Assyrians rally to Sacramento, capitol of the State of California to demand greater role in the future of Iraq.
Assyria National Petition
Assyrians Killed in the Mt. Lebanon Hotel Suicide Bombing
Courtesy of the Associated Press
Assyrians Rally in California Capitol, Demand Stronger Role in Iraq
Courtesy of the Sacramento Bee
More than 100 Assyrians gathered in Sacramento, California to show their support for the U.S. intervention and to call for a stronger Assyrian role in the new Iraqi government. Most people at the rally bused in from Stanislaus County, where about 20,000 Assyrians have settled.
"They've only got half the job done," said Ann-Margaret Yonan of Turlock. "We want our national identity to be recognized as the indigenous people of Iraq."
In San Francisco, meanwhile, hundreds of people marched through the streets Friday morning, chanting and carrying signs to show their opposition to the U.S.-led military action in Iraq. Police arrested 19 protesters, including two men who were taken into custody for assaulting an officer.
The Governing Council of Iraq - a 25-member interim government that reaches across religious, geographic and ethnic lines - includes one Christian Assyrian. But California's Assyrians say that person is not a true spokesman of their people.
"We do not have standing there right now. Absolutely no representation. Nothing," said Sargon Dadesho of Ceres, founder of the Assyrian National Congress.
Assyrians are unhappy that the interim government has established a Kurdish province on their historic land, and they are calling for their own regional autonomy.
Next month, Dadesho is leading a delegation of Assyrians to Washington to meet with policy-makers involved in shaping the Iraqi government.
"It's a critical time," said Dadesho, pointing out that an interim Iraqi Constitution was signed this month and the United States has vowed to turn over the reins of power to Iraqis soon.
The struggle for a homeland comes as many Assyrian Americans cling to the remaining strands of their biblical-era roots, which includes a language similar to Aramaic, spoken in the hit movie "The Passion of The Christ."
"If I don't care, who would care?" asked Sargon Yousip, 24, of Modesto, a U.S.-born pharmacy student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. "It's a nation that's almost extinct."
Lazar Piro: Assyrians Need Louder Voice in Iraq
Couirtesy of the Turlock Journal
(ZNDA: Turlock) Lazar Piro, president of the Assyrian National Council, has a different perspective on the situation in Iraq than what is shown on television news each night.
Piro, who frequently travels to the Middle East for business and personal purposes, told a group of Turlock Rotarians Tuesday that Arab people are upset with Americans because of the government’s support of Israel, but people in Iraq are pleased with the U.S. presence. Even so, Iraqis are concerned about getting their country back in order, he said.
“Most people in the United States don’t exactly understand what is going on over there so it is good to have someone visit the Rotary Club who does,” said Sharon Silva, CEO of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.
Piro was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1942 and came to the United States in 1979 with his wife, Francia. He studied business administration and began his career marketing and selling health products. He speaks English, French, Arabic, and Assyrian. He started Piro Trading International in Turlock during 1984 which specializes in dental and health care (which he exports internationally). Piro is the owner of the local franchise for Strings Italian Cafe and has been a resident of Turlock for 25 years.
He told Rotary members how he thought the U.S. should begin a democratic Iraq and gave an overview on the Middle East.
“Most of the people in Iraq agree that the people of Iraq must establish their own government and control,” Piro said.
“The region is divided into three different areas. The arbitrary boundary lines have been drawn over many years and battles have caused grief, anger and political problems,” Piro said.
As president of the Assyrian National Council, a coalition of 21 religious, social and civic organizations in Stanislaus County, Piro said he wants to promote the social, cultural and spiritual welfare of the Assyrian people in Stanislaus County. Stanislaus is home to over 20,000 Assyrians people who are direct descendants of the indigenous people of Iraq so many of the city’s residents have relatives in Iraq, particularly in Northern Iraq and Baghdad.
He recently wrote a letter to President George W. Bush about the law of administration for Iraq regarding the Assyrian people to be reconsidered as a nation - not a community - in Iraq. A major concern of the council is that the law gives the regional government the territory which includes the northern part of Iraq. This includes Neneves which used to be the capitol of the Assyrian empire but this land was given to the Kurds instead.
“We were the indigenous people of Iraq so we would like to get a voice,” he said.
The Assyrian and Armenian genocide that took place more a hundred years ago, in which many people were murdered because of their beliefs. The Assyrians and Armenians were among the first Christian peoples. In present times they have the right to practice their religion, but this was not always a freedom that they could enjoy. Even though a great number of people were killed, it is not widely known or spoken about.
In the Bible, Mesopotamia was where present-day Iraq is located ,so religion has always been a big part of the culture. The Middle East is the birth place for three major religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Religion is a strong part of the culture in Iraq, so people have a clash of different values and different points of view, he said.
Because there is a mix of religions in the area, democracy in Iraq will take years.
“It is very difficult to put a democratic government in Iraq,” Piro said.
Vatican Creates New Ecclesiastic Province of Raipur in India
Courtesy of the Fides Service
(ZNDA: Vatican) Vatican City (Fides Service) - The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II has, 27 February 2004, created the new Ecclesiastic Province of Raipur, dividing it from the Ecclesiastic Province of Bhopal (India). The new Ecclesiastic Province will comprise the suffragan dioceses of Ambikapur, Jagdalpur of the Syro-Malabar Catholics and Raigarh.
Assyrian Monkey Fantasy Opens in New York
(ZNDA: New York) Assyrian Monkey Fantasy (in two movements) is a new theatrical fantasia written and performed by the Assyrian playwright and theatre director, Assurbanipal Babilla. It's composed of two monologues, "Confessions of a Latter Day Temple Prostitute" and "My Windows in Brooklyn or Welcome to America." The former is about Dora Dewberry, an aging, sex-starved film actress, told in first person by a man in a tuxedo. How much of Dora's lurid story is real and how much does it matter? The second piece is about an Iranian illegal immigrant holed up in a makeshift apartment, terrified of being deported. When a mysterious woman demands entry into his room and begs him to save her marriage, a tragicomedy of biblical proportions ensues.
Babilla is the author of forty plays, many of which were done at the Drama Workshop of Teheran in the 1970s. He fled Iran when the Islamic Revolution came. His most recent play was Something Something Uber Alles , which was a hit at FringeNYC.
Assyrian Monkey Fantasy is directed by Michael Gardner.
575 Metropolitan Avenue
Assyrian National Council in Chicago to Purchase Jewish Synagogue
Congregation Bnai Emunah's property at 9131 Niles Center Road in Skokie (suburban Chicago) is under contract for sale to the Assyrian National Council of Illinois, according to Bnaii Emunah president, Mort Winer.
Winer said the sale of the property should be completed on June 30. Congregation Bnai Emunah, a conservative Jewish synagogue, has been in Skokie for 50 years.
Skokie trustees last year rejected a zoning proposal from the synagogue that would have cleared the way for the construction of multi-family housing on its property.
In order to move ahead with the project, trustees would have had to approve rezoning for the synagogue property at 9131 Niles Center Road from B-1 commercial and R-1 single family residential to R-4 general.
But because trustees turned down the zoning change, they never heard details of the synagogue's site plan, which called for a 44-unit four-story condominium development on its 2-acre property.
Many residents who live near the synagogue raised concerns about excessive traffic in the area.
Although congregation members made a case that the development would fit the neighborhood, Winer this week said he has come to understand the Village Board's decision.
"It was the right decision," he said.
"After I sat down with the mayor and the reasons were explained to me, I now believe the village did the right thing."
Congregation Bnai Emunah once had a membership of 1,200. But the membership has dwindled, Winer said, which has been common for conservative Jewish synagogues in recent times.
The Assyrian National Council of Illinois would not have to go before the Village Board if the use of the Congregation Bnai Emunah building remains the same.
Turlock Assyrian Buys Giant Cross
Courtesy of the Turlock Journal
Mr. Ramin Jacob of Turlock was inspired to purchase a 14-foot sheet-metal crucifix to share with the people of the city.
AACC-Turlock Burlger Founds Unsuited for Parole
Courtesy of the Modesto Bee
(ZNDA: Turlock) Jeffrey Sanchez, serving a life sentence at Solano State Prison in California, was found unsuitable for parole this week. Sanchez appeared at a state Board of Prison Terms hearing March 16 at the prison, according to a statement from the Stanislaus County district attorney's office. Sanchez, 35, and three others committed an armed takeover-style robbery at the Assyrian-American Civic Club in Turlock in 1988. The four men took $648 in cash, jewelry and credit cards from patrons. Sanchez also shot a person in the back while the person was lying on the floor. The wound wasn't fatal. Sanchez had prior convictions dating to 1983. He can be considered for parole again next year.
[Zinda Magazine Stands Corrected! Last week it was mentioned that the Assyrian-owned public transporation company of Ezla Tours was the only transportation company targetted by the Kurdish separatists in Qamishly, Syria. The proprieter of this compnay has confirmed that other companies' offices were also attacked. The attack was on the offices in Hassake and not Qamishly. None of the privately-owned Kurdish transportation companies were attacked by Kurds. A Petrol (gas) station, owned by an Assyrian, was also planned to be attacked, but the action was stopped by the government forces.
Happy Kha b'Neesan!
I wish you and all your readers, as well as all Assyrians a very happy, healthy, and united Assyrian New Year. May the year 6754 be the year that moves Assyrians in establishing a homeland. Khaya Atour![Ms. Yonan hosts a weekly educational program on the AssyriaSat television program. For more information click here.]
Akitu Celebrations Continue in Chicago
Thank you for your nice greetings. At the same time I wish you and the whole staff of your magazine a very happy new year. Here in Chicago, we are preparing for the parade which will take place at the King Sargon Blvd. on Sunday April 4, 2004.
[Zinda: to learn more about the Neesan events in the Chicagoland, click here.]
Why Change the Calendar?
I will not be following the new date that has been conjured up.
[Zinda: It must be noted that the date of April 1 facilitates the conversion of the Assyrian days from/to the Christian calendar - a decision much supported by the Churches and globalization enthusiasts. For an analysis of Zinda Magazine's decision to use March 20/21 or the Vernal Equinox as the beginning of the Assyrian calendar year, please click here. Zinda Magazine praises the Assyrian organizations in California and around the world which celebrated the first of the twelve days of the Akitu Festival and the commencement of the Assyrian year 6754 in proximity to the Vernal Equinox this year. With as many as 20,000 readers in 60 countries, Zinda Magazine remains the most global Assyrian network of information and exchange of ideas.]
Lawlessness Prevails in Iraq
Ken Joseph Lacks Credibility
One thing is bothering me and would like to know the secret behind you promoting Rev. Ken Joseph articles or posts, which are always pessimistic and discouraging to our people and also lack a lot of credibility.
Great job Zinda crew and keep it up!
[Zinda: Views expressed in Zinda Magazine do not necessarily represent those of the Zinda editors, or any of our associated staff. As greater access to the Internet is made possible in Iraq, we expect more varied opinions expressed by the residents of Baghdad and other major cities of Iraq and submitted to our publication.]
Road Map to Assyria
Our rights are in present-day Iraq, yes, but the real battlefield is where we can command an advantage. How can our undersized and fragile army carry the war when they are facing a larger and better-equipped army? We are out-numbered, out-manoeuvred and are at disadvantage. Therefore, to win the war of liberation of the state of Assyria, we must devise plans and prepare the battlefield where we have an advantage. Our mission is to liberate the occupied-Assyria from those that have committed crimes, forced migrations, assassinations, and massacres against our people and nation for thousands of years.
Our mission for the liberation of Assyria from those occupiers will start now and under new rules of engagement. Assyrians must identify their own battlefield and draw the new rules. The battle must be fought where we command our strength, not in the streets of Baghdad, Dohuk, Arbil. Suleimaniya or Nineveh, but rather in all capitals of the world where our people reside. The battlefield must be fought throughout the halls and steps of the United Nations and in the capitals of each country. The battle must be fought with the knowledge and power of international laws, declarations, and covenants, and not with stones and daggers. We are at the age of globalisation and New World Order. We, as a people more so than any other nation on Earth, have become global citizens. As such, let us utilise our global citizenship to work to our advantage. As Americans, Canadians, Swedes, Germans, Australians, French, Italians, etc! ! … we have the rights and powers to appeal the Assyrian cause . This is the battleground which we must command, control, and learn on how to better employ the more sophisticated weapons available to us, in order to gain our homeland back. The citizenship rights afforded to us will and must be applied in a manner which the civilised world will and can understand.
Let us together, reach and agree on this blue print, and call it as you wish, "THE ROAD MAP TO ASSYRIA." The road ahead maybe be long, but let us collectively pave this road so that if not us, the next generation of our nation can accomplish this holy mission.
Let us remember that our nation has survived for almost 6754 years, a nation that lost it's kingdom some 2500 years ago, yet still in existence. This, we must not forget and there might be a divine reason for our existence. Other people and nations have come and gone; yet, we have remained. The purpose maybe beyond our own knowledge and understanding. W! ! e must fulfil that mission.
I call upon all ready, willing, able and equipped with diplomatic weapons of choice (i.e. global citizenship) to join in this new war of liberation, because it is part of the prophecy encumbered upon us and only us to fulfil.
Assyrian Woman in Nigeria Appeals for Help
My dear brothes and sisters: I am greeting you in the name of our Lord and Seviour Jesus Christ!
First let me introduce myself: my name is Maria Jegede. I was born in the former USSR in 1956, to an Assyrian family. My father is Lachini Sargis Dariyaush , born in 1925 and my mother is Lachini Tamara Joriil
In 1977 I graduated from the University of Foreign Languages in Alma-Ata in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The same year I was employed by the TPE Construction company and working as a Russian-English translator
I met a Nigerian engineer by the name of Jegede, who came for the traning and we were married. I have 2 daughters: Cleopatra and Suria.
My husband left us many years ago and was never intrested about our welfare.
Few years ago we desided to go back "home" because we had saffered enough in a strange land among the strangers. For the past 10 years I have not seen an Assyrin face, nor spoken a ward in my language (it makes me so lonely and frastrated) and with years I have understood, that nobody can keep you company, one can't be happy being out of his community.
So w e have desided to go back. I live in Abuja in Nigeria, but the embassy of the Russian Federation is in Lagos ... I went there to ask for the passport of the Russian Federation, because my passport was issued by USSR and there is no such country existing. Russian women advised me to change it to the passport of the Russian Rederation.
Embassy welcomed me and told me that I have to apply for the Russian citizenship by writing letter of appeal to Mr. Putin. And they have charged me money for it, which i have paid.
I was given a cover letter from the Embassy to the Immigration office not to disterb me because my USSR passport is expired....
Reply came from Moscow in few month ... It was stated, that I must produce my birth certificate. I paid extra money and gave them my birth certificate (which my father had send me previously)
My documents were send back to Moscow .....
In 2 months documents arrived... Embassy called me, I went to Lagos , where I was told that my case is a special. That I must prove that I am a former Miss Lachini. To make a long story short I must prove that I am really myself, because my birth certificate where my nationality is written does not contain my photograph..
I have called the embassy several times, appealing to them, because all Russian women got passports and only I am stranded. To go to Lagos is very expensive- economy of the country is very bad.
I am still calling them. Recently I was told by somebody not to worry myself, that I will not be given any passport.. Reason? I am Assyrian (it is in my birth certificate), that we are minorities and on the territory of the former USSR and Russia there is no land belonging to Assyrians, nobody knows such a race. That our grandfathers came there as refugees,during Russian tzar Nikolai.
I understand that I have no country anymore, I cannot claim any contry as my own. I am comming from nowhere. (ana pishli yatumta, be mara)
I have attributed all my problems to the fact that we are people without no country of our own, we are like orphans.. Scaterred about...
I am passing through mental agony , my heart is full of sorrow.
I don't know what step to take. I cannot see future for myself and for my children.
I called my father and spoke to him, explaining everything. The old man was weeping.
He advised me not to worry, that God knows best, that I must try my best and look for Assyrians. That as minority I may get assylum in USA or any other country, where human rights are respected.
I appeal to all of you to look into my case. I will send any documents required. My number is 08023109421.
My love and greetings.
Seminar in London: Christianity in Iraq
DEPT for the STUDY of RELIGIONS
SCHOOL of ORIENTAL and
UNIVERSITY of LONDON
Christianity in Iraq: Synopsis
Do you require disabled access? Yes / No
[Zinda: The day promises to be very exciting, exploring not only the history and archaeological heritage of Christianity in Iraq, but also the modern dimensions - with discussions by representatives of the various Assyrian Churches. Zinda Magazine urges its readers in the United Kingdom and Western Europe to attend this seminar and present an analysis of the discussions presented in the April issues.]
Assyrian Language Classes in Chicago
The Assyrian Academic Society of Chicago in conjunction with Oakton Community College is pleased to announce the introduction of two Assyrian language classes for our community in the Chicago area and suburbs.
There are limited seating for these classes, therefore it is essential that you act quickly and register in advance.
** Credits awarded are adult education credits. These credits are non-transferable and not applicable towards a degree. Enrollment in these classes is limited to adults eighteen years of age or older.
This course is a continuation of Assyrian I. Continue to improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing skills.
Course Name: LSP B02-01
Location: Niles West H.S., 5701 Oakton Ave , Skokie , IL 60076
Duration: 7 Weeks (Once a week)
Class Begins: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 , 7:30-10 pm
Instructor; Mr. Ibrahim
Ref. No. 06728
Learn basic Assyrian vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing skills. Course will incorporate reading, writing, and some speaking practice.
Location: Niles West H.S., 5701 Oakton Ave , Skokie , IL 60076
Duration: 8 Weeks (Once a week)
Class Begins: Thursday, April 08, 2004 , 7:30-10 pm
Instructor; Mr. Ibrahim
Ref. No. 06724
Continuing Education - Registration Information Students can phone Oakton for more information about registration at 847-635-1498.
Note: The Assyrian Academic Society would like to recognize the Assyrian National Foundation for its assistance and support in arranging this class.
Assyrian Language Contest
The Assyrian American Society of Las Vegas (AASLV) is proud to announce that it is conducting its first Assyrian Language Contest. Here are the rules and guidelines of this contest:
Focus: Short story (fiction or non-fiction), book review, essay, and research work.
Language: All entries must be in Assyrian (also known as Syriac with Eastern dialect; Neo Aramaic; Assyrian Aramaic, or Lishana Swadaya) language.
Topics: any topic in Assyrian art, history, science, literature, politics, commerce, and sports at any period.
Length: Not more than 10 pages.
For Manuscript Submissions: Manuscripts should be typed or legibly written. They should be accompanied by a cover letter that includes a brief biography of the author, including publishing history. They should have 1” margin (all sides), and show the name and address of the author. Use standard font, size 12. Do not fax manuscripts. You may e-mail manuscripts or post mail to the addresses listed below. Please provide us with as many means of contact or communication as possible (your address, e-mail, phone number, or fax number as available).
Multiple Submissions: Are not accepted.
Eligibility for participation: Any person who is currently living in Bet-Nahrain (present-day Iraq). The entries will be judged without any regard for the age, gender, race, creed, socio-economic status, and religion.
Deadline to submit: December 31, 2004, at 12:00 a.m. (Pacific time). Entries must be SENT by this time. In case of questions or disputes over an entry's receipt, the time stamp of the e-mail message (or postmark on the hardcopy packages) containing the official entry will determine if the entry meets the deadline.
Minimum number of entries: A minimum of 10 entries must be received by AASLV in order this contest becomes effective. However, AASLV at its own sole discretion may reduce the minimum number of entries.
Assyrian American Society of Las Vegas
You may also e-mail to AASLV@COX.NET
Previously Published Manuscripts: Are not accepted.
Copyright: All materials submitted to AASLV become property of AASLV. In other words, the authors assign the copyright to their material to AASLV who would have the right to publish the material in any manner including on the Internet.
When the winners will be announced?: On February 28, 2005
Prizes: First place will receive $1000.00; second place will receive $500.00; and the third place will receive $250.00. AASLV will make every effort to deliver the payment to the winners; however, the winners are untimely responsible to provide AASLV with the necessary information for delivery of the prize. Prizes will be paid in U.S. currency, or in gold and silver coin when and if mutually agreeable arrangements can be made between contest donors and winners.
Questions: For additional guidance about the contest, Please e-mail us at AASLV@COX.NET or write to the submission address listed above.
May the material be jointly authored? Yes with the understanding that prize will be equally divided between the authors.
Applicable law: The laws of USA and the State of Nevada shall govern the legality of this contest. This contest and its prizes shall be void if there are any federal or Nevada state laws that prohibit such a contest.
Taxes: All taxes associated with the receipt of any prize are the sole responsibility of the winners.
Modifications: AASLV reserves its right to modify these rules and guidelines at any time.
Miscellaneous: Winners may forfeit prizes if AASLV is unable to contact them within 30 days of first-attempted notification, or if after reasonable attempts are made, notification is unsuccessful. In such event, prizes may be awarded to alternate winners. Prizes are not transferable. No substitution of prizes by winners. By submitting their entries, entrants agree to be bound by the terms of these contest rules and by the decisions of AASLV and the judges, which are final non-appeal able and binding on all matters pertaining to this contest. Parent or legal guardian of potential winners under age 18 will be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release within 30 days following the date of the first attempted notification. Winners will by submitting their entries have assigned all rights (including copyrights) in the winning entries to AASLV. Failure to comply may result in forfeiture of prize and award to alternate winners. Winners assume all liability for any injury or damage caused or claimed to be caused by participation in this contest or use or redemption of prizes. AASLV is not responsible for any typographical or other error in any publication concerning the contest, the administration of the contest, or in the announcement of the prizes.
[Zinda: To learn more about the Assyrian American Association of Las Vegas click here.]
To All Past & Present Assyrian Athletic Club Winged Bull Players
The Assyrian Athletic Club in Illinois proudly announces: The First Winged Bull Annual Reunion Dinner & Dance
Thank you and hope to see you there!
An Interview with Roger Matthews
Interview conducted by Gwladys Fouché on March 18 for the Guardian in London.
The illegal digging of archaeological sites has massively increased in Iraq. These places, many of which are very remote, used to be protected by guards paid by the central government, but that system collapsed when the war started. It is very difficult to get concrete information because few people are travelling to these locations, but we know organised gangs are roaming the country. At least with the looting of museums, we knew what was taken because it was recorded, but in this case, artefacts are taken out of the ground and disappear. I think it will be a long time before people start thinking of conducting projects, partly because of security problems.
I now feel ambivalent about the war: I am glad that this terrible regime has gone and that many people are not being tortured and killed every day, and that people are not living under that particular fear. But now it has been replaced by a different kind of fear, which is that of walking in the streets in the evening or fearing that your children are going to be kidnapped. The way change has happened has been much more painful and difficult than a lot of people, including myself, thought. There seems to have been almost no planning about what to do once the regime collapsed - even running basic services has been a problem. It is possible that the situation in Iraq will have to get an awful lot worse before it gets better.
My Iraqi colleagues have had some help in terms of conservation or database work in museums, but the security issue underlies everything, as they cannot do the most basic work if their safety is not guaranteed. It is important to establish whether or not they want international help. They should be allowed to work by themselves if that is what they want.
Iraq's great strength is its people, who are phenomenally cosmopolitan in outlook and long to be integrated in the world community as equals. I just hope above all that they will get that opportunity.
[Zinda: Mr Matthews, pictured above, is a reader in the archaeology of western Asia at University College London and a former director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.]
Three Princesses and a Dress
By Carol Azizian
One look at Sam Jacob, and she was more than a little curious. "He was standing there and I thought, Hmm ... oh my, he's so good looking. I would like to know him better.' "
They exchanged a few words. He'd been in the Army and served in Okinawa during World War II. He was staying in town with his brother for a few months.
The matchmaking gods were at work. As it turns out, Sam was related to her sister's husband. So her sister invited both of them for dinner. This time, they had a longer conversation.
They dated for six months, and then he asked her to marry him. She had fallen in love with a dress in a fashion magazine, but she wanted to add her own touches to it. "I always wanted to look like a princess," she said.
She and her sister (who had moved to Chicago) took the picture to a woman at the Alite Bridal Shoppe in Chicago who designed the ivory satin dress, adding a hoop skirt to make it look more Victorian, a chantilly lace neckline and a very long train. She fashioned a tiara-style crown for the veil.
Viriginia and Sam's wedding, on May 22, 1948, was an elegant affair for 250 people at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago. Dinner cost $3 a plate, and the hotel was $5 per night. They went to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin for their honeymoon.
Flash forward to the 1970s. Virginia and Sam's daughter, Rachel, meets her husband-to-be, Norman Abdella, in biology class at the University of Michigan-Flint. They're both dating other people, so they become good friends.
Later, they strike up a conversation at an Assyrian dance (Rachel's family background is mostly Assyrian), and he asks her on a date. After a year-and-a-half, they decide to marry. She's 24 years old.
All her life, Rachel has seen her mother as a "beautiful, classy and elegant" lady. From time to time, she'd look at her parents' wedding album and admire her mom's dress.
She went shopping for a dress all over Flint, Troy and Birmingham, but nothing could hold a candle to the one her mother had worn.
"I woke up one day and said (to her mother), I want to wear your dress.' She said, Rachel, you want to wear that old dress?' It had been cleaned (after the wedding). My dad had wrapped it in tissue paper and put it in a box."
Rachel, an elementary school librarian in Grand Blanc, tried it on. It was a little small (her mother had weighed 95 pounds when she was married; Rachel was a few pounds heavier).
A seamstress let out the darts in the bust and it fit like a dream. Her mother's tiara had not aged as gently as the dress. Besides, Rachel didn't like it. So she had a "Grace Kelly-style" cap made with sequins and used part of her mother's veil, adding a longer veil on top of it.
Rachel also had the hoop removed from the skirt so it would hang straight. "I was able to add my own touches, but I like the tradition of wearing the dress my mother wore," she said.
"I did feel like a princess," Rachel said. They were married on July 23, 1977, at Our Lady of Lebanon Church with a reception at the IMA Annex.
Rachel's daughter, Andrea, said she knew her "whole life" that she would wear her grandmother's wedding dress someday.
"I'd flip through my mom's wedding album and think how incredible she looked," Andrea said.
She'd had a crush on her husband, Jim Ananich, while they were students at Central High School.
Three years ago, she ran into him at the polls, where her mother and Jim were working. Later, they met again at a retirement party for one of the Central teachers. He asked her out. They dated a year-and-a-half and were married last November.
The day after her engagement, Andrea went to her "nana's house" (grandmother, mother and daughter all live in the same neighborhood) and tried on the dress that she had dreamed of wearing.
"It didn't fit," Andrea said. "I'm taller and bigger than my mom. I was sucking and tucking. I was not happy."
She took the dress to a family friend who does alterations. "She let out four darts, and it was just enough for me," Andrea said.
There were a few other changes too. "She had to cut the netting around the neck because it was choking me. It was gathered with rosettes on the bottom. She took it down so the dress laid flat. She added lace from the bottom of the dress to the sides of (her mother's) veil."
Andrea, an office manager for Sen. James Barcia (D-Bay City) in Lansing, didn't want to carry her train like her mother and grandmother did, so the seamstress bustled it with buttons removed from the neckline.
Will she pass it down to her daughter someday -- if she has one?
"If she doesn't look at me like I'm crazy," Andrea said with a laugh.
[Zinda: Assyrian in Flint, Michigan celebrate the Assyrian New Year 6754. Click here to watch a television clip produced by WJRT-TV Channel 12.]
Shlimon Bet-Shmuel's New CD, Boonie Ba-Boona, Available Online
Boonie Ba-Boona offers the listener a pulsating mixture of orchestral sounds that cover eastern and western instruments. Accompanied by a variety of musicians, Bet-Shmuel offers melodies of hope and love, while enchanting the listener with a mixture of poetry and Assyrian folk.
The enhanced portion of this CD production is a first for the Assyrian music industry. It provides an interactive way for the listener to become apart of the recording process that went into Boonie Ba-Boona.
Pre-Sale availble at AssyrianMarket.com
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