Vol IV, Issue 14

Khzeeran 15, 6748                   June 15, 1998

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse An Assyrian Survivor From the Titanic Disaster
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain  Iraq Calls on Christians to Fight Sanctions
Iraq Bans Travel to the North
Surfs Up No Letters to the Editor
Surfers Corner Jesus' Mother Tongue Gets Ready For A Second Coming
News Digest Cairo Returns Waqf Land to Coptic Christians 
Jesus Spent 4 Years in Egypt, According to Papyrus
Assyrian Surfing Posts Lane Tech High School Assyrian Club 
Chronology of the Ancient Near East Events
Pump up the Volume Ladder & Stairway
Back to the Future Copper in Bet-Nahrain & Assyrian Monument in China
Literatus The Christology of the Church of the East
This Week in History Shveela
Bravo Al-Muntada Magazine




Philip Zenni was born in 1890, he boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a third class passenger and was rescued, possibly in lifeboat 6.  The following account appeared in the Niles Daily News (Niles, Ohio) on 25 April 1912:

The first survivor of the ill fated ship the "Titanic" that has reached Niles is Philip Zanni, and exceptionally well-spoken Assyrian who arrived in the city last night at 8 o'clock from New York and is a guest in the home of his friends: Messrs. Shaker and Abraham of Furnace Street, who are doing everything in their power to assist him in recuperating from the effects of the great fright and shock to which he was subjected in his miraculous escape from the fast sinking vessel.

A representative of the News called on Mr. Zanni this morning and he told him his story in a most graphic manner. He and a companion had retired for the night and were sound asleep. Zanni was awakened by his companion who heard the crash of the boat against the iceberg and both leaped from their berths and ran to the upper deck. The greatest confusion was evident on all sides and men were lowering the lifeboats. Zanni made an effort to leap into one of the boats, but an officer of the boat stood with a drawn revolver in his hand and all the men were compelled to stand back at the command "Women first."

Zanni made a second unsuccessful attempt to leap into the boat and was again ordered back by the officer, but a moment later the officer turned and he made a leap, landing in the middle of the boat. He took refuge under one of the seats and the boat was pulled away. There were twenty women and three men in the boat and in order to escape from the suction of the great ship those in the boat realized that it was necessary to row quickly. The men called on the women to row, when Zanni made known his presence and was placed at one of the oars. They rowed a distance of about two miles guided only by the morning star which shone brightly in the heavens and stopped when they believed themselves to be safely away from the ship, and watched the great "Titanic" sink with its cargo of souls aboard. The cries of distress from those on board are still ringing in the ears of Mr. Zanni and he feels just as all the other survivors feel that many more lives might have been saved in the boats.  The sight of the sinking ship, after one plunge, bow downward, will never be forgotten by any of the people who were in the lifeboats. It was nearly five o'clock when they sighted the "Carpathia" coming toward them, and one great cry went up from the lifeboats, and lanterns were waved frantically.

Mr. Zanni tells of the kindness shown toward them by the captain and officers of the boat and of the
trip to New York.  On their arrival they were shown every kindness by the waiting throngs. He was taken to the office of the Hebrew sheltering and immigration Aid Society where he was provided with clothing and rendered every assistance.

An incident which tends to prove the utter selfishness of shallow-minded people is related by the young man. When the survivors were being raised into the Carpathia a woman who was in his lifeboat pleaded with him to save her dog, which she had clasped tightly in her arms since leaving the "Titanic." Zanni informed her politely that human beings came first and the clung desperately to the little animal until someone lifted her to the deck of the boat.

Mr. Zanni was married four months ago and left his wife in France. He goes to Cincinnati soon where he will engage in business.

Mr. Zenni died of pneumonia on December 2, 1927. He was survived by his wife, Elsie Zenni (Hadley), and four children (1 son and 3 daughters).

Lifeboat 6 (capacity 65 persons) was launched from the port side at 12:55 AM under the command of Quartermaster Robert Hichens. It was the third boat to leave the Titanic and contained 24 people.

For more information on the Titanic Oceanliner and its passengers see The Titanic Information Site & Encyclopedia Titanica.



(ZNRU: Baghdad) Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz called on church leaders Wednesday to campaign to lift eight-year sanctions, saying Christians in the West had a special duty to change their
governments' policies. Aziz, addressing the closing session of a Christian conference in Baghdad which drew delegates from 30 countries, said the church should do more to end the embargo which Iraq blames for the deaths of 1.5 million people.

"It is time the church played a more active role, particularly in the West," said Aziz, himself a Chaldean-Christian from Mosul. Earlier this year he met Pope John Paul II, said he told the pope that "those carrying out the injustices against Iraq are Christian countries, or countries pretending to be Christian."  The conference was attended by Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who criticized economic policies aimed at "wounding an innocent population."  The cardinal has said the pope wants to visit Iraq as part of a millennial visit to biblical sites in the Middle East.


(ZNAP: Baghdad) The Iraqi government has banned local and foreign tourists from traveling to
northern Iraq, saying American and Israeli agents are roaming freely in the area.  Last week the Tourism Department issued orders to travel agencies asking them not to organize trips to the districts of Irbil, Dahouk and Sulaimaniya, which are under government control.  All other districts in northern Iraq are under control of Kurdish rebels who are helped by the United States and Britain. The two nations' air forces enforce a no-fly zone over the area to keep away the Iraqi military.  The ban on travel applies only to tourists. People who have relatives or legitimate business in the area can still go. Most of the tourists to northern Iraq are people from central and southern Iraq, escaping the summer heat or seeking winter snow holidays.  Travel agents in Baghdad said thousands of Iraqis had signed up for package tours this summer.  Foreign tourists rarely visit Iraq, and those who do hardly ever go to Kurdish areas.  The decision to ban tourists is a surprise because state-owned television and another station owned by
President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Odai, recently began broadcasting commercials promoting the


No Letters Received!



With Permission from The Guardian

It is one of the oddities of the approaching millennium that if Jesus were ever to return to the Holy Land, one of the few places he could make himself understood in his mother tongue would be the basement of Tel Aviv's central bus station.  In the bowels of this monument to modern Israel an attempt has been launched to save the Aramaic language.  Several concrete floors beneath the march of commuting feet a handful of Iranian Jews have built a studio where they hope to revive the dialect their parents taught them by setting it to music.

There is not much time. Aramaic, the Middle East's lingua franca for much of the biblical era, lives on in a few isolated communities. But most experts believe it will die out within a generation and enter the linguistic afterlife of university language laboratories and the Internet.  The alternative offered below the bus station is survival as a New Age incantation.  Arik Mordechai, the impresario behind the project, is producing what he calls "World Music"-with slow, swirling melodies, soprano vocals and ethereal pipe accompaniment.  'Aramaic does not just belong to the Jews, it belongs to the whole world. It was the language Abraham spoke, but it was also the language Jesus spoke,' he said.

While the Jews of biblical Palestine read the Bible in Hebrew, they spoke Aramaic, as did most of the ancient world between the ninth and third centuries BC, when it was the language of the vast Persian empire. But by the time of Christ, it was already on the decline, supplanted by Greek, and
then, centuries later, by Arabic.  But Aramaic has proved tenacious, Christian and Jewish communities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran clung to it for their cultural survival. There are estimated to be a few hundred thousand Aramaic speakers left, but its prospects are even more precarious than that number suggests. It is mostly spoken by the children of refugees in the United States, Sweden, Germany
and the Netherlands, where the communities fled from Turkish, Persian or Russian rule. It is replaced by their host language.

Mr. Mordechai's family arrived in 1950 from the town of Urmia in north western Iran. One of the last Jewish strongholds of ancient tongue. The Urmia Jews called themselves Nash Didan ("our people" in Aramaic), which is the name of Mr. Mordechai's New Age band.  The Nash Didan stuck together in exile, but in Israel the 14,000-strong community has intermarried with Hebrew-speaking Jews (Mr. Mordechai's wife is from Romania, and its Aramaic bond is rapidly dissolving.  Mr. Mordechai attributes his decision to invest his life savings in the project to constant badgering from his mother, Esther, an energetic 82-year
old who sits in on recording sessions and suggests lyrics based on her memories of Urmia.

"When I started all this four years ago, everyone laughed at me. But my parents always told me this is the language of our ancestors and must be preserved," he said.  Mrs. Mordechai, in guttural Aramaic translated by her son, added: "The young Nash Didan here are speaking Hebrew, not Aramaic, but as long as
Arik can make people sing the language, it won't die."  Avraham Kahami, head of the Nash Didan community, said he believed Aramaic survived because Urmia was cut off by mountains to the west and the saline Lake Urmia to the east.  But Yosef Naveh, professor of ancient languages at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said the Nash Didan speak Eastern Aramaic, also known as Assyrian, Syriac or Chaldean. The Jews of the Bible spoke Western Aramaic.

On the hypothetical issue of whether Jesus would understand the Mordechais.  Professor Naveh said: "If they spoke slowly and clearly."  That is good enough for Mr. Mordechai's marketing. "When I was in the States, the people from the record companies couldn't believe there was actually someone alive who speak Aramaic. They would wake me up in my hotel just to hear me speak in Jesus' language.  The US Bible-belt is a potentially huge market for his recordings. There is already an Aramaic Bible Society which-although they do not appear to speak much Aramaic-keeps a lively English debate going on the Internet.

Nash Didan's recordings have not inspired everyone. Prof. Naveh's colleague Gidon Goldenburg, professor of Semitic linguistic, was unimpressed by the quality of their Aramaic. "It's very strange. The people who sing it just repeat one sentence in one form. You would hear more Aramaic in the market
in Jerusalem," he said. He also said that Israel's defense minister,  Yitzhak Mordechai, spoke Aramaic as a result of his Iraqi origin.  Unsurprisingly, Prof. Goldenberg is skeptical of Nash Didan's efforts to save Aramaic. "It may survive in some small villages in Syria or elsewhere, but in Israel, Aramaic will not remain more than one generation." he said.  But brightening, he added: Hebrew lived as a dead language for centuries."  For languages at least, there can always be a second coming.

Julian Borger
Tel Aviv
See The Guardian, Saturday, June 6, 1998



(ZNAH: Cairo) In what is being viewed as a goodwill gesture by the government towards
Coptic citizens, the Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) has decided after nearly two decades of legal battles to hand back to the Coptic Orthodox Church 385 feddans of land it had seized in 1971. The move prompted Pope Shenoudah III to make a rare news conference in which he expressed "great esteem for the directives of the political leadership which seeks to establish justice and gives Coptic Waqf land back where it belongs--the Coptic church."  The pope said the government's decision "shows that the problems of Copts should be settled within an Egyptian, not external, framework."

Pope Shenoudah dismissed the claims that the government's decision meant it had bowed to campaigns launched by expatriate Copts living in the United States and Canada which claim discrimination against Egypt's minority.  These claims "do injustice to Egypt and its people," he said.  The pope explained that plans to restore the Coptic Waqf had been under active consideration since 1996, adding that it was "long before the unfair campaigns against Egypt began.  So, there should be no link between the two matters because restoring the Coptic Waqf reflects the wish of Egyptians. It is a wise Egyptian decision."

The move was  hailed by prominent Coptic figures, describing it as "a good initiative that will create a better environment for Copts and refute allegations of discrimination." "A fat dossier will be closed once and for all," Youssef Seidhom, editor of the Coptic newspaper Watani, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

In 1981, the Coptic church took the Ministry of Awqaf to court to contest its seizure of nearly 2,000 feddans of Coptic Waqf land scattered in 12 governates.  "The Waqf land was confiscated after the Waqf Authority was established in 1971.  All endowments were placed under the supervision of the authority," Mamdouh Nakhla, a Coptic lawyer who initiated one of the legal battles against the ministry in the 1980s told the Weekly.  Until 1970, the Coptic Waqf was administered by the Coptic Orthodox Waqf Authority, established in 1960 by presidential decree.  The Waqf land originally belonged to affluent Coptic families, including Makram Ebeid, Boutros Ghali and Wissa Wassef, who donated it to the church.

In 1971, a law allowing the Egyptian Wafq Authority to administer all Waqfs, except those belonging to the church was passed.  And yet according to human rights activist Maurice Sadek, the authority managed to
seize the bulk of Coptic Waqf during the past two decades.  "They did this under the pretext that there is nt such thing as Coptic or Islamic endowments, only Egyptian endowments," Sadek said.  But Isaac Abdou, head of the Coptic Endowments Authority, said that the revenue of the Coptic Waqf was directed to the church and any surplus was kept by the ministry to spend on charities for the poor and needy.

Despite the many lawsuits won by the church--dozens of court rulings were passed in favor of the church, particularly in 1985--it was only in 1996 that newly-appointed Minister of Waqf Hamdi Zaqzouk established a committee of both Muslims and Copts to examine the issue.  According to Seidhom, a committee member, discussions inside the committee were in favor of restoring the land to the church. "This was a turning point because there was hardly any objection to restoring our rights.  A deadlock which persisted for nearly two decade was finally broken," Seidhom said.

The committee even decided to give back some of the Waqf land which was not subject to litigation.  These, Seidhom explained, were plots of land which originally belonged to the church.  "According to the committee, once the church presents us with the documents that prove ownership, the land will be restored immediately," Seidhom said.  The land, Seidhom adds, totals 312 feddans.  "This shows that whatever the problems we may have, they can be resolved amongst ourselves, but only if there is goodwill to do so," Seidhom said.  Mustafa Abdul-Fattah, head of the Waqf Authority, said the committee will meet next week to discuss the return of 696 remaining feddans.

With special thanks to ZENDA contributor, Dr. Zaineb Istrabadi - Columbia University, New York.


(ZNAF: Cologne)  Jesus Christ spent three years and 11 months of his childhood in Egypt, according to the study of a 4-5th century Egyptian papyrus by a historian at the University of Cologne.  The length of the stay is a point of contention between Christians and Moslems, and among experts.  The papyrus studied appeared to lend credence to the belief of Egyptian Coptic Christians who on June 1 each year celebrate the arrival of the holy family in Egypt.

The papyrus text, written in the Coptic dialect of northern Egypt, "is a very interesting discovery, although it makes no mention of Mary and Joseph," said Gesa Schenke, 28, who did the study.  The study of the papyrus, which was acquired by the university in the 1960s, appeared in a German magazine specializing in such texts.

"The papyrus, regularly punctuated by 'amens,' clearly shows Egypt as the land where Christianity began since it is written there that 'God created Adam on Egyptian soil'," said Schenke, the daughter of Hans-Martin Schenke, celebrated Coptic specialist at the University of Berlin.  One portion of the papyrus is written in the future tense but relates things past, she said, adding that was "a descriptive style typical in
ancient Egypt, presenting the past as prophecy.  "Egypt is explicitly described here for the first as the most important country in the world, dominating all others," said Gesa Schenke.  "The papyrus specifies that 12 sunbeams shine on Egypt, against seven on all other countries. It also says the world has 72 countries and that Egypt was the last to be created."

"The papyrus also speaks of 3,721 martyrs who spilled their blood for Jesus," she said, but added that the name of Jesus is never mentioned in the text, which speaks only of "the son of God."  The well-preserved papyrus measures 31.5 centimeters (12.4 inches) in length by 8.4 centimeters (3.3 inches) in width, said Schenke.



June 21


Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East  
Mar Gewergis Church  
7201 North Ashland  
Chicago, IL 60626  USA  
Office: + (1-773) 465-4777  
Fax: + (1-847) 966-0012 

For Registration and Information please call:  
     Misha Talya - (773) 463-4200  
     Sara Royal - (773) 777-7370  
     Mary Yonan - (773) 463-7920  
     Tina Yousif (847) 699-1931 

June 27


For the New Mar Addai Church Project on Monte Vista Avenue, Turlock 
Guest of Honor:  Mar Melis Zaya, Bishop of Australia & New Zealand 
8:00 PM 
Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Cultural Center 
3119 Central Avenue 

Your RSVP must be received by 19 June 1998. 
Any amount of contribution would be greatly appreciated.  Send donations to: 

The New Assyrian Church of the East Mar Addai Parish

P.O. Box 3216

Turlock, CA  95381

July 3-4


Assyrian Teams from Five Cities in California Competing in Several Sports 

Los Angeles, Modesto, San Diego, San Jose, Turlock 

Participants include over 100 athletes from San Francisco Bay Area 
Games:  9:00 AM-5:00 PM (Friday & Saturday) 
Willow Glen High School 
For Schedules & Hotel Information See Next Week's ZENDA

July 18


Assyrian National Council Office 
6352 North Fairfield 
6:00 PM 
Refreshments will be served. 
All are welcome to attend. 

Sep 2-7


Sponsored by the Assyrian American National Federation 

Sep 11-24


For more information see ZENDA:  JUNE 8: SURFERS CORNER



Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C. 
More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931 
Harvard University's Semitic Museum 
-cuneiform tablets 
-beaded jewelry 
-lion statuettes from the temple of Ishtar at Nuzi



Syrian Orthodox Church Music:  On Sale from Amazon.Com

Lane Tech High School Assyrian Club

A Chronology of the Important Events in the Ancient Near East


 Step (stairway)
 Stairway = khowqeh
 sebelta (also semalta)
 Tall Ladder = sebelta raamta


Observances of the Eastern Assyrian Churches


Golden Friday:  The Disciples First Miracle 
2nd Sunday of the Apostles
Feasts of the Holy Eucharist (Corpus Christi)
3rd Sunday of the Apostles
 Memorial of St. Ephrem (Mar Aprim)
Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 
4th Sunday of the Apostles
Fast of the Apostles 
5th Sunday of the Apostles
St. Peter & St. Paul
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


BC (7500)

The earliest objects made of copper were a pin and a bodkin were found in northern Bet-Nahrain (southeast Turkey).  They consisted of native copper shaped by hammering.  The site where they were found was within 12 miles of Ergani (north-west of Diyarbekir), a major source of copper.  The use of copper did not begin in Europe until about 4000 B.C.

Civilization Before Greece & Rome, Saggs

AD (781)


The Assyrian missionaries erect the Si-An monument in Si-An, the ancient Chinese capital.  The monument has inscriptions in both Syriac and Chinese and was used by modern linguists to decipher the sound-values of the Chinese characters in the Eighth century A.D.

The Assyrians & Their Neighbors, Wigram



Introductory Classical Assyrian 

alphabet and the vowel system, basic literacy skills & vocabulary 

Saad Sadi 
APR 4 JUN 27 

3-5 PM 

North Park Univ Carlson Tower 
Room C44
Introductory Modern Assyrian I 

alphabet and the vowel system, basic literacy skills & vocabulary 

Zaia Kanoon
APR 9 JUN 25 

7-9 PM 

North Park Univ 
Room B-3
Introductory Modern Assyrian II 

reading & writing,  & elementary grammar. 

Zaia Kanoon
APR 4 JUN 27 

3-5 PM 

North Park Univ 
Carlson Tower 
Room C42






"One is Christ the Son of God, Worshipped by all in two natures.  In His Godhead born of the Father without beginning, before all time; In His humanity born of Mary in the fullness of time in a united body.  Neither is His Godhead of the nature of His mother, nor His humanity of the nature of His Father.  The natures are preserved in their Qnomes in one Person of one Sonship."

From a hymn of praise by Mar Bawai (Babai) the Great (569-628 A.D.)


June 22, 1977:  The first issue of the Assyrian magazine Shveela (The Way) is published in Assyrian and Farsi, in Tehran, Iran.  Shveela was the official organ of the Assyrian Youth Cultural Society of Tehran..



Al-Muntada is a monthly Arabic-English magazine, published in Detroit, Michigan, home to the largest concentration in the U.S. of the Chaldean-Assyrians. Al-Muntada is published by Mr. Fouad Manna, a nephew of Bishop Ogein Manna, the author of Aramaic-Arabic Dictionary. Mr. Fouad is originally from Paqoufa, Iraq.

The current issue of al-Muntada, May 1998, is a combined April-May issue dedicated to the Assyrian New Year.  Two articles ("Nissan Festivals", by Mr. Habbib Hannona, and "Akieto, the Assyrian New Year" by Yegdan Nissan) discuss the historical origins of the Assyrian New Year. Another article
by Mr. Ghassan Hanna "One Nation..Two Names; The Chaldean/Assyrian Dilemma", in English, attempts to clarify the confusion and myths associated with the usage of the religious term "Chaldean", and that the current day "Chaldean-Catholics" are not related to the Chaldeans of antiquity, rather true descendants of the ancient Assyrians.

In an interview with Mr. Kameran Qaradaghi, a Kurdish journalist for the London's Arabic daily, al-Hayat, Al-Muntada discusses the political turmoil among the Kurdish population in northern Iraq and the continuous in-fighting between the different Kurdish parties. Mr. Qaradaghi is also asked about the treatment of the Assyrians by the Kurdish factions. Mr. Qaradaghi condemns the massacres committed by the Kurds against the Assyrians in the past. He calls upon the Kurdish leadership to submit a formal apology in the name of the Kurdish people to all Assyrians for the ill-treatment and massacres committed against them throughout history. He also calls for the closer cooperation between the Kurds and the Assyrians. Mr. Qaradaghi in turn has published two articles in the al-Hayat newspaper entitled:

"Chaldeans & Assyrians: Iraq's ancient people: Migrating due to intolerance"
"Chaldean Bishop Hopes the Kurds will not Turn into Tormentors of Others" Interview with Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim

Click Here: April 26, 1998 issue & then click on 26P13 Int.pdf link (requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader)

In the Shako Mako (Iraqi-Arabic slang "What's There and Not There") section, the cultural night organized by Radio Ishtar is covered, where three presentations on Naom Faiq, Agha Putros, and Yousif Malik were presented.  The "Beirut Conference" of 1 May 1998 is reviewed by Al-Muntada Editor, Mr. Hirmis Aboona.  Several representatives of the Maronite, Syrian Orthodox, Church of the East, and the Chaldean churches attended this meeting under the banner "Assyrianism: Language, History, and National Identity". The June issue of al-Muntada will be dedicated to the activities of this historic meeting.

To learn more about al-Muntada, please, visit its website at:





It's that time of the year again and ZENDA is preparing the list of all Assyrian graduates from the high schools, colleges and universities around the world.  If you are such a person or know of someone (daughter, son, friend, etc.) please contact ZENDA with the following information:

Student's Name     (Sargina Atoureta)
Major:                  (Electrical Engineering)
Degree:                 (Master's Degree)
School:                 (Free University of Babylon)

ZENDA will announce the names of its Class of 1998 graduating students in the June 22 issue.  Your student need not be a ZENDA reader.

From all of us at ZENDA a heartfelt congratulation to the Class of 1998!







This Week's Contributors:
Dr. George Habash United Kingdom Surfers Corner
Ghassan Hanna English Section Editor/Al-Muntada Magazine Bravo
Rita Pirayou San Jose, California Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
Zaya Nisani San Jose, California The Lighthouse
Thank You For Referring ZENDA to a Friend:


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