Volume V                Issue 19
Tamuz 5, 6749                                                                               July 5, 1999

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T H I S  W E E K I N  Z E N D A

The Lighthouse An Assyrian Missionary Discovers His Heritage in Japan
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Pope John Paul May Visit Nineveh
News Digest AUA Statement on Helen Sawa's Death:  Plea For Patience
Assyrian Community Leader, John Lazar, Dies at 77
Surfs Up "Drawing haphazard and erroneous conclusion"
Surfers Corner August 7th Seminar in Yerevan
A Trip to Urmia
Message in the Bottle Dr. Ninos Garis
Assyrian Surfing Posts Ugaritic Cuneiform Transliterator
Assyrian Technology Podium
Assyrian Composers and Musicians Cyber Club
Assyrian Music in MIDI
Pump up the Volume World & Earth
Back to the Future Nebuchadnezzer II and the Assyrian Teacher's Day
Literatus A Hodgepodge of Diversity
This Week in History Bne-Tkhume Arrive in Salamas
Bravo The Assyrian Society for Students and Academicians
Calendar of Events Assyrian Woman's Day

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


An Assyrian cylinder seal depicting the solar system as was known to the ancient Mesopotamians.



One of the highlights of thirty years in Japan as a missionary evangelist-writer was a recent trip to Sakoshi on the inland sea for sato-gairi and hakamairi (returning to your old home and visiting your ancestor's graves).  You ask, "What in the world is a foreigner like you talking about what is only reserved for Japanese?"  That's where the story begins.

Most Japanese would be pleased if they could find their family history going back two or three generations.  If you figure one generation equals 33 years, I figure my ancestors landed at Sakoshi Kinmei 1,400 years, or 43 generations ago.

I had studied about the Nestorian (nickname for the Assyrian Church of the East) movement for 25 years and every indication, after researching 129 volumes, points to our forbears coming from Edessa which is known in modern Turkey, through Persia, India, China and via Korea to Sakoshi.  Imagine my disappointment when I was told by scholars that there was no Sakoshi even on the railway maps and that someone had made a bad mistake.

But in the middle of a preaching trip to Himeji, I got over to Ai-oi where I inquired if it was true that there was no Sakoshi.  I was told that it was just down the road.  So, hesitantly, I got on a bus and ended up at t a little t called Sakoshi.  I asked a local fisherman if he had ever heard of the Nestorians.   He said to ask a buddhist priest, who said, "Ask Mr. Okuto."  He is a scholar and I could tell as soon as I met him that I had struck pure gold.  He said, "yes, we have 28 scholars and laymen who have been studying the history of Sakoshi because they have also heard about this and I would be more than glad to take you around before dark."

Mr. Okuto then took me first to Shinto Shrine where he explained that there is no reason for the name-- it is called "Daibyaku", but that is simply the Chinese reading for the word "David".  And how could there be a shrine of David if this was Shintoism?  So it must be connected with the Old Testament and King David.

We went further and he showed me a cross on a triangular pedestal carved out of stone.  He told me that there is no history in Shintoism of either a cross or a triangle, but in the Trinity of Christianity, plus the cross is clear to understand.

Next he showed me an old drawing of a long-nosed foreigner.  He said that no Japanese in these parts has ever ha a long nose like that.  But the tradition is that there were these long-nosed foreigners, looking very much like my profile, who came in boats and besides teaching our ancestors the ways of God, they were also fearless fighters."  Then he showed me a photograph of another death mask of a long-nosed foreigner, which he said the Japanese used ot put this on and went out to fight.  They believed that they got renewed courage and strength from using the mask of this long-nosed foreigner.

Graciously, Mr. Okuto took time out of his office to show me his large Japanese home where we relaxed and his wife served us traditional tea and cakes.  He then asked what I thought about his heritage-- pointing to two crusader-type crosses.  He said they have no explanation for this other than it was a kakure (or the way the Christians hid their cross) with exactly four squares, without the usual longer part on the bottom.  I felt it was similar to other kakures where they would have a Buddhist figure on the front and a hidden cross in the back.

We pledged to exchange further information.  I sent him a copy of the thesis I wrote in Japanese and English and I came back after developing the pictures I took there feeling that surely I had returned to a haka-mairi.  The last thing Mr. Okuto showed me was a square brick well, which is nicknamed even today, "Jacob's Well".  I said it reminded me of the "Israel Well" in Kyoto, at Izumasa, which we both agreed meant or was a Japanese try at pronouncing "Iesu Mshikka", which means "Jesus- Messiah".

Even though I've visited in person and talked directly with those involved and though I've studied and preached in Japanese for 32 years, there is always a lot lost in translation.  So I sent my colleague and scholar, Rev. Satoshi Moriyama, pastor of the Ogikubo Eiko Church, to follow through and see and verify my findings.

Rev. Morimyama reports, "Yes, I found out something that even I had not known."  It was an amazing discovery that 33 years before Shotoku Taishi sent the Japanese scholars to China to investigate this new religion, preached by the Assyrian Church of the East.  There was an Assyrian with a Japanese name, "Hatakawakatsu", working in Japan as a missionary.  He also had a long nose and was from the Middle East, presumably from Edessa, Mesopotamia.  He was summoned in 602 A.D. by the Emperor Shotoku Taishi and was asked to build a temple in today's Kyoto area but this was to be a combination, Christian and Buddhist temple- which is pre-dating by almost 100 years by what we said happened in 746.

And so missionary Kenny Joseph discovers his roots going back 1,400 years, not 1,300 years.

Rev. Kenny Joseph
Tokyo, Japan

Rev. Joseph is an Assyrian missionary in Japan.  He arrived in the land of the Rising Sun in 1951 and is currently the Director of the Reinforcing Evangelists and Aiding Pastors Mission, Inc.  Rev. Joseph can be contacted in Japan at 03-3922-6402  or Fax  03-3922-7655.  This article was written for Nineveh Magazine in 1983.  R.E.A.P. Mission is located at:

7-39-6, Higashi Oizumi
Nerima Ku, Tokyo, Japan 177



(ZNRU: Baghdad)   Local Christian churches in Iraq are preparing for Pope John Paul's trip to Iraq to visit the biblical birthplace of Abraham, according to the Vatican embassy in Baghdad.  The "major pilgrimage" will take place before the end of this year and will include Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Holy Land.  His Beatitude, Mar Raphael I Bidawid, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church will head the committee comprised of the local Christian churches in Iraq.  The Pope, accompanied by 10 to 15 officials from the Vatican including the foreign minister and internal affairs minister,  will also meet with President Saddam Hussein.  The visit to Iraq will last only two days.  Pope John Paul will arrive aboard a plane despite U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq.  He will then travel to by a helicopter to Ur in southern Bet-Nahrain where the United States and Britain are imposing a no-fly zone for military and civilian flights.  Ur was the capital of Sumer and the birthplace of the Biblical Abraham. In the 1920s Sir Leonard Woolley excavated Ur, finding the first evidence of a cataclysmic flood such as that recorded in the Bible.

The local churches have also requested the Pope to visit Nineveh near present day Mosul, another target of U.S.-British bombings since the air campaign began this year.  Nineveh was an ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire.

According to a Reuters report and The Guardain the number of Christians in Iraq has dropped to 600,000 from one million before the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, due to low birthrate and high level of immigration. They are served by two patriarchs, 15 bishops and 160 priests.

The Israel newspaper Ha'aretz claimed last week that Washington was trying to persuade the Pope to drop Iraq from the tour.  Citing a senior Vatican source, the paper said that Israeli and Jewish organizations in the US had joined the campaign.



An Assyrian Universal Alliance Statement
Released on 2 July, 1999

The saddening news which recently reached our Assyrian communities in the U.S.  relating to the hideous murder of a 21-year-old Assyrian woman, Helena Sawa, in Kurdistan, Iraq, have generated an unusual anger and condemnation among various factions of our people.

We have learned, however, that the entire Kurdish population and its leadership are stirred and disgusted by this ugly crime.  The president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party,  Masud Barazani has ordered the police department of Dohuk and the local General Security Department to conduct a full investigation of this case.   Further, President Barazani vowed that no one will be spared from this investigation and that the criminal will be brought to justice.

Dear Assyrian compatriots:

As I am expressing my deepest sorrow and extending my sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Helena Sawa, I would like to remind all concerned Assyrians in the Western Hemisphere that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  I would also like to state that, had there not been a certain high official of KDP as a suspect, this case would have been an isolated incident.

Therefore, and whatever this investigation may yield to, I urge all my Assyrian brothers and sisters throughout the world, to exhibit a sense of patience and allow the local authorities to conduct the investigation and avoid undue pressure. We should not jump to any conclusions at this early stage of investigation, and must restraint ourselves from passing a collective judgment against the Kurdish people and the KDP.  When the findings of the investigation are public, then and only then we should act, as it deems necessary.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party has a history and tradition of heroic struggle for freedom and dignity, ever since the day of its commencement under the leadership of the late Mulla Moustafa Barazani.  He not only admired our Assyrian people; he recognized our legitimate rights in the area of his party’s jurisdiction and control.

It is a fact that 99% of our Assyrian people in northern Iraq are currently living in Bahdinan area, which is controlled solely by the KDP.  Its also a fact that President Masud Barazani has done everything within his power to maintain security and peace for all the citizens living in the area, regardless of their ethnicity or faith.

In conclusion, I would like to remind my Assyrian brothers and sisters that we share common destiny with the Kurds.  I have great confidence in President Masud Barazani that he is giving Ms. Helena Sawa’s case his utmost concern and that KDP will not cease until justice is served.

Yours in Assyrianism,

Baito Malek Chikko
Special Advisor to AUA General Secretary
Chicago, Illinois


Reprinted from Modesto Bee, July 3, 1999.  Report by Patrick Giblin, Bee Staff Writer

(ZNBE:  Turlock)  John M. Lazar, who was active in the Assyrian community and helped persuade the Department of Motor Vehicles to open a Turlock office, died Friday morning of a heart attack at the age of 77.  Mr. Lazar, the father of City Councilman John S. Lazar, also was the first soccer player to get a full-ride scholarship at the University of San Francisco.  He was well-connected in Turlock and started several people on successful political careers.  "My father was responsible for me getting into politics," John S. Lazar said Friday. "He was a good friend of Tony Coelho and that led me to being a page in the House of Representatives in 1976."

Mr. Lazar was born in San Francisco on Jan. 22, 1922, shortly after his parents fled the persecution of Assyrian Christians in Iran and the communist revolution in Russia.  Mr. Lazar attended Mission High School and worked at the family grocery store. After high school, he gained a reputation as a soccer player at San Francisco City College. In 1942, he transferred to USF with the first full scholarship offered to a soccer player.  "They called him 'The Rabbit' because he was so fast," his son recalled.

In 1943, Mr. Lazar joined the U.S. Army and served in the Hawaiian Islands during World War II. He left the service in 1946 as a sergeant.  In 1951, Mr. Lazar was hired by the state of California as a toll-taker on the Bay Bridge. In 1954, he moved to Turlock and took a job with the DMV on a traveling route. DMV employees operated temporary offices in small towns so locals didn't have to travel to city offices.

Mr. Lazar began lobbying state representatives and working with Turlock City Council members to convince the DMV to open an office in Turlock. An office was opened in 1960 and an official DMV building was constructed in 1965. He worked there until his retirement in 1985.

Mr. Lazar was active in politics and, using his community contacts, helped Coelho in his first run for public office and his campaign for Congress. Mr. Lazar also took Gary Condit around the community during his campaign for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Lazar also was a charter member of the Assyrian American Civic Club in Turlock, the largest Assyrian organization in the United States. He later served as the club's treasurer and on its board of directors.

Mr. Lazar was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and was a charter member of the Assyrian Evangelical Church in Turlock.

As well as son John, he is survived by his wife, Julia Lazar; two other sons, Mishial Lazar and Edward Lazar, and daughter Suzanne Lazar-Shahi, all of Turlock; brothers Abel Lazar of Fremont and Victor Lazar of Merced; and six grandchildren.


We stand corrected!  In our past issue we printed the Assyrian Patriotic Party's initials as A.A.P., rather than A.P.P.

An Update:  As published in our last week's email notification message Mrs. Helen Nimrod James Schwarten, president of the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation in Chicago, has donated $50000.00 toward the construction of an Assyrian Cultural Center in Duhok in Northern Iraq.  Mrs. Schwarten's generosity will be immortalized with an inscription of her name on the building.

"This is a reply to Mr. Eli Azzo commentary published in Zenda, Volume V, Issue 18, June 28, 1999 regarding the role of the Assyrian Academic Society in relation to the Census issue.

Mr. Eli Azzo's assumptions about the role played by the AAS are completely inaccurate and misleading. Under no circumstances did the AAS take the position to divide any group in part or in whole; nor is it responsible for "placing new official political labels."

Drawing haphazard and erroneous conclusion about a sensitive subject matter does not allow room or a space for a meaningful dialogue to take shape and form between anyone. The Assyrian Academic Society appreciates, respects, and acknowledges the importance of shared perspectives from all of our Assyrian brothers and sisters.  Kindest Regards,"

Nadia E. Joseph
Assyrian Academic Society



Dear all Assyrians,

It is an honor for us to inform you that the Assyrian Youth Center "Ashour" in Armenia is organizing a seminar on the "Genocides Against the Assyrian Nation and Assyrians of Today." This event will take place on August 7 at the State University of Armenia in Yerevan.

You are cordially invited to attend this seminar and share the information in your media resources. If interested in visiting us and participating in our August 7th seminar, please inform us before July 12. We will be very glad to see you in Yerevan as we hope that you will find our seminar interesting and productive.

You may contact us at:   <avangard@acc.am> or me at <IrinaSG@yahoo.com>
Tel/Fax: (3 742) 562 570.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Irina Sagradova-Gasparian
Assyrian Youth Center "Ashour"
Yerevan, Armenia


The Patriotic Revolutionary Organization of BethNahrin ( PROB) along with the "Mootwa Atoraya d' Tehran" (Assyrian Association of Tehran) are organizing a trip for the Assyrian-Suryoyo youth to visit the Assyrian-Suryoyo villages of Urmia, Iran.

Date:  July 10 until August 1, 1999

Every Assyrian-Suryoyo is welcome to join.   We expect this to be an unforgettable even for many, especially our youth.

Shlome o iqoreh,

A. Gamri

For more info:  gamri@hotmail.com


Dr. Ninos Garis

Ph.D. in Reactor Physics
Personal Website: Click Here
Email:  ninos.garis@ski.se


Assyria Web Chat
Assyrian Forum
Assyriska Chat
Nineveh Cafe
Suryoyo Online Forum

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

Ugaritic Cuneiform Transliterator
Assyrian Technology Podium
Assyrian Composers and Musicians Cyber Club
Assyrian Music in MIDI


 Global Unity: khuyada tewilaya
 Surface of the Earth:  pata d'aar-a


BC (614)

As part of the deal his father and the Median ruler, Cyaxares, had made, Nebuchadnezzar II was married to a Cyaxares' daughter.   Nebuchadnezzar ruled his kingdom until 562 and rebuilt Babylon with its brilliant blue and gold bricks, paved streets, and massive gates (namely the Ishtar Gate).  The legend has it that he built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his nostalgic Median wife.

The Ancient Near East, Kuhrt

AD (1980)

Rabbie Koorosh Benyamin passes away in Tehran, Iran.  Rabbie Benyamin is best remembered for the series of Assyrian language instruction books widely used in the Assyrian classes around the world.  In a tribute to commemorate his accomplishments the Fourth Day of July was named the "Assyrian Teacher's Day".



A widely held view is that the Middle East consists of a vast arid region populated by Moslem Arabs which fronts on a small, isolated enclave of Jews known as Israel.  Few realize that the Middle East is not a racially homogenous region, but rather a hodgepodge of cultural and racial diversity.  This region includes Assyrians, Caucasian Christians, Mennonites, Turks, Armenians, Druze, Oriental Jews, Kurds and a a host of lesser minorities.  Instead of one race, one language, one religion, the Middle East embraces a vast patchworks of diverse peoples and cultures.  And these pockets of ethnic groups are fragmented and ever-changing, frequently divided by artificially-created national boundaries.

This editor is the first to admit that this book does little more than scratch the surface of the minority problems in the Middle East.  Still it is hoped that the work will serve to be of value to both student and scholar alike.  It may serve to heighten the awareness of the student in a generally unrecognized and widely ignored issue shaping historical forces in the Middle East.

David Andrew's introduction to his book, The Lost Peoples of the Middle East: Documents of the Struggle for Survival and Independence of the Kurds, Assyrians, and other Minority Races in the Middle East.  1982.


July 7, 1916:   The inhabitants of Tkhume in southeastern Turkey, escaping the Ottoman invaders, arrive in the Salamas District of northwestern Iran.


(A S S A)

ASSA was established in 1993 by a group of Assyrian students in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Society brings Assyrian students together and creates a friendly and intellectual atmosphere to encourage further pursuit of higher academic goals.  This objective is made possible through organizing lectures, seminars, classes, on a variety of issues of current interest.

For more information:  Click Here (in Swedish)


Jul  11

A special program and performances in honor of Assyrian women
Hosted by the Lady's Auxiliary Committee
Assyrian American Association of San Jose
1:30 PM at Beta (20000 Almaden Road)
Ticket:  $15.00 per person

Aug 7

Sponsored by the Assyrian Youth Center of Ashour
Seminar:  Genocides Against the Assyrian Nation & Today's Assyrians
For information:  avangard@acc.am   or    Tel/Fax: (3 742) 562 570.

Sept 1-6

Sponsored by the Assyrian-American National Federation
For schedule of events and entertainment CLICK HERE
Hotel Reservations:  Los Angeles Airport Hilton & Towers:  Map
5711 Century Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90045
(310) 410-4000 or 1(800) HILTONS

Jan 28,

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


 University of California, Davis

This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order

 Jackie Bejan
Calendar of Events
Albert Gabrail
Assyrian Surfing Posts
 Carlo Ganjeh
Surfs Up!

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