Volume V                    Issue 8
Neesan 12, 6748                                                                              April 12, 1999

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T H I S   W E E K  I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse A Count of the Assyrians in Northern Iraq
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Opposition Groups to Saddam Gather in London
Turkish Troops Cross into Iraq
News Digest Ben Daniel of the Assyrian Guardian, Dies at 62
Christian-Moslem Tensions in the Birthplace of Jesus
Surfs Up "Reshe di shato howyo brikhto!"
Surfers Corner This Special Parade
Basic Syriac at Catholic University of America
Message in the Bottle Dinkha Elia
Assyrian Surfing Posts 6749 Kha b'Neesan Parade in Chicago (color photos)
ABC-News: Congresswoman Anna Eshoo 
Finance in Ancient Mesopotamia
Mor Michael Rabo 800th Memorial Day Celebrations 
The Assyrian Athletic Club of Toronto
A Liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East
Pump up the Volume Peace & Security
Back to the Future Mt. Damavand in Iran & the Assyrian Parachuters in Albania
Literatus Love Transcends Life
This Week in History Mar Benyamin Shimmun
Bravo Obie Yadgar
Calendar of Events Syr-Com 99
Khudra April 1999

All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.




"Reconciliations between people, as far as they are formations of interests, require patient negotiation between unlimited anxieties and desires and limited assurances and fulfillments. Such negotiation, in turn, requires the coming together of both groups as politically acting bodies." This is a note from my diary written 32 years ago, on the Easter day in 1967.  I had looked this day up in order to refresh my memory. The note I found does not indicate whether it is a quotation or just a reflection; although, I think it must be from, or related to, the American Zionist Judah Magnes. As the diary was written intermittently in Russian and French, the original might have been distorted by triple translation-retranslation into English.

I had written it down as sort of a resume of the days before Easter. We were in Barwari Bala, Tiari, and had gone up to Duri, the Bishop's seat, and from there to Kumri, to meet Asad Khoshavi, the divisional commander of the KDP's forces in Badinan. Amongst other subjects, we had discussed the issue of Marguerite Gewargis' house arrest at Duri, the self-centered and extravagant Assyrian woman who, for some time, had been leading a small group of Assyrian peshmerga. On our way down the slopes to Tashish, we encountered a huge party of Assyrians and, when approaching and greeting it, had discovered Mar Yawallah amongst them, who had come from Iran to visit the communities here, collecting church dues and taxes on this occasion as well.  My interpreter and friend, Kaisar Masur, had managed to obtain the favour of quiet a longer discussion with him amongst all the hectic activity around the oligarch.

What the note seemed to sum up at the time was my realization that on the Kurdish side there was a definite responsibility and accountability going along with increasing power.  For the Assyrian side, in order to save a minimum of self-preservation, it was the responsibility to turn from Metaphysics to Politics, from Mystification to Real-Politik, and, for some, from megalomania to moderation.

Today, I am, more than ever, convinced that this is an urgent prerequisite.  I do not mean this in the way Mar Raffael I Bedawid, the present Patriarch of the Chaldeans, expressed himself when I met him during his last summer's inspection tour of the Iraqi Kurdistan.  "We are Kurds", he repeated over and over again, first in Ain Kawa, then in Dohuk and on and on.  I had expected him to preach: "We have to realize that we are Kurdistanis, that is, we live in the present day Kurdistan, and not in the Assyrian Empire anymore, and a large part of Bet Nahrain is now here in Adiabene, Talana, Nahla..." But he did not say so, although I repeatedly insisted with him and his court of clerics on a clarification.  Had he not already said: "We are Arabs", to a large German audience at the Catholic Academy, some years ago when I met him last as part of a group of Assyrians and non-Assyrians?  It is of no use to replace old mystification by new ones.

But we need realism. Pragmatic solutions must have absolute priority if one wishes to preserve that last chance for the Assyrians to survive as a community on and in their homeland, especially after a critical consideration of the unfulfilled expectations of the Khabur experiment in Syria.  In order to be realistic, and successful, one has to be knowledgeable about the past and the present-- the Kurds as well as the Assyrians.  One must also have a dry and rational taking of stock of the present conditions with modesty. On the Kurdish side -- after all the tragic and brutal historic and more recent inheritance -- , one must also be merciless honest with and about oneself and generous towards the weaker partner.


I have counted the Assyrian and Turkoman populations in Iraqi Kurdistan without a General Census operation.  On 23 March, in transmitting the recent Joint Memorandum of the two major Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan to the United Nations,  I had added an explaining note to IRQ-L on the present relations between these parties. Concerning the Assyrian and Turkoman populations,  in a marginal note, I wrote about the opposition of some elements within their political organizations to such a population census in that area:

"Taking into account these differences, augmented by the fierce opposition of both the Turkoman and some of the Assyro-Chaldean political bodies to a census that would become the basis of due electoral process (registers etc.), and taking into account the simple technical impossibility to finalize technical and political preparations for due electoral processes taking place, the elections -- as stipulated by the Washington accord -- will definitely not take place in June this year, but sometimes later in September or October, at the earliest."

According to my own census undertaken in summer of last year, there were 38 Thousand Christians/ Assyrians (38,000) of various denominations and a maximum of some 58 Thousand Turkomans (58,000) in the area presently administered by the two Kurdish administrations - out of a total population of 3.7 to 3.9 Million.  This was much less than what the observers, including myself, so far had been expecting. A census certainly would mean a sobering shock to some propagandists or dreamers and to some megalomaniacs amongst these minorities, which explains their fears.

The same note was republished by the Kurdistan Observer (KO). From both readers of IRQ-L and KO there was a very lively reaction, though typically it was not publicly articulated to either, rather to my own personal e-mail address. Reactions from the Turkoman/Turkish side was hostile at best, insulting in most cases, irrelevant in all cases.  The Assyrian reaction was more differentiated, some not quite friendly, to say the least, some supportive.

It seems times are not favorable for realism nor for pragmatic solutions based on admitting generosity towards the weaker partners. Finally when David Nissman of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty sent me a mail asking how I had reached those population estimates, I had not yet completed the detailed evaluation and summing up of my database.  Only the Yezidi part of my count had been finalized by this time.  In this respect what I had done so far, to get a rough estimate, had been done by hand calculation. To satisfy RFE/RL  I set my computer to the task I had planned for later and worked for a few days to get the full evaluation. The results, once again, surprised me, and are certainly not pleasing to the political bodies and the politically active individuals from these two populations.  I had to downgrade both population estimates.  To explain, why I am rather sure about my population census concerning the Assyro-Chaldeans, and, to a lesser extent, Turkoman populations in the zones administered by the two Kurdish regional administrations, I should briefly sketch my relations to this region and its populations.

I had returned to the region in 1963 as a student of social-psychology, specializing in the motivations of the peasant movements and the mechanisms of tribal, consent based decision making processes (democratic or not?).  By the force of circumstances, to be smuggled into Iraq and the Kurdish region, I was obliged to seek assistance from some Christians and Yezidi in Mosul to get in touch with Molla Mustafa Barzani's forces in the still uncertain liberated areas of Northern Iraq.  On this and later journeys, in the company of Assyro-Chaldean, Yezidi and Muslim guides, protectors, and translators, durable friendships were formed.  On my first journey, and during a much more intensive village by village traveling in 1966 and 1967, I crisscrossed the country side from Zakho up to the Iranian border.  My Assyrian interpreter and chief guide usually led the party every third day into a Christian, Nestorian or Chaldean village (when geographically possible) "so that we could get some decent food with meat," as he explained"  In reality it was to get a representative impression of their conditions.  He later became the chief of the Assyrian broadcasting section at Radio Free Kurdistan, and was murdered in Baghdad in the summer of 1970.

In all villages I did my field work; statistics on population, land ownership; studied tribal and family relationships, water resources, and conflict history as far back as possible.  During all latter trips and sojourns in the area, I tried to revisit as many of these villages as was possible and accumulated a database, complemented by other documented historical and present day sources (the Turkomans, other than the Assyrians, where just a byproduct of this work, and I am by far not as much as knowledgeable about them as I would like to be now.) In summer of 1993, after the murder of my Assyrian friend Francis Shabo who had been an MP of the Regional Parliament since 1992, Masud Barzani asked me to prepare an independent report on the problems of the Assyro-Chaldean population in some specific villages and areas.   My database and personal relations served as a basis for this report.  I was to concentrate on the existing problems and, if possible, make suggestions to mitigate them.  I took the liberty of extending my authorization to ALL Assyro-Chaldean villages and places in the region. At that time the Regional Parliament, reacting to a manifold of complaints from the Christian population, had established a commission to inquire into the situation.  This commission traveled from site to site to investigate the complaints presented to them. The commission's work, by the nature of things, was quite slow. This, and
the desire to have some report which need not take heed of local sensitivities, probably prompted Barzani's own office to place me in charge of what was originally intended to be a quick survey.

I made a first round of visits, village by village, only in a Christian company.  These included the peshmerga from the Assyrian Democratic Movement and non from the KDP. In my second and shorter round to the most exposed villages, having the most typical problems or the most complicated ones of those I had seen on my first round, I was accompanied by a Kurdish friend who was then the first secretary of the KDP-Dohuk branch and with the KDP peshmerga.  My 100-page report was delivered to Masud Barzani at the end of September 1993, and copies- under condition of confidentiality- were submitted to the ADM and Bet-Nahrain leaderships and to Caritas Switzerland.  I did not mash my words and in very clear terms stated the existing problems.  In some cases I offered remedies; in others I did not.
Numbers were estimated followed by many question marks, since the situation was fluid:  people were still on the move, returning or going back to the cities, while others did not dare to stay and came back... At the time I put my extrapolated population count at some 50 Thousand Assyro-Chaldeans in the region.  The report, later complemented and partially confirmed by the Parliamentary commission, served as a basis of a program of step-by-step addressing  the problems, in many cases successfully and to the satisfaction of the Assyrians (These include some of those mentioned in the Assyrian International News Agency's latest statements, dragging on due to local power balances and internal fighting.  But this is not the subject of this article).

Finally in 1997, for the first time, I was able to convince both the Chaldean and the Assyrian clergy to let me use their church birth and death registries and to get precise population figures which I then could check locally. I completed the cross checking in the summer of 1998, finding the registries to be very accurate but sometimes not taking into account the recent population movements returning to the area from Saddam-controlled Iraq.  The difference was approximately ten per cent (10%).


Thus the official Assyro-Chaldean figures for 1997 -- on the basis of a village by village, and mahalle by mahalle count -- accounted for the following:

My Count
My Count
My Count

Not counted are a few Protestant families in Sulaimania and Dohuk.  These very few recently-converted families (especially by the US-based fundamentalist missions after 1991) are still in the Church registries of the Chaldeans and Assyrians.

According to the local church registers the total Assyro-Chaldeans (plus some Armenians) in the Region of Kurdistan-Iraq in 1997 were as follow:

My Count

Projection (extrapolation) to years based on church registers:

My Count-1998
My Count-1999

The results are very disappointing -- and I have hesitated to publish them without a larger context, that is outside the 1993 follow-up report.  This time I am preparing it for the larger public.

TURKOMANs:   In principle the same procedure, by going to the local communities, and, in Arbil, to the respective quarters down to the religious and community leaders to get small entity figures that could be verified in the field locally by sample counts.

But, of course, due to being less familiar and personally befriended with Turkomans as compared to the Assyrians, there is much larger margin for errors and some numbers I used are outright guesses with some probability factors. There is an understandable phenomenon amongst the Arbili Kurds [many of whom do speak Turkoman or some sort of Turkish anyway, besides Kurdish and Arabic]: After the Turkish efforts to provide humanitarian aid, for instance in the form of extra food rations, especially to the Turkoman families in the region, many Kurds have registered as Turkoman in order to receive this additional aid.

Of course, my count did not include these. And the count is strictly limited to the Kurdish administered Region as defined by the demarcation line towards the Iraqi administered part of the North. I still feel that my present provisional estimate of a maximum of 50 Thousand Turkomans (as opposed to 58 Thousand earlier) in the Haremi (Region) is quite generous.

Alexander Sternberg
Bonn, Germany
April 1999

Mr. Sternberg is currently the personal counselor of Dilshad Barzani, a brother of Masud Barzani, and an employee of  the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Humanitarian Aid and Cooperation in Germany and Salaheddin/Erbil.  This article, with minor changes to a similar report distributed earlier through the Internet, was prepared for publication in ZENDA.  In the original article, the author uses the term Nestorian in reference to Assyrians, and Iraqi Kurdistan to the UN-protected region in northern Iraq.  All comments to Mr. Sternberg's article will be published in the next issue of ZENDA.



(ZNAF:  London)  Last week eleven Iraqi opposition groups met in Windsor, west of London, to create a "transitional government" in the north and south of Iraq, backed by U.S. military aid.  The groups included the Shiite and Sunni Muslims from the south, the main Kurdish parties from the north and representatives of the Turkoman and Assyrian populations. The U.S. has promised $97 million in funding for any credible alternative to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

According to Ahmad Chalabi, president of the Iraqi National Congress' Executive Council, the purpose of this meeting was to "reinvigorate and establish coordination within the opposition, consider questions relative to the election of a new leadership, inviting new members to the umbrella organization, and reviewing the structure, activities, and identity of the movement..."  The United States administration had
urged the INC to meet since November 1998. Frank Ricciardone, Special Representative for the Transition of Iraq, and others from the US Department of State, and officials of the British Foreign Office attended these meetings also.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) attended the INC meeting for the first time, but the Shiite armed opposition group, the Supreme Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), based in Iran, did not send any representatives to the meeting.   Washington and London have actively encouraged resistance to
Baghdad since before last December's air strikes against the Iraqi military.  The representatives from both KDP and the the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) reiterated their public denial of willingness to accept US military assistance Thursday.

Baghdad's official Al-Jumhuriya newspaper called the meeting "treacherous ...and of those who sold their honour and are outlaws. The meeting, whose aim was to unify plots and receive instructions from sponsors (the United States and Britain), failed," the newspaper said.  The identity of the Assyrian representatives from Iraq was uncertain at ZENDA press time.


(ZNRU:  Ankara)  Last week about 15,000 Turkish troops crossed into Iraq to hunt down Kurdish fighters, accompanied by 2,000 pro-government village guards.  The 9-mile penetration resulted in the killing of 54 Kurdish fighters, 25 Turkish soldiers, and the capture of several PKK guerilla fighters, according to Turkish press.  Rebels from Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, have been fighting for autonomy in the southeast of Turkey since 1984.  Ocalan, captured in February, is awaiting trial on charges of treason and could face
the death penalty if convicted.  Fighters of Masud Barzani's KDP, a close ally of Ankara controlling the area along Turkey's border with Iraq, were providing support to Turkish soldiers.

Baghdad denounced Turkish military operations in the area as a violation of its territorial integrity and called on Ankara to withdraw its troops, but Turkish officials maintain that the army is obliged to use its "right to hot pursuit against PKK elements penetrating from the area".  Meanwhile, the Kurdish Parliament-in-Exile warned Turkey on Thursday that it could provoke a war similar to the conflict in Kosovo if it failed to accept a peace offer from jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.  Turkey is a NATO member.  The membership of the Kurdish Parliament-in-Exile, based in Brussels, includes five Assyrian representatives in Europe.



(ZNDA:  Chicago)  Ben Daniel, 62, publisher and editor of the Assyrian international newspaper The Assyrian Guardian, and an English teacher at Lake View High School, has died of prostate cancer at Passavant Pavilion at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Daniel was born in Hinaidi, Iraq, and came to the United States in 1958 to study. He graduated from DePaul University in 1966 and received a master's degree in English from Northeastern Illinois University in 1973.

In all the time he was in the United States, he either wrote for the former Assyrian Star or published his own Assyrian Guardian, of which he distributed about 1,200 copies around the world each month.  In addition, he was published in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun times and appeared on international television and radio programs.

Mr. Daniel is survived by his wife, Rita, and two daughters, Juliet and Anita; a son, Joseph; a brother Gideon; and three sisters, Youpi, Cecilia and Juliet.  The funeral service was held at Mar Gewargis Assyrian Church of the East in Chicago.

Information provided by Anthony Burke Boylan, Chicago Tribune


(ZNAP:  Nazareth)  With the millennium only nine months away, the Christian-Moslim tensions are hurting plans by the Israeli government to turn Nazareth into a showcase for pilgrims now that Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace, is under full Palestinian control.  At the core of the dispute is a half-acre plot next to the Church of the Annunciation. The Christian mayor, Ramez Jeraisi, wants to build a Venetian-style plaza for millennium pilgrims there.  Muslims say the land belongs to the Islamic Trust, or Waqf, and demand that a large mosque be built on the site. The dispute is in the courts and the plaza is on hold.  Muslims complain that even though they constitute a majority, they have not been adequately represented and that Christians have dominated the town's affairs.

Violence erupted Easter Sunday, with the two sides accusing each other of starting the taunting and stoning attacks. By the end of the day, a dozen people were injured in street clashes. The windows of dozens of cars owned by Christians had been smashed.  Distraught Christians closed churches in Jesus' boyhood town last Tuesday and some, armed with clubs, patrolled streets in response to weekend clashes with Muslims.  Two days after the outbreak of sectarian violence, the town of 42,000 Muslims and 18,000 Christians was still simmering with fear and suspicion.  In the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Al Mutran, dozens of young men stood guard outside a small chapel, St. Mary's, at nightfall. The Muslims "started it, and we're answering," said Gabi Maji, a member of the neighborhood watch. "We're defending the lives of our children."

A car driven by a Muslim was pelted with stones in Al Mutran after some claimed the driver had made insulting comments about Jesus to those patrolling the neighborhood. A priest in a long blue robe shook his head dejectedly and pleaded with the young men over a loudspeaker to hold back, with some success.


"Shlomo!!!  A Great and  happy Assyrian new year.  I am very proud to be an Assyrian and I am very proud of ZENDA for giving me every week up to date news about my people.  I wish all my Assyrian brothers and sister good luck and I hope that we will meet each other in the future at a great manifestation
of our precious and beloved Assyrian Nation.

Reshe di shato howyo brikhto!"

Youhanun Beth Khamry
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

"Shlome Habrone, bo`eno ma`edno u-edo rabo kul Othuroyo- Ya`kuboyo we Malkitoyo bi-britho. Mshixo qaem.  And I want to thank the editors of Zenda for keeping the Assyrian star alive."

Michael Gabriel
The Netherlands (Atrawotho Taxtoye)

"Shlama qabloon!  I'm the publisher and Editor of the Ancient Church of the East home page.  I'm very happy of your work in creating The weekly Assyrian magazine "ZENDA".   Keep up the good job for our Assyrian people around the world.  God bless you.  "

Ider Younathim

To view The Ancient Church of the East home page CLICK HERE.  Please note that ZENDA will now regularly include the observances of the Ancient Church of the East calendar in the KHUDRA section.



I can't remember the last time a 70-degree Fahrenheit weather was sandwiched between a 55 on the day before and a 48 on the day after.  But it happened on April 4th, 1999, Easter Sunday in Turlock, California. It was the day chosen by the local Assyrians to celebrate the Assyrian New Year, Kha'b Neesan, 6749.

What was meant to be a First Annual Kha'b Neesan Parade evolved into the First Annual Kha'b Neesan Procession.  Never have I seen a parade where the spectators became so engrossed that they became one with the spectacle. Such was the case with this special parade, and naturally, my one and a half-year-old son, Nicholas, and I assimilated.  What seemed like only a few minutes of walking was actually a distance of 1.3 miles and lasted about an hour.  Nicholas had never hiked such a stretch.  But I didn't hear any
complaints or even a peep out of him.  As he walked his little steps, he observed in a silent awe; he held his little Assyrian flag upright in his right hand ever so tightly, wondering what all the excitement was all about. I could tell that he too felt the electricity in the air.

On that sunny Sunday afternoon as thousands of Assyrians flocked together, I could easily say that no Assyrian song was left unsung; no Assyrian dance was left un-stepped; no Assyrian and American flag was left unwaved; no Assyrian voice was left unheard; no Assyrian patriotic pride was left unboasted. No million-dollar, elaborate, year-in-advance planned float could have rendered such magnetism.  That day marchers on the streets of Hawkeye and Golden State participated in what felt like a vast "kaloo palata".  The music of the traditional "zoorna" and "davoola" did not let me forget that either.

The parade proceeded into the local Assyrian hall of celebrations where the crowd flowed like the sand of an hourglass. When I walked off the foyer and down the short steps onto the floor of the hall, I looked around me.  I noticed that all the tables and chairs were occupied with sitting spectators.  For a few minutes, we were amongst ourselves. No longer having to prove our existence to the world outside, little waving flags were put away; Music was silent; Dances ceased.  But the path was rather clear for the flag carriers who front lined the indoor procession. They entered.

I quickly took my son in my arms and walked to where I foresaw the flag carriers would start their march on the floor of the hall.  Soon thereafter I heard the saxophone and drum playing behind them...yes, saxophone, not the usual horn played in such occasions.  I got closer and was now only a couple of feet away from the flag carriers.  I felt so exhilarated, so proud, so cultured.  Hypnotized by the music of the sax and the new roar of the standing ovations, and what felt like a "kaloo mavarta", I felt part of the
Assyrian flag's tassels accidentally nip my face.  One might say I was standing too close.  I say I wasn't close enough.

Juliet George


(ZNDA:  Chicago)  Next month The Catholic University of America will be offering a course in Basic Syriac through its Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literature.  The course will run from May 17 through June 26 and accounts for 3 credit units. Basic Syriac, taught by Richard McCarron, is an introduction to phonology, morphology and syntax of literary Syriac language.

Please call the department at 202-319-5084 for schedule and location of classes.

For more information contact:
Dr. Michael P. O'Connor,
The Catholic University of America
Washington D.C., 20064


Dinkha Elia
Born in Baghdad, Iraq (Dora)
37-years-old living in Stockholm, Sweden
Married, one daughter

"Atoraya" Home Page:  Click Here                                                                 ICQ#:  3172555

       Mr. Dinkha's Guest Book: Click Here

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

6749 Kha b'Neesan Parade in Chicago (color photos)
ABC-News: Congresswoman Anna Eshoo ("Catholic of Assyrian descent)
Finance in Ancient Mesopotamia
Patriarch Mor Michael Rabo 800th Memorial Day Celebrations (03/14/99)
The Assyrian Athletic Club of Toronto
A Liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East


Peace & Security Issues:  nooqzeh d'shlama oo shena 


BC (ca 720)

King Tighlath Pilesser III conquers Syria, northern Israel and sends armies to "Bikni Mountain" in Iran.  This location has been identified as Mt. Damavand near Tehran.

The Heritage of Persia, Frye

AD (1945)

The Assyrian Parachute Squadron, an elite force under the commandship of Lazar Adam, was used to dislodge German forces in the mountains of Albania.

The Assyrian National Question, Dadesho



When the demons appear, Geshtinanna urges her brother, Dumuzi (Assyrian Tammuz) to hide.  The demons (galla) search for Dumuzi.  For material profit, Dumuzi's friend betrays him.  Dumuzi then curses his friend's child...Resigned, Dumuzi returns for the last time to the sheepfold and his sister.  The sheepfold or "womb" is the Great Earth Mother, who gives birth and takes back the dead.  Much as Inanna had been forced to do when entering the underworld, Dumuzi, too, is divested of his kingship, his shepherdship, his achievements, and his virility.

"You will go to the underworld
Half the year.
Your sister, since she has asked,
Will go the other half.
On the day you are called,
that day yo will be taken.
On the day Geshtinanna is called,
That day you will be set free."

Inanna (Assyrian Ishtar) and Geshtinanna weep for Dumuzi.  They weep for their husband and brother.  The depth of Geshtinanna grief leads her to offer her life to share her brother's death.  Her offer is of such magnitude that the mind can scarcely grasp its meaning.  The instinct to live, to survive, becomes secondary.  Love transcends life.

Inanna, Queen of Heaven & Earth;  Wolkstein & Kramer


April 12, 1903:  Mar Benyamin Shimmun is consecrated as the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.  Twelve years later, leaders of the Assyrian tribes in northern Bet-Nahrain plea with His Holiness that an official declaration of war against the Ottomans be announced and that the Assyrians join the Anglo-Russian forces as their "Smallest Allies."  Three years after the declaration Mar Shimmun was assassinated by the Kurdish warlord, Simko.



Obie Yadgar, 57, a former popular Milwaukee broadcaster, is now garnering accolades as the morning host at WNIB-FM 97.1 in Chicago and WNIZ-FM 96.9 in Zion. At 5:30 a.m., Yadgar has a ton of things to do before he flips the switch to welcome listeners to his 6-to-9 a.m. "Morning Song" program.

An Assyrian, born in Baghdad and raised in Tehran, Yadgar was sent to relatives in Chicago in 1957 after his mother died. He did not learn English until he attended Senn High School in Chicago his junior and senior years.  But along with learning a new language, he had to conquer a stuttering problem.  "I had stuttered very badly all of my youth. As time went on, though, I started to concentrate on what I was saying and how I was saying it. That automatically slowed my speech, which helped," he says.

"I try to keep the music very bright. I want the music to get people from Point A to Point B in as pleasant a manner as possible," he says, shuffling through a stack of CDs.

Selections that are heard the remainder of his stint from 9 to noon, along with those played the rest of the day, have been set in stone in the WNIB Program Guide by music director and Sunday host Miller Peters and by station manager and general program director Sonia Atzeff Florian, who owns the station with husband William Florian. As much as Yadgar enjoys planning his morning program, he shies away from probes on additional program responsibilities.

"My days are already very full," he explains. "I really don't have time to do more."

With traffic updates at 15 minutes before and after the hour, news on the hour and weather every 15 minutes during the morning drive, and all of it bracketed by both taped and live commercials and announcements and the constant switching of short pieces, Yadgar's preshow bustle does not let up until after the last morning news cut at 10 a.m.

He likes dropping tidbits about composers, pieces and conductors. After about 27 years of hosting classical programs, first for a short time in St. Louis, then for 20 years in Milwaukee and now in Chicago since July 1996, Yadgar has collected enough choice items to fill a book. But he still carries around a sack of opera and other music reference books.

"I've spent hundreds of hours of research in libraries and museums. I do it for the listeners," he says, explaining that the "tidbits" take the "stuffiness" out of classical music.

Offering audiences an approachable but knowledgeable view of classical music made him one of Milwaukee's most popular radio personalities, whether he was at WUWM, a National Public Radio station at the University of Wisconsin's Milwaukee campus, or at WFMR, according to local media polls and broadcast officials.

"He has quite a following," says WUWM program director Bruce Winter, on the phone from his station. "They love the way he talks and his demeanor on the air. No matter how lousy the day outside, it's never a bad day to him. He is warm and affectionate sounding on the radio."

As to Yadgar's classical knowledge, Winter says, "He's kind of a walking encyclopedia." He quickly adds, "But never stuffy. Obie talks about classical music the way he or others talk about sports-- conversationally. He tells funny little stories. He is not the stereotype of the stiff formality sometimes associated with classical music. With him, it's more a conversation that he is having with people in their living room."

According to phone calls, fan letters and the ratings, Yadgar is building a following in Chicago similar to what he had in Milwaukee. And, of course, southeastern Wisconsin listeners can hear him once again on WNIB's translator frequency, WNIZ in Zion.

"Everybody seems to like him. He has a different style. He tells these stories that none of the others (classical program hosts) do," Sonia Atzeff Florian says.

An avid reader, his secret wish was to go for a doctorate in English literature. Instead, he attended city colleges in Chicago and San Francisco but never stayed long enough to earn a degree.

"I was restless. I wanted to be a writer," says Yadgar, who has interspersed writing with jobs in broadcasting since the early 1960s.

He has played jazz on a San Diego station and smelled the print as copy boy at the San Francisco Chronicle. When he was drafted during the war in Vietnam, he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division as a combat correspondent.

"I've always made part of my living as a writer," he says. Indeed, he has high hopes for a romantic mystery novel that he is working on. And he adopts the kind of phrases on the air that he would use in a story.

"I never refer to a rainy day as just a lousy day. I might say it is one of those introspective days or a day to stay home, read a Russian novel and brew a samovar of tea. If it is cloudy, I might call it a brooding day."

"I love the English language. Think of all the wonderful literature the language has produced," he says. His own native languages are Assyrian and Persian.

He adds, "I'm having fun on the air. I think that comes across. If I'm enjoying myself, then the audience senses that. I think they enjoy listening."

In the October 1998 Arbitron ratings, WNIB garnered a 1.7 market share; classical station WFMT-FM 98.7 was 1.2. WNIB officials estimate they have about 350,000 listeners.

Excerpted from an article entitled "He's A Broadcasting Classic" by Jodie Jacobs, at the Chicago Tribune.
Published: Sunday, January 3, 1999


Feb 6 - May 5

A presentation of 140 artifacts excavated in the 1920's by Sir Leonard Woolley at the 5000-year-old Sumerian site.
Frank H. McClung Museum

Apr 30

An Exhibit of Sources for the Study of the Assyrians in the past 200 years
Middle Eastern Division 
Widener Library

Apr 24

Assyrian Students Association of California State University, Stanislaus 
Assyrian American Civic Club in Turlock 
Featuring Ashor Farhadi and the Generation X Band 
Tickets:  $20 per person/$25 per person at the door (includeS dinner) 

All proceeds from this evening's party go to the Narsai David Scholarship 
Fund benefiting Assyrian students at California State University, Stanislaus. 

For ticket information:         Elki Issa at  (209) 667-3507  Day 
                                                           (209) 537-9651 Evenings 
                                   Jouliet David at  (209) 667-3736

Apr 25

AANYA Lecture Series presents:  "The Assyrian Diet:  Good or Bad?"
Panelists will discuss the nutritional value of Assyrian foods
Assyrian American Association
7:30 pm
2000 Almaden Road

May 8

A Fundraising Event Help Assyrians in North of Iraq
The Assyrian Aid Society, Santa Clara Chapter
If interested in participating in any of the 5K, 10K walks, or the 10K timed run, please contact us so the appropriate registration and pledge form is delivered to you. 
Cadence Design Systems
2655 Seely Ave 
(off Montague expressway, between Hwy 880 and North 1st. street)
7:00 AM  Registration
8:30 AM  Run begins
8:45 AM Walk begins
For further info e-mail Fred Aprim at fred.babylon@worldnet.att.net
or Fouad Sada (408) 296-3456 & Banipal Babella (408) 565-2970

Jun 18

The aim of this series of forums is two-fold: firstly, to give academics and professionals who work on computational projects related to Syriac studies an opportunity to meet and share their work and experience; secondly, to provide scholars and computer users with presentations and talks which may
be of help in practical applications such as word processing, fonts and other user-related software.
Location:  University of Notre Dame, Indiana
For all matters regarding SyrCOM-99, contact:
Dr. George A. Kiraz (SyrCOM-99)
Language Modeling Research
Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies
Room 2D-446, 700 Mountain Ave., Murray Hill, NJ 07974
Fax. +1 908 582 3306 (Attn. G. Kiraz)
E-mail: gkiraz@research.bell-labs.com

Jan 28,

Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean and Malabarese)
Basilica of St Cecilia in Trastevere

Cycles & Observances of the Middle Eastern Christian & Assyrian Liturgical Calendars

Washing of the Feet
Good Friday
Resurrection of Lazarus
Saturday of Lazarus
 Palm Sunday
Glad Tidings to St. Mary
Washing of the Feet
 Good Friday
Friday of the Passion
The Great Saturday
 St. George (Mar Giwargis)

AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
COP = Coptic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MSO = Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church
SCC = Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church



This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order

Peter Pnuel BetBasoo Chicago Surfers Corner
Dr. George Habash United Kingdom News Digest
Layth Jato Canada Assyrian Surfing Posts
Tony Khoshaba Chicago Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
Assyrian Surfing Posts
Raman Mikhael Chicago Assyrian Surfing Posts

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