|The Lighthouse||ACNC '98 Report|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||The ADO Press Release
Radio-Free Broadcasts to Iran & Iraq
ADO Officials Meet with Armenian Gov Reps
|Surfs Up||"proud to carry its passport and call it home."|
|Surfers Corner||US Christian Politics in Palestine|
|News Digest||Aramaic on Musical CD Released in Israel|
|Calendar of Events||No New Changes|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||The Origin & Development of Writing|
|Pump up the Volume||Partner & Partnership|
|Back to the Future||Trouble in the Babylonian Court & Jundishapur|
|Literatus||John Paul II Welcoming Speech to Mar Dinkha IV|
|This Week in History||Dr. Isaac Adams|
|Bravo||A New Chaldean Church in Canada|
ACNC '98 REPORT
The 4th Assyrian Community Networking Conference was held in Centre Plaza in Modesto, California, on Saturday, May the 23rd, 1998. Community and Internet related topics were addressed by the 9 presenters. Approximately 50 people attended the conference. In his openings remarks, one of the three founders and this year's chairman of the conference, Francis Sarguis, welcomed the attendees, and touched briefly on the character and aims of the ACNC. First, he reiterated that the term "networking" is not merely about "the computer and the Internet," but that it refers to efficient interaction and sharing of information that is of interest or concern for the Assyrian community. Second, he emphasized that the conference "makes no claim to solving any of the difficult challenges brought into the discussion"; instead, the ACNC must be viewed as a forum.
Following this clarification, Mr. Sarguis acknowledged the generous support of AUOC, the Assyrian United Organizations of California. While ACNC has been a wholly independent project from the outset, it welcomes sponsorship, and it was pleased to receive a $950 contribution from the AUOC. ACNC applied $500 of this to a scholarship (for travel to the conference) awarded to Emima Bet Shmuel of Ontario, Canada. Mr. Sarguis expressed gratitude to Mr. Albert Gabrial, one of the founders of the ACNC, a key organizer of the conference. Mr. Gabrial is known for the countless hours he volunteers to Nineveh-Online and to the Assyrian community. He also acknowledged the third founder of the ACNC Mr. Abdulmesih BarAbrahem who chaired the conference last year. Following these remarks, Mr. BarAbrahem briefly reviewed the conference agenda, touched major topics and announced some last-minute changes.
Mr. Albert Gabrial was the first speaker. Founder and Administrator of Nineveh Online, Mr. Gabrial summarized some of its accomplishments. Nineveh-Online now provides a broad range of information and services ranging from history, music, chat, columnists, Cyber-TV and Cyber-Radio.
Due to unavoidable circumstances, the representative from XenoType Technologies could not attend to make his planned presentation. However, the Program Chairman referred to the company's first public release of the Assyrian/East Syriac Language Kit for the Macintosh, including a link to their web-page. It was noted that this product jusr passed the beta test is the result of 4 months of development and two months of beta testing, and was enhanced by the suggestions and comments of testers from around the world. In general, this language kit provides multilingual capabilities, including English. It allows switching between Assyrian and the other languages. All beta tester and the attendees of the ACNC98 are eligible to receive discount on the full version.
Ms. Sarra Nanou spoke about the "The Role of Telemedicine in Assyrian Refugee Camps". She discussed a proposal concerning the well-known health tragedy in refugee camps. Specifically, she referred to the utilization of a so-called GIS system (Geographic Information System) to localize and manage refugee care via mobile clinics. GIS, itself based on Satellite link, enables more efficient deployment (in number, time and area) of Air Transportable Hospitals (ATH). The failure to provide adequate health care in refugee camps is directly linked to a large increase in mortality
rates. Ms. Nanou pointed to the Humanitarian Services Support Base-Silopi (HSSB) in Turkey which provided deployment of an ATH for the Assyrian refugees in Silopi between April and July 1991 in support of the Allied Forces' Operation Provide Comfort. It included Telemedicine application via satellite. Currently, Ms. Nanou is seeking the support of Church and other organizations to enable deployment of the system in rural areas (in Iraq, to name one example).
Following a brief break, Mr. Wilfred Alkhas, the publisher of Zenda, presented a detailed plan for the creation of a world-wide "Zenda Emergency Response Network" (ZERN). This would permit the immediate distribution of news of any occurrence dealing with the Assyrians around the globe to a
list of participating social, political and religious organizations, Assyrian and non-Assyrian alike. This dissemination would occur by fax or e-mail. After initial remarks explaining the rationale for such a program, Mr. Alkhas cited detailed segments of the idea, including such core functions as Receiving, Verifying and Distributing the information. He explained each of these requirements and he illustrated its functioning by use of a hypothetical situation.
Mr. Wilson Narsai was the next speaker, and he talked about "Coordination of Assyrian Mass Media". He began by providing some reflections on mass media approaches in the international arena. Active himself in Assyrian TV presentations, he noted that our own community is dominated by clubs or organizations, mostly reflecting the views of their members and certain narrow policies. He underlined the lack of professionalism, diversification, to say nothing of the poor use of language. To address the problems of
today's Assyrian mass media, Mr.Narsaid suggested the appropriation of funds, and the creation of an information department, along with a research and study center.
Ms. Adrin Takhsh, currently a student at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, spoke about "The Assyrian Woman - Change of Traditional Role". She analyzed women's role, from the era of tradition to modernity. She focused in particular on the impact of emigration as a driving factor for
fundamental changes. In describing the emigration process, she referred to the
initial cultural shock experienced upon arrival in the new country, to the increased personal freedom and new responsibilities of women in the modern family structure. She concluded by placing women in a this new family context.
Romena Jonas, organizer of Assyrians for Education, discussed the "Hammurabi Elementary School Project". She outlined its purpose, which is the survival of Assyrian culture and heritage. The Hammurabi Elementary School is planned as an independent entity to be established in Turlock, California. The
school would improve academic achievement by Assyrian students, teach the Aramaic (modern Assyrian) language as a second language, and heighten cultural awareness by providing culture, history, and religion classes in addition to the basic courses of math, science, history, and English. She noted that the school would be the first of its kind Assyrian elementary school in the United States. Currently those driving this project are talking to various organizations (Churches, clubs) to secure financial commitments. To date, the only organization which has provided a commitment in writing is the Assyrian Foundation in Berkeley. The project committee is hoping to receive some of the funds donated and specifically dedicated by the late Benjamin Adams to the education of Assyrian children. Approximately $1,300,000 is needed to establish and run the school in its first year. Mrs. Jonas also shared
The results of a survey conducted in July-August 1997, in the cities of Turlock and Modesto, California. It revealed that some 300 students are interested in attending, and nine Assyrian teachers expressed
interest in teaching in the school.
A late addition to the agenda, Shamasha Lawrence Namato presented an update of his effort in extending the existing PC program "Learning Assyrian". Basically, this consists of the presentation of the Alphabet linked to graphical animation and audio support for correct reading of each letter,
and of and words beginning with that letter.
Mr. Brent Olson from Hollister Internet, the company hosting Nineveh-Online, gave a brief talk on the history and impact of the Internet on daily life. He presented statistics to provide a perspective on the
impact of the Internet relative to communication.
As the last topic of the conference, Francis Sarguis spoke "In Patient Search of Assyrian Education". Mr. Sarguis, English Editor of the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, was the chairman of this year's conference. He described education in a broad sense and defined thereby three main objectives:
a) A greater respect for knowledge and learning
b) a heightened appreciation of cultural heritage, and
c) a realistic understanding of the society we now call home (in our case, the U.S. or Canada). He emphasized that these three components are interrelated and depend one on the other. Unless Assyrians acquire a greater respect for knowledge and for learning, the understanding of their own culture will remain stunted and one-dimensional. Furthermore, if we do not have a thorough appreciation of our own culture, the claims we make to cultural identity and for cultural survival will amount to idle talk. Mr. Sarguis stressed, that 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 common interest.
Vivian Hirmiz, an active member of this years local organizing committee introduced each of the speakers and moderated throughout the sessions. Also Mr. Sargon Tavour provided technical equipment and the conference banners.
ACNC98 Program Chairman
Fourth Assyrian Community Networking Conference '98 Video Tape is now available.
2 Hours; $20 (includes the cost of shipping & handling). Send Check or money order to:
900 Gary street
Turlock, CA. 95382
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
AN ADO PRESS RELEASE, IN SUPPORT OF THE GENOCIDE MOTION
The following letter was written by the Assyrian Democratic Organization in support of the genocide motion which put to vote in the Assemblée Nationale Francaise on May 29, 1998:
ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION- Section Europe
May 24, 1998
24. Iyyar 6748
Monsieur Jean Paul Bret
Groupe d'Amitié France-Armenie
á l'Assemblée Nationale Française
126, rue de l'Université
Re: Recognition of the Armenian genocide
- by the French National Assembly
- by the French Government as represented by its competent officials and
- especially by the French Prime Prime Minister Mr Lionel Jospin
Dear Mr Bret,
The Assyrian nation has learnt with great disappointment and worries about the evasive and truth distorting statements of French Prime Minister Mr Lionel Jospin on last April 24 in which he avoided despite overwhelming evidence to name the genocide - inflicted upon the Armenian nation in 1915-1918 and ongoing till 1923 - straightforwardly 'genocide' in the full and proper sense of the term but instead played it down to a 'drama' and 'tragedy' of a sort.
Furthermore it has come to our knowledge that on next May 29 the French National Assembly will see a motion being put to the vote which will demand the recognition of the Armenian genocide as such by using the correct word for its essence and character.
In the all too well founded fear that a possible non-adoption of this motion in any form and on any grounds whatsoever will establish a precedent
The Assyrian Democratic Organisation hereby expresses its will to stand firmly by the Armenian nation and launches an urgent appeal to the French National Assembly, the French Government and especially to the French Prime Minister Mr Lionel Jospin
Our attitude in this is guided by a twofold motive:
1) By our firm belief that this very genocide constitutes an assault on mankind and humanity in total. Consequently ethics and morale demand at least its recognition through correct designation, proper judgment and its condemnation by every human being who does want not to step outside the value system of humanity either willingly or by gross negligence,
2) By the fact deep-rooted in our hearts that the Assyrian nation herself is a VICTIM and thus WITNESS of the aforesaid genocide insofar as it has expanded from the Armenian to the Assyrian nation which latter it continues to actively and systematically threaten with elimination even today. That this truth is not reflected in the awareness and conscience of the international community does not mean any lessening but all the more demands its straight revelation, disclosure and world wide recognition.
The difference between the Armenian massacres and the Assyrian massacres lies in that in the first case all the possible has been done to make it known in the world while in the second case all possible precautions have been taken to keep this sad reality secret. (Rev. Dr. A. W. Wigrams in Assyrians during the Great War, Near East, London 1920)
The Armenian genocide 1915-16 bearing its special character and importance was perpetrated within the broader historical context of genocides inflicted also upon Syriacs-Assyrians and generally the oriental Christians of which it marked the beginning.
What happened on April 24, 1915 turned into an ever growing tidal wave engulfing also the Syriac-Assyrian communities in their respective homelands that resulted in killing half a million Syriacs-Assyrians and uprooting another half million. This ethnic cleansing continues even today at the hands of TURKS, KURDS, and ARABS.
With this mind we feel obliged to honour the memory of the victims of murder and other crimes against humanity (still today: abduction, rape, forced Islamisation, Turkisation, Kurdisation, Arabisation, and expulsion) both of our and the Armenian nation and to do this by hereby bearing open testimony to the common destiny of distress and resulting human duties our both nations share in.
We want to reinforce our appeal with the heartily felt wish that this time efforts will succeed in making the truth win and we hereby assure the Armenian nation of all and any support in this matter.
ADO - Section Europe
Mr. Sait Demir
President Zentralverband der Assyr. Vereinigungen in Mitteleuropa (ZAVD)
Postfach 112305, D-86048 Augsburg
Mr. Ninib Ablahad Lahdo
PresidentAssyriska Riksforbundet Isverige
P.P. 601915106 Södertalja
Mr. Samir Elijo
President Federatie Tur-Abdin (FTN)
Postbus 401377504 RC Enschede
RADIO-FREE BROADCASTS TO IRAN & IRAQ
(ZNAP: Washington) U.S.-sponsored "radio free" broadcasts are expected to begin beaming into Iraq and Iran this fall, delivering news and lessons in democracy. The Clinton administration backed the congressionally mandated "Radio Free Iraq" program, but showed concern that it could provoke Tehran just as U.S.-Iranian relations are warming now that a moderate, Mohammad Khatami, is Iran's president.
As a result, the Iran broadcasts are being referred to simply as a new Farsi language service of Radio Free
Europe/Liberty, which began airing behind the Iron Curtain and in the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. And the State Department and backers insist the broadcasts won't attack governments, but instead will report the news. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said, "The purpose of these broadcasts is not to beam anti-government propaganda into Iran." Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., was the primary author. The Radio Free Iraq plan came from Republican congressional leaders, but Secretary of State Madeleine Albright supported the idea. Five million dollars for the Iraq broadcasts were put into an emergency spending bill that President Clinton signed in early May. Tom Dine, president of Radio Free Europe/Liberty, said he believes he'll get the new Farsi service in Iran and Arabic language "Radio Free Iraq" operating by the new fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1. Unlike the Voice of America, the radio free broadcasts don't run U.S. editorials and aren't required to present America's foreign policy views. Instead, the U.S.-funded radio free programs, known as "surrogate broadcasts," simulate news operations as if in they're in a country with a free press, focusing mostly on local and regional developments.
OFFICIAL TALKS BETWEEN ADO AND ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
(ZNAD: Augsburg) On 5 May Mr Issa Hanna of the Assyrian Democratic Organization's European Branch met with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian; the Armenian Ambassador to Germany, Dr Aschot Voskanian, and the Special Commissioner for European Affairs in the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mr Mntatsakian. This meeting took place in the official guest house 'Petersberg' of the Federal Republic of Germany, in the town of Königswinter near Bonn. The talks opened up with greetings from Foreign Minister Oskanian. Dr Voskanian emphasized the importance of establishing permanent relations between the leaderships of the two people. He noted his personal acquaintance with the Assyrians in Armenia from childhood.
Mr Hanna made some remarks on the traditionally close and friendly relations between the Armenians and the Assyrians and handed over a collection of gifts including a painting entitiled 'The Fall of Nineveh' and a number of books on the tragic history and the living conditions of the Assyrians throughout the world. He then pointed the efforts of ADO including the operation of the 'Assyrian School' in Augsburg, Germany. Mr Voskanian was also briefed on the current problems faced by the Assyrians in their homelands as well as in Diaspora. Mr Mntatsakian, Special Commissioner for European Affairs in the Armenian Foreign Ministry explained that the Armenian government is fully aware of ADO's activities and followed up on their progress. Mr Hanna then made some remarks on the following proposals placed before the government of Armenia and President Robert Kocharian:
Dr. Voskanian and Mr. Mntatsakian said that these proposals had been passed on to the Armenian government where they had aroused great interest. The meetings attendees parted warmly looking forward to coming meetings. Afterwards, Mr Hanna was interviewed by a reporter of 'Snark', a leading Armenian news agencies, where he gave a detailed description of the main objectives of the ADO initiative and the talks with the Armenian Ambassador and the Special Commissioner. Mr Hanna was accompanied by the president and the secretary of the Armenian National Cultural Centre of the city of Dortmund, Mr Y. Khosrovian and Mr A. Schmidt, who made the improvement of inter-minority contacts and especially the promotion of Assyrian-Armenian relations a top priority and at the same time served as interpreters during the meeting.
"We want to thank you for your Solidarity Message about our hunger strike in Brussels! Our next action is a great cultural program entitled 'The National Campaigns and Unity Event.' For millenia the Assyrian-Syriac people created a glorious history and through progressive achievements contributed greatly to the human civilisation, and so our own national culture was developed. Centuries of collonialisation, attacks, expulsions, oppressions were the reasons for the weakness of the former rich culture. These different methods were used to stop the development of this culture and to integrate it into the culture of the reigning powers. Their intention was to bring it down to the ground and to exterminate it definitively.
Our national culture has to be developed and brought into an advantage point, only to recall our national identity into our consciousness. This so that everyone can identify oneself, everywhere with this culture. It is the duty of everyone of our people and all democrats to support an honest and fair solution to our question. For that reason a cultural event has been organized in Kaunitz-Verl (near Gütersloh, Germany).
We invite you kindly with your solidaity to join this great culture event with us:
Time and place of the event: May 30,1998 time: 4:00 pm
Kaunitz-Verl (near Gütersloh) Germany
Tukoso Davronoyo Mothonoyo d'Beth-Nahrin+
(Patriotic Revolutionaries Organisation of Mesopotamia)
Our objectives are plenty, and not limited into producing an Assyrian entertainment program, but rather in helping our Assyrian community regain their lost freedom, feel protected, be able to mingle harmoniously
in their new home, and to build their institutions to teach Syric language, hold cultural activities, and carry on our Assyrian ethnicity as any other community.
Many Assyrians do not know about the Assyrian politics that came into existence in the 20th century. A majority of Assyrians are left in the dark, even the political party members have very poor understanding of their own partys legitimate and rightful actions. Many members dont even know their political
partys constitution and policies. They have learned not to ask questions, having lived for decades under the Turks, Arab and Kurdish deadly dictatorships.
I must also say something about the existence of close to a dozen well-paid Assyrian Iraqi agents in Hamilton who have penetrated almost every single Assyrian organization and church, working hard to bring our unity to an end and stop any type of communal advancement. According to some reports these
the agents are paid close to $6000 U.S. dollars per month. Indeed, Assyrian political parties have an obligation in protecting the Assyrian interests, and they should be held accountable. At the same time,
Canada must not be a safe heaven to any terrorist. Assyrian-Canadians must recognize that they are free in Canada, free to chose and vote as well to object, and refuse any policy they feel would bring harm.
Thanks and keep the good work up.
Ashur Simon Malek
U.S. CHRISTIAN POLITICS IN PALESTINE & THE FREEDOM ACT
Six years ago, Muhammad Bakr defied the Muslim tradition of his Palestinian village, rejected the teachings of the Muslim prophet that he was named for, and converted to Christianity. As a result, Bakr was jailed by the Palestinian Authority for a year and tortured into confessing to false charges, claim Bakr and his pastor. But human rights groups and Palestinian Christians don't believe that Bakr was arrested for his faith. Instead, they say that Bakr's story was used by Israeli and pro-Israeli Christian groups to stir up international concern about the plight of Christians under the four-year-old Palestinian government.
The same American religious right that publicized Bakr's story is one of the strongest advocates for current legislation that would level sanctions against countries that harass or jail Christians because of their faith. The Freedom From Religious Persecution Act was passed by an overwhelming House majority on May 14th, and will soon be voted on by the United States Senate. While the PA is not named as an offending government in the Freedom From Religious Persecution Act, it would be subject to scrutiny if the bill were passed, particularly after reports of religious persecution that have been circulated by Bakr's pastor, David Ortiz, and the Israeli government. David Ortiz is very well-connected in the U. S., including several senators and within Christian right circles, says Jennifer Moorehead of LAW, a Jerusalem-based human rights organization. The Christian right has in turn influenced several congresspeople who were already hostile to the Palestinians. The problem with that, says Moorehead, is that extensive investigations by both LAW and the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group have found that Ortiz's claims of systematic police arrest and harassment of Christians due to their faith are unfounded. Palestinian Christian leaders have repeatedly denied that the PA has subjected them to relentless persecution, as an Israeli report claimed. I don't believe for a second that [Palestinian President] Yasser Arafat or anyone else said 'Go and attack the Christians', says Issa Bajalia, an evangelical Palestinian pastor. Christians point out that while they only make up 2.2 percent of the Palestinian population, they have many representatives in high posts of the Palestinian government. Instead, LAW says that the eight Christian converts from Islam that Ortiz claims have been persecuted were targeted by police for other reasons.
Ortiz is an American Pentecostal minister who moved to an Israeli West Bank settlement with the intention of converting Jews and Muslims to Christianity. He openly believes that, God is bringing the Jews on this land and he has a plan for them. That isn't a popular opinion among the 2.5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza and hope to establish a state there. Moorehead thinks that Ortiz's beliefs, activities, and where he lives are the reasons why his small congregation has faced difficulties from Palestinian security forces. Frequent visits with Ortiz in the settlement, the attention Ortiz has drawn to the PA, as well as their own previous social and criminal problems, make Ortiz's converts targets for police hostility.
While there is no proof that these eight men have been arrested for their faith, the Israeli government has used their story in its own campaign against the Palestinian leadership. Not long after Bakr's arrest, an
Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs report was leaked to the press. The report detailed several Palestinian religious conflicts, including Bakr's case, and quoted the dwindling numbers of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza as proof that the PA was hostile to non-Muslims. Uri Mor, the Israeli liaison between Christian groups and the Israeli government and the author of the report, says that there is no systematic campaign against Christians by the PA. He describes instances where social problems have taken on religious overtones, often involving Palestinian officials. Interestingly, Mor also says that the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister's office uses information about Palestinian religious conflicts as his _bread and butter against the PA.
That report, combined with the lobbying of David Ortiz, started a paper trail that leads directly to the door of the American right-wing Christian Coalition. The International Christian Embassy, a Jerusalem-based organization that supports Israel for the same religious reasons as Ortiz, immediately published the Israeli report in its newsletter. Christian Friends of Israel, also based in Jerusalem, asked those in its 22
world-wide offices to pray _for Muhammad and other believers suffering in [PA] prisons. Not long after, Ortiz traveled to the US, where he appeared on Pat Robertson's 700 Club and spoke about the PA's alleged poor treatment of Christians.
We must demand the State Department do something in relation to the Sudan, in relation to the PA, in relation to Saudi Arabia and these other countries that are persecuting Christians,_ Robertson told an October 1997 audience of the 700 Club. Robertson is the founder of the Christian Coalition which
is a strong advocate of the religious persecution bill recently passed by the House. Soon, legislators connected with the Republican right in America were also talking about the PA's treatment of Christians. Representative J.C. Watts, a Republican from Oklahoma, wrote of a _rise in violent attacks against Christians_ living under the Palestinian government in a December
Washington Times article. He is now a vocal backer of the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. Palestinians who have converted from Islam to Christianity have been arrested and have sustained heavy fines and abuse of various types, Republican Representative Jim Saxton of New Jersey told the Christian
Broadcasting Network News in March this year. Saxton has proposed legislation in the past that would cut aid to the PA. Saxton has also expressed support for the current religious persecution legislation. While the scope of the religious persecution bill is much larger than any attack on the PA, its strongest supporters share pro-Israeli feelings. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Senate sponsor of the religious persecution bill, has recently sponsored legislation to cut funding to the PA and move the American embassy to Jerusalem, a change that Palestinians say would preempt future agreements with Israel on the status of the holy city. Lobbying by Ortiz of American lawmakers comes at a crucial time in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from the Clinton administration to concede more territory to Palestinians. In the past, he has used the support of the American Christian right to deflect this pressure.
I think that David Ortiz's agenda is the same as Christian right religious groups in the US, which is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and the returning of the Jews to this land, says Moorehead. And that is where their lobbying takes on political overtones.
"A Palestinian's Refuted Story of Religious Persectution is Replayed in U.S. Halls of Power"
Palestine Report, 20 May, 1998
ARAMAIC LANGUAGE IN NEW AGE-STYLE ROCK SONGS ON CD
(ZNAP: Tel Aviv) Threatened with extinction, the everyday language of Abraham and Jesus
is now available on CD. One of the few remaining groups of Aramaic speakers is using its music to preserve what in biblical times was the most widely spoken language in the Middle East.
In a small basement recording studio in Tel Aviv's central bus terminal, the Nash Didan band lays down instrumental tracks for New Age-style songs written in Aramaic by their leader, Arik Mordechai. Mordechai, a professional musician, said he began his mission to save Aramaic two years ago when his mother asked him to keep the language going. ``The music is where the culture starts,'' he said.``People can learn a little bit of a language that way.'' Mordechai said the first two Aramaic CDs have sold several thousand copies each, not bad for a country with a population of only 6 million. A third album is in the works.
Mordechai and his parents belong to a 14,000-member group of Israeli Jews who call themselves
Nash Didan -- Aramaic for ``our people.'' They trace their roots back to northern Iran, near the
town of Urmia. The isolation of the mountainous area helped the Jews of Urmia preserve their religious heritage and the language -- Aramaic -- they had brought into exile from the Holy Land. After Israel's founding in 1948, the Nash Didan began moving to the Jewish state. The tribe's leader,Avraham Hachami, knew only Aramaic and Persian when he arrived as an 18-year-old.
In Israel, the Nash Didan have preserved their Persian-style cooking and some of the old rituals, including a wedding ceremony in which the bride throws apples at her husband from the roof of their home in front of the community. But Hachami sees the language of his forefathers dying out. ``The young people may know a few words, but they don't speak it all the time. They speak Hebrew or English. Only the old people, me and my wife, we speak Aramaic all the time,'' he said. Moshe Bar-Asher, president of the Academy of Hebrew Language in Jerusalem, said scholars expect the 3,000-year-old language to die out within two or three decades. Some 500,000 to 800,000 people, mainly in the Middle East, still speak Aramaic, he said. In biblical times, Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Middle East, while Hebrew was mostly used in sacred texts. However, Aramaic is not without its sacred credentials. Parts of the Bible's books of Ezra and Daniel were written in the ancient language. In Jewish ritual in Israel, Aramaic is used to tell the Passover story and in ceremonial readings for weddings and funerals. Jesus' last words on the cross are probably the most recognized Aramaic phrase. According the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus cried, ``Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?'' -- ``My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'' Aramaic has been transformed over the centuries, borrowing from Arabic, and a modern speaker might have difficulty understanding the language of Abraham, said Joseph Naveh, professor of ancient languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But the common roots are still apparent. Water is ``moyeh'' in Aramaic, ``maim'' in Hebrew and ``miye'' in Arabic. Head is ``resha'' in Aramaic, ``rosh'' in Hebrew and ``ras'' in Arabic.
As spoken by Mordechai's mother, Esther, who is in her 80s, Aramaic sounds quick and clipped, with a hard twang. She is listed as a ``spiritual adviser'' on the CDs' liner notes and helps out her son when he struggles for the right word in writing lyrics.
In the cramped studio, Mrs. Mordechai was surrounded by band members during a recent recording session, including lead singer Tali Amar, who comes from a different background but learned enough Aramaic to sing Mordechai's songs. ``The Nash Didan are our real roots. They are descended from our great father Abraham,'' Mrs. Mordechai said.
In the story from the Associated Press which you reprinted on 5/26/98 (Language of Abraham, Jesus on CD) the AP staff writer, JOSH KRIST, overlooks several facts. He states that "the everyday language of Abraham and Jesus is now available on CD". This language of the Jews of Mesopotamia, which the story is concerned with, is also the exact same language of the Assyrians. This language, which has evolved from ancient Assyrian and Aramaic is also known as neo-Syriac. We, today's Assyrians, have been recording our language on tapes and now CD's for quite a while now. Browse the following web sites to get a taste:
"Nash didan", as these Jews refer to themselves, does in fact mean "our people". This phrase is short for "nasheh d-deedan", which is specifically in the Assyrian mountain dialect of Mesopotamia, where these Jews are originally from. Many of these Jews recently emigrated to Israel from Zakho, a village in north Iraq.
The author states "The isolation of the mountainous area helped the Jews of Urmia preserve their religious heritage and the language -- Aramaic -- they had brought into exile from the Holy Land." This is not exactly accurate since the Assyrian Christians of Urmia who outnumbered the Jews spoke this language since time immemorial and their language has little to do with the Holy Land.
The author also states "In Israel, the Nash Didan have preserved their Persian-style cooking and some of the old rituals, including a wedding ceremony in which the bride throws apples at her husband from the roof of their home in front of the community". This ritual is an Assyrian Christian wedding ritual practiced till today in Assyrian villages near the Khabour river in Syria and in northern Iraq.
This article is misleading when it completely ignores the Assyrian Christians of Mesopotamia whom these Jews lived closely with for thousands of years. The Assyrian Christians of Mesopotamia and their Jewish
neighbors both suffered under Islamic rule over the centuries because of their different religion and common culture and language.
This story makes more for a romantic myth and has little resemblance to actual history. It is much more likely that the "Nash Deedan" Jews are actually nasheh d-deedan, i.e. they are our Assyrian/Mesopotamian people who converted to Judaism centuries ago and identify with Israeli Jews
religiously more than culturally or linguistically. This story does little to explain how and when these Jews came to Mesopotamia from the Holy Land and why they speak the exact same language and practice the same culture as the indigenous Assyrian Christians of Mesopotamia. By the way, the 500,000 to 800,000 people who still speak "Aramaic", are mostly Assyrian Christians living in Mesopotamia or abroad. I guess the expert the author relied on, Mr. Moshe Bar-Asher, forgot to mention that.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
DEEP SEA FISHING WITH THE AAS
Second Annual Deep Sea Salmon Fishing Trip
ASSYRIAN OLYMPIC GAMES
Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
For Registration and Information please call:
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Sponsored by the Assyrian American National Federation
NUZI & THE HURRIANS: FRAGMENTS OF A FORGOTTEN PAST
Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C.
ASSYRIAN SURFING POSTS
The Origin and Development of Writing in Mesopotamia
The Christian Communities of Israel
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
BACK TO THE FUTURE
King Nebuchadnezzer dies and is succeeded by his son Amel-Marduk (562-560 B.C.). His sister had married a very rich notable from Babylon, named Negral-Shar-Usur or Neriglissar. In 560 B.C. Neriglissar leads a revolution against his brother-in-law, killa Amel-Marduk, and a new shor-lived dynasty appears in southern Bet-Nahrain. Neriglissar dies four years later and is succeeded by an even a less worthy ruler, his son Labashi-Marduk.
Babylonian Historical Texts, Sidney Smith
King Shapur I founds Jundishapur (Assyrian Gantha Shapirtha "Beautiful Garden") at the site ofmodern day Ahwaz in southwestern Iran, as a pristoner-of-war camp for soldiers captured in the war with the Roman Emperor Valerian. The camp gradually grew into a metropolis and became a center of ancient learning, studied in Greek, Sanskrit, and Syriac. A school was set up to teach medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and logic. Greek texts were translated into Syriac. The school lasted long after the coming of the Abbasid caliphate.
Science & Civilization in Islam, Nasr
alphabet and the vowel system, basic literacy skills & vocabulary
|North Park Univ Carlson Tower
alphabet and the vowel system, basic literacy skills & vocabulary
|North Park Univ
reading & writing, & elementary grammar.
|North Park Univ
DISCOURSE OF THE HOLY FATHER FOR THE GENERAL AUDIENCE
Today I am honored to have here beside me a very honored Guest, from a far away country. he is alos a brother whom I greet with joy: the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, His Holiness mar Dinkha IV, together with three bishops, members of the Holy Synod of his Church.
He is the Leader of one of the most ancient and venerable churches of the East. The language used in her liturgy is the closest to the one Jesus himself spoke.
He has come alsoto sign with the Catholic Church a Common Christological Declaration, that will resolve the separation cratd by the Council of Ephesus in the year 431.
This will settle and devinitively put an end to more that fifteen centuries of misunderstandings that afflict our faith in Christ, true God and true Man (applause) , born to the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.
You can clrealy se then how joyful my soul is forthis cicumstance and withwhat sentiments of esteem and fraternal communiation I receive His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV.
Hiss Holiness John Paul II
Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
10 November 1994
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
June 2, 1900: Father Issac Adams, an Assyrian from Urmie, graduates from the University of Michigan Medical School.
A NEW CHALDEAN CHURCH IN CANADA
The Assyrian International News Agency reports that the Chaldean-Assyrian community of Toronto, Ontario in Canada witnessed a historical ceremony when His grace, Mar Yohanna Zora, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Church, accompanied by Mar Emanuel, Bishop of the Church of the East and Mar Abrahim, Bishop of the Chaldean Church of Detroit turned the sod of the new church in Toronto. The church will be built on the land that has been finally purchased by the community in Canada in the heart of North York where the majority of the Chaldean Assyrian community resides.
Archbishop Hanna Zora was instrumental in turning the Assyrian community of Toronto's dream into reality. Until now this rapidly growing community had no church property and had relied on using local Catholic churches and school auditoriums for regular services and hours of worship.
For more information or to donate to the church building write to ZENDA or directly contact the 'Good Shepard Chaldean Parish' at 416-746-5816.
-JOIN ZENDA'S CLASS OF 1998
It's that time of the year again and ZENDA is preparing the list of all Assyrian graduates from the 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 15 issue. Your student need not be a ZENDA reader.
From all of us at ZENDA a heartfelt congratulation to the Class of 1998!
WELCOME TO ZENDA
This Week's Contributors:
|A. Schmidt||Germany||Good Morning Bet-Nahrain|
|Mar Bawai Soro||Rome, Italy||News Digest|
|Rita Pirayou||San Jose, California||Good Morning Bet-Nahrain|
|Raman Michael||Chicago, Illinois||News Digest|
|Sarra Nanou Bet Gurial||Chicago, Illinois||News Digest|
|Susan Jatou||Toronto, Canada||News Digest|
|Dr. Zaineb Istrabadi||New York (Columbia University)||Surfers Corner|
P.O. Box 20278 San Jose, California 95160 U.S.A.
Fax: (408) 885-9894
The Directory of ZENDA News Sources
ZNAA (Assyrian Academic Society-Chicago)
ZNAD (Assyrian Democratic Organization)
ZNAF (Agence France-Presse)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org)
ZNIN (Iraqi National Congress)
ZNLT (Los Angeles Times)
ZNMN (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNMW (Mideast Newswire)
ZNNQ (Nabu Quarterly)
ZNNV (Nineveh Magazine)
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)