Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Kanoon II  2, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issues 34             January 2, 2001
 Advertisement Info           Contact Us           Archives
To receive our weekly notification message or this issue in text format write to z_info@zindamagazine.com.
T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse A Call For the Unity of Churches in the Middle East
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Rep in Iran's Majlis Receives Plaque of Honor
Orthodox Leaders Call for End to Christian Split
News Digest Turks in Germany Call for Recognition of 1915 Genocide
U.S. Congressional Letter on Fr. Yusuf Akbulut
Surfs Up "use more common sense and discretion"
Surfers Corner AUA Reps to Hold Meeting in San Francisco Bay Area
Take Part in the Rebuilding of a Chicago Assyrian Church
Reflections on Assyria I'm Okay...You're Not!
Literatus The Nestorian Tablet in China
Bravo! Ancient Assyrian Language Meets Modern Technology
Assyrian Surfing Posts Alphone Mingana's Syriac Influence on the Style of Koran
Milestones Salim Y. Sarafa
Pump Up the Volume Layer & Skin
Back to the Future Nur-Adad of Larsa & Captain Alex Ameer
This Week in History Joseph Durna
Calendar of Events January 2001

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



Zinda Magazine begins its first issue of the A.D. Third Millennium with a summary text of the "5th Pastoral Letter Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East".  The Council is an ecumenical movement to unite the Christian churches in the Middle East and an important step toward bridging the gap between the Eastern and Western Christian denominations in that region.

Unity is becoming more urgent to our Churches given the fact that we Christians, altogether, we constitute a small “flock” (Cf. Lc. 12:32) in the Middle East, where God sent us to continue the redemptive mission of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, if we want for our witnessing to be credible in front of our brothers believers, Muslims and Jews, and all those whom God wanted us to live with, our witness should be one. Accordingly, our service for the human society, where we live, cannot be authentic, fertile and efficient unless we put together our weak power and reduced means. Moreover, our very presence and our future in this part of the world will depend for a great part on our capacity to unite our efforts, forming “one heart and one spirit” (Cf. Ac 2: 44-45), in order to face together the questions raised today, such as justice and peace, emigration of Christians, interreligious relations, social and cultural integration in our societies, and all kinds of common questions that are confronting our Arab world, and our Churches in it.

Everybody, hierarchy, clergy and lay faithful, we share the same view and feel the urgent need for unity, even if the approaches and the priorities are sometimes different. We hope in any case that our positions, although different, be complementary. Some of our faithful insist and make pressures so as to oblige their pastors to act seriously in this field. although many of their claims and methods might need more reflection, because they don’t take enough in consideration all the theological implications and the true relations between the Churches. Their ardent desire, for instance, and their constant work for a common celebration of Easter, is positive in itself, although many obstacles are hindering its realization. Another example which concerns the faithful and needs serious action on the way to unity is the issue of mixed marriages that is provoking sometimes dramatic tearing  within many Christian families. We have studied this issue and we have adopted a common position during our meeting at Charfeh in Lebanon in 1996 with some of our venerable brothers, the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches. Certainly, the Christian unity cannot be reduced to these problems only; it also comprises dogmatic questions over which an accord should be reached.

We have insisted upon the importance of unity among Christians since our first encounters in 1991 and 1992. In our second common pastoral letter, published on Easter 1992, entitled “Christian presence in the East, Witness and Mission”, we consecrated many pages on the necessity of  interreligious and ecumenical dialogue and collaboration. We stated: “In the East, we either be Christians together or we will not be”. We have recommended that opportune initiatives should be taken in each country and diocese. On the level of the Middle East, since 1988, we took a common decision so that the Catholic family become an integral part of the Middle East Council of  Churches, which became a  place of encounter for all the Churches of the region, and an instrument of exchange between them.

The Christian presence in the Middle East is distinguished, more than any other place, by the plurality and the diversity of the liturgical, theological, spiritual and canonical traditions. These traditions make part of the identity and constitute live bonds with the generations that succeeded throughout the centuries, through which today’s communities remount to the testimony of the apostles. This diversity constitutes a source of great richness for the whole Church. But we must confess too that this diversity has frequently become a source of  self isolation and division. If we want to engage in a true ecumenical action, we need to reconcile diversity with unity. They are two necessary dimensions of the life of the Church. “Legitimate diversity never opposes the unity of the Church, it rather promotes her and largely contributes towards the achievement of her mission”.

Most of the tensions that left their marks on our Churches today happened in the 5th century. Many fundamental truths of faith were involved, like the divinity of Christ or the veracity of  the incarnation. Certain ecumenical councils, convoked in order to restore and confirm unity, had instead led to divisions. Often, non-dogmatic causes – rather philosophical, cultural, political, and social – had considerably contributed to render reconciliation impossible. Two ecumenical councils especially provoked the division of the Churches that lasts until today: the Council of Ephesus in 431, and the Council of Chalcedony in 451.

The Council of Ephesus, in 431, defined the unity of the person in Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, against the teachings attributed to Nestorius. This council likewise affirmed that Jesus Christ is God and man in one person. He is therefore in the same time the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary. This is why the council dedicated the title “Theotokos” or “Mother of God” for Mary. For multiple reasons, the Church of Persia could not participate in this council and just had partial information about it later on. Consequently, the Church of Persia did not accept it and hence found itself separated from the other Churches. This Church had been for a long time designated as “Nestorian”, although it does not accept this appellation and present itself as the "Assyrian Church of the East”.

The Council of Chalcedony, in 451, had more tragic consequences for the Churches of the Middle East. This Council ascertained that there are two natures in Jesus, the human nature and the divine nature, in the unity of one person,  the Word of God, second person of the Holy Trinity. However, the term “nature" did not have the same meaning for all of the theological schools of that time. Nuances between the Greek terms (physis for “nature”, prosopon and hypostasis for “person”) had not been the same in the correspondent Syriac terms (kyana for “nature” and knoma and farsofa for “person”). All of this was cause of confusion and numerous misunderstandings that led to division when many apostolic Churches refused to accept the declarations of this council, like the Armenian Church, the Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopian. They had been called  “monophysites”, because they insisted on keeping the term “one nature”, i.e. "one nature in the incarnated Word of God”. However, these Churches refuse this qualification and call themselves today “Eastern Orthodox Churches”.

The big schism between the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Rome took place in the 11th century (1054). It was the result of a long process of reciprocal remoteness and growing mutual ignorance. The Christian Orient and Occident had become strangers to each other, as they became part of two different cultural and political worlds. In the Orient, the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople with Greek culture replaced the ancient Roman Empire, while in Occident, appeared a new Roman Empire with Latin Roman culture. As a result, different ecclesiastical traditions were formed in Orient and Occident respectively. They could have been accepted as completing each other, but cultural and political circumstances made it impossible. Diversities of traditions were considered irreconcilable and became cause of division.

The Reform with Martin Luther divided the Occidental world between Catholicism and the Protestant movement that gave birth in its turn to different Churches: Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed, Presbyterians, etc. The Church in Orient up until the 19th century remained out of the reach of this movement.

Protestant communities and Churches started their mission in the Middle East since the nineteenth century. They attracted to them some faithful from the Eastern Churches.  So the number of Churches in the East was increased, as well as the division between Christians. Today these Churches are also part of the ecumenical action in its different initiatives particular or common.

The divisions that followed the Council of Ephesus (431), and especially the Council of Chalcedony (451) had had deep and long-lasting influence on the history of our Churches in the Middle East. Muslim historians mentioned that Christian divisions facilitated sometimes the Muslim conquest of the region. Realizing that these divisions constitute a danger for the unity of the empire, Byzantine emperors tried to impose, using force when necessary, one only dogma: they confirmed the decisions of the Council of Chalcedony and imposed it on the Christians of Syria and Egypt who refused it. Consequently, hatred for the Byzantine Empire started to grow bigger in these two countries, to the point that a big number of them were welling to receive the Muslim armies, to liberate them from the imperial persecutions. On the other hand, after the conquest, Muslim rulers were inclined to accord favorable treatment to those non-Chalcedonian-communities compared to the communities having the same creed like the Byzantine Empire easily being suspected of connivance with the enemy.

During the following centuries, these divisions became the cause of the decrease in number of Christians, and led them to become more and more minorities in the Arab Muslim world. Divisions and isolation of the different Churches weakened them and forbid them of adopting a joint attitude to guarantee respect for their dignity and rights especially during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Their situation worsened until the Christian presence almost totally disappeared from some regions. Since the beginning of the 19th century, emigration started and continues today becoming an alarming phenomenon during the last few decades.

Tendency among Christians to emigrate started since a long while. It never stopped but grew, for political, economical and social reasons similar in each of our countries. This also requires unity in our efforts to face the problem with efficiency. Isolated initiatives are often non-sufficient and some times have a negative effect. Our Churches and the Churches of the world proclaim and express that it would be very regrettable if Christians disappeared from this part of the world that witnessed the birth of the Church and was its point of departure to the whole world. Nonetheless, one must recognize that visions and efforts deployed to face this danger remain insufficient. We must say that our Muslim brothers themselves, in some of the Arab countries, consider the historical existence of Christians and their presence in their midst positively. They are sure that this presence strengthen conviviality between Christians and Muslims and is profitable for all, for them as well as for us, in our Arab countries.

Under diverse forms, the Catholic Church began also relations with the ancient Churches of the East, which did not accept the dogmatic formulas of the Council of Ephesus (431) or that of Chalcedony (451), in the domain of Christology. Since the visit to Rome of many Patriarchs of Eastern Orthodox Churches (known also as non-chalcedonian), the Pope have signed with them common declarations affirming the common faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, perfect in his divinity and perfect in his humanity. It appeared then that Christological disagreements that were the origin of the ancient divisions had had diverse causes, and mainly linguistic. Thereof, it was put an end to 15 centuries of misunderstanding. A similar common declaration was signed by Pope Jean-Paul II and Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, in November 1994.

Another Christological accord has been concluded between the Greek Orthodox Church (Chalcedonian) and other Churches of the East (non Chalcedonian), i.e. Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox Churches, thanks to the work of the theological commissions of both traditions, who have worked in an unofficial way from 1964 to 1971, and later in an official manner from 1985 till 1993. Yet, competent authorities in these Churches did not yet officially adopt these accords.

Our Middle East Churches consider the theological dialogue, in its strict sense, as being of their competence and duty. We suffer at times in our Catholic and Orthodox Churches from lack of human resources and means. This is why our contribution in this aspect remains modest. But we have to mention here the initiatives taken by the two Churches of Antioch, the Greek Melkite Catholic and the Greek Orthodox, and by the two Churches of Babylon, the Chaldean, catholic, and the Assyrian of the East, orthodox. We know that the concrete way of living certain truths or certain theological or canonical requirements by our Catholic Churches have serious repercussions on the theological dialogue about these very truths. For example, the question of the primacy in the Church and the communion with the successor of Peter in Rome. Pope John Paul II launched a pressing appeal in his encyclical letter Ut unum sint, asking to help him, by a fraternal and patient dialogue, to "find the form of exercising the primacy according to the present situation, without renouncing to the essence of his mission". He renewed his appeal in his meeting with the Catholic Patriarchs of the East on the 29th of September 1998.

Approaching the second millennium of the birth of Jesus, all the eyes and hearts of a great number of Christians from around the world are set on our region of the Middle East, the cradle of the Church. If we, Christians, living every day near the places where the mysteries of salvation have been revealed, know how to be united, at the image of the first Christian community mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, the pilgrims, coming from the four corners of the horizon searching for the origins of their faith, could go back home, confirmed and refreshed in their engagement and in their fidelity to their faith.

The search for unity in Christ is an essential dimension of our Christian being and a primary condition of our mission in the Church and in the world, so that all "may have life and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10). We ask God to help us in our way towards unity, and to fill us with his Spirit in order to renew our hearts and to reinforce our unity. We ask him to bless you in your journey towards him and in your love for your brothers and sisters, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

-Stefanos II Ghattas, Patriarch of Alexandria for the Coptic Catholics
-Maximos V Hakim, Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, & for the Greek Melkite Catholics
-Nasrallah Pierre Cardinal Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites
-Ignace Moussa Ier Daoud, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrian Catholics
-Rafael Ist Bidawid, Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans
-Jean Pierre XVIII Kasparian, Patriarch of Cilicy for the Armenian Catholics
-Michel Sabbah, Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins



(ZNDA:  Tehran)  On the occasion of Christmas and the beginning of the new Christian millennium, the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker, Mahdi Karrubi, presented plaques of honor to the Majlis Representatives of Iran's Religious Minorities.  Honorable Younatan Bet-Kolia, the Assyrian representative was among the recipients.  The awards included the Azadi (Freedom) Gold Coins and three plaques of honor bearing a part of the late Ayatollah Khomeini's message to the Christians of the world in 1979.

Mr. Bet-Kolia will be speaking at a special AUA meeting in San Jose, California on January 7.



Courtesy of Nando Times; article by Melissa Robinson of the Associated Press; December 26

(ZNDA:  Turkey)  Orthodox Christian leaders gathered at an ancient church in Turkey on Tuesday, as Christmas festivities drew to a close, to call for an end to the rift that split the Christian faith a millennium ago.

"The Christian world was divided and fragmented, lamentably, to the great scandal of the whole world," the leaders said in a written statement on the 1054 Great Schism, which split Christianity into the Roman Catholic and Orthodox branches because of cultural and political differences.

"We invite everyone to work in a dialogue of truth and love for the unity of those who believe in Christ," the leaders said.

The proclamation was signed by the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and representatives of 14 Orthodox churches.

The meeting took place at the Byzantine-era Church of Hagia Sophia in Iznik, Turkey - a city known as ancient Nicaea and the place where early Christians spelled out the tenets of their faith in the Nicene Creed of 325.

Bitterly cold winds blew through the site, now a collection of walls turned into a museum, as the bearded patriarchs chanted and prayed in vestments of golden brocade.

The service - meant to coincide with the 2000th commemoration of Jesus' birth - was also aimed at healing differences between the different Orthodox denominations.

In the past, both unification efforts have stumbled badly. Divisions were still evident, with Patriarch Alexy II of Russia - leader of the largest Orthodox Church - failing to appear at the meeting.

Alexy, who also boycotted a similar 1995 meeting, is still irked by Bartholomew's 1996 recognition of the autonomy of the Estonian church after it broke off from Moscow. He fears the Ukrainian Orthodox could ask the same from Bartholomew's ecumenical seat.

In addition to Istanbul-based Bartholomew I, the statement calling for unity was signed by representatives of the churches in Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland and Estonia.

Last Monday, the patriarchs celebrated a Christmas service at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul.  John Paul II will visit Armenia in September of 2001, according to the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II. The visit has not yet been officially confirmed by the Vatican.

Article submitted by Mazin Enwiya (Chicago)


Courtesy of Katholiek Niewsblad, Amsterdam-Holland; December 18, 2000

(ZNDA:  Hague)  The chairman of the German-Turkish Association opposed to Genocide announced last month that Turks in Germany have called upon Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

Turks in Germany have made a plea in favor of the erection of a proposed monument commemorating the Genocide in the Dutch city of Assen. The Turkish Association Against Genocide, comprising of more than 10,000 members, has sent a petition to the Dutch Parliament in the Hague asking for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact.

Expressing their positive attitude on the monument in Assen, they are labeling opponents as Turkish fanatics, and asking the municipality not to change its position. "It is a pity that the monument is under discussion again. It is a psychological terror exerted on the Armenian community in the Netherlands." says Ali Ertem, the chairman of the Association.

It is ironic that the Dutch authorities do not wish to comment about the genocide, the Turks, whose ancestors perpetuated the genocide, are asking the Dutch Government for recognition of the Genocide.

The Turkish Association Against Genocide expresses its desire in the petition to clean up their past. A similar petition had been sent to the Turkish Parliament but it has been rejected. The text of that petition reads "As Turks it is bad for our conscience that these people (Armenians) were left to their fate for 85 years. Therefore we feel morally obliged to end their disillusion and agony, and we ask national and international condemnation of the crimes committed against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian-Greeks."

Access to independent primary sources convinced them that there has indeed been a genocide perpetrated at the time of the Young Turk regime. Ertem said, "What we learned at school is a forgery of history. We learned that we Turks are one nation. In the beginning of the 20th century two million Armenians lived in our empire. Where are they now?" The Turkish government keeps the line of willful denial. Turkey promptly condemned and rejected the recent recognition of the Genocide in the French Senate.

Translated from Dutch.


Courtesy of Assyrian International News Agency

December 12, 2000
The Honorable Ahmet Necdet Sezer
President of Turkey

The Honorable Madeleine Albright
United States Secretary of State

Dear President Ahmet Necdet Sezer:
Dear Secretary Albright:

We write to request your active involvement in a matter concerning freedom of conscience in Turkey. On October 6, Father Yusuf Akbulut, an Assyrian priest in Turkey, was arrested by Turkish authorities for speaking his mind on the issue of atrocities committed against the Ottoman Empire's Christian minorities during the First World War. We ask that you convey to the Turkish Government that the United States expects its allies to respect the right of freedom of expression for all human beings.

Father Yusuf is a priest from St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey. In early October, he was approached by reporters from Hurriyet, a major Turkish newspaper. When asked his views on the subject of the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th Century, Father Yusuf replied that he believed not only that Armenians were killed, but also Assyrians. On October 4, Hurriyet published an article with a photo of Father Yusuf, labeling him "A Traitor Among Us." Two days later, he was arrested by Turkish military security agents. He has been held since that time by the Turkish authorities, and is now under house arrest. Father Yusuf has been charged under Article 312, which carries a prison sentence of one to three years.

We understand that the subject of atrocities committed by the Ottomans during World War One remains a delicate one in Turkey. Nonetheless, we feel that disputes about the historical record should not be used as an excuse for denying any person their right to freedom of speech and conscience. We ask you to convey our concerns to the Turkish Government, and ask them to demonstrate respect for Father Yusuf's rights.


Rod R. Blagojevich
Member of Congress

John Edward Porter
Member of Congress

Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress

Michael E. Capuano
Member of Congress

Ray LaHood
Member of Congress

On behalf of the AUA-Australia, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, hoping that the coming years will be a turning point toward unity and continuous struggle for our Assyrian National Rights in our Holy Land of "Bet-Nahrien".  In the meantime we thank you for the dedication, efforts and hard work to deliver the Assyrian news and message to the world through the most powerful tool of today-"the Internet.  God bless you!

Hermiz Shahen

Jean Paul Sliva should be ashamed for bringing himself down to such level as to attack the integrity of Agha Petros, who gave so much for the Assyrian Nation, and to go further into the gutter to publish
accusations against Agha Petros's family.

I trust Zinda will use more common sense and discretion in allowing such garbage as Jean Paul's personal attacks to make their way to the pages of this otherwise excellent publication

Francis Sarguis's article on the subject of the murder of HH Mar Eshai Shimun brings about valid and sensible issues... History will judge the culprits, and we shall never forget HH Mar Eshei Shimun, who lived a life of an Assyrian nationalist, and died a Martyr.

Nenus Younan

Thank you very much for your support of the Assyrian Democratic Organization and our Assyrian people.  We greatly appreciate it and hope you will continue your support for the many years to come. We especially appreciate the massive support you have given our hero, Fr. Yusuf Akbulut. We would like to see this support continue until his trial ends and he is set free.  God bless all of you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Yakdan Nissan
Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO)

Wishing all at Zinda a Merry Christmas and another successful New Year. Thank you for the excellent magazine.  I am so very proud of you and look forward to receiving Zinda every week.

Philimon Darmo

Happy new year to the crew of Zinda Magazine!  I hope that all your wishes will be fulfilled this year.
Wishing a lot of happiness for our Assyrian people!

Dr. Ephrem-Isa Yousif



Our Fellow Assyrian,

The Greater Bay Area Chapter of the Assyrian Universal Alliance is pleased to announce a general meeting in which members of the AUA executive committee will report on some of the issues surrounding the national interest of our nation. These reports will be given and discussed by representatives from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

The speakers are:

Sen. John J. Nimrod
Secretary General, AUA
& Vice Chairman, UNPO

Hon. Younatan BetKolia
Secretary of Asia, AUA
& Assyrian Representative in Iranian Parliament (Majlis)

Mr. Praydon Darmo
Secretary of Europe, AUA

Mr. Simon Mirza
Secretary of Americas, AUA

Time: 7 P.M.
Date: Sunday, January 7, 2001
Place: Awana, The Assyrian Church of the East

The Greater Bay Area Chapter
Assyrian Universal Alliance


AssyrianMarket.com is inviting you to support and help the rebuilding efforts of Mar Odisho Church in Chicago, Illinois.

You can make your generous donation right on the web through AssyrianMarket.com where we have dedicated a special section in our Assyrian Business Directory to accept donations. Just go to: www.AssyrianMarket.com/donation1.html

Our churches have done so much for each and every one of us and our ancestors throughout the generations and we, at AssyrianMarket.com, think that it's time for us to give something back! That is the reason why we are doing all this for free for the church! ..... So do you think you can do your part?!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Fred Parhad's


We should be nervous whenever we hear the words "pure" or "true" tacked onto "faith" or "ethnicity". For much like in the film "THE GODFATHER", whenever family honor was mentioned someone subsequently got shot in the head, whenever people mention the need to keep their race, city, or whatever, pure or correct, someone is bound to get it for being impure. Ethnic purity can lead to calls for ethnic cleansing, getting rid of the unclean, of the dirt which pollutes the pure.

Who really is Assyrian anyway, No one can produce a passport, never have been able to, and birth certificates don't mention it. There isn't any recognized country called Assyria to be born in. We'd have the same problems proving our parents or grandparents were Assyrian as well. There are enough scholars and experts today who deny our claim and the British Museum, that world famous place, still instructs its guides to inform visitors that Assyrians were wiped out ages ago. The culture we have could be anything...anyone of us could have been adopted into it generations ago, and the language...well, language can be learned. So, how do we prove we're who we say we are and, just as importantly, how do we prove the other fellow isn't what he claims to be.

We can't. But if we could, even then would we be pure Assyrian. If only one ancestor was Chaldean or Italian it would mean none of the descendants were pure anything. Just who is pure. Are the English today the same people Shakespeare knew, are today's Greeks the same who fought the Persians at Marathon, is Rome occupied by Romans. Given our small numbers in the world today what's the likelihood that an even smaller fraction of those who believe they're Assyrian are necessarily pure Assyrian or Chaldean. And just what purpose is served by ejecting all those who, like the purest of us, can't prove they're Assyrian, but only believe it or wish it to be so.

If there's a boulder to be moved or a house to be built you want all hands to help. If you have nothing much to do you can afford to make distinctions between people, because what does it matter if 100 impure people do nothing or one gloriously pure one does nothing. The time spent in "purifying" the race, in arguing origins and facts, can seem like actual, constructive work...that settling these "controversies" takes the place of, or leads to actual and meaningful results. I suspect not...that the sound and the fury of it all satisfies those who spin these wooley arguments.

What's the point of being Assyrian anyway. Why proclaim it (to each other), why trumpet it about. It's not like there's been an important task assigned to us and we need all the Assyrians we get. Is it just a clique to belong to, an ethnic identity whose small numbers and ancient glory makes us special in a world which requires far more proof of legitimacy than we might be able to muster, just because it rubs off on us, casting a halo over any otherwise insignificant and idiotic little thing we do or say. Is it a way for us to gain instant distinctions without bothering to do the actual work, like claiming to be cousins of royalty when we're dirt poor.

We seem to be content just sitting around here and there in various countries, expending far more time and energy in being American, French or Australian than Assyrian, pure or otherwise. Perhaps that's just why we wrangle over it so...because it's inconsequential. We get hot and bothered because it doesn't matter much land making it matter is too hard), and neither, do we secretly fear, do we.

What makes an American. Apparently any mutt can qualify and join this mongrel nation. If one has a skill, or money, or something to sell, even if it's only a fierce desire to get ahead in life, one is welcome. You can be any religion or no religion, hail from any country (almost) or ethnic group. You can even be arch enemies in other parts of the world and bring your feud here. All you have to do is agree to sever your roots, abide by the law, and you can become this new American thing. Anyone who can help America succeed is welcome to put his or her shoulder to the wheel. In this way the country has been able to attract the world's cream and make of it American Cream. That's because America has a purpose, a task in hand...a huge boulder to move and it lets everyone pitch in and help it.

There are people who consider themselves pure Americans, who don't like "other" people inviting themselves in, getting the better deals and sharing the franchise. They're the white supremacists, the ones who hate Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Arabs, Asians, Pollocks etc. If they had their way this would be a purely backward nation, certainly a far weaker one, and of course, they'd keep Assyrians out as well.

It might be worth mentioning that some months ago in Turlock, California a pure "White Boy" was arrested for picking a fight with some Assyrians. He told the police they'd been talking about him in "that" language, in other words in a foreign tongue which meant they were outsiders, not pure American like him, Assyrians, like many ethnic groups here nursing an inferiority complex, love to pass for "white", so pleased to actually be allowed to join the Republican Party, to "belong". But, every once in a while, comes a timely reminder that we too might be unwelcome by those as obsessed with purity as some of us are.

The more ferociously nationalistic and pure minded we become the more we loosen the bands of civility which barely hold us together as it is. The more we engage in this sort of thing the more we're marginalized, setting ourselves off into a corner, a sort of twilight zone where what we think matters, means nothing at all. We've yet to discover how being Assyrian is relevant to our modern existence, the one we live in day to day, where life and death and quality of life issues are debated and defined. The best our leadership, our self-appointed leadership, has been able to do is mimic institutions such as the United Nations or parliaments issuing high-fallutin' manifestos and charters, as if the noise and acres of print alone signified something.

We, as a people without a homeland, have a huge task, if only we could discover it. For better or worse, in truth or fiction, we are the descendants and therefore guardians of this heritage, and to date we have been famously unfit for the task. I, for one, would welcome anyone who wanted to help. Like this very smart country I'd accept everyone who agreed to work for mutually beneficial goals. I wouldn't be interested in their purity, only their hands and hearts.


Alphonse Mingana's "Syriac Influence on the Style of the Koran"




Salim Sarafa, a Chaldean businessman and community leader, died at home on 1 December 2000 at age 79 from pulmonary failure and complications from a 1995 stroke.

He was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1921.  He earned an education degree from the University of Baghdad and became a high school teacher in 1942.  He then served in the Iraqi Army, rising to second lieutenant.  He went on to teach in Kut in southern Iraq for four years before being promoted to assistant principal of a school near Baghdad.  He left teaching to become director general of the Iraqi Department of Public Works.

Mr. Sarafa came to the United States in 1951.  While living with the George Jonna family, he worked in their store, Union Pacific Market, until he opened his own store in 1953.  He met and married Margaret George that same year.

In 1957, he and four partners opened Big Dipper Market, Detroit's largest independent supermarket at the time.  He also was involved in a construction company, convenient store, and wholesale business over the years.  He got into the real estate business in 1968 and remained active until retiring in 1995.

Mr. Sarafa helped start the Chaldean-Iraqi Association of Michigan and became its first president in 1954 and served three terms in that post.  The association's first facility was built in 1979, and now includes the Southfield Manor and the Shenendoah Golf and Country Club.

Mr. Sarafa served on the St. Michael's School Board and was vice-chairman of the Associate Food Dealers of Michigan.  He also helped develop a school that taught students to read, write, and speak Arabic.

Sarafa was active in the National Association of Arab-Americans, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Republican Party at the state and national levels.

He is survived by three sons, Joe, Michael, and Mark; two daughters, Judy Jonna and Doreen Mangrum; and 10 grandchildren.  Mr. Sarafa's wife died in 1998.

A Memorial Mass was held at Mother of God Church in Southfield.


A remarkable record of the fact that Christianity flourished in medieval China is a huge stone about ten feet high. Carven dragons and a cross adorn its summit, and its main shaft is completely covered with some two thousand Chinese characters. It stands now in the Peilin or "Forest of Tablets" in Sian-fu, this Peilin being a great hall specially devoted to the preservation of old historic tablets. Up to a few years ago the ancient stone stood with other unvalued monuments in the grounds of a Buddhist monastery, exposed to all the assault of the elements. Only European urgence has led to its being preserved in the Peilin.

The Nestorian sect of Christians still exists in Western Asia and was in a thriving condition in Syria in the sixth century. It sent missionaries widely over Asia. Marco Polo recorded having found Christian churches in China; and Roman Catholic missionaries of later centuries found there a few Nestorians still practicing a debased form of their half-forgotten faith. This much concerning the Nestorian Christianity in China we have long known. Then, with the modern opening of the empire, the old Nestorian stone was found. It tells its own history, and tells it plainly, how the Nestorian monks came, how Chinese officials were appointed to listen to their explanations, and gravely approved of the new religion as having "excellent principles." Various emperors accepted, or at least included, Christianity among their religions; and the faith prospered, and had many thousands of followers, and in the year A.D. 781 erected this stone in commemoration of its triumphs.

Now, alas, only the stone remains. The record of the sect's decay has needed no stone to make it manifest. Nestorian Christianity, shut off from its mother land by the rise of the Mohammedan powers in between, proved unable to resist the inroads of ignorance and superstition and changing political affairs. It degenerated and disappeared.

Charles Horne

The following was written in the second year of Kien-chung, of the Tang Dynasty [A.D. 781], on the 7th day of the 1st month, being Sunday.  Written by Lu Siu-yen, Secretary to Council, formerly Military Superintendent for Tai-chau; while the Bishop Ning-shu had the charge of the congregations of the Illustrious in the East.

Behold the unchangeably true and invisible, who existed through all eternity without origin; the far-seeing perfect intelligence, whose mysterious existence is everlasting; operating on primordial substance he created the universe, being more excellent than all holy intelligence, inasmuch as he is the source of all that is honorable. This is our eternal true lord God, triune and mysterious in substance. He appointed the cross as the means for determining the four cardinal points, he moved the original spirit, and produced the two principles of nature; the somber void was changed, and heaven and earth were opened out; the sun and moon revolved, and day and night commenced; having perfected all inferior objects, he then made the first man; upon him he bestowed an excellent disposition, giving him in charge the government of all created beings; man, acting out the original principles of his nature, was pure and unostentatious; his unsullied and expansite mind was free from the least inordinate desire; until Satan introduced the seeds of falsehood, to deteriorate his purity of principle; the opening thus commenced in his virtue gradually enlarged, and by this crevice in his nature was obscured and rendered vicious; hence three hundred and sixty-five sects followed each other in continuous track, inventing every species of doctrinal complexity; while some pointed to material objects as the source of their faith, others reduced all to vacancy, even to the annihilation of the two primeval principles, some sought to call down blessings by prayers and supplications, while others by an assumption of excellence held themselves up as superior to their fellows; their intellects and thoughts continually wavering, their minds and affections incessantly on the move, they never obtained their vast desires, but being exhausted and distressed they revolved in their own heated atmosphere; till by an accumulation of obscurity they lost their path, and after long groping in darkness they were unable to return. Thereupon, our Trinity being divided in nature, the illustrious and honorable Messiah, veiling his true dignity, appeared in the world as a man; angelic powers promulgated the glad tidings, a virgin gave birth to the Holy One in Syria; a bright star announced the felicitous event, and Persians observing the splendor came to present tribute; the ancient dispensation, as declared by the twenty-four holy men [the writers of the Old Testament], was then fulfilled, and he laid down great principles for the government of families and kingdoms; he established the new religion of the silent operation of the pure spirit of the Triune; he rendered virtue subservient to direct faith; he fixed the extent of the eight boundaries, thus completing the truth and freeing it from dross; he opened the gate of the three constant principles, introducing life and destroying death; he suspended the bright sun to invade the chambers of darkness, and the falsehoods of the devil were thereupon defeated; he set in motion the vessel of mercy by which to ascend to the bright mansions, whereupon rational beings were then released, having thus completed the manifestation of his power, in clear day he ascended to his true station.

Twenty-seven sacred books [the number in the New Testament] have been left, which disseminate intelligence by unfolding the original transforming principles. By the rule for admission, it is the custom to apply the water of baptism, to wash away all superficial show and to cleanse and purify the neophytes. As a seal, they hold the cross, whose influence is reflected in every direction, uniting all without distinction. As they strike the wood, the fame of their benevolence is diffused abroad; worshiping toward the east, they hasten on the way to life and glory; they preserve the beard to symbolize their outward actions, they shave the crown to indicate the absence of inward affections; they do not keep slaves, but put noble and mean all on an equality; they do not amass wealth, but cast all their property into the common stock; they fast, in order to perfect themselves by self-inspection; they submit to restraints, in order to strengthen themselves by silent watchfulness; seven times a day they have worship and praise for the benefit of the living and the dead; once in seven days they sacrifice, to cleanse the heart and return to purity.

It is difficult to find a name to express the excellence of the true and unchangeable doctrine; but as its meritorious operations are manifestly displayed, by accommodation it is named the Illustrious Religion. Now without holy men, principles cannot become expanded; without principles, holy men cannot become magnified; but with holy men and right principles, united as the two parts of a signet, the world becomes civilized and enlightened.

In the time of the accomplished Emperor Tai-tsung, the illustrious and magnificent founder of the dynasty, among the enlightened and holy men who arrived was the most-virtuous Olopun, from the country of Syria. Observing the azure clouds, he bore the true sacred books; beholding the direction of the winds, he braved difficulties and dangers. In the year of our Lord 635 he arrived at Chang-an; the Emperor sent his Prime Minister, Duke Fang Hiuen-ling; who, carrying the official staff to the west border, conducted his guest into the interior; the sacred books were translated in the imperial library, the sovereign investigated the subject in his private apartments; when becoming deeply impressed with the rectitude and truth of the religion, he gave special orders for its dissemination.

In the seventh month of the year A.D. 638 the following imperial proclamation was issued:

"Right principles have no invariable name, holy men have no invariable station; instruction is established in accordance with the locality, with the object of benefiting the people at large. The greatly virtuous Olopun, of the kingdom of Syria, has brought his sacred books and images from that distant part, and has presented them at our chief capital. Having examined the principles of this religion, we find them to be purely excellent and natural; investigating its originating source, we find it has taken its rise from the establishment of important truths; its ritual is free from perplexing expressions, its principles will survive when the framework is forgot; it is beneficial to all creatures; it is advantageous to mankind. Let it be published throughout the Empire, and let the proper authority build a Syrian church in the capital in the I-ning May, which shall be governed by twenty-one priests. When the virtue of the Chau Dynasty declined, the rider on the azure ox ascended to the west; the principles of the great Tang becoming resplendent, the Illustrious breezes have come to fan the East."

Orders were then issued to the authorities to have a true portrait of the Emperor taken; when it was transferred to the wall of the church, the dazzling splendor of the celestial visage irradiated the Illustrious portals. The sacred traces emitted a felicitous influence, and shed a perpetual splendor over the holy precincts. According to the Illustrated Memoir of the Western Regions, and the historical books of the Han and Wei dynasties, the kingdom of Syria reaches south to the Coral Sea; on the north it joins the Gem Mountains; on the west it extends toward the borders of the immortals and the flowery forests; on the east it lies open to the violent winds and tideless waters. The country produces fire-proof cloth, life-restoring incense, bright moon-pearls, and night-luster gems. Brigands and robbers are unknown, but the people enjoy happiness and peace. None but Illustrious laws prevail; none but the virtuous are raised to sovereign power. The land is broad and ample, and its literary productions are perspicuous and clear.

The Emperor Kau-tsung respectfully succeeded his ancestor, and was still more beneficent toward the institution of truth. In every province he caused Illustrious churches to be erected, and ratified the honor conferred upon Olopun, making him the great conservator of doctrine for the preservation of the State. While this doctrine pervaded every channel, the State became enriched and tranquillity abounded. Every city was full of churches, and the royal family enjoyed luster and happiness. In the year A.D. 699 the Buddhists, gaining power, raised their voices in the eastern metropolis; in the year A.D. 713, some low fellows excited ridicule and spread slanders in the western capital. At that time there was the chief priest Lohan, the greatly virtuous Kie-leih, and others of noble estate from the golden regions, lofty-minded priests, having abandoned all worldly interests; who unitedly maintained the grand principles and preserved them entire to the end. The high-principled Emperor Hiuen-tsung caused the Prince of Ning and others, five princes in all, personally to visit the felicitous edifice; he established the place of worship; he restored the consecrated timbers which had been temporarily thrown down; and re-erected the sacred stones which for a time had been desecrated.

In A.D. 742 orders were given to the great general Kau Lih-sz', to send the five sacred portraits and have them placed in the church, and a gift of a hundred pieces of silk accompanied these pictures of intelligence. Although the dragon's beard was then remote, their bows and swords were still within reach; while the solar horns sent forth their rays, and celestial visages seemed close at hand. In A.D. 744 the priest Kih-ho, in the kingdom of Syria, looking toward the star [of China], was attracted by its transforming influence, and observing the sun [i.e., the Emperor], came to pay court to the most honorable. The Emperor commanded the priest Lo-han, the priest Pu-lun, and others, seven in all, together with the greatly virtuous Kih-ho, to perform a service of merit in the Hing-king palace. Thereupon the Emperor composed mottoes for the sides of the church, and the tablets were graced with the royal inscriptions; the accumulated gems emitted their effulgence, while their sparkling brightness vied with the ruby clouds; the transcripts of intelligence suspended in the void shot forth their rays as reflected by the sun; the bountiful gifts exceeded the height of the southern hills; the bedewing favors were deep as the eastern sea. Nothing is beyond the range of the right principle, and what is permissible may be identified; nothing is beyond the power of the holy man, and that which is practicable may be related.

The accomplished and enlightened Emperor Suh-tsung rebuilt the Illustrious churches in Ling-wu and four other places; great benefits were conferred, and felicity began to increase; great munificence was displayed, and the imperial State became established. The accomplished and military Emperor Tai-tsung magnified the sacred succession, and honored the latent principle of nature; always, on the incarnation-day, he bestowed celestial incense, and ordered the performance of a service of merit; he distributed of the imperial viands, in order to shed a glory on the Illustrious Congregation. Heaven is munificent in the dissemination of blessings, whereby the benefits of life are extended; the holy man embodies the original principle of virtue, whence he is able to counteract noxious influences.

Our sacred and sage-like, accomplished and military Emperor Kien-chung appointed the eight branches of government, according to which he advanced or degraded the intelligent and dull; he opened up the nine categories, by means of which he renovated the Illustrious decrees; his transforming influence pervaded the most abstruse principles, while openness of heart distinguished his devotions. Thus, by correct and enlarged purity of principle, and undeviating consistency in sympathy with others; by extended commiseration rescuing multitudes from misery, while disseminating blessings on all around, the cultivation of our doctrine gained a grand basis, and by gradual advances its influence was diffused. If the winds and rains are seasonable, the world will be at rest; men will be guided by principle, inferior objects will be pure; the living will be at ease, and the dead will rejoice; the thoughts will produce their appropriate response, the affections will be free, and the eyes will be sincere; such is the laudable condition which we of the Illustrious Religion are laboring to attain.

Our great benefactor, the Imperially conferred purple-gown priest, I-sz', titular Great Statesman of the Banqueting-house, Associated Secondary Military Commissioner for the Northern Region, and Examination-palace Overseer, was naturally mild and graciously disposed; his mind susceptible of sound doctrine, he was diligent in the performance; from the distant city of Rajagriha, he came to visit China; his principles more lofty than those of the three dynasties, his practice was perfect in every department; at first he applied himself to duties pertaining to the palace, eventually his name was inscribed on the military roll. When the Duke Koh Tsz'-i, Secondary Minister of State and Prince of Fan-yang, at first conducted the military in the northern region, the Emperor Suh-tsung made him (I-sz') his attendant on his travels; although he was a private chamberlain, he assumed no distinction on the march; he was as claws and teeth to the duke, and in rousing the military he was as ears and eyes; he distributed the wealth conferred upon him, not accumulating treasure for his private use; he made offerings of the jewelry which had been given by imperial favor, he spread out a golden carpet for devotion; now he repaired the old churches, anon he increased the number of religious establishments; he honored and decorated the various edifices, till they resembled the plumage of the pheasant in its flight; moreover, practicing the discipline of the Illustrious Religion, he distributed his riches in deeds of benevolence; every year he assembled those in the sacred office from four churches, and respectfully engaged them for fifty days in purification and preparation; the naked came and were clothed; the sick were attended to and restored; the dead were buried in repose; even among the most pure and self-denying of the Buddhists, such excellence was never heard of; the white-clad members of the Illustrious Congregation, now considering these men, have desired to engrave a broad tablet, in order to set forth a eulogy of their magnanimous deeds.


                                     The true Lord is without origin,
                                  Profound, invisible, and unchangeable;
                             With power and capacity to perfect and transform,
                             He raised up the earth and established the heavens.

                                 Divided in nature, he entered the world,
                                   To save and to help without bounds;
                                The sun arose, and darkness was dispelled,
                                  All bearing witness to his true original.

                            The glorious and resplendent, accomplished Emperor,
                           Whose principles embraced those of preceding monarchs,
                           Taking advantage of the occasion, suppressed turbulence;
                             Heaven was spread out and the earth was enlarged.

                                 When the pure, bright Illustrious Religion
                                  Was introduced to our Tang Dynasty,
                             The Scriptures were translated, and churches built,
                            And the vessel set in motion for the living and the dead;
                                 Every kind of blessing was then obtained,
                               And all the kingdoms enjoyed a state of peace.

                             When Kau-tsung succeeded to his ancestral estate,
                                     He rebuilt the edifices of purity;
                                   Palaces of concord, large and light,
                                Covered the length and breadth of the land.

                                 The true doctrine was clearly announced,
                            Overseers of the church were appointed in due form;
                                 The people enjoyed happiness and peace,
                          While all creatures were exempt from calamity and distress.

                              When Hiuen-tsung commenced his sacred career,
                           He applied himself to the cultivation of truth and rectitude;
                               His imperial tablets shot forth their effulgence,
                          And the celestial writings mutually reflected their splendors.

                                The imperial domain was rich and luxuriant,
                              While the whole land rendered exalted homage;
                                 Every business was flourishing throughout,
                                  And the people all enjoyed prosperity.

                               Then came Suh-tsung, who commenced anew,
                            And celestial dignity marked the Imperial movements.
                                 Sacred as the moon's unsullied expanse,
                               While felicity was wafted like nocturnal gales.

                               Happiness reverted to the Imperial household,
                                The autumnal influences were long removed;
                              Ebullitions were allayed, and risings suppressed,
                                 And thus our dynasty was firmly built up.

                                       Tai-tsung the filial and just
                                 Combined in virtue with heaven and earth;
                               By his liberal bequests the living were satisfied,
                            And property formed the channel of imparting succor.

                             By fragrant mementos he rewarded the meritorious,
                               With benevolence he dispensed his donations;
                                  The solar concave appeared in dignity,
                              And the lunar retreat was decorated to extreme.

                                When Kien-chung succeeded to the throne,
                                He began the cultivation of intelligent virtue;
                               His military vigilance extended to the four seas,
                              And his accomplished purity influenced all lands.

                                 His light penetrated the secrecies of men,
                         And to him the diversities of objects were seen as in a mirror;
                         He shed a vivifying influence through the whole realm of nature,
                                And all outer nations took him for example.

                                    The true doctrine, how expansive!
                                       Its responses are minute;
                                       How difficult to name it!
                                     To elucidate the three in one.

                                   The sovereign has the power to act!
                                      While the ministers record;
                                     We raise this noble monument!
                                     To the praise of great felicity.

The following are written in Syriac, running down the right and left sides of the Chinese inscription above.

"Adam, Deacon, Vicar-episcopal and Pope of China. In the time of the Father of Fathers, the Lord John Joshua, the Universal Patriarch."

The following is in Syriac at the foot of the stone.

"In the year of the Greeks one thousand and ninety-two, the Lord Jazedbuzid, Priest and Vicar-episcopal of Cumdan the royal city, son of the enlightened Mailas, Priest of Balkh a city of Turkestan, set up this tablet, whereon is inscribed the Dispensation of our Redeemer, and the preaching of the apostolic missionaries to the King of China."

After this, in Chinese characters, follows:

"The Priest Lingpau."

Then follows in Syriac:]

"Adam the Deacon, son of Jazedbuzid, Vicar-episcopal.
The Lord Sergius, Priest and Vicar-episcopal.
Sabar Jesus, Priest.
Gabriel, Priest, Archdeacon, and Ecclesiarch of Cumdan and Sarag."

The following subscription is appended in Chinese :

"Assistant Examiner: the High Statesman of the Sacred rites, the Imperially conferred purple-gown Chief Presbyter and Priest Yi-li."

On the left-hand edge are the Syriac names of sixty-seven priests, and sixty-one are given in Chinese.

Charles F. Horne
"The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917)
Vol. XII, Medieval China



If Bruce Wells were an ordinary legal scholar, he would sit down at a computer and sift through thousands of cases in a few minutes. But the 32-year-old Johns Hopkins University graduate student is searching for records of divorce and petty theft trials that occurred in ancient Assyria and Babylonia. They're written in cuneiform, copied from crumbling clay tablets and dusty scrolls, often obscure and unlabeled. At this rate, Wells figures, his doctoral research will take another two years of tedious attention to ''chicken scratch.'' But what if he could sit down at a cuneiform keyboard and tell his PC to do the work for him? ''That would be heaven,'' he says. Scholars from Hopkins and other institutions who gathered at the Homewood, Md., campus last month are trying to make life easier for Wells and fellow researchers by bringing the world's oldest written language to its newest medium. In the process, they hope to renew interest in the ancient cultures that used cuneiform to record everything from trial verdicts to erotic poetry.

Invented more than 5,000 years ago, cuneiform was first adopted by the Sumerians, inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia whose scribes pressed stiff reeds into wet clay to make wedgelike marks. Over time, the script was adopted by the Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Hittites, among others.

The most famous example is the Code of Hammurabi, an ancient legal manifesto best known for its admonition: ''An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.''

But the last known cuneiform tablet was written in the year 75, and today there are only a few hundred people who can read it. Most of their research is still done by paper and pen, laboriously recopying the complex marks from musty tomes in libraries or clay originals in museums. ''We're like the people who still use typewriters instead of word processors,'' says Karljuergen Feuerherm, a computer scientist and cuneiform scholar at the University of Toronto who attended the Hopkins conference.

By putting cuneiform in digital form, scholars hope to be able to type the script on the computer and create giant databases of the thousands of clay tablets in museums around the world. ''You could even write cuneiform e-mail,'' says Dean Snyder, a software engineer at Johns Hopkins University who organized the gathering. To make it happen, scholars will have to agree on a scheme to convert cuneiform script into the digital ones and zeros that computers understand.

This was a simple matter in the early days of computing, when scientists converted English and other Western alphabetic languages into digital form by assigning each character and punctuation mark a number. Their first effort, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), packed almost everything into a scheme of 128 numbers.

The letter ''A,'' for example, is recorded as 65. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough. ''There isn't even a symbol for the British pound sign in ASCII,'' says Tom Davis, a professor of Bibliography and Paleography at the University of Birmingham in England.

Ancient tongues and pictographic scripts such as Chinese -- with as many as 100,000 written characters -- were even more complex, and the computer industry eventually adopted a new numbering scheme, called Unicode, which has room for more than 1,000,000 characters. That's enough for all the world's languages, alive and dead. Most of the 7,000 languages in use today have been converted to Unicode, largely as a result of the growth of the Internet. ''What has really driven this has been the World Wide Web,'' says Kenneth Whistler, a software engineer at Sybase. ''People using all kinds of different languages are busy putting up Web sites.'' The researchers who gathered at Hopkins must decide how to fit cuneiform's 600 characters into the Unicode system. But it might be too late for Wells -- scholars expect the job will take up to four years.

Michael Stroh
Baltimore Sun
December 17, 2000

Article submitted by Firaz Jatou (Chicago)
 gil/da  ("g" as in "great")

BC (1860)

The Babylonian king, Nur-Adad of Larsa, begins massive reconstruction projects in the cities of Ur, Eridu, and Larsa after the calamitous change in the course of Euphrates river in Bet-Nahrain.  The king reroutes the river and resettles the temporarily displaced population.  He then rebuilds the lost structures and temples.  Nur-Adad's projects were later completed by his son, Sin-Iddinam, who succeeded him.

Die 'Zweite Zwischenzeit' Babyloniens, Edzard

AD (1933)

Captain Alex Ameer of Yonkers, New York is elected as the first president of the Assyrian American National Federation at a meeting held in New Britain, Connecticut.


January 4, 1958:  dies, Joseph Durna; Assyrian activist, lawyer and journalist.  Mr. Durna served as the president of the Assyrian American National Federation between the years 1935 and 1954.

Jan 7

Sen. John J. Nimrod
Hon. Younatan BetKolia
Mr. Praydon Darmo
Mr. Simon Mirza

7 PM
The Assyrian Church of the East Hall (Awana)

Jan 17

Retold in live oral performance by storytellers:
   Fran Hazelton, Fiona Collins and June Peters
7:00 PM
The Kufa Gallery
26 Westbourne Grove
Admission free
For more information phone (020) 7278 3624
e-mail fran@hazelton.greatxscape.net

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.

Jan 25

"Icons & Syriac Inscriptions in the Monastery of the Syrians in Egypt"
by Professor Lucas van Rompay, Duke University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Feb 15

"Frescoes & Syriac Inscriptions in Medieval Churches in Lebanon"
by Dr. Erica Dodd, Victoria University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Mar 29

"Syriac Heritage at the Northern Silk Road:  The Archaological & Epigraphic Evidence of Christianity in Kirghizia"
by Dr. Vassilios Klein, Bonn University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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!



ZINDA Magazine is published every Tuesday.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff.  This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages  require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required.  This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: z_info@zindamagazine.com.

Zinda Magazine
12 South First Street, Suite B11
San Jose, California  95113
Voice    (408) 918-9200
   Fax     (408) 918-9201