|The Lighthouse||In Patient Search of Assyrian Education|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||US Invites Kurdish Leaders to Washington|
|Surfs Up||"the duty to stand firm and unite and take action"|
|Surfers Corner||Tamuz Summer Camp
Young Counselors Needed
Assyrian Interpreters Needed
The Internet Dictionary Project - Assyrian Language
|News Digest||San Jose and Los Angeles Reject "Motva"|
|Calendar of Events||Events & Gatherings|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||The Origin and Development of Writing in Mesopotamia
Your Name in Cuneiform Writing
|Pump up the Volume||Duty & Responsibility|
|Back to the Future||Tukulti-Ninurta in Babylon and Arabs in Ctesiphon|
|Literatus||An Unusual Encounter in Jerusalem|
|This Week in History||Surmi Khanoom|
IN PATIENT SEARCH OF ASSYRIAN EDUCATION
A Speech Delivered at the 1998 Assyrian Community Networking Conference in Modesto, California
Let me begin with a disclaimer, and then a clarification. The disclaimer is the following: I am not a scholar or a historian; and I am not an educational guru. As for the clarification, it has to do with the announced title. I was asking a friend what my topic should be today. I was drawn to such ideas as
"The Pursuit of Knowledge," "Tolerance for Diversity," and "Academic Integrity." But my friend suggested that for an ACNC meeting I should consider a more practical title. So I selected the title we have, but it turns out that my comments are still the same. This is not a "how-to" talk; it is more a commentary on our condition as I see it.
I included the word "Patient" in my title because, as I see it, Assyrian education is so overdue. And although I used the two words "Assyrian education," I am not talking only about formal school education. Formal education is very important, and I place great stock in it. You may have read some of my thoughts about this in a recent Kibitzer column which appeared on Nineveh Online. But here, I wanted to talk about education in a broader sense, as a multiple set of objectives. Let me mention just three of these goals. ONE: A greater respect for knowledge and learning. TWO: a heightened appreciation of our cultural heritage. And THREE: A realistic understanding of the society we now call home; in our case, the U.S. or Canada. I see these three components as interrelated and depending one on the other. Unless we acquire a greater respect for knowledge and for learning, our understanding of our own culture will remain stunted and one-dimensional. Unless we have a thorough appreciation of our own culture, the claims we make to cultural identity and for cultural survival amount to idle talk. And finally, while we need to be concerned about retaining our identity, we must also become skilled at the working ways of our adopted homeland; otherwise, we will fail to pursue proactive measures in the
Let me touch a bit more on these three points. First, a realistic understanding of the society we now call home. You have already heard from others this afternoon about the importance of setting up a coordinated quick response system which can address some of the more important current issues as they emerge. These are critically important ideas.
But there is a much more that also needs our attention. We need to learn more about the rules of federal and State appropriations, and about the world of private foundations, so that we can begin to tap into some of these resources. Our people need to learn more about the A, B, Cs of government, from the neighborhood to the national level. This is not merely a citizenship requirement; this is needed because greater awareness increases the chance for success.
We must accept, once and for all, that this country (like any other country) operates on the principle of self-interest. There is absolutely no reason to assume that this government or its representatives will ever lift a finger for the Assyrians, unless the Assyrians make a logical and compelling case for themselves. Whining about our past sufferings won't get us very far. Any complaint about the present state of affairs will also get us very little. We are a special interest group. There are countless special interest groups in the American marketplace, many of them at least as worthy as we are, and they learned long ago that the only way they can protect their interests is by banding together, by political self-education, and by
realistic targeted action.
We must also learn that unlike third-world countries where class or privilege plays a major role, we live in a society that is generally based on merit and performance. For this reason, many of the honorary titles considered significant elsewhere (such as malik, agha and sheikh) have very little value here today. There are still those who persist on confusing title with achievement, and who deliberately misrepresent themselves and their titles to the rest of us. I don't know how else to explain why an individual who is well known to us would claim to have an academic doctorate, when all he has is a piece of paper purchased from a diploma mill . Or why, even more recently, another Assyrian well-known to us would claim in print to have been "educated" at the University of California, when the records of that University reveal that this fellow attended just a few classes during one semester some only. America does not like false claims, and it is good that generally such dishonesty is exposed. Those who pretend to hold degrees or positions they never earned are insulting us; but in the end, they are insulting themselves the most.
The second objective is the importance of knowing who we are and what it is we stand for. One of the largest lobbying groups in the U.S. is the AARP, which accepts anyone over 50 as a member of their group of retired persons. Other groups are even more specific, such as the AMA (which includes physicians only), the ABA (which includes holders of law degrees only), the American Legion, the National Association of Manufacturers, the NAACP, the ACLU, etc. But as far as our own people, where are we supposed to draw the concentric circle? If we consider the Greeks, they do not have this problem. Armenians do not have this problem. The Jewish people, who have had hot debates for
centuries about Jewish identity, do not have the problem to the degree that we do. And I dare say that even in the former Yugoslavia, which is now famous for its hodge podge balkanization into Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, and all the rest – even that place does not present the confusion of our own situation.
In a scholarly article recently written by an Assyrian professor of political science (this one had a real Ph.D.), he refers to our people in 13 different ways. Alphabetically, he talks about Aramaics, Assyrians,
Assyro-Chaldean, Assyro-Chaldeo-Syriacs, Assyro-Chaldean Nestorians, Assyro-Chaldean Catholics, Assyro-Chaldean Christians, Chaldeans, Suryoyo, Syriacs, Syrian Christian, Syrian Turkish, and Suriyan. And in a monogram I read last week, a very serious scholar with a Ph.D. in Syriac studies and in computer science talks about "our Syriac heritage, which includes Syrian Orthodox, Assyrian, Maronite, Chaldean, Syrian Catholic, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara." So the question is: What is to be done about this list of different names for one identity? There are those who say that this is not worthy of discussion. But I disagree. Without at least an approximate answer, we are unable to move on to important questions. For example, how can we strengthen our numbers in the decennial census figures? Without further clarification, how can we be clear about the extent of our claims, of our
demands? As to the culture we seek to preserve, exactly which culture is it? Exactly who are the endangered refugees we are concerned about? Surely we are talking about something less than all of Middle East Christendom. Otherwise, our cause is one more of religion than of cultural identity.
These are not only interesting questions, but also very complicated ones. They require the skill and talent of dedicated scholars. Unfortunately, too many of us would like to bend the answers to our whim. But the only answers that count are the ones which are accepted by informed public opinion. Our
public claims or our public statements will carry more credibility when they are supported by serious research and serious writing; and not merely by emotion.
This brings me to the third point, which has to do with knowledge and with learning. I would submit that for the most part, we have ignored these values and, in some cases, we have actually been anti-intellectual. We do not easily accept conclusions which fall short of our own position. Rather than engaging in a clash of ideas, we have often reacted emotionally, and not always politely. Our own people is comprised of a variety of constituencies, and many describe their identity as wholly separate from the rest of us. It is an irony that we are not more tolerant of free and open-ended research and
scholarship to tackle this conundrum. We should encourage serious academic research, no matter where it may lead, because it is the best way to learn more about ourselves, and it is also the best chance for us to educate others about our culture. And, for a change, we should provide concrete support for young Assyrians who may be willing to enter the field of Assyrian studies.
As the English-language editor for the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, I notice at least a couple of complaints following every issue. Unfortunately, these complaints are rarely based on scholarship, but
instead they gripe about an article writer whose conclusions disagree with long-held assumptions. The process of developing knowledge involves the presentation of researched essays. If things go normally, these essays should provoke thoughtful responses. One cannot engage in this process of discovery if we must avoid any question which makes us uncomfortable. The outcome of education and of learning should not depend on a priori conclusions, and the process of learning should not be distorted by who
shouts the loudest or who can intimidate the most.
I have to confess that I notice among our younger people a greater appreciation for the unfettered pursuit of knowledge. The younger folks seem to place greater value in freedom of inquiry. They are more prepared to recognize the ambiguities surrounding our cultural identity. They are also generally more savvy about the political and social environment of the dominant culture. This is not to suggest that our younger people are much smarter than their parents generation; but perhaps they've had opportunities to bloom in a way which their parents never had. On the negative side, our younger people –the first group which appears capable of taking us from our disjointed existence and on to a cohesive
program – these younger people do not reveal a great deal of motivation for Assyrian activism. This has much to do with the gap that has developed between generations, even among Assyrians. Our older, established community, has to try harder to support meaningful projects for the young.
Santa Barbara, California
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
US INVITES KURDISH LEADERS TO WASHINGTON
(ZNAF: Ankara) David Welsh, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs visiting northern Iraq, has invited the leaders of two rival Iraqi Kurdish leaders to Washington to step up a reconciliation process. Welsh held separate talks with Massud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani, head of the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The KDP and the PUK have jointly ruled northern Iraq in defiance of Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf war. But their partnership collapsed in 1994 because of disputes over power-sharing and tax revenue, mainly from the border trade. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the area in intermittent clashes since then. Both Kurdish factions have allowed an Assyrian representation of up to five delegates in the Kurdish Parliament which administers the civic affairs of northern Iraq. The most recent inter-Kurdish fighting broke out in September last year as the PUK attacked the KDP. But the latter, supported by Turkish troops, repulsed the attack and the two announced a ceasefire in November. The Turkish army, which conducts frequent incursions into neighboring northern Iraq to fight rebel Turkish Kurds based there, has been allied with the KDP since May 1997.
Barzani had two rounds of talks with Welsh in the town of Salahuddin on Friday and Sunday. The US official had talks with Talabani in Sulaymaniya, south of Salahuddin, on Saturday. The American official, who was leading a US State Department delegation, was accompanied by a Turkish observer.
"Although a factual piece of documentary because of the topics covered, the persecution of our people in Turkey, the plight of our people in Iraq and the position of the Churches' leaders and the anniversary of the massacre of our people during the great war 1914-1918. It was rueful to a degree. We must learn from history and must think carefully about the present. We can not blame the Church leaders, because our people and our Churches are hostages in an inhumane culture and unless we stand up for ourselves our future will be bleaker.
A Church leader in any muslim occupied land would not dare to say that persecution of his people exist; his position is understandable. The Pope of the Coptic Church in Egypt says there is no Christian persecution in Egypt but the whole world knows the plight of our brothers in Egypt. They are even
paying the protection tax of the 570 AD. We who are in exile have the duty to stand firm and unite and take action in demanding our rights to exist as a nation. That action is required now and be known around the globe. We do not need more social clubs, organisations, groupings and conferences
but we have to proclaim our nation for our people otherwise it will be too late and our land will be depleted of its people-our people."
Dr George Habash
Syrian Orthodox Federation of Australia
Mr. Wilfred Alkhas, publisher of ZENDA Magazine, was recently interviewed on an Assyrian radio program in Sydney, Australia. Mr. Ertas' personal comments by no mean reflect the attitude of hundreds of ZENDA readers who are also members of the Syrian Orthodox churches around the world and proudly serve in their community's cultural, political, and religious groups.
I am pleased and proud to say that I am the grandson of the great 'MALIK KHOSHABA', of the TIARI. Though I have not seen any articles about my grandfather, I understand the issues that the editors of ZENDA have to choose from. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK... your doing a GREAT JOB! Truly yours and Proud of my Grandfather
As usual, there were some problems in the hotel and that is very unfortunate. We have had similar problems in every Olympic including the 1995 games which were also held in San Jose. Let me remind everyone that the Olympic Committee is in charge of all the games and events that are directly associated with the games. It is the responsibility of the PARENTS and the coaches of the visiting teams to make sure that their kids are well behaved. The parents should remind their kids to treat the hotel like it was their own home. Again, the parents/coaches must be responsible for their own kids/players.
The Olympic Committee did an excellent job. Many thanks to the other 60-70 people/parents that helped us. Maybe, we could have done a better job, but keep in mind that we all have jobs, families and other responsibilities that prevent us form being perfect. I am very proud to have been a part of these games. The Assyrian Stars of San Jose, the Olympic Committee and many volunteers joined hands and made this a successful event. Don't forget, we cannot keep everyone happy. The important thing to remember is that the majority of people are very satisfied with these games and there are very few who are complaining. JOB WELL DONE!!!"
Zaya Tomeh Mooshabadi
Assyrian Stars Athletes of San Jose
Member, San Jose Olympic Committee
San Jose, California
On July 3rd and 4th hundreds of Assyrian athletes competed in several sports organized by the Olympics Committee in San Jose, California. This is an annual event sponsored by the Assyrian United Organizations of California. In this year's games a few arrests were made and a few Assyrian youth were incarcerated, charged with the possession of illegal narcotics. There were also reports of damages to the hotel rooms where the Assyrian athletes and their guests were accommodated. At one point the police/security guards were called to appease a dispute during a game.
TAMUZ SUMMER CAMP
The Assyrian Academic Society, the Assyrian American National Federation, and the Assyrian National Council of Illinois are proud to bring you the Assyrian Summer Camp for 1998.
Bring your kids to join the fun at the TAMUZ ASSYRIAN SUMMER CAMP for boys and girls. This year's camp will give your kids the opportunity to enjoy social, cultural, art, and sports activities designed especially for youngsters.
Don't miss this opportunity to give your kids the chance for a unique summer camp experience with other kids.
For additional information contact: Ben Polus (847) 424-8900 OR to request an application contact Natalie via email at Onarsai@aol.com (subject heading SUMMER CAMP).
Age Limit: For children ages 6 through 12.
Dates and Time: August 10-21, 1998
Monday through Friday
8:00 AM - 4:00 pm.
Location: Devonshire Park in Skokie (north of Chicago), Illinois
Registration fee: $50 per child
Deadline to Register: August 5, 1998
Are you a leader??
The 1998 Assyrian Summer Camp needs motivated, young Assyrians to work as counselors and staff administrators. THESE ARE PAID POSITIONS!!!!
You will be working at the Devonshire Park in Skokie, Monday through Friday, starting August 6th and ending August 21st. If you are interested, please come to our informational meeting July 26th, 7:00 pm at the ANCI office. 6352 N. Fairfield, Chicago
For more information contact Natalie via email at Onarsai@aol.com (Subject CAMP COUNSELORS).
Could you perhaps help me and some distressed Assyrian émigré families by asking around your Assyrian community for someone who could assist with this?
I am posting this as a favor on behalf of a language services firm here in Southern CA:
Bilinguals in English- Assyrian are urgently needed to assist in telephonic interpreting of insurance claims and occasional medical (clinic visits) situations.
These tele-interpreting situations generally would involve assisting newly-arrived Assyrian immigrants who need help with obtaining resettlement, social services, humanitarian assistance, health care, education, and citizenship.
Anyone interested in these compensated (paid) opportunities to assist some of your distressed kinsmen, please e-mail your name and contact data (tel nr., fax nr., and e-mail address me at firstname.lastname@example.org
so I may relay that information to the requesting firms for their follow-up and contact.
Persons do not need to be residing in California to be selected and paid for doing this tele-interpreting. The language services firm will pay for all connecting telephone calls and schedule the tele-interpreting sessions.
With regards and admiration to the Assyrian people, whom I met and respect from my time in SE Turkey and NW Iraq during the spring and summer of 1991.
Stephen H. Franke
The Internet Dictionary Project began in 1995 in an effort to provide a noticeably lacking resource to the
Internet community and to computing in general: free translating dictionaries. Not only is it helpful to the
online community to have access to dictionary searches at their fingertips via the World Wide Web, it
also sponsors the growth of computer software which can benefit from such dictionaries - from
translating programs to spelling-checkers to language-education guides and more. By facilitating the
creation of these dictionaries online by thousands of anonymous volunteers all over the Internet, and by
providing the results free-of-charge to anyone, the Internet Dictionary Project hopes to leave its mark on
the Internet and to inspire others to create projects which will benefit more than a corporation's gross
The Internet Dictionary Project's goal is to create royalty-free translating dictionaries through the help of
the Internet's citizens. This site allows individuals from all over the world to visit and assist in the
translation of English words into other languages. The resulting lists of English words and their translated
counterparts are then made available through this site to anyone, with no restrictions on their use. Please
enjoy your visit, and thank you for donating your time to this project.
A CHURCH FOR PALESTINE
The current turmoil in the pastoral relationship between the Greek Patriarchate in Jerusalem and its Palestinian Orthodox congregation is the result of the long-time protest by members of the congregation expressing the alienation existing between the Patriarchate and its congregation. Trying to avoid a situation in which the current turmoil might be transformed into an open rebellion or a "pastoral Intifada" against Patriarch Theodoros and the Greek clergymen, the Patriarchate cannot rest on its history, or simply repeat the claim of being one of the eastern churches with the strongest spiritual and physical ties to the Holy Land, (i.e. Palestine).
The first priority should be the Palestinian Arabs " the population of the Holy Land " who live here and belong to this land spiritually, physically" and more importantly " nationally and politically. The names of the pastoral opposition movements are noteworthy, including the Arab Orthodox College, the Arab Orthodox Society and the Arab Orthodox Conference. There are strong objectives and historical reasons for the pastoral rebellion against the Greek papal authority. Frankly, such a tenuous relationship does not exist between Syrian or Lebanese Arabs and their church simply because it is an Arab church; no such tension can be seen between the Coptic Orthodox and their Egyptian church. Therefore, one has to ask why, in Palestine, the political and geographical heart of the Arab world, the Arab Orthodox are still struggling against their Greek church and clergymen.
The Pope of Rome may be Polish or Italian; the Caesars of Rome are sometimes Syrians. The "Arabization" of the Orthodox Church is not a matter for debate in any Arab country because it is a closed case. But, in Palestine, there is a state of alienation between the Palestinian Arab congregation and their church. Who claims that Arab Orthodox Palestinians are less patriotic than the rest of the population? Who claims that they are not as aware of the quiet turnover of land as their Palestinian Muslim brothers? It could be that this mutual alienation is part of the small Palestinian "catastrophe", the continuing demographic depletion, decreasing the number of Christians in the Palestinian population from 30 percent [in the entire country] at the beginning of this century to less than 2.7 percent in the occupied Palestinian lands. Such a situation will eventually cause Palestine to lose its unique status and spirit.
The Roman Catholic Church in Rome, becoming aware of this reality, assigned a Palestinian Patriarch in the Holy Land, a step that the Greek Orthodox Church has not followed. Up to this point, the demands of the Orthodox congregation in Palestine are restricted to earthly reform matters in the relationship between the Church and the people on the ground and against chaos and corruption. No one is saying that the issues are spiritual; and nobody is claiming that it is a political struggle by a congregation doubting the national sentiments of a higher church authority. However, Muslim Palestinians are holding themselves accountable for selling lands to Israelis, and Christian Palestinians are doing the same, because the Holy Land is not only a church for God " it is the physical land for a nation. So the issue is not merely an internal church affair; it is part of the Palestinian national issue.
True national identity is the unity of the Palestinians around their interests and rights; it is not support for any religion de facto, even with ties to the Holy Land. Worshippers need a church for God; God needs a
church for His people. People need a church for their interests and homeland " a church for our Palestine, or according to the slogan of reformist Christians, "A Church for Our World."
This piece first appeared in al-Ayyam on July 6, 1998.
Translated by K. Khader.
SAN JOSE AND LOS ANGELES REJECT MOTVA PROPOSALS
(ZNDA: San Jose) Yesterday afternoon in San Jose, California, a major effort to consolidate the authority and the voting power of the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area was rejected by the region's largest Assyrian organization. The members of the Assyrian American Association, in protest to the conduct of the members of the "Motva" organizing committee walked out of the meeting that was to bring the Assyrian social and religious groups closer toward the establishment of a united front. The purpose of establishing a "Motva" was "to unite all Assyrians residing in the area under one leadership, and through collective activities achieve [common] objectives." All Assyrian civic, political, and religious organizations were expected to attend this meeting and ratify a collection of by-laws prepared by the Organizing Committee.
The first official meeting of the Assyrian National Council of the Greater Bay Area or MOTVA was held in the Awana Hall of the Assyrian Church of the East and was attended by less than 300 residents. Despite the fact that only 6 percent of the San Francisco Bay Area Assyrian population was represented at this meeting, the organizing committee proceeded with the agenda and ratified the by-laws of this new Assyrian organization. The rejection of the "Motva" proposal was officiated by a statement made during this meeting by Mrs. Jacklin Bejan, president of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose. Only a few years ago the two Assyrian organizations in San Jose, the Assyrian American Association and the Assyrian American Civic Club of San Jose were united under the current structure of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose.
In 1996 a similar proposal was ratified by the Assyrians of Southern California. ZENDA was recently informed by its reliable sources that during a public meeting in August the Assyrian American Association of Southern California will commence its efforts to unravel the authority of the "Motva" and return to its original mode of operation. The most pressing issue in the case of both Assyrian organizations is their affiliation with the Assyrian American National Federation, currently the most powerful organization in America. The "Motva" proposals remain unclear in endorsing the authority imposed by the National Federation and the Patriarchs of the Assyrian Churches whose voices are expected to be represented in each region's Motva.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
NEAR EASTERN CYLINDER SEALS
"A Seal Upon Thine Heart"
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Assyrian Stars Athletes of San Jose
CAREER PLANNING DAY
All High School & College Students Welcome
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Sponsored by the Assyrian American National Federation
22ND WORLD CONGRESS OF THE ASSYRIAN UNIVERSAL ALLIANCE
For more information see ZENDA: JUNE 8: SURFERS CORNER
NUZI & THE HURRIANS: FRAGMENTS OF A FORGOTTEN PAST
Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C. Hurrians settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the mid-second millennium B.C. The Pharaohs of Egypt sought marriage alliances with them and the Hittites feared them. More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931
Harvard University's Semitic Museum
ASSYRIAN SURFING POSTS
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
Cycles & Observances of the Eastern Assyrian Liturgical Calendars
AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MOC = Malankara Orthodox Church
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church
BACK TO THE FUTURE
By the middle of the thirteenth century B.C. the Elamites in western Iran had once again emerged as a powerful force threatening the Babylonian rule in southern Bet-Nahrain. The Assyrian king, Tukulti-Ninurta I, took advantage of the power vacuum created in Babylon and attacked this city and capturing its ruler. He then placed his governors to rule the southern territories in Babylonia. Soon after, the Elamites attacked Babylon and reached as far as the city of Nippur. After seven years of captivity the Babylonians restored their own rule and became independent of the northern Mesopotamians and Elamites. Tukulti-Ninurta's rule came to an end when his own son, Ashur-Nadin-Apli and the Assyrian nobles in his court revolted against him and as with Julius Caesar killed him with their swords.
Ancient Iraq, Roux
In the early summer of 637, the Arab army blockaded the Persian capital of Ctesiphon (near today's Baghdad), where the Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East resided. Early in 638 the Arab conquerors rejected the Persian king's proposal for peace and forced him to flee to the Zagros mountains in western Iran. By the end of 638, the Arabs had reached Mosul and had captured the entire region of Bet-Nahrain.
A Short History of the Arab Peoples, Glubb
AN UNUSUAL ENCOUNTER IN JERUSALEM
The staff of this wonderful magazine asked me to share my experiences in meeting Jewish-Assyrians while touring Israel last year. What prompted this brief statement was my email response to the article written on Aramaic CDs.
While in Jerusalem in October 1997 our group's organizer, Dr. George Shabaz, happened to find out that the Chen Hotel, where we were staying in at Jerusalem, was owned by Assyrians. He promised that he would try to arrange a meeting with the owners. The news of this really excited the group. To our knowledge Assyrians never really settled in this particular country and we never expected to meet any either. To my surprise later that evening, when I came down for dinner one of the owners, Mr. Nasim Ella, was sitting and having lively conversation with other members of the group in modern Assyrian language. I stress this because in the Aramaic CDs article the language spoken by this particular group of Iranians was the ancient language of Assyrians, Aramaic. Not so with Mr. Ella. Every word spoken was in modern Assyrian- the only difference being the religion.
As the evening wore on we learned that Mr. Ella and his family of seven brothers and one sister were from Zakho in Northern Iraq and he could trace his family back further to the Tiari mountain region. When the Iraqi monarchy in 1953 expelled the Jews from Iraq his family settled in Jerusalem and established a thriving hotel and construction company. What was also another surprise was that Mr.
Ella's' mother, two other brothers, aunt & uncle were sitting in the hotel lobby enjoying some refreshments. He asked us all to join him and his family. We all got to talking and reminiscing about the days in Iraq when a member of the group, Maxwell David, appeared with a tape of Assyrian music
and a portable cassette player. He wanted us to dance Sheikhani (not only do they speak our language, they also know our cultural dances.) So here we are dancing with this portable tape player in the lobby of the hotel. You can imagine all the curious stares we received from other patrons of the hotel wondering what's going on over there. It was all such fun and excitement.
By the end of the evening Mr. Ella promised us a beautiful Assyrian dinner of Kubba Hummus for the next night with compliments from his family and the hotel. On the next day being Friday, a day of rest and holy obligation after sundown, we said our good-byes. We knew we wouldn't get to see them again as we were leaving early Saturday morning for Nazareth but we said we'd keep in touch which some us have.
This was really an amazing experience for all of those who were present and I'm so happy that Zenda asked me to share this with all its readers. Just to let you know that this chance encounter was video taped and is broadcast, so I was told, on Tuesdays in the Modesto/Tur lock area of California on the Bet- Nahrain Television Station.
On another note while touring the Church of All Nations in Jerusalem my father spotted a security guard and made a bet with me that he was Suryoyo? And spoke Aramaic...he won the bet!
Jacqueline Susanne Marcus
Ms. Marcus was born in Chicago to an Assyrian father, a proud Jilwaya from Kirkuk, Iraq and a British mother from Tewkesbury (Cotswolds), England. She holds a degree in Art History and silversmithing and plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Art History. "My ultimate goal is to be a curator at a museum," writes Ms. Marcus to ZENDA. With blonde hair and blue eyes, traits inherited from her mother and her father's Assyrian pride Ms. Marcus is our most vocal fan in the Southwest.
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
July 21, 1919: Surmi Khanom, the sister of Mar Shimoun Benyamin, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, travels to London to represent the plight of the Assyrian people in several meetings with the British officials.
FOOD CRITICS AND NEWS MEDIA PRAISE ASSYRIAN CAFE IN SAN FRANCISCO
"Around the corner at Cafe deStijl, amidst architects' lofts and design studios, you can sip a luscious bowl of latte as you squint up at the big printed menu over the bar...breakfasts of buttermilk pancakes and waffles; house-made granola with figs or apricots; house-made peanut butter cookies; fat scones with dried cherries and ginger (or cheddar with chives). The full menu of espresso drinks includes the provocative Africano, described as a long macchiato or a short latte."
Travel and News Magazine of the West
"Nilus de Matran, an Assyrian architect who studied with the avant garde Iraqui architect Zaha Hadid in London, decided a year ago to start a cafe in the heart of San Francisco's advertising and graphic design ghetto near Levi Plaza...De Matran decided to call his cafe De Stijl after the 1917 Dutch art movement which touted geometric, abstract art and 'style' as a way of life...Like the De Stijl artists, de Matran wanted to create a Utopia--a fresh setting--for the creative types that come to this neighborhood every day...An ever-changing menu of international fare is served on spiral china by Alexandra Odabachian."
San Francisco Examiner
"This simple room, inspired by the early 20th century Dutch school of art after which it's named, has been transformed into one of the more unique coffeehouses in San Francisco."
Janelle Brown & Jillian Mosley
"ALL RIGHT, I wouldn't want you to get the wrong impression about Cafe DeStijl. It doesn't
actually have live little sprig-headed birds running for their lives, nor do you have to slingshot
your own game in the park and brown-bag it like a young Hemingway. If you were lucky
enough to be dining at DeStijl last Thursday night, your birds would have arrived already well
removed from the maelstrom of this life, neatly braised and interred on a bier of creamy
polenta strewn with blue-black huckleberries.
Besides the quail, dinner at DeStijl is special in several ways. For one, it's only offered once a
week, on Thursday nights. Second, only one prix fixe, four-course dinner is available. The
menu for each week is posted at the beginning of the month, so patrons on any given
Thursday know whether they'll be getting lamb tagine, for example, or roasted baby pumpkins
with quinoa salad, to quote two of September's offerings. It's remarkable how restful a set
menu can be to the decision-driven, and given the quality of the food, the $20-per-person tab
(not including beverages, tax, or tip) is a real bargain.
On this particular fowl-driven evening, my date, Dutch, and I hustle though various modes of
public transport (O Muni! O coach divine! why are you never on time?) to make it up and
over to Union and Front Streets by the 7:30 p.m. seating time. We needn't have worried,
since most of the small staff are still hanging around outside, chatting with the evening's 20 or
so patrons as they arrive. If you've been to Tisane or the Universal Cafe or any number of
nifty neoindustrial bistros springing up like Web pages around town, you'll feel at home within
DeStijl's exposed-brick, textured-metal, and caramelized-wood interior, a look echoed by the
many architectural studios and film company lofts scattered around this sunny pocket just
northeast of the Financial District.
Dinner starts with a volcanically hot autumn-vegetable gratin. Besides frying our tongues,
though, the creamily sauced dish of fennel, celery root, potato, and rutabaga is too uniform in
color and texture to move us. Centered on a big plate, a heap of endive spears looks
nouvellishly brief, but it conceals a veritable happy hunting ground of delicious roasted wild
mushrooms among wads of chopped red chard. The best autumn cooking has just this earthy,
bitter tang to it, edged with smoke and sweetness.
But as for those aforementioned quail, is there some trick to autopsying a bird this small? A
hidden zipper? Some tiny screws? Birds don't grow this small in Cowtown, says Dutch. The
meat we can pry from the toothpick legs and sternum is richly flavored, however, with a
deep, gamy presence that marries well with the berries' fruity kick. In keeping with the
dinner-party feel, there's quite a leisurely wait between courses, although prompt and
unobtrusive attention is given to such things as empty glasses. The only jarring note is the
spillover of fluorescent light from the semiopen kitchen into the high-ceilinged, warmly lit
The menu promises apple-pear galette, but dessert arrives looking and tasting like a Pizza Hut
special, with oily melted cheddar on top of pepperoni-thin slices of apple and a dry, biscuity
crust. I'd have happily traded it for the hefty chocolate-chip cookie I'd had at lunch the
Given the day-trade emphasis of the neighborhood, the midday meal is the big draw here,
with a casual, counter-service style that contrasts sharply with the stylized formality of dinner.
The menu changes seasonally, with a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern bent.
Forget CK One: bottled, DeStijl's wild mushroom soup ($2.50 a cup) would sell itself by
virtue of its scent alone, without bongo drums in Macy's and bald boys on bus shelters. Penne
is easy to undercook or underseason, but this plate of pasta salad ($4.50) is a pleasant
surprise. Sparked with lemon-chili vinaigrette, the pale tubes are refreshing, although I'd
welcome a heavier hand with the red peppers and broccoli rabe. Niçoise salad ($7.25) is a
happy twist on this often anemic dish: the plate is edged with thick, addictively crunchy potato
crisps, and the generous, velvety hunks of ahi tuna are pillowed on snappin'-fresh greens
scattered with tiny black olives.
But the real attraction, especially for artist types? Hands down, Cafe DeStijl has the coolest,
chunkiest china around, patterned especially for the restaurant in bold stripes and blocks.
Even Mondrian would be tempted to swipe a cup."
San Francisco Bay Guardian
1 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Daily 7:00am- 5:00pm
Cash, Check, Travelers Checks Accepted
WELCOME TO ZENDA
This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order
|Dr. Zeinab Estrabadi||New York||Surfers Corner|
|Belona Odisho||San Jose, California||Calendar of Events|
P.O. Box 20278 San Jose, California 95160 U.S.A.
Voice: (408) 885-9394 Ext. 5#
Fax: (408) 885-9894
The Directory of ZENDA News Sources
ZNAA (Assyrian Academic Society-Chicago)
ZNAD (Assyrian Democratic Organization)
ZNAF (Agence France-Presse)
ZNAH (Al-Ahram Newspaper, London)
ZNAL (Al-Hayat, London)
ZNAI (Assyrian International News Agency)
ZNAK (American Kurdish
ZNAM (Archeology Magazine)
ZNAP (Associated Press International)
ZNBN (Bet-Nahrain Inc/ KBSV-TV "AssyriaVision")
ZNIF (Iraq Foundation)
ZNDA (Zenda: email@example.com)
ZNIN (Iraqi National Congress)
ZNLT (Los Angeles Times)
ZNMN (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNMW (Mideast Newswire)
ZNNQ (Nabu Quarterly)
ZNNV (Nineveh Magazine)
ZNNY: New York Times
ZNQA (Qala Atouraya- Moscow)
ZNSH (Shotapouta Newsletter)
ZNSJ (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNSM (Shufimafi Lebanese News)
ZNSO (Syrian Orthodox News "SOCNews")
ZNTM (Time Magazine)
ZNUP (United Press International)
ZNUS (US News & World Report)