,” Abbo<br />

added. “We opened up the ice company<br />

and put a plant together. It was<br />

producing 10,000 pounds of ice every<br />

day. At the time, we thought that was<br />

a lot.”<br />

Abbo and his brother bought a<br />

few trucks. After the first year, they<br />

had about 50 customers. Not bad for a<br />

startup, but it wasn’t something to start<br />

a career over. The following year, that<br />

number tripled to 150. After that, they<br />

really believed they could succeed in<br />

this business. So they sold the store.<br />

“The whole idea behind it is service,”<br />

Abbo said. “We built this thing<br />

around the idea that you don’t delay a<br />

customer. They call, and we were there<br />

every time.”<br />

In the beginning, it was the Chaldeans<br />

who helped Abbo and his family<br />

succeed. His high level of service<br />

and ability to keep prices down was<br />

appealing to the large community of<br />

store owners. Eventually word spread<br />

about U.S. Ice, and they deservedly got<br />

many more clients. A bit over a year<br />

ago, Abbo decided to retire, and sold<br />

his company to Home City Ice.<br />

“We kept the price down in Michigan<br />

compared to every other state in<br />

the country,” Abbo said. “Since we sold<br />

the business one year ago, the prices<br />

have almost doubled from what they<br />

used to be, which is actually a normal<br />

price compared to the rest of the country.<br />

And the service is not there.”<br />

Abbo won the Chaldean Chamber<br />

of Commerce Businessperson of the<br />

Year Award in 2014 and was inducted<br />

into the Great Lakes Ice Association<br />

Hall of Fame in 2023.<br />

This quality of service and dedication,<br />

as represented by Abbo’s example,<br />

is what allows Chaldean businesses<br />

to succeed over others. The new<br />

issues with the corporate Home City<br />

Ice only testifies to the large divide.<br />

In the past, other large acquisitions<br />

of Chaldean companies went<br />

somewhat differently. Melody Farms,<br />

the largest independent dairy company<br />

in the Midwest at its peak, was<br />

24 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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purchased by Dean Foods in 2003.<br />

During the transition period, Dean<br />

Foods promised to donate 1% of all<br />

its sales back to the community, and<br />

specifically funded programs at the<br />

Chaldean Cultural Center as well as<br />

the Chaldean American Chamber of<br />

Commerce, according to its President<br />

Martin Manna.<br />

In addition, he said, when Level<br />

One Bank purchased the Bank of<br />

Michigan, which was known as a Chaldean<br />

community bank, they continued<br />

to hire from within the community<br />

and accelerated their sponsorships in<br />

many community organizations.<br />

Bakkal’s experience with Home<br />

City Ice confirms what Abbo has heard<br />

from his former customers. The company<br />

was not easy to get a hold of, he<br />

said, and he was spoiled by U.S. Ice’s<br />

personal service.<br />

“If I needed something, not because<br />

of my personal relationship<br />

with Saad, everybody in the company<br />

would take my concerns seriously<br />

whether it’s about delivery, performance<br />

of the cooler, or anything,” he<br />

said. “We had a person to talk to on the<br />

other end.”<br />

Bakkal’s corporate experience,<br />

on the other hand, has been far from<br />

satisfying. As ice service transitioned<br />

between companies, many changes<br />

were made to procedure as well as<br />

standards.<br />

Since the company is so large, in<br />

Bakkal’s own words, they have an inhouse<br />

call center in Ohio. “I would leave<br />

a message and it would be returned a<br />

few days later,” he said, “which is nothing<br />

like U.S. Ice. When they first took<br />

over, the company was shorthanded<br />

when it came to deliveries and drivers.”<br />

While Home City Ice appears to be<br />

well-staffed now, Bakkal said, they’ve<br />

made some changes that make his<br />

business more difficult. For instance,<br />

they gave each of their customers a<br />

designated delivery day, which was<br />

not the case with U.S. Ice.<br />

If Bakkal calls and requests a delivery<br />

outside of his designated delivery<br />

day, Home City Ice adds a service fee<br />

on top of the cost of the product, and<br />

the delivery likely won’t come for 2-3<br />

days, he said. With U.S. Ice, Bakkal<br />

could request a delivery and it would<br />

arrive the same day or next day, without<br />

any added charge.<br />

In addition, since the takeover just<br />

over one year ago, Bakkal said Home<br />

City Ice has raised their prices almost<br />

twofold. Before, he could get ice from<br />

Abbo’s company for as low as $0.95<br />

per bag, but with Home City Ice, he<br />

said he can pay up to $1.75, sometimes<br />

with added service fees.<br />

“I think us Chaldeans in particular<br />

are really honorable in our business<br />

and focus on service,” Bakkal said.<br />

“When we get used to a company or a<br />

customer, we make the personal connection<br />

and it’s not just about price.<br />

And when I honor my word with you, I<br />

stick with it for the longest time unless<br />

I have a good reason not to.”<br />

Home City Ice was contacted but<br />

did not respond to a request for comment.<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 25


A Man of the People<br />

Frank Jonna honored at Chamber dinner<br />


People tend to get emotional<br />

when talking about Frank<br />

Jonna, the Chaldean American<br />

Chamber of Commerce’s <strong>2024</strong> Businessperson<br />

of the Year. Frank, who<br />

will be honored at their 21st Annual<br />

Awards Dinner on April 26, has the<br />

reputation of a man who listens to<br />

people and makes them feel valued.<br />

Frank was born in Iraq, coming to<br />

the United States when he was just 5<br />

months old and settling with his family<br />

on the edge of the Boston Edison District.<br />

There, he and his six brothers and one<br />

sister grew up within walking distance of<br />

Mother of God Church, Palmer Park, and<br />

Blessed Sacrament School. It was a great<br />

time and place to grow up Chaldean,<br />

with many families on the block.<br />

Sports were a common theme in<br />

his family, and Frank and his siblings<br />

and friends broke the local park rule of<br />

“No Ball Playing,” on many occasions<br />

and with many kinds of balls, much to<br />

his parents’ dismay. “We played any<br />

sports we could find the equipment<br />

to use,” says Frank. “We even scoured<br />

the alleys to uncover anything we<br />

could put wheels on.”<br />

Frank’s brother John was a gifted<br />

student who paved the way for his<br />

brothers to follow his path at Catholic<br />

Central High School, setting Frank on a<br />

course which would guide him his entire<br />

life. “I immediately embraced the spirit<br />

of Catholic Central,” recalls Frank. “It<br />

was a life-changing experience.”<br />

Jonna Construction<br />

His brother Jimmy founded Jonna<br />

Construction, creating a family legacy<br />

that lives on in the firm Frank runs today.<br />

Jimmy was a tireless worker, says<br />

Frank, and a great communicator and<br />

innovator. “He was clearly the most<br />

intellectual,” states Frank, “and was<br />

able to treat a bank president the same<br />

way he treated a laborer on the job.”<br />

When you treat people with respect,<br />

people notice. Jimmy was the<br />

“captain of customer service,” a model<br />

that Frank has taken to heart. Eddie,<br />

another brother, was “the prime guy I<br />

learned retail from,” says Frank. Eddie<br />

also served as a great example of<br />

good customer service. Countless customers<br />

speak about the Jonna family’s<br />

exemplary service, one that builds a<br />

relationship of trust and loyalty. They<br />

feel known and heard when in the<br />

Jonna Construction offices.<br />

Jimmy was the CACC’s 2005 Businessperson<br />

of the Year. A photo of<br />

him at the podium, arms raised<br />

in a victory salute, hangs just inside<br />

the entrance to the CACC<br />

office in Farmington Hills. It is<br />

the first in a line of black and<br />

white photos detailing the<br />

long and successful history<br />

of the Chaldean business<br />

community that grace the<br />

walls of those offices.<br />

Frank’s photo will join<br />

his brother’s there,<br />

spanning two decades<br />

of success for Jonna<br />

Construction.<br />

The Jonna Family<br />

has a rich history<br />

in retail, food and<br />

beverages. Union<br />

Pacific grocery store<br />

stood in what is currently<br />

Brush Park.<br />

Jimmy took over the supermarket<br />

and opened an expanded<br />

12,000 square foot store called Big Dipper<br />

in 1957. Frank’s brother Manuel<br />

was partner. All the family members<br />

were involved in the operation of the<br />

store. Frank’s brother Eddie was “a<br />

forward thinker” who owned several<br />

food and beverage operations. His skill<br />

in sales gave him the confidence to<br />

launch Trade Winds, a specialty food<br />

store in the Palmer Park area. Out of<br />

this grew a chain of six Merchants Fine<br />

Wine stores which were ultimately sold<br />

to Whole Foods.<br />

Relationships<br />

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Frank<br />

for a long time,” says Robert Riney, president<br />

and CEO of Henry Ford Health. “I<br />

first met him when he was a trustee on<br />

the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Board.<br />

And, you know, you instantly know after<br />

spending just a little time with somebody<br />

that they are a ‘What you see is<br />

what you get’ kind of guy.<br />

“He is a really effective listener,”<br />

adds Riney. “He has a good sense<br />

of humor, and he really cares about<br />

people. And so, all his questions as a<br />

trustee were always about how we’re<br />

going to enhance our relationship<br />

with the community.”<br />

“Frank is one of the leaders that<br />

joined in this movement to create an<br />

economic transformation of New Center<br />

in Midtown in Detroit, one of the<br />

early adopters,” shares Riney. “You<br />

know, there’s a lot of people excited<br />

now, but you always appreciate those<br />

early adopters who are willing to take<br />

some risk when you’re not sure how it’s<br />

going to, you know, exactly pan out.”<br />

Rich Homberg, president and CEO<br />

of Detroit Public Television, shares,<br />

“In the late nineties, we were looking<br />

to build a building for WWJ; we knew<br />

nothing about building buildings, and<br />

we came across a company called Jonna.<br />

And as Frank built our building, he<br />

guided me through something I’d never<br />

done before. And I know sometimes<br />

you finish a building, you never want<br />

to talk to the contractor again. In this<br />

case, we were friends by the end of it.<br />

“There are a few people I know<br />

who, they’re just people that give you<br />

energy in life,” says Homberg. “And<br />

Frank is one of those people – great<br />

smile, positive vibe. When the blackout<br />

happened in 2003, our generator<br />

at WWJ started to run out of fuel and<br />

I started calling people for help. Frank<br />

26 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 27

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we specialize in shipping to iraq<br />

and the whole middle east<br />

said, ‘Rich, I’ll call you back.’ An hour<br />

later, a truck pulls up with fuel for our<br />

generator. That’s Frank. He’s all about<br />

customer service. I invited him to join<br />

the Board of DPTV.”<br />

“I met Frank and Judy about 25<br />

years ago when I first started,” remembers<br />

Barbara Urbiel, Chief Development<br />

Officer at Angel’s Place, a<br />

residential care service for individuals<br />

with developmental difficulties. “They<br />

couldn’t have been any warmer or welcoming<br />

to me my first day on the job.”<br />

Frank and Judy’s son Jeffrey has<br />

developmental challenges which require<br />

round-the-clock care. “What<br />

strikes me about Frank is that he’s<br />

so humble,” says Urbiel. “He is such<br />

a smart, loving, kind man, and he’s<br />

very humble. I admire that.”<br />

“I admire watching the Jonna Family<br />

and Frank in particular,” says Urbiel.<br />

“He loves his family deeply and<br />

he’s really passed on a legacy of giving<br />

and selflessness to his children and<br />

grandchildren. He’s built a legacy of<br />

giving to others; he’s truly a servant.”<br />

Family<br />

“Albert was a great basketball player,”<br />

remembers Pete, Frank’s brother,<br />

talking about childhood friend Albert<br />

Yono. “He was shot to death, I mean<br />

riddled, for no reason.” Albert was<br />

murdered while at work in a Detroit<br />

convenience store in 1969.<br />

“Frank and my brother John were<br />

shot at in Food Farm Market on Dexter<br />

and had to run back into the office for<br />

their lives,” recalls Pete. “The guy was<br />

hiding in the store that night and came<br />

running out and it was gunfire. That was<br />

the end of being a store owner for Frank.”<br />

Family was too precious to risk.<br />

“Frank was special,” says Pete.<br />

“He was an incredibly loving son and<br />

did everything for mom and dad above<br />

and beyond all the rest of us; he just<br />

knew what they needed, and he took<br />

care of it.”<br />

“Franks was a really hard worker<br />

from the day we got married,” says<br />

Judy, Frank’s wife of nearly 50 years.<br />

“What attracted me to him was he was<br />

very funny and worked very hard…<br />

he used to come home so dirty after<br />

work that sometimes I made him take<br />

his clothes off in the garage before he<br />

came into the house.”<br />

“My dad was always present,” says<br />

Frank’s son Joey. “He always had time<br />

for us at home and was involved in our<br />

activities.”<br />

Frank led by example. “He’s a doer,”<br />

says Joey, “who doesn’t require recognition<br />

or accolades. He listens intently and<br />

then just goes out and does it.<br />

“He has a famous saying: ‘Are you<br />

committed to the line of scrimmage?’<br />

and it means so many things to different<br />

people,” explains Joey. “You’ve got to be<br />

willing to get in the trenches to get things<br />

done. My father is that committed.”<br />

Legacy<br />

Frank has served as director on the<br />

Board of Henry Ford Health West<br />

Bloomfield as well as the boards of<br />

Catholic Central High School, Angel’s<br />

Place and Detroit Public Television.<br />

In 2022, Frank was inducted into the<br />

Michigan Construction Hall of Fame.<br />

Last year, he was honored as the 2023<br />

Distinguished Alumni for his many<br />

years of service to Catholic Central.<br />

Frank served on the Board of the<br />

Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce<br />

in its early years, including a<br />

stint as Chairman. He wasn’t initially a<br />

believer that the Chamber could make<br />

a difference, but he put his whole heart<br />

into it and became one of the CACC’s<br />

greatest ambassadors.<br />

His legacy lives on in the beautiful<br />

buildings his work has made possible.<br />

“We are thrilled to have historically preserved<br />

buildings in our portfolio,” says<br />

Frank. That portfolio also includes the<br />

Michigan National Building, the newest<br />

Detroit Piston’s Center, Mother of<br />

God and St. Thomas Churches, Shenandoah<br />

Country Club, and the Chaldean<br />

Community Foundation in Sterling<br />

Heights. Jonna Construction is currently<br />

working on the new Oakland County<br />

Campus for the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation in West Bloomfield.<br />

“My legacy is one of gratitude,”<br />

says Frank. It is a gift he has passed<br />

down to his 4 children, 7 grandchildren,<br />

and the countless lucky individuals<br />

who get the opportunity to deal<br />

with him daily.<br />

28 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

SPRING<br />

JOB<br />

FAIR<br />

Wednesday, May 1, <strong>2024</strong> 3:00PM – 5:00PM<br />

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JOIN US<br />

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The Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) invites you to participate in our 1st Spring<br />

Edition of the Annual Community Job Fair.<br />

Get connected with these employers (and<br />

many more!) and discover your limitless<br />

career possibilities!<br />

Bring your resume<br />

Dress to impress<br />

Apply and interview in person<br />

Full and part time jobs available<br />

Giveaways<br />

For more info contact Elias at Elias.Kattoula@chaldeanfoundation.org or call 586-722-7253.<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

Wireless Vision Gymnasium<br />

3601 15 Mile Rd.<br />

Sterling Heights, MI, 48310<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 29


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The Arabic language is considered<br />

one of the most elegant, pure<br />

forms of language in modern literature.<br />

With its rhythm and precision,<br />

it is the cornerstone of poetry and expression.<br />

What many people don’t know<br />

is that, although it is the language of<br />

prayer, recitation and poetry throughout<br />

the Islamic world, the Arabic language<br />

predates Islam. Its different dialects are<br />

spoken by around 422 million speakers,<br />

making it one of the top five most spoken<br />

languages in the world.<br />

The Arabic lexicon is extensive,<br />

with over 12 million distinct words;<br />

the Oxford English Dictionary has only<br />

around 170,000. For example, Arabic<br />

has 23 different words that mean “love.”<br />

Choosing the correct word to use might<br />

depend on the stage or strength of the<br />

love and whether it is familial love, adoration,<br />

sincere affection, infatuation,<br />

burning desire, or any of the multitude<br />

of feelings in between.<br />

The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters,<br />

all consonants; however, three of<br />

those characters may be used to make<br />

a long vowel sound in certain contexts.<br />

Letters change shape depending<br />

on their placement in a sentence<br />

– they look different if they appear at<br />

the beginning, middle, or end.<br />

There are no capital letters in Arabic.<br />

It is a cursive script, and the letters<br />

are joined with connecting strokes. Unlike<br />

English, it is read right to left and<br />

everything sounds like it is spelled.<br />

There is no neuter form, nouns are either<br />

masculine or feminine. And there<br />

is no format for abbreviations, which<br />

makes translation work difficult.<br />

Translation Challenges<br />

Arabic is a figurative, poetic language,<br />

often written with long sentences and<br />

filled with literary devices such as<br />

metaphor, figure of speech, allegory,<br />

and simile – all of which are also difficult<br />

to translate. Accordingly, and unfortunately<br />

too much Arabic poetry is<br />

waiting to be translated into English.<br />

Translation between English and<br />

Arabic is not always straightforward.<br />

Arabic calligraphy is a highly regarded<br />

element of Middle Eastern art.<br />

This can result in some ambiguity and<br />

presents challenges in preserving both<br />

style and tone and avoiding multiple<br />

interpretations of the same text.<br />

Many Arabic letters, words, and<br />

expressions have no direct English<br />

counterpart. The alphabet itself even<br />

includes some sounds that do not have<br />

direct correlations in the English language.<br />

For example, the sound of the<br />

letter ‘ ’ is thought to be unique to<br />

Arabic. In such cases, translators may<br />

need to combine English letters to attempt<br />

to create an equivalent sound.<br />

Given the lexical ambiguity and figurative<br />

nature of the Arabic language,<br />

translation between Arabic and English<br />

is not literal. To thoroughly understand<br />

the context of the text and<br />

capture the nuance of the language,<br />

translators must be an expert in the<br />

target language and highly proficient<br />

in the source language.<br />

The Arabic language stands as a<br />

testament to the rich tapestry of human<br />

expression, steeped in history, culture,<br />

and tradition. Its intricate grammar,<br />

nuanced semantics, and diverse dialects<br />

present formidable challenges for<br />

translation into English or any other<br />

language. Yet, within these challenges<br />

lie opportunities for discovery, understanding,<br />

and appreciation of the depth<br />

and beauty inherent in Arabic literature,<br />

poetry, and everyday discourse.<br />

While the task may be daunting, it<br />

is also deeply rewarding. Through the<br />

act of translation, we not only convey<br />

words but also transmit ideas, emotions,<br />

and cultural nuances across<br />

linguistic boundaries. It is in this exchange<br />

that the true magic of language<br />

reveals itself, fostering connections,<br />

fostering understanding, and enriching<br />

the tapestry of human experience.<br />

30 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 31


The Mortgage Man<br />

Danny Marogy leads sales at UWM<br />


“<br />

I<br />

actually hate mortgages,” says Danny Marogy.<br />

“I think it’s the most boring transaction in the<br />

history of mankind.”<br />

Yet Marogy, Senior Director of Sales at United<br />

Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), is known as one of the<br />

highest performing account executives across the<br />

country for the past 15 years. What motivates him?<br />

“What I love is putting consumers in their dream<br />

home,” he clarifies. “That’s the part that gets me out<br />

of bed every single day.” It’s what drives Marogy and<br />

his team at Pontiac-based UWM, the nation’s number<br />

one overall lender and brainchild of Mat Ishbia.<br />

According to his bio, Marogy is credited with being<br />

the number one executive, not only at United<br />

Wholesale Mortgage, but across the country. He<br />

works hand-in-hand with company CEO and president<br />

Mat Ishbia; together they created a specialized<br />

division focusing on West Coast development. Marogy<br />

continues to lead that initiative.<br />

“Mat is involved with everything on the floor,”<br />

says Marogy. “He isn’t your typical sit-in-the-office<br />

CEO; you see him on the sales floor daily.”<br />

UWM is all about educating the customer. Marogy<br />

calls the company “the Amazon of mortgages.” Using<br />

technology for ease of use and speed, UWM averages<br />

13 days or fewer until closing. With less paperwork,<br />

a streamlined process, and automatic syncing, they<br />

are “faster, easier, and cheaper” than retail mortgage<br />

companies, which typically run 40-45 days after an<br />

offer has been accepted for a closing date.<br />

“Tech definitely makes getting a mortgage easier,”<br />

states Marogy. “And virtual closings are getting<br />

better.” Processing over 30,000 mortgages a month,<br />

the company must embrace technology. And it’s not<br />

just mortgages to buy a home, it’s loaning money to<br />

pay off debt or do home improvements, too.<br />

Marogy has been in the business a while, over 20<br />

years. Marogy met Ishbia through a friend of a friend,<br />

and the rest, as they say, is history. “Mat shared his<br />

vision of becoming a top-20 wholesale lender and<br />

explained his business model,” says Marogy, “and I<br />

thought, ‘we could be a contender.’”<br />

The analogy is apt, as he compares the mortgage<br />

company to a team. “We’ve turned it into a sports<br />

team, basically,” says Marogy. “It’s very competitive.”<br />

As much as he hates mortgages, Marogy gets excited<br />

about explaining the qualification process and<br />

teaching clients about financial literacy. “Many are<br />

self-employed,” he says, “and they don’t understand<br />

that there are tax benefits to showing income.”<br />

Educating clients turns out to be a great business<br />

model. While they’re at it, they<br />

drive to educate mortgage brokers<br />

about different products<br />

as well.<br />

“We don’t actually do the<br />

lending,” explains Marogy,”<br />

That’s what brokers do.” As a<br />

wholesale mortgage company,<br />

UWM funds home loans<br />

originated by independent<br />

mortgage brokers across the<br />

United States.<br />

A wholesale company offers<br />

more choices to the consumer,<br />

resulting in an average savings<br />

to them of around $9,400, says<br />

Marogy. He and the rest of UWM<br />

are working to teach the public<br />

and change the dynamic. “We have<br />

10,000 brokers in our system,” explains<br />

Marogy. “We have almost<br />

40,000 originators nationwide.”<br />

Wholesale makes profits on margins.<br />

Currently, wholesale brokerages<br />

represent about 24% of the market,<br />

something that Marogy would like to<br />

see reversed, aiming for 60% within the<br />

next five years. It’s been their biggest<br />

push for the past five years.<br />

How can that happen? “Hiring great<br />

talent,” Marogy says decisively. They aim to<br />

recruit 2,000 more employees to work directly<br />

for UWM and 20,000 retail agents to come<br />

over to wholesale, hundreds per month, says<br />

Marogy. “When we recruit retail originators,<br />

we put them with wholesale brokers or help<br />

them start their own company,” says Marogy.<br />

The loan officers are not direct employees of UWM.<br />

Not bad for a company that started in an old<br />

Farmer Jack grocery store building in Birmingham<br />

with 100 employees. In 2009, they had 200 employees.<br />

Their employees now number in the thousands.<br />

Diversity is a big part of the makeup at UWM, and<br />

positivity is a must if you wish to work there. Marogy<br />

says a great attitude helps develop strong and meaningful<br />

relationships with brokers, and that is how the<br />

company operates. They have recruited many Chaldeans<br />

who share the same mentality.<br />

Having a great spirit also allows UWM to make a<br />

difference in their community. They purchased the<br />

UWM Sports Complex for all kids in Pontiac to use<br />

and gave the<br />

tax break to the<br />

schools. The company<br />

issues “pay<br />

it forward” points,<br />

where employees<br />

earn dollars to donate<br />

to the charity<br />

of their choice. And of<br />

course, they adopt hundreds of families at Christmas.<br />

Family is extremely important to Marogy. When he<br />

is not working, he’s with his family. Danny and his wife,<br />

a real estate agent who has been in the top 10 performers<br />

for her company for the last 5 years, have three sons,<br />

aged 7, 5, and 3, who like to run with dad on the soccer<br />

field. His oldest plays soccer for Liverpool Academy and<br />

his youngest enjoys the sport already. His middle child<br />

is more into golf. He is usually home in Rochester with<br />

them by 6:30pm every weekday.<br />

Marogy’s advice for young professionals? “Do<br />

something you love,” he says, “and compete only<br />

with yourself.”<br />

32 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

WE ARE<br />

HIRING<br />

Do you possess a passion for bettering the lives of others?<br />

Join our ever expanding team!<br />

Behavioral Health Therapist<br />

Case Worker • Citizenship Instructor<br />

Advocacy<br />

Acculturation<br />

For More Information<br />

HR@chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

586-722-7253<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org/careers<br />

Community Development<br />

Cultural Preservation<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 33


Leeanne Kizy and<br />

her mother, Amira,<br />

cooking together.<br />

Discovering New Cultures<br />

To feed her large family, Jamila cooked many of the traditional<br />

Chaldean dishes she grew up eating in Telkaif.<br />

As the years passed, she began to learn about the local<br />

cuisine as well, adding traditional Mexican meals,<br />

with their freshest of ingredients, to her family’s diet.<br />

From their mom, Amira and her sisters would learn<br />

the recipes for making meals from both traditions.<br />

During those mid-century decades, a growing<br />

number of Chaldeans were also making their way to<br />

Detroit, Michigan. One such individual was Ramzy<br />

Kizy. Ramzy left his hometown of Telkaif and traveled<br />

to the United States alone, arriving in the Detroit area<br />

in 1954. Like many others, Ramzy also shared the goal<br />

of working to establish a life so he can start a family.<br />

By the late 1950s, there had already been two or three<br />

waves of Chaldeans who had immigrated to Detroit.<br />

The Next Generation<br />

As word of this migration spread to Mexico, Elias<br />

Curioca began to visit Detroit, reconnecting with his<br />

newly-arrived friends. Amira recalls taking such trip<br />

with her father at the age of 21, when she was asked<br />

to be the maid of honor for her girlfriend’s wedding.<br />

They stayed with family friends, Joseph and Mary<br />

Shouneyia. As one of the few Chaldean families in<br />

Detroit, Mary would invite some of the single men to<br />

The Mexican Connection<br />

A mother and daughter prepare Pozole<br />

and reminisce of family memories<br />

BY Z. Z. DAWOD<br />

Back in 1937, a group of Chaldean Iraqi Christians<br />

traveled from Telkaif to Mosul, then to<br />

Adana to board a cargo ship bound for America.<br />

However, the United States was not their final<br />

destination. Upon reaching Ellis Island, New York<br />

City’s famous point of entry, they would board another<br />

ship, this one bound for Veracruz, which was<br />

then the main port of entry into Mexico. From Veracruz,<br />

the pioneers traveled by train toward Paso del<br />

Toro, stopping in various towns along the way before<br />

arriving in Ixtepec, where they would disembark. The<br />

journey would take three months.<br />

In Search of a New Life<br />

As was the case with many early immigrants to North<br />

America, it was mostly single men who tended to undertake<br />

such a voyage. They ventured to leave their<br />

hometown of Telkaif and travel to Mexico for what<br />

they believed would be a better life. With a climate<br />

that resembled Telkaif’s, this group decided to make<br />

the city of Ixtepec in the state of Oaxaca their new<br />

home.<br />

After some time of settling in, some of the men<br />

decided to travel back to Telkaif, with the goal of<br />

marrying. Their mission was to start a family to<br />

bring back to Ixtepec.<br />

One of the men who undertook this journey was<br />

Elias Curioca. Upon his return to Telkaif, he was<br />

matched with and soon married a young woman<br />

named Jamila Karana.<br />

Starting a Family<br />

Elias and Jamila Curioca had their first three children<br />

in Telkaif but after saving enough money for the trip<br />

back to Oaxaca, Elias departed once again, this time<br />

with a wife and three young children, arriving at their<br />

new home in Ixtepec three months later.<br />

Over the years, the family continued to grow.<br />

Their fourth child, Amira, was the first in this Chaldean<br />

family to be born in Mexico. Three more babies<br />

followed, blessing the Curioca family with a total of<br />

seven children.<br />

As Amira recalls, her home in Ixtepec was a villa<br />

of sorts, at least compared with other nearby homes.<br />

She remembers having a comfortable life, never<br />

wanting for anything.<br />

Ramzy and Amira on their wedding day in 1961.<br />

her house on Sundays for Chaldean dinners. Ramzy<br />

Kizy was one of the guests on the Sunday that Amira<br />

was there, and she caught his eye.<br />

The following morning, Amira’s father was excited<br />

to tell her about a gentleman who was interested<br />

in marrying her. At the time, Amira did not take the<br />

comment seriously. Rushing out the door to visit a<br />

friend, Amira recalls saying, “Baba, I have to go now,<br />

do whatever you need to do.” So, he did.<br />

The very next day, there was a shower gathering<br />

for Juliet Casab at Jack Najor’s house. It was a big celebration<br />

with lots of food and dancing when, all of a<br />

sudden, one halhole after another began to sound.<br />

Then came the announcement: Mary Shouneyia<br />

spoke up and informed the guests that Amira Curioca<br />

was now engaged to Ramzy Kizy. And that’s how<br />

Amira learned that she was to be married.<br />

34 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

RECIPE<br />

Pozole<br />

Stunned and caught off-guard, Amira had no idea<br />

that her father had actually consented to Ramzy’s<br />

proposal, on her behalf. But Ramzy was serious<br />

about marrying her, and Amira did not object. The<br />

following day, Ramzy arrived with a ring to make the<br />

engagement official. They were married two weeks<br />

later, and Amira moved to the Detroit area to start a<br />

family with her new husband.<br />

Growing Together Through Food<br />

Despite the obvious lack of knowledge about one<br />

another, the newlywed couple did have one thing in<br />

common: A mutual love of good food.<br />

By the time she was married, Amira was already<br />

an excellent cook, preparing traditional Chaldean<br />

dishes for her new husband. She was quite skilled<br />

at this and, in fact, many years later, Amira’s gurgur<br />

would land her a feature in the definitive Chaldean<br />

cookbook, Ma Baseema!<br />

In addition to the Chaldean dishes, Amira also began<br />

to introduce Ramzy to Mexican cuisine, and he loved it.<br />

Their five children would grow up enjoying foods from<br />

both cultures and speaking both Sureth and Spanish.<br />

1+1>2: Joining Cultures<br />

Ramzy’s and Amira’s eldest daughter, Leeanne,<br />

grew up speaking Spanish with her mother until<br />

Recipe shared by Amira<br />

and Leeanne Kizy<br />

Ingredients<br />

2 cans (28 oz.) of white hominy<br />

2 lbs. pork ribs, cut to pieces<br />

2 lbs. chicken drumsticks or thighs<br />

1<br />

/ 3 cup dried oregano<br />

Salt to taste<br />

2 large white onions, diced<br />

1<br />

/ 2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded<br />

2 jalapeños slices<br />

2 lemons cut into wedges<br />

Instructions<br />

Separately boil the ribs and chicken in 6 quarts<br />

of water until cooked. The ribs take about an<br />

hour and a half; the chicken, about a half hour.<br />

Once the ribs are cooked, drain and set aside.<br />

Transfer the chicken and its broth to a larger<br />

pot and bring to a boil, adding the ribs.<br />

After the broth comes to a boil, add the white<br />

hominy, salt and oregano. Bring to a boil once<br />

again, then simmer for 15 minutes.<br />

Serve in a bowl and garnish with shredded<br />

lettuce, onions, jalapeños, and a lemon wedge.<br />

Sprinkle some oregano on top, if desired.<br />


STORY<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

From left: Amira and Ramzy Kizy with their five children; Elias and Jamila; Amira Kizy and her siblings.<br />

she started school, at which point she began to<br />

practice English while continuing to speak Spanish<br />

and Sureth at home. Leeanne Kizy also kept up her<br />

Spanish speaking skills by spending every summer<br />

in Ixtepec with her grandparents. She would take<br />

this trip alone each summer, from the age of eight<br />

until she was sixteen.<br />

During these summer visits, Leeanne formed<br />

many fond memories of being in the kitchen and<br />

cooking alongside her la nana (grandmother). Leeanne<br />

loved to help out and put the meals together.<br />

During one such visit to Mexico, at the age of<br />

15, Leeanne celebrated her Quinceañera, an elegant<br />

traditional party highlighting God, family, friends,<br />

music, food and dance. Such celebrations would<br />

continue late into the night, often culminating with<br />

a walk to the Plaza Garibaldi, where family and<br />

friends enjoyed the Mariachi bands that played until<br />

the wee-wee hours while eating Pozole, a favorite<br />

dish served to the partygoers at the plaza.<br />

Chicken Broth Soup with a Twist<br />

Over the years, Pozole began to stand out as a family<br />

favorite. On the day I visited Leeanne’s home, her<br />

mom, Amira, was there and, together, they proceeded<br />

to share family stories from days gone by while<br />

preparing the soup.<br />

Pozole is a super-simple and delicious soup. With<br />

fewer than ten ingredients, it is not in the least bit laborintensive<br />

to prepare. If you can boil water to cook the<br />

ribs and chicken, shred some lettuce, dice onions and<br />

slice a jalapeño pepper, you can make this soup. Add<br />

salt and oregano to taste, top it off with the squeeze of<br />

a lemon and you’ve got yourself the tastiest of soups.<br />

Passing Down the Traditions<br />

Rooted in two distinct cultures, Leeanne grew up eating<br />

(and preparing) both traditional Chaldean and Mexican<br />

dishes. When it was her turn to start a family, it was only<br />

second nature for her to cook both, alternating between<br />

Chaldean and Mexican cuisines for her husband, three<br />

children, and now six grandchildren.<br />

Amira is blessed with eleven grandchildren and<br />

nine great-grandchildren, which is in itself a cause<br />

for a celebration. To keep the family close, a tradition<br />

they call “Mexican Day” regularly brings all four generations<br />

together for a Sunday family dinner.<br />

As the family continues to grow, new generations<br />

now call metro Detroit their home. With each consecutive<br />

generation, the family continues to celebrate<br />

their Mexican heritage, blending it with the native<br />

Chaldean traditions from back home in Telkaif.<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 35


36 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Beyond the Silk Road<br />

Event explores four stories of trade and entrepreneurship<br />


“<br />

Geography informs your<br />

fate,” says Dr. Adhid Miri.<br />

What he means by that is<br />

our environment has an immense influence<br />

on our chosen trade or livelihood.<br />

The Silk Road—interwoven<br />

passages, caravan routes, and byways<br />

that stretched from China to the<br />

eastern Mediterranean—connected<br />

with other important trade routes in<br />

ancient Mesopotamia, giving rise to a<br />

culture adept at trade.<br />

For centuries, through the Akkadian<br />

(2nd millennia BC, sometimes<br />

regarded as the first empire in history)<br />

and Babylonian (18th-6th centuries<br />

BC) eras and even throughout the Middle<br />

Ages, the culture grew, and skills<br />

were honed. Around the 3rd century<br />

AD, the manufacture of silk garments<br />

began, and the price of intricately<br />

sewn garments and fantastic wares<br />

were haggled over in the local bazaar.<br />

The people of Iraq perfected trade and<br />

developed an entrepreneurial spirit.<br />

Cities in Iraq became centers of<br />

commerce. Towns like Mosul (modern<br />

day Nineveh) were important stops<br />

along the route, specializing in goods<br />

such as embroidery, using silk from<br />

China as raw materials. Production of<br />

embroidered goods and the art of embroidery<br />

spread to other villages, becoming<br />

a local industry that wouldn’t<br />

exist without the trade route.<br />

Besides Mosul, the cities of Ur,<br />

Akkad, Basra, and Baghdad were important<br />

centers for silk trade and production.<br />

The skill and expertise of the<br />

weavers residing in the region was as<br />

vital as their geographic locations as<br />

Silk Road hubs.<br />

An interactive timeline on the<br />

Iraqi Embassy website states, “In the<br />

mid-13th century, Baghdad became a<br />

great center of civilizations at the crux<br />

of economic and informational trade<br />

routes. Universities were established,<br />

science, math, philosophy, and medicine<br />

flourished, and literature reached<br />

its height.”<br />

Silk Road Roots<br />

Mike Denha was born in Tel Kaif, Iraq<br />

nearly 90 years ago; he remembers riding<br />

a donkey to deliver produce. His<br />

family were farmers and the extended<br />

Denha family was known throughout<br />

the region for their tahini production.<br />

Mike was taught responsibility and<br />

compassion at home. “My mother used<br />

to say, ‘If you see a load down from a<br />

mule, don’t close your eyes,’” remembers<br />

Mike. “’If you can help them, put<br />

the load back up on the mule.’”<br />

When you are delivering goods<br />

on the back of a mule, a “load down”<br />

spells disaster.<br />

Mike came to Michigan in 1956 with<br />

$50 in his pocket, the first of his immediate<br />

family to arrive. He stayed with<br />

cousins for the first few years, finally<br />

finding his bride Nedal, a life mate who<br />

has stood by his side through good times<br />

and bad. “None of my success would be<br />

possible without her,” says Mike.<br />

In his first store, Food Lanes,<br />

Mike employed newcomers from Iraq,<br />

knowing how hard they worked and<br />

trusting in their honesty and reliability.<br />

He credits their efforts, along with<br />

his wife’s support, for his success. Although<br />

they were the best workers he<br />

could ask for, being new, they often<br />

weren’t fluent in English. One day he<br />

entered the store, and it seemed empty.<br />

He wondered where everyone was<br />

and wandered around, finally finding<br />

a crowd in aisle two. It turns out, a new<br />

hire whose only English was “aisle<br />

two” was working that day.<br />

The power couple of Mike and<br />

Nedal eventually bought 8 Mile Foodland.<br />

All six kids worked in their store,<br />

doing office work, wrapping meat, and<br />

cleaning the bathrooms. They worked<br />

hard for each other and with the other<br />

Ancient trade routes, including the famed Silk Road, ran through Mesopotamia<br />

(modern-day Iraq), setting the conditions for a culture of trade.<br />

workers, and made the business a success,<br />

earning record profits.<br />

Mike mentored his new immigrant<br />

hires, helping them learn business<br />

skills as well as English. His wife and<br />

partner Nedal mentored their wives,<br />

helping them acclimate to their new<br />

home and hosting get togethers in<br />

the Denha home. Most of them went<br />

onto start their own businesses; many<br />

of them today could buy and sell the<br />

Denha family’s current business,<br />

Brass Aluminum Forging Enterprises<br />

(BAFE), many times over. Mike is<br />

proud of that fact.<br />

Mike, known within the community<br />

as “Uncle Mike,” was one of the panelists<br />

featured in an event called “Follow<br />

the Silk Road: From Mesopotamia to<br />

Michigan” held on February 29, <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Other speakers included Jacob Bacall,<br />

Karam Banham and Jeff Denha, Mike’s<br />

son and president/CEO of the family<br />

business. The discussion sought to represent<br />

the stories of different generations<br />

of merchants stretching from Tel<br />

Kaif to the Motor City.<br />

The evening opened with an introduction<br />

from Dr. Adhid Miri, who<br />

educated the crowd of over 100 about<br />

the history of the Silk Road in Mesopotamia.<br />

He traced the route from China<br />

through the Middle East, emphasizing<br />

cities in modern day Iraq.<br />

Jacob Bacall was born in Iraq and<br />

immigrated to Michigan in 1977, quickly<br />

establishing himself as a successful<br />

businessman. Upon observation of the<br />

community here in America, Jacob felt<br />

compelled to tell the story, not only<br />

for future generations but also for the<br />

community itself.<br />

His first book, Chaldeans in Detroit,<br />

weaves the narrative of a generation of<br />

immigrants who fled oppression and<br />

set their sights on a better life in Michigan.<br />

This group would never take for<br />

granted the ability to worship freely<br />

and the opportunity to build a dynasty<br />

as a legacy for their successors.<br />

Jacob asserts that business is in the<br />

Chaldean blood and that trade skills<br />

are innate to his people. The “$5 workday”<br />

that Henry Ford promised not only<br />

brought workers to Michigan but created<br />

a need for grocery stores and shopping<br />

centers in the area. Chaldeans and their<br />

entrepreneurial spirit not only took advantage<br />

of these niche needs but also<br />

created their own opportunities.<br />

Karam Banham, who cofounded<br />

the Eastern Catholic Re-Evangelization<br />

Center (ECRC), a lay organization made<br />

SILK ROAD continued on page XX<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 37

SILK ROAD continued from page XX<br />

up of volunteers that are committed<br />

to answering the call of St. Pope John<br />

Paul II to re-evangelize the world, was<br />

another panelist. He came to Michigan<br />

from Iraq in 1994, ready to learn.<br />

With his brother-in-law and mentor<br />

Mike Koza, he cashed in on the video<br />

craze and invested in Mammoth Video.<br />

Riding that wave until the market<br />

cooled, he began looking for other opportunities.<br />

Casting his eye to the southern<br />

Unites States, he observed that gas<br />

stations in the region were larger and<br />

offered more choices and thought there<br />

might be something there.<br />

Again, partnering with Koza, Karam<br />

created USA to GO, a gas station/convenience<br />

store model that disrupted<br />

the industry and changed the way motorists<br />

plan road trips. This successful<br />

enterprise allowed him to pursue his<br />

dream of seeking spiritual sustenance<br />

and becoming a revivalist. Besides<br />

ECRC, Karam founded REVIV3, a ministry<br />

that offers one-on-one support for<br />

Christians in their walk, and is heavily<br />

involved in World Youth Day, an event<br />

that brings young people from all over<br />

the world together to worship Jesus<br />

Christ. “The Church is alive,” says Banham,<br />

“and it’s powerful.”<br />

Jeff Denha was the only panelist<br />

that was born in the United States. He<br />

shared the story of how the Denhas<br />

came to own and operate Brass Aluminum<br />

Forging (BAFE). Mike (Jeff’s dad)<br />

and his partner were in the business<br />

of buying distressed companies and<br />

figuring out how to make them profitable.<br />

They would resell the business<br />

once rescued or dissolve it if the business<br />

was unsalvageable. Brass Aluminum<br />

was one of those businesses.<br />

The partner had moved on and<br />

the Denha family was left holding the<br />

company. Jeff felt that with hard work,<br />

BAFE could turn around and show a<br />

profit. “Entrepreneur” is a word much<br />

overused today, but it is a word that<br />

perfectly describes the spirit of Chaldean<br />

businesspeople. Not many in<br />

the community engage in production,<br />

tending toward buying and selling,<br />

but the Denhas are outliers.<br />

Jeff, along with his siblings, was<br />

determined to “protect Mom and Dad’s<br />

money,” as he said during the program.<br />

BAFE produced samples which he sent<br />

out to vendors, but he didn’t sit around<br />

and wait after that. When he was contacted<br />

by a potential customer whose<br />

previous shop couldn’t meet their order,<br />

Jeff contacted the supplier and arranged<br />

to meet. The result was new business for<br />

BAFE and a mutually beneficial business<br />

arrangement with the other production<br />

company. That’s good business.<br />

Full Circle<br />

As the vibrant tapestry of Chaldean<br />

culture weaves its way across continents,<br />

from the ancient sands of<br />

Mesopotamia to the busy roadways of<br />

The Chaldean community continues to bridge the gap between past<br />

and present, enriching both their adopted homeland and the legacy<br />

of the Silk Road itself.<br />


STORY<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

Michigan, the journey along the modern<br />

Silk Road shows resilience, entrepreneurship,<br />

and a commitment to<br />

preserving cultural heritage.<br />

Through their thriving businesses<br />

and unwavering dedication, the Chaldean<br />

community continues to bridge the<br />

gap between past and present, enriching<br />

both their adopted homeland and<br />

the legacy of the Silk Road itself. As we<br />

traverse this cultural corridor, it becomes<br />

clear that the spirit of commerce and<br />

cultural exchange knows no bounds,<br />

reminding us that the ties that bind us<br />

are as enduring as the threads of silk that<br />

once connected distant lands.<br />

38 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

chaldeans<br />

a portrait of the<br />

community<br />




MUSIC,<br />


DANCE,<br />


FOOD,<br />

AND MORE!<br />


MAY 9, <strong>2024</strong><br />

6:00 PM<br />




3601 15 MILE ROAD<br />


There is no cost to<br />

attend, please register at<br />

chaldeannews.com/celebration<br />

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EVENT!<br />

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 39

Exploring April<br />

20 years of April covers<br />


Throughout history, April has been<br />

a time of rebirth. It is the season<br />

you see new green shoots poking<br />

out of the ground. As the chill of winter<br />

gradually fades away, nature awakens<br />

with a vibrant burst of life, heralding<br />

the arrival of spring. With each passing<br />

day, the world undergoes a miraculous<br />

transformation as dormant buds unfurl<br />

into delicate blossoms and barren<br />

landscapes are blanketed in a tapestry<br />

of lush greenery.<br />

Spring emerges as a season of renewal,<br />

symbolizing hope, rejuvenation,<br />

and the promise of new beginnings.<br />

From the melodious chorus of birdsong<br />

to the gentle warmth of the sun’s<br />

embrace, spring captivates the senses,<br />

inviting us to immerse ourselves in its<br />

fleeting beauty and embrace the boundless<br />

possibilities that lie ahead.<br />

It is fitting that the first April cover<br />

for the Chaldean News was about celebrating<br />

rebirth and the establishment<br />

of a new home for many in the community<br />

- St. George Chaldean Catholic<br />

Church. In her editor letter, Vanessa<br />

Denha Garmo reflects on spring and<br />

its message of hope and talks about<br />

the movie “The Passion of the Christ”<br />

and the controversy surrounding the<br />

release. She opines that the Bible story<br />

is a narrative for all to enjoy.<br />

Next, in 2005, we take a closer look<br />

at health trends in the community, focusing<br />

on gastrointestinal disorders<br />

such as Crohn’s disease and colitis.<br />

Potentially embarrassing, these conditions<br />

aren’t discussed over the dinner<br />

table; however, writer Joyce Wiswell<br />

tackles the subject with grace and dignity,<br />

citing doctors and medical studies<br />

which show that Chaldeans share<br />

a propensity for these maladies with<br />

the Jewish community. In the article,<br />

a registered dietician who suffers from<br />

colitis stated, “I have learned that good<br />

health is not the absence of disease.<br />

The model of good health is doing what<br />

you can to build up your resistance.”<br />

In 2006, Judge Diane D’Agostini<br />

takes a hard line against a proposition<br />

to allow county judges to decide which<br />

offenders will be eligible for early release.<br />

In the article, Agostini says. “If<br />

I start worrying about overcrowding,<br />

I’m not doing my job.”<br />

The 2007 cover features the stars<br />

of Second City’s “My Cuzin’s Comedy<br />

Show,” a troupe which included, as Paul<br />

Jonna joked, “an all-brown cast.” The<br />

following year, in 2008, laughs turned<br />

to tears as the community mourned<br />

Archbishop Rahho, who was kidnapped<br />

and murdered in Mosul. The archbishop<br />

joined a cast of martyrs that stretches<br />

back to the beginnings of Christianity.<br />

In 2009, the Chaldean News cover<br />

featured Easter art by then 12-year-old<br />

Sadeer Jabouri; a decade later, in 2019,<br />

the cover was again “All About the Resurrection.”<br />

The intervening years saw<br />

cover stories dedicated to: the Jewish-<br />

Chaldean partnership (2010); the publication<br />

of the Ma Baseema cookbook<br />

(2011); a one-on-one interview with<br />

Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim (2012); various<br />

leaders “Elected, Appointed, Jailed and<br />

Retiring,” and what that meant to the<br />

community (2013); Mikhail and Suham<br />

Kassab’s journey to America (2014); the<br />

heroin epidemic (2015); Jonathan Bach<br />

on “The Voice”; a new mosque in Sterling<br />

Heights (2017); and the opening of<br />

Our Lady of the Fields Camp (2018).<br />

In 2020, we were “Bracing for Impact,”<br />

unsure of what the future would<br />

look like and unsettled as death and<br />

disease swept across the globe. I feel<br />

we are still recovering.<br />

In 2021, Chaldeans had good reason<br />

to feel excited when Pope Francis<br />

went to Iraq and laid his blessing upon<br />

the land. It was the first time in history<br />

that a sitting pope visited the country;<br />

he carried a message of hope for peace<br />

and good will among all citizens, regardless<br />

of religion.<br />

In 2022, Cal Abbo penned a story<br />

about the community’s fear and frustration<br />

in “Taken Too Soon,” an article<br />

about the over 100 Chaldeans killed in<br />

their place of business, and last year, in<br />

2023, Dr. Adhid Miri wrote about Iraq’s<br />

alcohol ban and how it disproportionately<br />

affects Christians in the country.<br />

In this season of rebirth, when we<br />

celebrate the resurrection of Jesus,<br />

we should also celebrate the promise<br />

of spring and the hope that we as humans<br />

will one day live together in total<br />

peace and prosperity. We have a long<br />

way to go but if history tells us anything<br />

it’s that working together, we are<br />

capable of great things.<br />

40 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>



JANUARY <strong>APRIL</strong> 9, <strong>2024</strong> 9 – JUNE MARCH 13 21, <strong>2024</strong><br />

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<strong>APRIL</strong><br />

2023<br />

<strong>2024</strong> NEWS 33 41<br />



Growing Pains<br />

Michigan marijuana business remains<br />

a perilous pot of gold<br />


Editor’s Note: This article is part of a<br />

series called Great Michigan Stories. It<br />

examines the legal marijuana industry<br />

in Michigan and the large part that<br />

Chaldean entrepreneurs have had in<br />

creating it. They invested early in the<br />

fledgling industry, seeing the opportunity<br />

to make considerable profit by getting<br />

in on the ground floor. Savvy business<br />

people like Justin Elias of Puff Cannabis<br />

Company, his partner Nick Hannawa,<br />

and Mark Savaya of Future Grow<br />

Solutions have made a fortune off the<br />

product. Mike Bahoura is one of many<br />

Chaldean attorneys who specialize in<br />

licensing and cannabis issues.<br />

History<br />

Even before the 2020 election that<br />

featured a national explosion of approval<br />

for ballot proposals legalizing<br />

marijuana production, processing and<br />

sales, the industry had taken off, with<br />

Michigan among the most lucrative<br />

states for cannabis crop sales.<br />

However, the lure of marijuana<br />

money comes with expensive federal<br />

tax headaches, restrictions on trade<br />

across state lines, and a depressed<br />

market overcrowded with licensees.<br />

In November 2018, a ballot proposal<br />

made recreational marijuana sales<br />

legal in Michigan. Prior to that, medical<br />

marijuana sales were legal through<br />

a “caregiver” program that evolved<br />

into legalized medical marijuana dispensaries.<br />

But the true boom came<br />

with the 2018 ballot proposal. The first<br />

recreational businesses opened after a<br />

year of regulatory ramp-up.<br />

A New Industry<br />

We interviewed several sources for this<br />

story in early 2022. In the short time<br />

since then, the marijuana industry saw<br />

a boom in licensees and a market oversaturated<br />

with product and plagued<br />

by freefalling prices. The price drop<br />

put a number of growers at risk of failing<br />

and sent ripples throughout the<br />

Mark Savaya of Future Grow Solutions.<br />

Michigan marijuana industry.<br />

On the bright side, the cost of licenses<br />

and land decreased and the<br />

rush of licensees—including many<br />

poorly qualified and capitalized entrants—slowed.<br />

Through a name change and byzantine<br />

series of rules, regulations and<br />

legislation, the Marijuana Regulatory<br />

Agency emerged as the administrator<br />

of all things marijuana in Michigan.<br />

The MRA created a board of five members<br />

that considered medical marijuana<br />

applications. Since we last wrote<br />

about the industry, the agency’s name<br />

has changed to the Cannabis Regulatory<br />

Agency (CRA) to cover the wide<br />

array of cannabis products, including<br />

oils and edibles.<br />

Licensing<br />

Mike Bahoura is an attorney who specializes<br />

in cannabis licensing issues. He<br />

closed a marijuana dispensary in the<br />

city of Lapeer and opened two stores<br />

in New Baltimore and Monroe since we<br />

last talked to him in 2022, when he said,<br />

“It wasn’t an easy process. They were<br />

throwing out denials left and right,<br />

so it wasn’t easy to get approved.”<br />

The board considered a broad range<br />

of criteria from applicants, including<br />

litigation history, criminal history,<br />

bankruptcy history and moral character.<br />

“The most memorable denial that<br />

was issued was Calvin Johnson of the<br />

Detroit Lions getting denied because of<br />

some unpaid parking tickets in Georgia<br />

like a decade prior,” said Bahoura.<br />

The MRA dissolved the board at<br />

the end of 2019, holding its last meeting<br />

in December of that year. With the<br />

approval of recreational sales, the<br />

process has evolved from being very<br />

restrictive to being more like applying<br />

for a liquor license. “They started<br />

granting approvals unless you had<br />

something on your record,” said Bahoura.<br />

“They were looking for ways to<br />

approve you rather than ways to deny<br />

you.”<br />

Bahoura says the CRA has made<br />

strides toward effective regulation on<br />

the licensing end, but is still inconsistent<br />

and capricious when it comes to<br />

doling out discipline. Fines and penalties<br />

are case-by-case and very arbitrary,<br />

he says.<br />

Operating Challenges<br />

With the loosening of the state licensing<br />

process came the rush for real<br />

estate. The state grants licenses, but<br />

city governments establish the zoning<br />

rules governing where marijuana<br />

growers, processors and retail dispensaries<br />

can operate, and under which<br />

conditions and caveats.<br />

Outrageous real estate prices have<br />

since plummeted, with relaxed government<br />

attitudes toward the marijuana<br />

industry. Still, local regulations<br />

vary wildly. As of 2022, Harrison Township<br />

does not allow retail sales, but<br />

permits growing and processing facilities.<br />

Ferndale allows retail sales, but<br />

not growing and processing.<br />

There are also conditions attached<br />

to where marijuana operations can do<br />

business. Restrictions on how close<br />

the facilities can be located to schools<br />

and neighborhoods are not uncommon.<br />

And grow and processing operations<br />

are often restricted to areas of cities<br />

zoned for industrial activity.<br />

As convoluted as all of this sounds,<br />

it is better than the contentious process<br />

that preceded it, in which applicants<br />

were scored on a point scale and<br />

the top scorers were awarded licenses.<br />

A spate of lawsuits against municipalities<br />

brought the current system—and<br />

the subsequent rush of applicants.<br />

Growing Green<br />

It also brought city treasuries and<br />

state coffers a lot of money. License<br />

fees are limited for cities to $5,000 per<br />

year. State licenses correspond to a fee<br />

schedule and depend on the size of the<br />

operation and in which part of the process—cultivation,<br />

processing, retail—<br />

the licensee works. Bahoura says state<br />

license fees range in cost from $7,000<br />

to $24,000, and that money flowing to<br />

the CRA far exceeds that of any other<br />

state agency of its kind.<br />

Despite the economic boon marijuana<br />

brings to the state, Bahoura said<br />

larger, national banks still won’t accept<br />

marijuana industry deposits. Marijuana<br />

is still an illegal controlled substance<br />

under federal law, so federally regulated<br />

banks and credit card companies cannot<br />

work with those growing, processing or<br />

selling marijuana. It takes bank loans<br />

off the table and makes marijuana a<br />

cash-only business, forcing businesses<br />

to transport large amounts of cash and<br />

face the attendant security risks.<br />

42 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 43

Bahoura said building costs of<br />

$1 million with build-out costs of another<br />

$1 million are not unusual for<br />

grow operations. That is not inclusive<br />

of added costs for water, light, and<br />

equipment or operating expenses. If<br />

a crop becomes infested, fails to pass<br />

inspection, or other difficulties occur,<br />

an entrepreneur can sink very<br />

quickly. On the retail side, a busy store<br />

requires upward of $1 million in inventory<br />

to remain competitive. Retailers<br />

are also hampered by IRS Code 280E,<br />

which classifies marijuana retailers as<br />

controlled substance sellers and takes<br />

away the standard expense deductions<br />

available to other businesses.<br />

Despite the increasingly mainstream<br />

culture forming around the<br />

marijuana industry, vestiges of its outlaw<br />

roots seem buried everywhere. Future<br />

Grow Solutions owner Mark Savaya<br />

says his company cannot transport<br />

or test its own product. By law, those<br />

services must be outsourced.<br />

For those who met the buy-in threshold,<br />

navigated the regulatory minefield,<br />

and shined the tarnish off a once illegal<br />

industry, gold did indeed appear at the<br />

end of the rainbow. Nagging legacy regulations<br />

and major tax hassles have not<br />

stopped the industry from maturing and<br />

growing. Some companies have formed<br />

a rather large footprint.<br />

Justin Elias is president of Puff Cannabis,<br />

a business that operates 10 locations<br />

of cultivation, processing, and<br />

retail operations in Michigan. Puff has<br />

expanded substantially since forming<br />

in 2009, from its original nine employees<br />

to its present roster of 500. Elias says<br />

Puff had revenues of $7 million in its first<br />

year, charted $150 million last year, and<br />

expects to see $250 million next year.<br />

When we talked to Elias and Coowner<br />

Nick Hannawa, Puff was doubling<br />

its staff and planning to move<br />

into a new 20,000-square-foot headquarters<br />

in Troy.<br />

Future Grow Solutions owner Mark<br />

Savaya made the move from the convenience<br />

store industry to marijuana<br />

a few years ago, when “caregiver” operations<br />

were permitted to grow a limited<br />

number of plants. Before dispensaries.<br />

Before recreational sales.<br />

Savaya saw the potential in the industry<br />

and moved to North Carolina to<br />

learn about hydroponic towers that feature<br />

vertical towers to maximize space,<br />

water recycling and no soil. The grow<br />

The Risks of Cannabis<br />

April is National Cannabis Awareness<br />

Month, so we wanted to take<br />

the opportunity to give you an update<br />

on the industry and on the status of the<br />

opposition to legalized marijuana. The<br />

legal industry is still young; we know<br />

that many Chaldeans have gotten in on<br />

the ground floor, capitalizing on their<br />

shrewd business skills. But others are<br />

not happy with the new legal status.<br />

Scientists are still learning about<br />

the benefits as well as the risks of cannabis.<br />

The CDC reports that nearly 31%<br />

of 12th graders in one study reported using marijuana in<br />

2022, and almost 6 ½ % reported using marijuana daily. Using<br />

alcohol and marijuana at the same time will likely cause<br />

greater impairment and risk of physical harm than using<br />

either one alone.<br />

The CDC study shows that teens who use marijuana may<br />

be less likely to graduate high school or attend college. Even<br />

more alarming, research shows that using marijuana during<br />

your teen years can cause damage to the brain, which is<br />

actively developing until around age 25. Usage may impair<br />

thinking, memory, and learning itself. Marijuana use has<br />

been linked to depression and social anxiety in adults.<br />

While there have been studies on the effects of smoking<br />

marijuana in its natural state, we have limited data on the<br />

operations locate in repurposed industrial<br />

spaces, much like standard indoor<br />

agricultural set-ups, but the towers allow<br />

for about eight times the number of<br />

plants in a standard configuration, taking<br />

advantage of the building’s cubic<br />

(three-dimensional) space rather than<br />

just is square footage, or floor space.<br />

His business has grown, from a single<br />

location as of 2022 to three as of November<br />

2023, with another five readying<br />

for business early this year. He says<br />

he also owns seven growing locations.<br />

Savaya now employs 300 people,<br />

each earning $20 to $50 per hour; he<br />

said he planned to add benefits to the<br />

mix early this year. He often hires employees<br />

convicted of non-violent marijuana<br />

crimes. He says this gives them a<br />

second chance and provides him with<br />

a workforce familiar with the product.<br />

Despite the prohibitive costs and<br />

regulation endemic to his industry, Savaya<br />

has found creative ways to meet<br />

his business goals. In 2022, his tower<br />


STORY<br />

Edible cannabis products are often<br />

designed to appeal to minors, despite<br />

the minimum age requirements.<br />

growing arrangement allowed him to<br />

grow 12,000 plants in a physical space<br />

that historically accommodated 1,500<br />

plants, with the attendant savings on<br />

water—90 percent of which he said<br />

constantly recycles—and electricity.<br />

Savaya also found creative ways<br />

to administer payroll and deal with<br />

the cash-only nature of the marijuana<br />

business. While many in the industry<br />

have turned to credit unions—which<br />

are not federally regulated—to do their<br />

banking, Savaya formed an employee<br />

leasing company and “leases” employees<br />

to his multiple dispensaries<br />

and grow operations. He manages the<br />

huge amount of cash his businesses<br />

generate by paying contractors who<br />

build out his facilities in cash.<br />

Risky Business<br />

As the industry adapts and matures, it<br />

continues to face issues preventing it<br />

from operating under the same rules<br />

as other industries. 280E, the tax code<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

use of edibles. Marijuana packaging is<br />

often deceiving and appeals to young<br />

people with its graphic art and bright<br />

colors. Compounds in marijuana can<br />

be extracted to make oils and concentrates<br />

that can be vaped or inhaled.<br />

Smoking oils, wax concentrates, and<br />

extracts from the marijuana plant,<br />

known as “dabbing,” is on the rise.<br />

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound<br />

found in marijuana that shows signs<br />

of helping with seizure disorder and is<br />

also used as a topical cream for pain<br />

relief. Scientists are still learning about how CBD affects<br />

the body, however, although we know it does not cause<br />

impairment and doesn’t get you “high.”<br />

CBD is not risk-free. The FDA has limited data on its<br />

safety. There are some known side effects of its use, including<br />

liver damage, drowsiness, and changes in mood<br />

and appetite. In addition, the risks of mixing with other<br />

medications are unknown.<br />

The Catholic Church is a powerful critic of the marijuana<br />

trade. On the Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle<br />

website, a statement is made about marijuana which<br />

reads in part: “The Chaldean Diocese of Saint Thomas the<br />

Apostle joins the Church at large in condemning the use of<br />

ALL drugs outside of ‘strict, therapeutic grounds.’ ”<br />

law, has become the front-and-center<br />

issue for licensees. As the businesses<br />

scale, they are forced to remain cashonly<br />

entities, not eligible to deduct<br />

their considerable business costs<br />

from their tax bill and not permitted<br />

to engage in interstate commerce—an<br />

increasingly important issue as many<br />

licensees have multi-state expansion<br />

plans waiting on the runway.<br />

Bahoura said the number of people<br />

exiting the business has accelerated<br />

as new owners discover they underestimated<br />

start-up costs. Some of them<br />

are selling their businesses at reduced<br />

rates, simply to get out. Underscoring<br />

his points about prohibitive entry costs<br />

and high risks, Bahoura said he has<br />

helped about 100 applicants prequalify<br />

for licenses, but only about a dozen<br />

have gotten to the point where they<br />

open an operating facility. He said the<br />

big question he always asks his clients<br />

is, “Do you have enough money to get<br />

over the finish line?”<br />

Despite the patchwork of sometimes<br />

conflicting local laws, cultural<br />

acceptance seems to have arrived. Bahoura<br />

pointed out that dispensaries<br />

were considered essential businesses<br />

during the most restrictive part of the<br />

COVID-19 lockdown. They remained<br />

open during the pandemic, even offering<br />

curbside service.<br />

44 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

3601 15 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48310<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 45

SPORTS<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

Making the Cut<br />

Twenty years of good sports<br />


As a writer for The Chaldean News<br />

since 2006, I’ve covered many great<br />

sports stories. Here’s a list of the top 10.<br />

1. Absolutely Perfect<br />

Pierce and Connor Shaya are tennis<br />

players at Bloomfield Hills High School.<br />

Pierce is a junior. Connor is a sophomore.<br />

Between them, they’ve played<br />

in the Division 1 state tournament five<br />

times and won five flight championships.<br />

And they have never lost a singles<br />

match in high school competition.<br />

Pierce is 47-0 and Connor is 53-0. Pierce<br />

lost a doubles match in 2022, so his<br />

overall high school record is 72-1.<br />

2. No Handicap<br />

Gabe Sheena lost most of his left leg to<br />

an amputation because he was suffering<br />

from osteosarcoma (bone cancer).<br />

The operation took place January 6,<br />

2000, one day before his ninth birthday,<br />

at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer<br />

Center in New York City. The handicap<br />

has never stopped him. He was an<br />

outstanding wrestler at Birmingham<br />

Brother High School and he wrestled<br />

for the University of Michigan. He’s<br />

now a doctoral fellow at Northwestern<br />

Medicine in Chicago after graduating<br />

from U-M and the Central Michigan<br />

University College of Medicine.<br />

3. Two-Sport Star<br />

Ella Lucia is headed to Harvard University<br />

to play Division I women’s hockey.<br />

The Bloomfield Hills High School senior<br />

had 32 goals and 92 assists in 66<br />

games last season for the Little Caesars<br />

AAA 16U girls hockey team. AAA is the<br />

highest level of girls junior hockey. Lucia<br />

also is an All-American high school<br />

girls lacrosse player. She had 125 goals<br />

and 59 assists in 23 games last spring<br />

for Bloomfield Hills.<br />

4. All For Iraq<br />

Professional soccer player Justin<br />

Meram, a Shelby Township native,<br />

played in World Cup qualifying matches<br />

and other competitions for the Iraq<br />

national team from 2014-22. He scored<br />

four goals in 36 games for the Lions<br />

of Mesopotamia. Meram was the lone<br />

Chaldean on the team, and one of the<br />

few Chaldeans who have ever played<br />

soccer for Iraq. Meram was able to play<br />

for Iraq because his parents were born<br />

there and he has dual citizenship. He’s<br />

currently playing for Charlotte FC in<br />

the Major Soccer League.<br />

5. It’s A Set Up<br />

Ava Sarafa was a member of three<br />

state championship volleyball teams<br />

(2020-22) at Birmingham Marian High<br />

School. A setter, she had more than<br />

5,000 assists in her high school career.<br />

She’s now playing volleyball at<br />

the University of Kentucky. She didn’t<br />

play for the Wildcats as a freshman,<br />

but she has four years of eligibility<br />

remaining.<br />

6. Not Easy<br />

Bloomfield Hills native Andrew Nadhir<br />

became an All-American wrestler<br />

the hard way when he was a senior<br />

at Northwestern University. He finished<br />

in sixth place at 149 pounds<br />

at the 2011 NCAA championships. To<br />

do that, he needed to wrestle seven<br />

matches in three days. After being<br />

pinned with one minute remaining in<br />

his first match of the meet, the Northwestern<br />

captain won four consecutive<br />

do-or-die matches in wrestle-backs,<br />

two in overtime. Nadhir was an All-<br />

State wrestler at Novi Detroit Catholic<br />

Central High School before heading<br />

to Northwestern. He’s now the chief<br />

operating officer at BOSC Realty Advisors<br />

in Troy.<br />

7. He’s A Bronco<br />

Michael Sulaka played a huge role in<br />

the Warren De La Salle High School<br />

boys basketball team’s Division 1<br />

state championship in 2022, his junior<br />

year. Sulaka’s most impressive performance<br />

during the Pilots’ run-up to the<br />

state championship game and their<br />

first state title came vs. Grand Rapids<br />

Northview in the state semifinals. He<br />

scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting,<br />

grabbed eight rebounds and blocked<br />

four shots in 21 minutes. He had a<br />

4.004 grade-point average at De La<br />

Salle. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Sulaka<br />

is now a freshman on the Western<br />

Michigan University men’s basketball<br />

team. He didn’t play for the Broncos<br />

this year, but he has four years of eligibility<br />

remaining.<br />

8. He’s An Ironman<br />

Paul Shaya of Bloomfield Hills swam 2.4<br />

miles, rode a bike for 112 miles, and ran<br />

26.2 miles in one day in temperatures<br />

that topped 100 degrees and high winds.<br />

His reward? He was among 1,690 finishers<br />

in a field of more than 2,000 athletes<br />

who competed in the Ford Ironman<br />

Arizona competition in 2008. Shaya finished<br />

the grueling race in 16 hours, 27<br />

minutes and 19 seconds. He was back<br />

at work two days after the competition.<br />

Shaya is a Birmingham Groves High<br />

School and University of Michigan grad.<br />

9. March Madness<br />

Want to know why the high school basketball<br />

state tournament is called March<br />

Madness? Jeremy Denha can tell you.<br />

46 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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He was the coach of the West Bloomfield<br />

boys basketball team that came<br />

out of nowhere to make it to the Class<br />

A state semifinals in 2017. After going<br />

12-8 in the regular season, the Lakers<br />

advanced to the Final Four for the first<br />

time since 2003. One of their wins en<br />

route to the Final Four was an improbable<br />

67-66 double-overtime victory over<br />

Novi in a regional championship game.<br />

West Bloomfield was down 66-62 with 12<br />

seconds left and pulled out the victory.<br />

Denha is now coaching boys basketball<br />

at Utica Ford, his alma mater.<br />

10. Catholic League Honor<br />

Sal Malek, a longtime athletic director<br />

at Detroit Catholic League schools,<br />

received the league’s prestigious Ed<br />

Lauer Person of the Year Award in<br />

2011. That wasn’t bad for a guy who<br />

admittedly spoke “terrible English”<br />

when he came to Detroit as a 14-yearold<br />

in 1964 after his family spent six<br />

months in California following a<br />

move from Baghdad, Iraq. Malek is<br />

currently the athletic director at Waterford<br />

Our Lady of the Lakes High<br />

School.<br />

<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 47


Shibib Tomas<br />

Shadhaya<br />

Feb 1, 1946 –<br />

Feb 18, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Jozila Bahoura<br />

July 1, 1933 –<br />

Feb 19, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Najat Putrus<br />

July 1, 1940 –<br />

Feb 20, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Salih Gorgees<br />

Rofo<br />

July 1, 1944 –<br />

Feb 21, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Bassam Dankha<br />

July 4, 1977 –<br />

Feb 21, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Saad Yousif Hirmiz<br />

Feb 24, 1961 –<br />

Feb 22, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Batol Israel Osachi<br />

March 3, 1943 –<br />

Feb 23, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Bajara Goriel<br />

Jan 20, 1946 –<br />

Feb 23, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Sabah Shallal<br />

July 1, 1939 –<br />

Feb 23, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Yousuf Hirmiz<br />

Yousuf<br />

July 1, 1939 –<br />

Feb 25, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Muhannad Hanna<br />

Bajoua<br />

Nov 12, 1968 –<br />

Feb 26, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Itia Isho<br />

July 1, 1934 –<br />

Feb 26, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Tina Katherine<br />

Alhermizi<br />

May 8, 1968 –<br />

Feb 27, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Nazeeh Najib<br />

Jaboori<br />

Feb 6, 1949 –<br />

March 1, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Fectorya<br />

Shamoon -Kaka<br />

Yaldo<br />

July 1, 1936 –<br />

March 2, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Bleebos<br />

Gorgees Oroo<br />

July 1, 1950 –<br />

March 2, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Victoria Dawood<br />

Al Saoor<br />

July 1, 1937 –<br />

March 2, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Mary Daood<br />

Daniel<br />

July 1, 1936 –<br />

March 2, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Nadia Kaskorkis<br />

Zeer<br />

March 2, 1947 –<br />

March 3, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Munther Putrust<br />

Jarjis<br />

Dec 22, 1953 –<br />

March 4, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Hayfaa Koria<br />

Hirmiz Banno<br />

June 6, 1953 –<br />

March 5, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Mammosh<br />

Shango Yono<br />

July 1, 1931 –<br />

March 5, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Danny David<br />

July 1, 1955 –<br />

March 6, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Wadi D. Cholak<br />

Jan 1, 1944 –<br />

March 7, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Mukhles Patros<br />

Karmo<br />

Nov 16, 1956 –<br />

March 7, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Saad Aziz<br />

Hamama<br />

March 3, 1961 –<br />

March 8, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Ahlam Elias<br />

Khammoo<br />

March 8, 1948 –<br />

March 8, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Saib Razook<br />

Tomina<br />

July 1, 1930 –<br />

March 9, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Mukhlus<br />

Jirges Kirma<br />

July 7, 1954 –<br />

March 9, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Maria Yousif Gorial<br />

July 1, 1932 –<br />

March 9, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Samir Mansour<br />

March 14, 1941 –<br />

March 10, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Tidel Catcho<br />

Mansoor<br />

Sept 30, 1953 –<br />

March 10, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Pouleen Saeed-<br />

Mansoor Kani<br />

Dec 1, 1947 –<br />

March 11, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Minnar<br />

Huda Mikho<br />

Oct 20, 1995 –<br />

March 12, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Istapanos<br />

Shamo Karana<br />

Feb 12, 1944 –<br />

March 12, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Reva Salim<br />

Shamon<br />

May 29, 1978 –<br />

March 12, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Ghanem<br />

Geeza Joda<br />

Dec 15, 1958 –<br />

March 14, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Samira Jajika<br />

Mekaa Ghaleon<br />

July 8, 1933 –<br />

March 16, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Evline Summa<br />

Ibrahim<br />

July 3, 1941 –<br />

March 16, <strong>2024</strong><br />

Nooriah Hesano<br />

Yasso<br />

July 1, 1943 –<br />

March 17, <strong>2024</strong><br />

48 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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John Mikha<br />

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John Mikha Mackay was<br />

born in Iraq on July 10,<br />

1948, and passed to the<br />

fullness of everlasting life in<br />

America on March 15, <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Arriving in America from Iraq<br />

with a bachelor’s degree in<br />

accounting from the University<br />

of Baghdad in 1971, John<br />

attended the University of<br />

Detroit and earned a master’s degree<br />

in business in 1972. He was an executive<br />

at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan<br />

for over 20 years.<br />

John was the director of the Chaldean<br />

Federation of America as well<br />

as one of the founding members. He<br />

became the first Chaldean councilman<br />

of Lathrup Village in the 1990s<br />

and opened a path for future Chaldean<br />

generations to run for political<br />

office. John worked diligently with<br />

others for over a decade campaigning<br />

for Chaldean recognition. In<br />

2000, Chaldeans were identified in<br />

the census for the first time.<br />

He was the son of the late Mikha<br />

and Amina Mackay, father of Matthew<br />

(Michelle) Mackay and Laura Mackay,<br />

and grandfather of Charlotte, John,<br />

and Callahan Mackay. He is preceded<br />

in death by siblings Hayatt (late Fethalla)<br />

Habba, George Mackay, Basim<br />

(Haifa) Makhay, Wadie (the late Najat)<br />

Makhay and survived by siblings<br />

Bassima (the late George) Abbo, and<br />

Nada (Najib) Kas-Shamoun.<br />

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<strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 49


Above, from left: The bride to be — Virgina Nadhir (Denha),<br />

Dr. Suad Yousif Mary (Misho), and Shereen Nadhir (Kashat).<br />

RIght: Kneeling in front is Kamal Mary, the middle boy is Adil<br />

Mary, posing as a boxer is Hillal Mairi and the boy with shorts<br />

is our own Adhid Miri.<br />

Remembering Life in<br />

the Home Country<br />

Al-Nahr Street in central Baghdad runs along the Tigris River<br />

with extravagant feminine elegance. Here dressmakers display<br />

their fabrics in luxurious colors, and goldsmiths and antique<br />

sellers show off their wares. In days past, every engaged girl<br />

had to visit this street to choose her bridal jewelry. At a corner<br />

leading to this street was one of the most important photography<br />

studios in the district named “Babylon Studio,” featuring<br />

the Armenian photographer, Jan Hovhannes Krikor<br />

Gokaszian. One summer afternoon in 1956, he was looking<br />

through his studio window and saw 3 lovely Iraqi women<br />

shopping. Stunned by their elegance and natural beaty, he<br />

rushed outside his studio and asked to take their picture.<br />

The second photo was taken at a Miri family wedding in<br />

Baghdad. The four boys in front are all cousins. The photography<br />

studio was Samier-Ames.<br />

50 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>APRIL</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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