Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Tishrin II  13, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issues 29             November 13, 2000
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T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse Current Assyrian Endowments in the United States
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Catholics and Armenians Closer to Unity
News Digest Iranians Hail Pope John for Interrelegious Dialogue
Surfs Up "What is home to most of our people?"
Surfers Corner Text of the Report Presented to EU Parliament - Brussels
Reflections on Assyria SS Mesopotamia
Literatus The Assassination of H.H. Mar Eshai Shimmun XXIII
Bravo! Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur
Assyrian Surfing Posts Nakosha's Latest Issue
Pump Up the Volume Smoke & Vapor
Back to the Future Mesopotamian Columns & Ernest de Sarzec
This Week in History Assyrian Star
Calendar of Events November 2000

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



Ever since Assyrians began arriving in this country during the 19th century, they have expressed their concern for co-ethnics in two ways: first by promoting the preservation of their culture and heritage in the diaspora, and second by helping the communities remaining in the homeland.  In many cases they have established charitable institutions, such as the Assyrian Orphanage and School (New Jersey), probably the first solidly funded charitable institution among Assyrians. The AOS celebrated its 100 anniversary in the year 2000. In other cases they have established scholarship funds which distribute moneys. In more recent cases, they have placed endowments with existing institutions that then use the income of the fund to promote Assyrian causes - usually educational.

In order to determine the direction for growth in this area, it is useful to assess the extent of existing endowments, both institutional and independent, which in some way contribute to the preservation of Assyrian language, culture, and heritage. An added benefit of such an assessment is to to identify existing resources so they will be a help to a larger group of our community.

The word "Fund" has been broadly used by community groups: the Assyrian Georgian Relief Fund or the Fund for Modern Assyrian Studies. In such usage, it is not clear whether there is a principle amount of money that remains in perpetuity and from which income only is used, or whether the moneys rotate in and out as the need arises. Here I want to focus only on those funds which have been designated as endowments - the principle remains in perpetuity and is not tapped for current use. As you can guess, such endowments require such a level of stability in the administering institution as to inspire confidence in the donor of the principle that in fact the principle will be both wisely invested, and the income only spent. The donor often, though not always, also gives the endowment a meaningful name, sometimes a family name, that will endure in perpetuity. Examples in the United States abound of such endowments: the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation are among the thousands that exist. These endowments are of such large dimension that they have funds to administer themselves. A funding institution like the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities are not endowed but depend on money allocated to them for annual expenditure by Congress. In the parlance of fund raisers, the latter group depend on "soft money" whereas the former have "hard" or relatively reliable money.

Getting back to Assyrian efforts to create reliable funding, the first such attempt, the Assyrian Orphanage and School, served by such activists as Naoum Faik, used its meager resources to buy a small apartment building in New Jersey and sent rental income to Lebanon and Syria to support orphanages and schools. This may not have been its only source of money, but at least it had the basic income from the building. In the aftermath of WWI the need for orphanages and community run schools was especially critical.

Two of the other early funds that operated as endowments, and do to this day, also come from the western Assyrian community: The George Mardinly Educational Fund (New Jersey - mainly moneys donated by George Mardinly) and for many years administered by the late Rose Dartley and The United Assyrian Organization of Massachusetts Educational Fund (Massachusetts). The latter was funded chiefly by émigrés from Harput who worked in the industries of Worcester, Lowell and Boston. Both of these funds focus on scholarships given to residents of their respective states.

The Timatheus Mushel Soleiman and Family Memorial Assyrian Fund may be the first endowment established after World War II.  It may also be the first one dedicated for the benefit of Assyrians but administered by a non-Assyrian institution. These are the terms of the endowment: "following the lifetime of the donor, income will be paid to the Assyrian Presbyterian Church, Yonkers, N. Y. And to COEMAR to advance religious education in the mother tongue, Assyrian, of worthy young people in Iran, with preference given to orphans and particularly those dwelling in the Rezaiyeh area." The endowment was established with the United Presbyterian Foundation, Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1983. The donor, who lost his entire family during the Assyrian genocide, and himself an educated product of Urumiah College (graduated in 1918), is one of the great Assyrian philanthropists whose generosity spreads from the Assyrian cemetery in Teheran to the Assyrian community in Turlock. In addition to this large fund, he also set up smaller ones, in the name of his wife and another one in his own name. All the endowments are administered by the same institution.

The uses of the income from this fund are extremely restrictive: the income is used to support Assyrian Presbyterian churches, especially in Urumiah, and to provide fellowships for the training of Assyrians who enter the ministry. Since its inception in 1983, the principle of the fund has increased as has also the expendable income. Yet because of the language of the terms, its benefits are not as broadly applied for the benefit of the Assyrian community as might have happened. One can certainly hope that the church in Urumiah will sustain itself over a long time and if it does, it surely owes much to the support from this Soleiman Fund. On the other hand, one would wish that the administering institution would find ways of using the funds for broader educational purposes within the Assyrian community.

Newer endowments, beginning in 1979, appear with the recognition of the realities of our American diaspora: the need to preserve and propagate our Assyrian identity. In order of establishment these endowments are as follows:

The David B. Perley Memorial Assyrian Fund - 1979, Harvard University

This is a book fund established by the family and friends of David B. Perley, an active and devoted member of the Assyrian-American community. The purpose of the fund is to promote the development of research materials on the history, culture, literature, and language of the Assyrians since the 17th century of our era. Specifically, the fund will be used first to subsidize the publication of works devoted primarily to the Assyrians and second for the acquisition of archival materials, collections and other rare historical materials dedicated to the collection of materials related to the Assyrians since the 17th century and publication.

Support from this endowment has transformed Harvard University's collection of resources for the study of modern Assyrians into one of the best in the world. In addition to the rich archives of the ABCFM (American Board for Christian Foreign Missions) and a strong Syriac manuscript collection, Harvard now holds the best collection of Assyrian periodicals from around the world, especially early ones. The collection is enriched by ephemera such as photographs and special occasion booklets that helped to make the 1999 exhibit "The Assyrian Experience: Sources for the Study of the 19th and 20th centuries from the holdings of Harvard University libraries," an educational and heart-warming occasion for many Assyrians. Aside from collections, the Perley Fund also subsidizes publications such as Studies in Neo-Aramaic (Wolfhart Heinrichs, ed. 1990), the catalogue and selected bibliography accompanying the above exhibit (Naby, Hopper, 1999), and Assyrian-Chaldean Christians in Eastern Turkey and Iran -Their Last Homeland Re-charted ( Sanders 2000).

The Assyrian Foundation of America Book Fund - 1998, The University of California at Berkeley

The entire amount for this fund came from the organization that gives its name to this fund. The focus of the fund is dedicated to the collection of materials related to the Assyrians by a public university.

The Mishael and Lillie Naby Assyrian Lecture Fund - 1999, Harvard University

The proceeds from this Fund shall be used for the purpose of bringing one or more lecturers annually to Harvard University to make public presentations regarding the culture and history of the Assyrians during the medieval and modern periods. A secondary use of the Fund income is designated for the presentation of a prize to a member of the Harvard community for an outstanding research paper about medieval and modern Assyrians. dedicated to facilitating lectures about Assyrians since the Christian period and to promoting research within the Harvard community through a periodic prize.

The fund was established by the daughter and son of the named persons. With added support from the local Assyrian community, the income from this fund supports public lectures at Harvard University which benefit the University and Assyrian communities.

The Naoum Faik Assyrian Book Fund - 2000, Columbia University

This is a library endowment fund intended for the use of Columbia University in building and maintenance of a collection of materials related to Assyrian history and culture during the Christian era. While it is expected that the University will collect materials in all necessary languages, particular attention is directed to Assyrian language materials, including manuscripts.

The James Family Assyrian Lecture Fund - 1999, Northwestern University

The final terms of this substantial fund established by the late Helen Nimrod James Schwarten, remain to be determined. Generally however, it is dedicated to facilitating lectures about Assyrians.


As more and more Assyrians gain a comfortable level of material comfort, some begin to consider charitable distribution. The late Adam Benjamin distributed much of his estate in this manner to Assyrian organizations without requiring that the funds form endowments - essentially he donated soft money but to directed purposes. Other Assyrian families such as the Miner family from Ada, of Oracle fame, has chosen to direct its giving to educational institutions without consideration to specifying use for Assyrian causes. Their recent contribution of over $4.5 million to Roosevelt University represents the way other Assyrians are sharing their bounty. Let us hope that the increasing prosperity many of us enjoy will open our wallets to soft money giving for worthy causes, but also toward endowments that allow us to help ourselves know ourselves and become well-known. What a terrific way to ensure the family name survives.

Dr. Eden Naby
Harvard University


(ZNDA:  Vatican)  Following a 1,500-year-old ecclesial separation, John Paul II and Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, signed a joint declaration, confessing the common faith that unites these Churches. As with the joint declaration signed between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church in 1986, they reaffirmed their commitment to make progress toward full unity.

The patriarch of the West, as the Pope is known in the East, and the patriarch of Etchmiadzin jointly confessed their faith "in the Triune God and in the one Lord Jesus Christ, Only-begotten Son of God." Both leaders declared their faith publicly "in the Church, one, catholic, apostolic and holy."

The declaration goes further, acknowledging "that the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church have true sacraments, above all -- through the apostolic succession of the bishops -- the priesthood and Eucharist. We continue to pray for full visible communion between us."

Armenian Catholicos Karekin II had arrived at the Vatican on Thursday. The Pope also received the entire Armenian delegation in the Clementine Hall. Karekin II was accompanied by the Armenian minister of religious affairs, 17 bishops from all over the world, and numerous representatives of the diaspora in America, Europe, the Mideast, Africa and Australia. The Armenian Orthodox Church has 7 million faithful, of whom only 2 million live in Armenia. Many had been forced into exile as a result of the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.

John Paul II gave the Armenian religious leader a relic of St. Gregory the Illuminator, patron of the Armenian Church, which was housed in a Naples convent. It will be placed in the cathedral under construction in Yerevan, Armenia's capital.  Karekin II expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the gift of the relic, and renewed the invitation to the Pope to visit Etchmiadzin, see of the Armenian patriarchate, next year for the 1,700th anniversary of the country's conversion to Christianity.

During the Karekin's visit to Vatican, the Pope noted that:  "The Armenian genocide has been a prelude to the horrors which followed:  the two world wars, innumerable regional conflicts and deliberately
organised campaigns of extermination that have ended the lives of millions of believers."  The pope's recognition of the Armenian genocide follows the approval on Wednesday by the French senate of a bill effectively acknowledging the claim that 1.5 million Armenians were killed and another 500,000 driven from their homes during events in the Ottoman Empire eight decades ago.  Over 350,000 Assyrians were also killed during the 1915 Genocide.  Turkey disputes the claim and says that a much smaller number were killed in what was a revolt against the authorities.  Two weeks ago, a similar draft resolution was pulled from the US House of Representatives after US President Bill Clinton intervened, citing
security concerns.


Reprinted from a report by Zenit News Agency in Vatican; November 7, 2000

(ZNDA:  Rome)  While religious discrimination continues in their country, Iranian officials meeting in Rome underlined the positive role that John Paul II is playing in promoting dialogue among all faiths.

Iranian deputies came to Rome for last weekend's Jubilee of governors and legislators. Last Friday they met in their nation's embassy at the Vatican along with representatives of religious minorities who participate in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

Ahmad Bourghani, president of the Parliamentary Friendship Group between Italy and Iran, was among the Iranian delegates. He emphasized that the politicians' Jubilee was a privileged occasion to promote mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Non-Muslims comprise only 210,000 of Iran's 60 million people. According to the Iranian Constitution, five of the 290 parliamentary seats belong to religious minorities.

Christians, who number slightly more than 100,000, have the right to three seats (one for the "Assyrian and Chaldean" Christians and two for Armenian Christians). Jews, the second minority, have one deputy, while Zoroastrians, who number about 10,000, have one seat.

However, the "Report 2000 on Religious Liberty," published by Aid to the Church in Need, states that apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in the country, both for the one who causes it as well as the one who abandons this religion.

The same report reveals that Christians are leaving the country "because they can no longer open restaurants, small kiosks, be hairdressers or dentists. In case of an accident, the life of a non-Muslim is worth far less than that of a Muslim; the monetary sanction for running someone over is more than 100 times less."

Since 1991 no Jewish periodical has been allowed to publish. The situation of Jewish believers worsens because of their solidarity ties with their co-religionists in Israel, which the regime's propaganda presents as "little Satan," the report explains.

According to Human Rights Frontiers, followers of the Bahai religion were arrested last January and February and condemned to death.

On Wednesday, November 1st, [we] attended a lecture at Harvard University entitled "The Mesopotamian Soul of Western Culture: the Continuity of Assyrian Ideology and Religion into the Christian Area."  Prof. Simo Parpola of Helsinki University was the guest speaker. The event was sponsored by the Mishael and Lillie Naby Assyrian Lecture Fund, by Dr. Eden Naby and Dr. Michael Hopper of the Middle East Division, and by the Department of Art History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

Attendance to the lecture was overwhelming, exceeding available seating.  As Assyrians we owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Naby and Dr. Hopper for preserving the contributions of Assyria to the western world, as well as keeping alive the memory of the Assyrian Diaspora resulting from the massacres of World War I.  [We] view Drs. Naby and Hopper as champions of Assyrian Culture.

Ed and Irene Kliszus
New Jersey

I just read Friday’s (November 10) editorial in the New York Post, “Unfinished Business in Iraq.” It describes the fast meltdown of the U.N. embargo and of the air blockade against that country. An increasing number of travelers are arriving in Iraq from all corners of the world, no doubt soon to be followed by heightened commercial and tourist activity. This is a long overdue development. The international sanctions were ineffective in affecting government policy, but they were lethal to the civilian population.

The New York Post editorial complains that the U.S. has not had a clear policy in Iraq. We Assyrians could ask ourselves a similar same question:  Is there such a thing as an Assyrian policy concerning Iraq and its large Assyrian/Chaldean population?

For the past decade, we have been reading about the Assyrians-Chaldeans who live in north Iraq, in the protected no-fly zone. While life in “Gerbia” has not been a bed of roses, our people there have at least escaped the more extreme deprivations in the rest of Iraq. The population of the northern zone is between 3,500,000 and four million, most of whom are Kurds. Christians comprise only 1% to 2% of that  population, yet they were accorded a disproportionate 5 seats in the 105-member Kurdish Parliament governing the region.   While sporadic fighting between the major Kurdish factions (KDP and PUK) has never fully stopped, mercifully violent incidents involving Kurds against Christians have been relatively few. In a twist of irony, the Kurds who were once the Assyrians’ persecutors-in-chief have provided them a greater measure of tranquility than elsewhere in Iraq.

But as we approach a new chapter which will see the “reunification” of the sheltered north with the rest of the country, and the expected return of Iraqi Arabs to the north, what changes can we expect to see in that area? Even more importantly, what of the rest of Iraq, which is home to most of our people? Christians may be a minuscule minority in the north, yet in the country as a whole they comprise a significant percentage of the population. Is there any consensus among this larger group of our countrymen what they intend for their  future, other than the proverbial individual pursuit of happiness? In decades past, most of them appear to have been jealous guardians of their religious freedom, but less concerned about the Arabization of their culture.

Once tensions have diminished and the political process in Iraq opens up to everyone, what is a realistic scenario for the large Christian minority? Whether in the Middle East (Iran, Syria) or in the West (Europe, America, Australia)  Assyrians-Chaldeans have traditionally been desultory in their support of any program which might be described as “nation enhancing”. Is there any reason to believe that any of this would change in a democratic Iraq, which is the last living frontier of our identity? Is it not more likely that it will be “business as usual” in Baghdad and in the other Christian enclaves? Furthermore, I wonder whether Assyrians-Chaldeans in the diaspora are in any position -- whether by deed or by example -- to expect any departure from the norm?

Francis Sarguis

I am excited to see my people using the greatest communications avenue to get things out in the open asap. Your E-mail was sent to me by a friend, and I'm so grateful for him, because I was not aware of your information services...Thank you and GOD bless.

Paul Khinno



On November 8, a delegation from the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac Union (ACSU) presented the following report in Brussels in an effort to inform the EU Parliament of the claims of the Assyrian-Suryoye in Turkey.  The EU Commission in Brussels has prepared a preliminary document of these basic claims and has requested a response from the government of Turkey prior to the end of calendar year 2000.

The Assyrian delegation submitted this report to the following individuals:

Mr. Morillon (EU Parliament, Christian Democrat)
Mr. Sakellariou  (Germany, Social Democrat)
M. A. Druff (EU Parliament, Great Britain)

Others included Cohn-Bendit, Wiersma, Pirker, Swoboda

The full text was distributed to all members of the EU Parliament.

Who are the Assyrian-Suryoye ?

The Assyrian-Suryoyo people are the most ancient people in the Middle-East.

The Assyrian-Suryoyo people have been able to maintain their culture till today, after a history of more than 6000 years. Their contributions for human civilization are numerous. The base of the high technology, commerce and communication today in the world has its origin in the time of the old Assyrians and Babylonians.

Beside these, the Assyrian-Suryoye played a key role in the spread of the Christian religion. It were the Assyrian-Suryoye that converted themselves massively to christianity. The Assyrian- Suryoyo monasteries and churches, that are more than 2000 years old, are a magnificent proof for that.

In the 20th century our human rights were denied systematically through several treaties. One of these treaties is the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. The countries that together with Turkey played a role in the realization of the treaty of Lausanne and therefore were responsible for the destiny of the Assyrian-Suryoye did nothing to prevent the Assyrians-Suryoye to reach the edge of extermination.

The Assyrian-Suryoye people look forward to the candidacy of the Turkey within the European Union. Their hope is that a possible membership of the EU could advance the process of democratization in Turkey. However, the rights of the Assyrian-Suryoyes that were neglected by the treaty of Lausanne, should be taken care of. Therefore the Assyrian-Suryoye people have the following demands to the EU and all other countries:

- Recognition of the identity and the guarantee of all rights for the Assyrian-Suryoye by the United Nations and the EU.

- The criteria of Copenhagen should be the guide of the negotiations with Turkey concerning the rights of the Assyrian- Suryoye people. We ask the European Union to demand the following from Turkey:

- The ending of the extermination- and denial policy concerning the Assyrian- Suryoye people.

- Recognition of the Assyrian- Suryoye as an ethnical minority.

- Immediate application of the acknowledged rights of the treaty of Lausanne ( the clauses that concern the non- Islamites)

- Abolition of all oppression on the Assyrian- Suryoye people, caused by the difference in religion.

- The return of all properties of the Assyrian- Suryoye churches and the rehabilitation of the East Assyrian Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antiochia caused by the banishment of the patriarchs of these mentioned churches.

- The right to be educated in our own Syriac language, the recognition of our social and cultural rights, the right to found schools, institutions and associations.

- The right to found a press and media in our own Syriac language. Constitutional guarantee of all rights for the Assyrian - Suryoye people and the abolition of all restrictions hereon.

- The return of all property of Assyrian- Suryoye ( houses, villages, land etc.) and the notarial fixation hereof.  The facilitating of the return of the Assyrian- Suryoye to their original area and the restoration of order in that area.

- The trial of the murderers of the in the last fifteen years killed Assyrians- Suryoye.  Recognition of the right to renovate, rebuilding and protect the old Assyrian historical buildings like churches and monasteries.

Lipperkerkstraat 194
Fax:+3153 428 3931
Brannare Wagen 17533
Sodertalje 15155
Tel: +3 627323601


I came across this article in a Sunday paper recently titled, "Cruise Ship Sinks...One Boatload of Survivors Found ".  What was my surprise on discovering that the ship was named SS Mesopotamia and those saved consisted of 27 children and one adult gentleman.  The article included an interview with the man conducted while the rescue ship made for port. He must have been badly shaken by the ordeal or else how account for the bizarre incidents he related on board up to the final moment when the ill-fated ship sank.

In the first place the ship's passengers were made up entirely from our own people.  There were Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Maronites, Suryoyos, Turyoyos, Aramaens and a few I'd never heard of before.  The purpose of the cruise was partly a kind of getting-to-know-you-while-gambling excursion for there was a casino on board.  However, there was a cultural element as well with lectures and seminars led by experts in their fields.  The lone gentleman survivor, who preferred not to be named, said he'd gone along "just to see" as he'd always been interested in learning more about his heritage.

Things had gone smoothly enough the first two days.  The weather was pleasant, the sea calm.  He'd gambled a bit, listened to native music, danced, eaten well and managed to attend some interesting lectures.  There'd been one about ethnic identity and how to determine if yours was really legitimate and others were not.  Another detailed the origins of each group back to before the Flood, etc.  There was some heated discussion but people seemed determined to remain gracious and no bad feelings resulted. The next day there were political discussions, cultural workshops, even a story-telling session for the youngsters.  There were signs of increasing tension, however, when it was announced that some sort of consensus was being sought by the cruise organizers.  Apparently they hoped to iron out a document acceptable to all regarding who was actually what and the order they'd be willing to be listed in for future consideration.  Some were numerically in the majority and claimed they should be given preference, assuring the others that their superior sense of self would never allow them to abuse it, while others signified that numbers, as might, didn't make right and more weight should be given to achievement and status. The smaller groups resented both positions, claiming that all were God's children and should be treated equally.  That evening the crew was called upon to break up the first real confrontation at a seminar on "Living Together in a Homeland".

By the fourth day things had degenerated further. Even the casino wasn't spared as members of each group squared off over which machines and tables favored whom and a general discontent prevailed whenever one group proved "too lucky".  In the dining room there was discord too as each group balked at having to eat what was featured as a favorite dish of another's, though the ingredients were identical.  The bands also refused to yield with the result that there was no dancing.  By now each church, representing its own members, had hunkered down below-decks re-igniting old animosities, conducting services at all hours.  This became necessary as people went round the clock at the debates and regular scheduling was impossible.

On the fifth day the passengers appeared ready to do battle. The crew was alarmed enough to spend the rest of the voyage together on the bridge. The children, left pretty much to themselves all this time in a kind of playland/gymnasium, were acting much like children everywhere.  Their games, their comings together and failings out did not follow the same pattern as the adults around them.  Stewards supplied their every need and after the first two nights they all took to sleeping together in the play area so that they remained largely, and blissfully, ignorant of the growing turmoil.  By now curses, long speeches, tears, threats and mighty declamations could be heard swirling about the passageways and down as far as the engine room whose crew abandoned its post to spend the night with their terrified fellows.

On the sixth day disaster struck. A fire in the engine room, left unattended, led to an explosion which quickly ignited the diesel fuel tanks resulting in a hole and sea water pouring in.  By now the passengers had left off gambling...music, dancing and even dining had all stopped.  All were engaged 24 hours in defending their positions when not attacking others.  The crew, dispatched to alert the passengers, found the people either too pre-occupied or unwilling to give up the floor.  Unable to impress anyone as to their imminent danger, the captain and crew, along with the cruise organizers, lowered a boat and abandoned ship just as a tremendous blast shook the vessel.

The lone gentleman survivor stumbled upon the frightened children on his way to yet another seminar and shocked awake as from a trance to the ships peril, led the crying children to safety.  Together they were able to let down another boat and, the ship listing badly, steam shooting in all directions with the aft section engulfed in flames, pushed off.  Loud voices locked in debate could still be heard as the stern of the ship lifted momentarily, revealing in bold letters the name SS MESOPOTAMIA, before plunging beneath the waves.  The boat holding the crew and organizers was later found awash and empty with no sign of survivors.

On its arrival the rescue ship, a Liberian freighter, deposited the gentleman and 27 orphans at a local hospital. On registering names and ages the staff also sought information regarding nationality.  Authorities have not been able to explain why, to this day, the lone surviving gentleman refuses to provide this last bit of information.

Fred Parhad


The Latest Issue of Nakosha Magazine



of the Assassination of His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimmun XXIII

The people of the state of California, plaintiff, Vs.  David Malik Ismail, defendant.
San Jose, California
March 12, 1976

The trial reconvened at 9:45 a. m. on Monday, March 15, 1976, at which time Emama Mar Eshai Shimun was called to the witness stand. She testified that she is Assyrian, and that she was born in Iraq and lived there from 1942 until 1969 when she immigrated to Canada. She lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, until 1971 when she immigrated to the United States. The witness stated that while she was living in Canada with her family, she and her family knew Mr. David Ismail and his family, and that when he visited her family in Canada he spoke of a political organization whose goal was to get back the Assyrian people’s land from the Iraqi government. When she stated that she was against his ideas, Mr. Ismail said that once the churches were destroyed, the attention of the people could be given to politics and regaining their land. The church he was referring to was the Church of the East. As this time Mrs. Shimun said she also knew Mr. David Ismail’s brother, Zaia Ismail, and that he was politically involved with the Assyrian Universal Alliance.

Mrs. Shimun then testified that she had met the Patriarch of the Church of the East in Tehran in 1968 with her family and a group of Assyrian people. In July 1973 the Patriarch asked her to marry him, and explained to her that he had resigned his office with the Church because of his health. She married him in Seattle, Washington, on August 16, 1973. Mrs. Shimun then explained the tradition and history of the Patriarchate of the Church of the East, and that the members of the Church were in Iran, Iraq, Australia and Italy, and that new members from Brazil and France were to be accepted. There are also some members of the Church in the United States. Some of the people were very upset when the Patriarch resigned his office, as they wanted him to be a political leader as well as a spiritual leader. However, he felt that the Church should be completely isolated from politics. Mrs. Shimun stated that about a month before the Patriarch was killed, someone from the Assyrian Universal Alliance in Chicago had visited him, trying to get him to return to Iraq to live, and to support the political alliance. The Patriarch had again declared that he didn't want the Church involved in politics, and that each member should be faithful to the country in which he lived. It seemed that the Assyrian Universal Alliance wanted the Patriarch out of office.

Mrs. Shimun testified further that a meeting between the bishops of the church and the Patriarch was scheduled in Seattle, Washington, on November 19, 1975, but that it had been postponed to January 5, 1976. She also testified that her husband, the Patriarch, had confided to her that he was afraid someone was plotting against him. Mrs. Shimun then testified that on November 6, 1975 she was living with her husband and baby son at 6217 Woosley Drive, San Jose. She spent the day as she usually did, preparing breakfast, doing her housework, taking the baby for a walk, and doing some shopping, while the Patriarch worked in his office upstairs. Around 4:00 p. m. she and the Patriarch had tea and then they prepared the dinner. They had just finished eating dinner, and she had gone upstairs to bathe the baby and put him to bed, about 6:30 p. m. , and the Patriarch had gone to the kitchen to prepare their evening coffee as was his custom, when she heard him scream her name twice, a shuffling noise, and three shots. She said that she had been told by the Patriarch that he would call her name twice if anything ever happened to him, and that she was to lock herself and the baby in a room and call for help. However, in this case she rushed down the stairs to see what had happened to her husband. She stated that she had seen no one through the glass portion or the door, nor through the windows which had sheer draperies, when she had gone upstairs. She did not know whether the door was locked, as she did not lock it when she came in from her walk with the baby. She did know, however, that the chain lock was not on. Mrs. Shimun testified that no guests were expected either that day or that evening, and if there had been someone ringing the door bell she would have heard it from upstairs. However, the Patriarch might not have heard either the bell or a knock, as he had some trouble with his hearing...

Mrs. Shimun again testified, in answering questions addressed to her by Attorney Pestarino, that she was certain that the chain was not on the front door the evening of the murder, but that she didn’t know whether the door was locked. It was the Patriarch’s custom to take a walk between 9:00 and 10:00 p. m. , and he usually locked the house when he returned from his walk. She also went on to say that the Patriarch was hard of hearing and that he would not have heard a knock on the door...

Mrs. Shimun then confirmed her testimony that a member of the Assyrian Universal Alliance in Chicago had come to see the Patriarch, and encouraged him to give up his spiritual leadership and assume political leadership, but that the Patriarch had declined and stated that he did not want to be involved in political organizations of any kind. Mrs. Shimun stated that the man’s first name she knew to be Sargis, and she believed that his last name was Michaels...She also stated that Reverend Ninos from San Francisco had accompanied the Patriarch to Seattle to perform their marriage ceremony.

Under cross-examination by Attorney Robinson, Mr. Ismail testified that he did not remember whether he had knocked at the Patriarch’s door or rung the bell. The door had been opened by the Patriarch, and Mr. Ismail had knelt before him and kissed his hand. He then followed the Patriarch into the house. He did not know whether the front door was open or shut at this time. Mr. Ismail was unable to describe the interior of the Patriarch’s house. He stated that the Patriarch turned to him as if to speak, but "I told him that Assyrian, they don’t like to be … Patriarch to be … back, because you are married … I told him that I don’t mind myself, but I can’t send that telegraph you give it to me. " Mr. Ismail said that the Patriarch then became upset and slapped him with his open hand, and then slapped him a second time. Mr. Ismail stated that he felt ashamed and mad at himself. He said that the Patriarch then grabbed him and shouted at him in Assyrian to get out, and kicked him. Mr. Ismail said that he fell down at this point, and the Patriarch then spat in his face and spoke ill of his father. The defendant stated that he did not care to repeat the words used by the Patriarch, but after the judge intervened he spoke the words "razel brona d’razel d’kopa b’rona d’kopa. " The judge then told Mr. Ismail to write the words, first in Assyrian and then in English, and the document was marked People Exhibit No. 32. Mr. Ismail stated again that when he went to the Patriarch’s house it was not with the intent to kill him...

The next witness called was Archdeacon Ninos Michael, 1623 45th Avenue, San Francisco. He had at one time been the Patriarch’s secretary, and in August, 1973, he had accompanied the Patriarch on a trip to Seattle, and they picked up the Patriarch’s wife at the airport. That was the first time Reverend Michael learned of the Patriarch’s intention to marry. He testified that while he was staying in a motel in Seattle and making a phone call to his wife, the Patriarch had come into his room and started yelling at him for telling Mrs. Michael about the marriage, and then insulted him. However, after Reverend Michael had assured the Patriarch that he had not told his wife of the marriage, the Patriarch calmed down. He also testified that on another occasion the Patriarch had become very angry with him, and shouted at him for talking about a private conversation, and that the Patriarch was also angry with him for giving his wife the telephone number of the motel. Reverend Michael said that he had performed the patriarch’s marriage ceremony because he was ordered to do so by the Patriarch and had to obey him, but that he did not do it willingly...

At the time of the Patriarch’s marriage in Seattle, another priest, Michael Birnie, was present, and had acted as the best man. Rev. Michael testified that he felt so terrible about the Patriarch’s marriage, " … to the point I was going to resign. " After the Patriarch had published his epistle, Rev. Michael said, some of the bishops were in agreement with the Patriarch, and some were against him. When Rev. Michael was asked by Attorney Robinson what names the Patriarch had called him, he testified that the Patriarch had spoken in Assyrian, and the words were "donkey" and "bull". Attorney Pestarino then conducted a redirect examination of Rev. Michael, and a recross-examination was conducted by Attorney Robinson. Rev. Michael said that he had never corresponded with the defendant, and that he had seen Mr. Ismail at breakfast in the basement of the church in San Francisco talking with Eshaia’s mother. Rev. Michael had seen Mr. Ismail before in Chicago, and assumed that he was visiting in San Francisco. The extent of their conversation had been an exchange of formal "helloes"...

To view the entire Trial Proceeding:  Click Here

On Sunday, November 6, Rev. Oshana Kanon of the Mar Gewargis Assyrian Church of the East in Ceres, California conducted the Sunday Mass in memory of the Late Mar Eshai Shimmun.  A procession led by Rev. Kanon met at the Turlock Memorial Park where Mar Eshai Shimmun is laid to rest.



One of the world's greatest archaeological collections- royal jewelry, musical instruments, tools, and other artifacts from 4,500-year-old burials in the Sumerian city-state of Ur -- are on display from October 21, 2000 through January 21, 2001, in the galleries of University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.  The exhibition is sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The collection includes artifacts that have become standard pieces in the study of art history, such as as the piece known as "Ram Caught in a Thicket."  This particular artifact is a statuette of a goat that is fashioned from gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and other precious materials; its forelegs rest on a gold-covered tree.  Another piece is an exquisite bull-headed lyre.

The material, which was discovered in the 1920's, is touring the nation for the first time.  About one-third of the 157 items in the exhibition come from the tomb of Queen Puabi, who was buried with her servants.  The burial party was dressed in jewelry and apparently had been celebrating an elaborate feast just prior to being buried together.   The Sumerian queen was laid to rest wearing an elaborate headdress of gold leaves, gold ribbons, strands of lapis lazuli and carnelian beads, a tall comb of gold, chokers, necklaces, a pair of large crescent-shaped earrings, and a cape composed of strings of semi-precious stones.

The material being exhibited dates from 2600 to 2500 B.C., when Sumerian culture was at its zenith.  The splendor of the tomb of Puabi are comparable to those from the tomb of the Egyptian king Tutankkhamun, which was also discovered in the 1920's.

Like to know more about Queen Puabi?  Click Here.


BC (645)

One architectural feature which had appeared sporadically in Bet-Nahrain was the the column.  There were columns of bronze or of cedar overlaid with metal, standing on cast bronze bases.  In Sennacherib’s palace these were in the shape of lions.  During an invasion, as in the sack of Nineveh, such columns would burn and the metal was taken away.

Assyrian Sculpture, Reade

AD (1894)

Ernest de Sarzec, the French representative at Mosul, after many discoveries during his seven previous expeditions (1877-1893) discovers nearly 30,000 cuneiform tablets.  The discovery was made near Tel-Lo, eight miles northeast of Shatra in Turkey.

Old Babylonian Temple Records, Lau


November 13, 1956:  The Assyrian Star magazine begins publishing in New York.

Nov 19

Assyrian Church of the East
Mar Narsai Parish
3939 Lawton Street

Come and bring your family to share the joy of Thanksgiving holiday
Lunch will be served after Qurbana Qadisha

More Info:  Samira Hermes (510) 724-5902
                   Marlene Antar (650) 697-7488

Nov 19

The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies
by Professor Amir Harrak
University of Toronto

8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre
Room 1050, 5 Bancroft Avenue
St. George Campus

Nov 23

Written by: Amira Bet-Shmoel
Edited by: Ewan Gewargis
Directed by: Nazar Amadin

The North Shore Center for The Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Blvd.
(773) 262-0500

2 shows at 4:00 and 8:00 PM
Tickets:  $15

Dec 31

Presented by Worldance Entertainment:
Walter Aziz & his Middle Eastern / Latin dancers
Assyrian, Arabic, & Salsa
Raffle Prize:  Hawaiian Vacation for 2 courtesy of PoinTravel.com
Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara
2700 Mission College Blvd
Tickets:  $ 95.00
in San Jose:  Etminan (408) 226-5992
in San Mateo:  Worldance (650) 571-8538
in San Francisco:  Oasis Travel (415) 664-8400
in Modesto:  Soro Enterprises (209) 551-1800
For more information contact worldance2000@aol.com .

Jan 21

The Oriental Institute 
University of Chicago
1155 East 58th Street

Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun  10AM-5:30PM
Wed 10AM-8:30PM
Closed Mondays

General Info:  773-702-9514
Tours:  773-702-9507

Admission is free, but the Institute suggests a donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12 to view the Ur exhibition.

Jul 2-6

International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology 
"Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East"
University of Helsinki

Registration Form:  click here

 Thank You!

Prof. Gabriele Yonan (Germany)


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