Volume V                    Issue 11
Yaar 3, 6749                                                                              May 3, 1999

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T H I S  W E E K I N  Z E N D A

The Lighthouse The Less Known Assyrian "Patriarch"
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Bombs Dropped on Mosul as Saddam Celebrates Birthday
News Digest Tarzi to be Ordained Chor Opiscopus
Surfs Up "organize the masses to crush such treachery from within it"
Surfers Corner "Living Stones"- Reviewed by Rami Khouri
Message in the Bottle Yausef Cengiz
Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyrian Names Project
Who's Who in Assyrians
Nineveh Newspaper:  April 1999
Suryoyo Online Forum
Akkadian (Ancient Assyrian) Grammar
Joe Daniels:  A 1930's Assyrian "Tar" Player from California
Pump up the Volume Nurse & Hospital
Back to the Future Sharrukinu's New Palace and Syrian Orthodox of India
Literatus Beyond the Sand Castle
This Week in History Botta in Mosul
Bravo Victor Kamber
Calendar of Events Kalu Sulagha in San Jose
Khudra May 1999

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



The term “patriarch” in Assyrian conjures the image of a man robed in a traditional black or red religious garment, walking and speaking slowly as he, with a short-lived smile, blesses his quiet congregation in a crowded Sunday service .  Now, picture a fiery preaching, accompanied by a much vibrant chorus of worshippers and loud music.  Here the sound of organ and drum music has replaced the repetitious liturgical music of “Qadish, Qadish”.  The silent worshippers are no more; imagine them standing, waving their hands, swaying left to right and right to left- weeping, and shouting.  The most common word spoken in this church is not “eishu msheekha” rather “Holy Spirit.”  Are you reminded of a Pentecostal church service?  Then why would we relate an Assyrian "patriarch" to a Pentecostal church service in the Deep South?  To the amazement of most Assyrians the global leader of the largest Pentecostal church is indeed an Assyrian-American--  Reverend Nathaniel Urshan--  head of the United Pentecostal Church International.

From 617 churches listed in 1946, today the UPCI in North America boasts a listing of 3,764 churches, reports a Sunday school attendance of more than 400,000, and has an estimated constituency of at least 600,000.  That is not all.  UPCI is also present in 131 other nations with 10,000 licensed ministers, 16,000 churches, and a foreign constituency of over 1.7 million, making a total worldwide constituency of more than 2.3 million.  The world-wide membership of this church is growing at the rate of 10-15 percent annually. The headquarters of the United Pentecostal Church International is the World Evangelism Center in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri. The basic form of church government is congregational. The local assembly is autonomous and controls its own affairs; the pastor is the leader under Christ.  The national leadership exists to oversee the  ministerial standards, fellowship, and evangelism.

The UPCI members believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and that He was born of the Virgin Mary, that He came to earth as God incarnate, and that He died on the cross and rose from the dead to purchase redemption for all mankind.  They acknowledge the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three manifestations of God. However, they object to the term Trinity because it is not in the Bible; and it can be misunderstood to suggest that God is actually three separate beings.

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine when asked about musical influences in his life, President Clinton said: “I have a lot of friends in Pentecostal services, and a lot of their church music is some of the most awesome music I've ever heard. You just gasp when you hear it.”  Clinton likes this music so much that he asked the UPCI Pentecostals of Alexandria, Louisiana to perform at his 1993 and 1997 Inauguration Day celebrations.

Notably one family has had the greatest influence in the growth of this religious organization in the past sixty years.  These are the Urshans and their story begins with the genocides committed against the Assyrians in the First World War.

Benjamin D. Urshan was born on October 28, 1906 in the village of Abajaloo, near Urmia, Iran.  After surviving three massacres, including the Massacre of 1915, he was taken to an orphanage with the assistance of two British soldiers.  In his autobiography "Survivor : The Life Story of Benjamin Urshan" he explains how during a 22 day, 300 mile death march, about 1/3 of the 150,000 Assyrian refugees died (see last week’s feature article “Seyfo”).  He remembers burying his father as a young boy and vividly describes the great suffering of his people in the first two decades of this century.  He is later found by his step-mother who takes him to the city of Kermanshah, Iran.

After staying in Bombay, India for a year with his brother Andrew, Benjamin is sent to England.  He stays with an English until 1923.  He then travels to the U.S. where he has to camp out for 35 days in Ellis Island (a port of entry in New York where most early immigrants were subjected to customs and health inspections) to receive permission to enter.  Due to the immigration quote the permission is not granted and Benjamin returns to England.  Disappointed but firmly determined to return, he and his brother, Andrew, try again.  Four years later they return to North America and settle in Montreal, Canada where they begin their ministry work throughout Canada and the United States.  In the United States Benjamin meets and marries his wife, Alice.

Benjamin and Andrew pastor several churches in Canada and the United States and serve as missionaries to Iran for about two years. Benjamin's final pastorate was with the Bethel United Pentecostal Church in Albuquerque, where he retired in 1983 after 16 years. After his pastoral retirement, he served on the United Pentecostal Church International Curriculum Committee for 14 years.

In 1934 Andrew assumes the pastorate of a church in New York. In 1948, he resigns the pastorate, and his son, Nathaniel becomes pastor and serves for approximately 1 year. Nathaniel then moves to Indianapolis, and takes the pastorate of Calvary Tabernacle, serving as its pastor for 30 years.

Rev. Benjamin died last year at age 91 on October 21, a resident of Albuquerque/Rio Rancho where he had lived for 32 years.  Three days later his nephew, Nathaniel, officiated his Funeral service.  He is survived by his wife, Alice Anita; daughter, Joy Tschawuschian of Corrales, New Mexico; sons, David of Duluth, Minnesota, and Paul of Orlando, FL; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Rev. Nathaniel Urshan currently serves as the head of the United Pentecostal Church International whose membership may in fact be larger than the combined Chaldean, Syrian, Church of the East, and non-Orthodox Assyrian churches world-wide.


For more information CLICK HERE


The Albuquerque Journal:  October 23, 1998
Charisma Magazine, edited by J. Lee Grady
The United Pentecostal Church International published by Word Aflame Press
"Survivor : The Life Story of Benjamin Urshan" by Benjamin D. Urshan



(ZNAF: Baghdad)   Saddam Hussein marked his 62nd birthday with soccer games and the erection of his life-size statues in Baghdad and Tikrit.  A hundred and fifty Russians, as well as two Armenian football teams, were in Iraq for a sports extravaganza centered at the People's Stadium.  New portraits of the man who wishes to be known as the "modern-day Nebuchadnezzar" and "grandson of Imam Hussein" are being added to the already ubiquitous giant paintings which adorn the capital.

The sanctions-struck people of Iraq also marked Saddam Hussein's day with the unveiling of the  10-million-dollar al-Azim (greatest) dam on a tributary of the Tigris river.  The dam was inaugurated
last Wednesday at 5 p.m. (1300 GMT), marking the very hour of Saddam's birthday in Tikrit.  The structure will irrigate vast tracts of land, help generate electricity and stop the Tigris flooding in Baghdad.

Among other events to celebrate Saddam's birthday were the unveiling of a full-sized statue of the president in a Chaldean church on Baghdad's al-Jumhuriya street.

Saddam has decreed that one new mosque be built and the foundation stone laid for another every year to mark his birthday.  Last week, five new mosques were opened- four in Baghdad, a fifth in
the northern Salaheddin province.  The foundation stone of a new mosque in the northern city of
Mosul was laid in honor of the president shortly after the family of seven was killed last week as the U.S. & British bombers continued their daily destruction of the southern and northern no-fly-zone cities of Iraq.

"With your birth Iraq was reborn and under your leadership it is prospering," reads one of a legion of banners strung around the capital.  "Glory and long life for you, leader," says another.  According to a recent report more than 6,000 Iraqi children perish monthly due to malnutrition and diseases brought about by the economic sanctions imposed after the Gulf War.



(ZNSO:  California)  On 30 May, the Rev. Fr. Joseph Tarzi, Ph.D., Vicar of the St. Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Burbank, California, will be ordained Chor Episcopus by Archbishop H.E. Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese of the Western United States. The ordination will be held at 12 noon on the Sunday of Pentecost at the St. Ephraim's Cathedral, Burbank. Fr. Tarzi has been the vicar of St. Ephraim's since 1986. He has authored and translated numerous articles on theology, history, Syriac Studies, Syriac poetry and literature. The Rev. Tarzi has served on the Advisory Board of the Syrian Orthodox Resources since its inception.

Reprinted from an article in SOCNews which appeared on April 26.


"My thanks to you and to all Zenda Staff, for printing my letter and the letter of Mr.Sarguis in this week issue.  Bravo to you all for  excellent job, for keeping our Assyrian people well informed about the Assyrian  news around the world.  My sincere thanks to Mr. Sarguis for his letter of confidence and for his kind words.   God bless our Assyrian people and God bless the Zenda Staff."

Martin David

"The census in the heartland of Assyria, present day Northern Iraq, or Southern Kurdistan depending on who's interest it serves to call it either, seems to be good means of diversion of attention from the main issue "National Rights to one's rightful Homeland". The advocates of the so called "being realistic" regarding present day status of the Assyrian Nation, resort to using the promotion of negative driving forces that destroy the morale of a nation. Examples of such are, limited ability, limited resources, and rights to/in one's homeland based on number of the members of the rightful owners of the lands presently living on that land.

It could be true that, in the heartland of Assyria, the population of the Assyrians may be as low as the Kurds and the advocates of the Kurdish theory of rights to land based on population, claim it to be. Yet, the kurds and their puppets, seem to cleverly ignore, or attempt to bury the reasons for such a decline in the population of the Assyrians in their Homeland such as Genocide, massacres, forced assimilation, terrorist acts against them, committed by the thieves of their National and Political Rights. Clever means of justifying a robbery, in a world where the powerful advocates Human Rights, yet practices or enforces everything but Human Rights. These advocates of the Kurdish cause, who resort to such cheap tactics, both Assyrians and non-Assyrians, seem to dwell on the promotion of the Assyrian Nation and its political movements as almost extinct. The written reports of these individuals seem to concentrate on the promotion of any negatives they can extract from any situation that involves the Assyrians and the Assyrian Political Movement.

When it comes to the population issue to justify robbing the Assyrians of their homeland, they cleverly sever the northern part of Today's Iraq from the rest of today's Iraq. In other instances, perhaps in obedience to the general consensus they submit to the preservation of the territorial integrity of present day Iraq.

This double standard, that such individuals are using to justify the elimination of the National and Political rights of the Assyrians in their Homeland based on numbers, in an isolated region of today's Iraq, is a criminal act. This act is, and will be a driving force for more Assyrians to pledge their support and loyalty to the lesser of two evils "The Central Government of Today's Iraq".

Many outspoken Kurds are claiming that the Kurds have power, and they advocate that might is right. They forget that the weak, when oppressed, and robbed of his rights, for the sake of preservation of the future possibility of regaining these rights, will stop at nothing, to do so, even if it means making alliance with the devil himself.

The Assyrian Nation, with its limited numbers due to aforementioned reasons, has managed to revive its National Pride in a short period of time. Even though it has not yet managed to form the National Leadership, but sooner or later will produce a sound and dedicated leadership, that will organize the masses to crush such treachery from within it.

The Assyrian Nation, with all its division that have been the result of dwindling of National Pride due to being deprived of national education in the past, is on the road to uniting in the belief in its destiny for freedom and self determination. It will remember its friends and foes, its loyal members and the traitors.

Some may call this a dream, megalomania, or whatever they wish to call it, but history indicates that other nations who were, by far, worse off than the Assyrian Nation is today, have gained power beyond the belief of the rest of the world.

The Assyrians have a history of accomplishments when the opportunity presents itself. Its contributions to mankind cannot be denied even by the worst of ignorant. It has survived as a distinct nation, against all odds, and will survive to regain what belongs to it."

Nenus Younan

"Fatherly Advice to an "Assyrian Youth"--  The letter you published last week under the signature of Sargon Donabed prompts me to offer some clarifications.

About two weeks ago, Zenda published a summary report by an individual named Alexander Sternberg (someone I have neither met nor spoken to). Mr.. Sternberg identifies himself as "a student of social-psychology, specializing in the motivations of peasant movements and the mechanisms of tribal, consent-based decision-making processes (whether democratic or otherwise)." Mr. Donabed, who only reveals "I am an Assyrian youth", has strung together a few adjectives to flail personal insults, without ever specifying what has insensed him. Does this Assyrian youth dispute what has been stated as facts? If so, what are the specific points of the dispute? Or is this a case where the mere restatement of undisputed facts has sent him up?

The tactic of  name-calling and vociferous finger-wagging is unfortunately a  familiar tactic of a handful of hotheads who have embarrassed the responsible Assyrian community in a multitude of venues. The good news is that such ad hominem onslaughts have not succeeded in silencing reasonable dialogue.

To put matters in perspective, the vilified Sternberg was a personal friend of the late Francis Shabo, an elected Assyrian member of the Parliament in Arbil. Sternberg's other contacts, when taken as a whole, reveal him to be an honest broker who empathizes with minority populations. Following Shabo's martyrdom in 1993, and at the request of Masoud Barzani, Mr. Sternberg undertook an independent study focusing on the problems existing among the Assyro-Chaldean population, and on developing recommendations for addressing these. One of the problems he considered was to assess the extent to which Assyrian private lands were wrongfully seized by Kurdish squatters, and what might be done about it. While such concerns are perhaps not too relevant to "Donabed, the Assyrian youth", they are critical to daily life in north Iraq.  Mr. Sternberg's work culminated in a 100-page report at the end of September 1993. It appears that several of Mr. Sternberg's recommendations were in fact implemented, to the benefit of our people, including for example the forcible expulsion of Kurdish squatters on Assyrian private properties.

Confidential, copies of the report were distributed not only to Barzani, but also to the ADM and Bet Nahrain leaderships. If Mr. Donabed (or anyone in his clique) is aware of any Assyrian objections voiced to the 1993 report, he should share this information with the rest of us.

As a footnote to this 1993 report, Mr. Sternberg made some tentative population extrapolations, citing a total of 50,000 Assyro-Chaldeans in north Iraq, a number which later proved to be overly inflated. The issue of minority populations in north Iraq stayed on him mind, and he determined to do further research on it. He therefore set out to make a more accurate head count of the Christians, the Turkomans and the Yezidis in the region. Hence his more recent report.

References to "north Iraq" or (more commonly) "Iraqi Kurdistan", can be somewhat ambiguous, and may mean slightly different areas, such as:

(a) "Kurdistan Autonomous Region," so designated by Baghdad in 1975, but unacceptable to the Kurds because it excludes oil-rich Kirkuk;
(b) The current ceasefire line between Kurdish and Iraqi forces, which resembles but is not identical to the "Kurdistan Autonomous Region";
(c) the "Safe Haven Zone" established by Western allies in 1991, in order to entice hundreds of thousands of refugees back into Iraq from the perilous mountains of the Iraq-Turkey border; and
(d) the "No-Fly Zone", which is the 36th parallel, and which prohibits any Iraqi air activity over approximately half of the so-called "Kurdish Autonomous Region."

In his own words, Sternberg studied the populations in "the Kurdish administered Region as defined by the demarcation line" which separates it from the Iraqi administered part of the North. Certainly this does not mean that Sternberg has made a judgment to exclude the Mosul region, the Kirkuk region, or any other region from the "north Iraq" sector. He is simply focusing on the situation as it actually is, and not as it might be, nor as it ought to be.

Mr. Donabed may also be unaware that in his census-taking project Sternberg received the cooperation of both the Chaldean and the Nestorian clergy. Through them he gained comprehensive access to church birth and death registries, enabling him to develop precise population figures. In case our "Assyrian youth" does not know it, Assyrian leaders in north Iraq consider church birth and death registries as the most authentic and reliable data base for any population figures.

In addition to this unimpeachable source of information, Mr. Sternberg traveled "from village to village, mahal to mahal", usually accompanied by Assyrian or Chaldean representatives. His survey fleshed out the population numbers like no other had done. Mr. Sternberg also added another ten percent to his figures, to account for recent population movements to north Iraq from the Saddam-controlled areas. (If I have a criticism -- and it is a minor one -- it would be that Mr. Sternberg failed to deduct any numbers to account for the Assyrians who have abandoned north Iraq.) According to his exhaustive and focused study, Sternberg was obliged to revise downward his previous estimate of 50,000 Assyrian-Chaldeans. As they now round out, he projects a present-day Christian population of 35,000. About 1,000 of these are Armenians; about 23,000 are self-described "Chaldeans"; and about 10,000 are "Nestorians-Assyrians."

In one segment of his recent report, Mr. Sternberg states that as of Summer 1998 "there were 38,000 Christian/Assyrians of various denominations, and a maximum of 58,000 Turkomans in the area presently administered by the two Kurdish administrations -- out of a total population of 3.7 to 3.9 million".  The difference in these two figures --  35,000 versus 38,000 -- is presumably due to the 10% Sternberg has added to account for new arrivals to the region.

Mr. Sternberg's nomenclature refers to "Chaldeans" and to "Nestorians-Assyrians". I know that this vocabulary distinction is offensive to members of our community in the diaspora, and I am sure it is also vexing to any scholar or researcher (Assyrian or non-Assyrian) who would like to remove ambiguity from their study. But these name references are not invented by Sternberg, and they are terms of identification utilized by his interlocutors themselves.  Surely it is a basic human right (and not our right, nor Sternberg's) to claim any self-identification one chooses, and it would be intellectually dishonest to fly in the face of this.

Mr. Donabed is tormented over my endorsement of Mr. Sternberg's conclusion. In response, I would appreciate the opportunity to provide further explanation by referring to the actual voting returns in the only popular election held in north Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan) in the past decade. First, I would note that the official returns have never included the voter designation of "Assyrian".  The relevant category for us was always "Christian voters". This was pointed out to me with emphasis by a responsible Zowaa (ADM) leader in Dohuk during my visit just a few months following the election. Furthermore, on more than one occasion during my visit to north Iraq, I was told personally by our political leaders that their intensive electoral campaign relied heavily on church registries in the conduct of their campaigns. Finally, it was also pointed out that while 5 of the 105 Parliamentary seats were reserved for the Christians, this had no realistic relation to the actual ratio of the Christian population in north Iraq. Through their negotiating skills, the Zowaa leaders persuaded the Kurds to offer 5 seats to the Christians. This is somewhat similar to the situation in Iran, where Assyrians constitute perhaps a population of 10,000, yet they are assured of one representative in the Majlis. If Mr. Donabed disputes any of these points, he needs to say so.

To help differentiate the real from the imaginary, I submit below the district-by-district tally of the "Christian" vote in the May 1992 election:
For ADM (Zowaa)

The above demonstrates that I did not understate any of our population figures. On the contrary, I must admit my error in overstating the number of Christian voters, and by extension I also overestimated the Assyrian population of the region. The fact is that EVEN IF WE COUNTED EVERY CHRISTIAN VOTE AS AN ASSYRIAN VOTE, a total of 12,054 votes were cast. Zowaa (ADM) received over 6,500 votes, which is the lion's share. But it is significant also that some 3,700 Christian voters cast their ballot for one or the other Kurdish party.

The election returns also show that a total of 982,649 votes (including the Christians) were cast for the choice of Parliament leader (Barzani versus Talabani), while the Kurds separately cast a total of 971,953 votes in the Parliamentary elections.

While this may bring more heartburn to our tormented "Assyrian youth", it would be reasonable for him to consider the ratio of Christian votes (12,504) to that of the Kurds (971,953). Facts are very stubborn things and they just won't go away. Unlike statistics, there is only one version of them. No matter what Donabed may think, it is not seditious to cite them. It is critically important that we always recognize the truth (unpleasant as it might be) and that we act upon that knowledge. Zowaa (ADM) has been a respected player in north Iraq because it is seen by the dominant Kurdish leaders as an honest broker, not a misrepresentor of facts. It is one thing to advocate with skill; it is another to fabricate. The first will earn respect; the second deserves condemnation.

Mr. Donabed was critical of Zenda for publishing my comments (and presumably equally critical of Zenda for publishing Sternberg's earlier ones). But for my part I wish to commend Zenda for its journalistic courage. Mr. Donabed lives in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where once the community of Salem was the symbol of bigotry, hate and deception. But the state went on to blossom as the cradle of American enlightenment. I am hoping that in due course our "Assyrian youth" will experience a similar transformation, so as to become a credit to his adopted homeland as well as to his family heritage."

Francis Sarguis
Santa Barbara

"Serious Dissolution of Assyrian Identity Requires Serious Consideration--- Congratulations to many communities.  Over my past seventeen years living in Ontario-Canada, I have witnessed the establishment of many cultures.  I have witnessed the Chinese community build their institutions, and their businesses.  I have witnessed the tiny Arab community build their institutions and their businesses.  I have witnessed the Portuguese, Italians, Iranians, Philippines, and even the Kurds build their Institutions and their businesses, but I have not witnessed up to now the establishment of true Assyrian institutions nor Assyrian businesses (except United Assyrian Youth of Canada in Toronto).

A student can measure his/her success by his/her final examination results.  A successful community can be measured its success by preserving and development of their identity.  My topic is "the dissolution of Assyrian identity", where I want to point out my experience and congratulation to communities that their people respect and protect their cultures, and each of them consider their culture as a first class, and not as a second class culture.

I drove in an area, where I saw business signs written in English and in Chinese languages, I said to my wife, this area is wonderful, look at their success, they are indeed a unique culture.  I drove in an area and saw signs written in English and Italian, a unique signature of their language.    I did enter businesses that has Chinese signs, and found Chinese people working.  I did enter Italian, Portuguese, Iranians, Philippines and many other businesses and found their business sign written in both the English  and their respective native language.

I was surprised when I went to an area, where I saw signs written in Arabic with English signs.  How could all of the sudden have so many businesses for the Arab community in an area that dominated by Assyrian people?   The shameful is that when I entered many businesses I found their owners are Assyrians and their customers are Assyrians, but their business signs are in English and in Arabic languages, and no Assyrian language sign!

It is shameful to put our culture, our language, our traditions, and our identity to be second class.  I easily can find over a million Assyrians living in Canada, but many are without identity, such as the Lebanese Maronites don't regard them self as Assyrians, and they use Arabic language sign for their businesses.  Added to more shameful, we find Syriac (Syriannes) shop owners, as well the Chaldeans, the Yacobians shop owners use English and Arabic signs in their businesses, and many of their customers are Assyrians.

In the past, the Aramaic language were the official language in the entire Middle East.  The invasion of Islamic forces and the use of their Psychology, were able to bring the Assyrian language, which is the Aramaic language, the language of our Lord Jesus, to its knees.

The solution of preserving our Assyrian language and identity lies on demanding our Assyrian businesses, our churches, and our organizations to use all the means in considering Assyrian language as a first class and not a second class language. If you have a relative that has a business sign in two languages, non Assyrian, request to "Add" Assyrian language in their sign.  It does not cost too much, but the humiliation have been costing Assyrian community more.  If this problem is not corrected fast, soon we will find our Patriarch, and our leaders managed by Saudi Arabians.

If you seek, you shall find, and if you practice you will succeed. Together we can be a million successful business people, and without identity we can be a broken chain of hope. Raise your identity without shame, it is your treasure, don't let it someone else take it from you."

Ashur Simon Malek

"Issue of ZENDA 26th April 99 states that there are 176 Churches in Iran and rights of the religious minorities are fully protected by the constitution and the Christians, including the Assyrians, have their elected representation.

The following day I have received the Barnabas magazine which is issued here in London, and which shares with the suffering Church (persecuted Church) throughout the world. It states: "Iran remains one of the most resolutely Islamic nations in the world. While historically Christian ethnic minorities, such as Armenians, are recognised by the state, the pressure on Protestant Churches is intense. Christians are discriminated against in everyday life, services are monitored by security services, Church leaders are threatened and harassed and several have been killed in recent years. Foreign missionaries are banned.
Yet the Church is growing and an increased openness to the Gospel is reported."

Dr George Habash
United Kingdom

"Did you know that right here, in our Good Ol' US of A, we have three Babylons (New York, Illinois, and Nevada), 1 Assyria in Michigan, and a whopping 9 Ninevehs- two of them in Pennsylvania!  The rest are located in Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, New York, and Kentucky.  (Actually, the one in Kentucky is spelled Ninevah).  And all this time we were looking for Nineveh in Bet-Nahrain!"

Ramin Daniels

Looking for Babylon in Europe and the Oceania?  Not to worry!  There are also Babylons in the Czech Republic and New Zealand.  Next time you decide to vacation in the Solomon Islands, check out snorkeling and wind-surfing in Nineveh. And how about the five Zenda cities in the U.S., and one in each of the following:  China, Japan, Nigeria, and Mozambique.  Let's face it- there may be many Assyria's, Babylons, and Ninevehs- but there is only one Bet-Nahrain.  Oops!  Spoke too soon- there is at least one "Mesopotamia" in each of the following locations:  Ohio (U.S.), Columbia, Greece, Jamaica, Trinidad, and St. Vincent.



A Book Review
"Living Stones, Pilgrimage with the Christians of the Holy Land: A Guide"
by Alison Hilliard and Betty Jane Bailey
Cassell (London), 1999, 132 pp., color photos

Jerusalem is a place of many superlatives and splendid human deeds inspired by faith, and this book is one more example of excellence that emanates from that holy city. This book is unlike any other available today. It is designed, as the authors say in their introduction, as both an introduction to the history, traditions, and buildings of the main church denominations in the city, and as "alternative and more authentic way of exploring Jerusalem and its holy sites."

On both counts, it achieves its aims admirably, repeatedly startling the reader with fascinating facts of church history or traditions while also stimulating a strong desire to visit the many places mentioned in the text. More importantly, it provides a badly needed, factual and non-polemical affirmation of the rich human and spiritual reality of the Christians of Palestine, who maintain a continuous religious tradition going back to the days of Christ. One hopes that a similar book on Muslim traditions might also be produced soon, thereby giving visitors to the Holy City a comprehensive picture of its Christian, Muslim and Jewish dimensions.

This is not a traditional guide book with detailed information and plans and drawings of sites. Rather, it is a general overview of and introduction to the Christian churches that are active in Jerusalem and Palestine, with detailed information on such things as times and places of services, special commemorations and ceremonies, and explanations of the most important traditions that one encounters in the city's Christian shrines.

Here, for example, you can learn more about the role of icons in Orthodox Churches, the symbolism of the Armenian priests' distinctive pointed hood head-dress, the church on the site where Christians first gathered in the decades after Christ's death, the stunning frescoes in the Church of St John the Baptist (probably the oldest in the city), and which monastery to visit if you want to say a prayer for St. Onuphrius, reputed to assist travelers by sea and those having trouble with court cases.

Most people who buy and use this fine little book will also buy a traditional touristic guide that gives detailed information about the many historic and religious sites in Jerusalem and Palestine/Israel (I recommend Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's excellent book for that purpose). In this volume, readers will learn about every denomination and its churches and services, thus allowing for a more carefully planned visit to the holy city and its many spiritual sites. The information provided is just enough to explain basic points of relevance to the visitor and to stimulate the appetite for a visit to the city, while keeping the book small enough to be able to be carried and read during a walk through the city. The section on the icons and candles used in Greek Orthodox services, for example, is typically well written, concise and satisfying. It will forever enhance your visit to any such church.

Some of the most useful information is of the practical variety -- where to find the best religious bookshops, to buy authentic Palestinian handicrafts, to find accommodations in church-owned pilgrims' resthouses, to interact with Palestinian Christians, and to attend church services in a variety of languages (including Aramean, the language spoken by Jesus Christ). Several walking tours are also outlined, with a combination of practical directions, best times of year and day to make the trip, and the spiritual significance of it all. These include the pilgrimage along the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa (do your own trip or join the weekly trip led by the Franciscan monks of Jerusalem every Friday afternoon at 3 pm), a walk down the Mount of Olives, and a Holy Week walk retracing the steps of Jesus' last days.

The bulk of the book is very logically organized into sections on the separate churches, the Garden Tomb and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, "meditative pilgrimages" in Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine/Israel (Bethlehem, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee), and brief sections on other towns and villages in Palestine, such as Gaza, Bir Zeit, and Taybeh, among others. The book finishes with mention and description of some annual celebrations, such as the Christmas and Easter Week festivities, commemorations of the Annunciation in Nazareth, St George's Day celebrations at El Khadr village, and several others. The last section of the book points you to good places to buy locally made handicrafts and souvenirs and to sources of further information on the living Christian communities of the Holy Land.

This book was initially conceived as a project by the Jerusalem Liaison Office of the Middle East Council of Churches, whose director Dr Harry Hagopian offers some information on Palestinian Christians today in his welcome remarks. He rightly makes the point that one of the aims of this book is to stimulate contacts between foreign visitors and the local Christian community, the "living stones who trace their roots to Jesus' disciples and to the Church of the First Pentecost." One of the important but very subtle sub-themes that runs through the book is the idea that the moral dictates of Jesus Christ's life and mission should stimulate visitors to the Holy Land to ponder the suffering, needs and rights of the people who live there today. This idea is poignantly expressed in some of the personal reflections by indigenous church leaders in the section on the Via Dolorosa, where each stop should prompt a pilgrim or visitor to reflect on what happened there in the days of Jesus and on how people today should react to the situation of suffering that many suffer today in the Holy land. This very subtle idea comes through the text here and there, and reminds us that religion is at its best and most relevant when it stimulates people to live better lives and to make better societies -- when it prompts people to consider what they can do to alleviate suffering and injustice and promote righteousness and peace on earth.

The authors of this book are well equipped for their task. Alison Hilliard is Head of Religious Programmes for the BBC World Service and has lived in Jerusalem, while the Rev. Betty Jane Bailey has lived for years in Bethlehem as a representative of the United Church of Christ USA.

The book was produced in collaboration with the Jerusalem Liaison office of the Middle East Council of Churches, and is beautifully illustrated by the color photographs of Garo Galbandian. It was officially launched in a ceremony in Jerusalem this week, and is available in bookshops there. I recommend it without hesitation to people of all faiths. Read it before you next go to Jerusalem, and it will enrich your visit to the city and also expand your appreciation of the human and spiritual heritage that defines that very special place and its remarkable people.



Why did the chicken cross the road? Find out at Yausef Cengiz' personal home page.  He writes "I
am an Assyrian and I live in the Netherlands. I'm 23 years young and single. I have many hobby's: reading, music, volleyball, soccer, tennis. Hope you like my site and have a nice Surf."

Yausef Cengiz' Web Site:  Click Here
Yausef's Email:  yausef@hotmail.com
& His Guestbook:  Click Here


Assyrian Forum
Assyria Web Chat
Nineveh Cafe
Suryoyo Online Forum

Links to Other Assyrian Websites

Assyrian Names Project
Who's Who in Assyrians
Nineveh Newspaper:  April 1999
Suryoyo Online Forum
Akkadian (Ancient Assyrian) Grammar
Joe Daniels:  A 1930's Assyrian "Tar" Player from California


Hospital Nurse:  yasopa d'bet-kreeheh 


BC (720)

Sharukin or Sharru-Kinu (True King) II founds a new capital, Dur Sharrukin (now Khorsabad) a short distance north-east of Nineveh and builds a great palace where he installs figures on a huge scale.  His predecessor, Sennacherib, moves the capital to Nineveh and builds himself a new palace which he calls the "palace without a rival."

The common Assyrian name Sargon is the Greek form of Sharru-Kin (Sarokin >> Sargin >> Sargon).  It became a popular household name in the 1980's with the introduction of the computer chess game, SARGON.

Ancient Near Eastern Art, Collon

AD (16th Century)

When the Portuguese missionaries arrived in India the Syrian/Assyrian Christian community numbered around 30,000 families.  In 1599 they were forced to unite with the Church of Rome (Synod of Diamper) but shortly after the expulsion of the Portuguese by the Dutch, they broke their allegiance to Vatican and received a bishop from the Syrian Orthodox Church.

The Eclipse of Christianity in Asia, Browne



Mildly I use to descry myself
in that ocean bed
and my sole wrapped
between its reef
all those years
as if it was just the other day
when I stood near that sand castle
and listened to the roar of the sea
a Gypsy
playing in my ears
the sounds of those strings
a joy to the ill-hearted for the homeland
I will not endure
in a world of deception and betrayal
I breakthrough all those walls of mankind's creation
they crumble
as they have never existed
and the gates
for the conqueror of loyalty
open their arms
to reveal the beauty of a rainbow
beyond that sand castle

an old woman,
a child,
and a new city from a distance
rises from the rubbles
the Eagle's nest
Nineveh, forever...

Fred Aprim

For more of Fred Aprim's poetry CLICK HERE


May 4, 1844:  The French excavator Paul Emile Botta carries a fresh archeological expedition in Mosul.  In 1840 he was appointed French consul in Mosul.  Two years later he began his first excavation in Mosul (ancient Nineveh) and found no important discoveries.  By 1855 he had completed the discovery of the magnificent remains of Dur-Sharukin (see BACK TO THE FUTURE).



One of the most well-known political insiders and analysts in Washington and an influential lobbyist to Congress, the White House, and the Capital's VIPs is Victor Kamber, a full-blooded Assyrian originally from Chicago.

Victor Kamber, president of The Kamber Group, has built an outstanding record of achievement in the fields of public affairs, politics and labor relations. Kamber founded The Kamber Group in 1980 with a staff of three people, and has since built it into one of the largest independently-owned communications consulting and public relations firms in the United States.  Today TKG employs over 100 experts around the world.

Prior to starting TKG, Kamber served as assistant to the president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and director of the AFL-CIO Task Force on Labor Law Reform. He also was administrative assistant to Rep. Seymour Halpern (R/N.Y.)

Kamber attended public schools in Chicago.  He holds a J.D. from American University and L.L.M with highest honors from George Washington University.  He received an M.A. with honors in Communication from the University of New Mexico, and a B.A. from the University of Illinois.

Kamber is a prodigious writer. He is the author of Giving Up on Democracy: Why Term Limits Are Bad for America (1995, Regnery Publishing), the first book ever published that makes the case against term limits. He is co-author, with Brad O'Leary, of Are You a Conservative or a Liberal? (1996, Boru Books), a book that helps readers learn where they fit on the American political spectrum. Kamber's frequent articles and opinion pieces on contemporary American issues appear regularly in newspapers around the country, and he is a frequent guest on national and local radio and television commentary and panel debate shows.

He co-authors The O'Leary-Kamber Report, a national political newsletter, and co-hosts a national weekly radio show of the same name that airs on the NBC Radio Network.  Kamber company's official newsletter is called "Blah, Blah, Blah!" - that is "all the news fit to spin."

He serves on the boards of directors for Food and Friends, which provides meals for homebound people with AIDS and the Franklin National Bank of Washington, D.C.

Victor Kamber is energetic, persistent, articulate, affable, has a terrific sense of humor, plus a dynamic speaking style.    Mr. Kamber, quite proud of his Assyrian heritage, is an excellent role model for our aspiring public servants and political movers and shakers.


Thru May 5

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

May 8

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

May 15

Assyrian American Association of San Jose
Saratoga Springs Park
Entertainer:  Robin Hawil
Kabob BBQ Lunch
From 10:00 am
Admission:  $5 per adult, $3 for children over 6 years

May 27-31
May 29
A C N C  '99

The Fifth Assyrian Community Networking Conference
Double Tree Hotel 
10:30 AM to 2:00 PM 
Organized by: Nineveh On-Line (www.nineveh.com)
Click Here

Jun 18

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

Sep 1-6 

Sponsored by the Assyrian-American National Federation

Jan 28,

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

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

Feast of St. James
Memorial of Mar Addai the Apostle
Commemoration of Mar Giwargis, Mar Sargis, Mar Bacus
Feast of St. John, the Evangelist
Commemoration of Mar Addai (Thaddaeus)
Feast of St. Simon, the Disciple
 The Holy Feast of Ascension
Intercession of St. Mary for Crops
 Golden Friday

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


 Northern Illinois University

This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order

 Jacklin Bejan
 Calendar of Events
Dr. Zaineb Istrabadi 
New York
Surfers Corner
Firas Jatou
Assyrian Surfing Posts
 Paul D. Newey

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