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VOL. 8 ISSUE V

METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY JUNE 2011 $

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Catholic Conversions One on One with Rep. Gary Peters

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they

now? Catching up with community newsmakers

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JUNE 2011

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CHALDEAN NEWS 5


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CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011


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CHALDEAN NEWS 7


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CONTENTS

Mar Bawai Soro continues to advocate unity between the Assyrian and Chaldean churches. See page 28.

THE CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

VOLUME 8 ISSUE V

on the cover

24 Where Are They Now? By Joyce Wiswell

Catching up with newsmakers

28

features 30

Powerful Poets By Vanessa Denha Garmo

Sounds of the Soul has third outing

32

Celebrating Culture By Crystal Kassab Jabiro

Artists and performers keep traditions alive

30

44

departments

34

The Chaldean Festival A to Z

36

Chaldean on the Street By Anthony Samona

How would you revitalize Detroit? 10 12

From the Editor Guest Column Fathers, don’t let your sons grow up to be thugs

Never a dull moment for case workers

16 Bulletin Board

42

22 Religion Arts and Entertainment

Local Muslims are baptized by Fr. Sameem

42

Baptisms a blessing to behold

Way Out West: Chaldeans pursue musical careers Economics and Enterprise

Guest Column By Suzy Mansour

By Omar Binno

50

Catholic Conversions By Vanessa Denha Garmo

Chai Time

20 halhole 48

A Day in the Life of RAST By Joyce Wiswell

14 Noteworthy 18

38

By Yousif Oraha

44 Blind Justice?

By Joyce Wiswell

By Vanessa Denha Garmo

Hurricane Grill: A storm of flavor

Visually impaired man fights for law school

52 One-on-One By Mike Sarafa

Congressman Gary Peters: Advocating for refugees 54 Classifieds

46

‘Not Worth It’ By Ann Esshaki

Panel tackles teen drug use

56 events Mother of God Fashion Show Chaldean Voice Anniversary Party JUNE 2011

CHALDEAN NEWS 9


from the EDITOR

Published By

Wondering about the world around us

The Chaldean News, LLC

Editorial Editor in Chief

Vanessa Denha-Garmo

O

what Fr. Sameem is up to, this humble I cried that entire summer ver the years, we priest who is rapidly garnering the atthinking I would never find have covered huntention of a rock star. a friend like Amy again. We dreds of stories about Years from now, I will want to wrote letters to each other a variety of people in the comknow if Angelo Binno ever was able for several years. At the age munity who have engaged us, to attend law school and practice civil of 19, we lost touch. Howevcaptivated us, amused us, afrights law. er, I never stopped thinking fected us, compelled us, who Years from now, I will want to know about her. have been striking, impresif the California and Arizona musicians I made some attempts to sive, bold, daring, delightful we feature in this issue ever made it find her but in my late 30s and enchanting, and who will Vanessa to stardom and reaped the rewards of I figured if I was meant to not be forgotten. hard work. Over the years, we have denha-garmo know her again, I would find No one really knows what lies wondered what happened to editor in chief Amy. I was not the only one co-publisher ahead. Despite the Baptist preacher’s wondering what happened to some of those people whose predictions of the world ending on that little girl from Holy Trinstories we remembered May 21 being wrong, I might wonder ity Catholic School in El Cajon. Amy’s most. Where are they now? You have about him years from now. family moved to Oregon a couple of probably inquired about some of the same people. In this issue, we bring you an update on 12 of Facebook has been a tool I have used in recent these people. Facebook has been a tool years to inquire about people I have lost touch I have used in recent years to inquire about people I have lost with over the years. Even though I may not be touch with over the years. Even though I may not be in conin contact with them doesn’t mean I haven’t tact with them doesn’t mean I haven’t wondered what has bewondered what has become of them. come of them. When I was 6 years old I’m not sure what we will be covyears after my family moved to MichiI met a fellow classmate on the first ering next month, let alone next year, gan. My fellow Chaldean friend from day of school. I remember this petite or 10 years from now, but I do know California — with whom I still stay in little girl with milk chocolate-colored, that the stories we bring you today are touch — occasionally inquired about poker-straight hair and bold eyes to those about our community, what we Amy, asking me if I ever found her. match timidly walking up to me as I are doing, and how we are making a This year I did — on Facebook. clung onto my father’s hand. We lived difference. I was so excited to catch up with in California at the time. It was a hot, What we will cover in the future? I her. I couldn’t wait to tell my friend sunny morning standing outside of Ms. can only wonder! from California that I had found her. Ash’s first-grade classroom. Amy apThe two also became friends on Faceproached and asked, “Will you be my book and reconnected. friend?” The stories we write today may be I remember looking up at my dad updated years from now. I am sure I in bewilderment. My dad smiled, let will want to know whatever came of go of my hand and nudged me by the the two families that transformed their shoulder closer to Amy. I said, “Sure.” Alaha Imid Koullen faith and life from that of Muslims to For the next two years, we were best (God Be With Us All) followers of Christ. friends. At the end of second grade, Vanessa Denha-Garmo Years from now, I will want to know my family moved back to Michigan. vdenha@chaldeannews.com

managing Editor

Joyce Wiswell Contributing Writers

Omar Binno Iklas Bashi Ann Esshaki Crystal Kassab Jabiro Suzy Mansour Weam Namou Yousif Oraha Anthony Samona Mike Sarafa Sister Mary Teresa proofreader

Valerie Cholagh

art & production creative director

Alex Lumelsky with SKY Creative graphic designers

Zina Lumelsky with SKY Creative Joseph Sesi Photographers

Nora Bahrou Downs David Reed

operations Interlink Media

director of operations

Paul Alraihani circulation

Paul Alraihani CLASSIFIEDS

Joyce Wiswell

sales

Interlink Media sales representativeS

Interlink Media Lisa Kalou Lamya Kory managers

Vanessa Denha-Garmo Martin Manna Michael Sarafa subscriptions: $25 per year The Chaldean News 29850 Northwestern Highway, Suite 250 Southfield, MI 48034 www.chaldeannews.com Phone: (248) 996-8360 Publication: The Chaldean News (P-6); Published monthly; Issue Date: June 2011 Subscriptions: 12 months, $25. Publication Address: 29850 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 250, Southfield, MI 48034; Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rates is Pending at Farmington Hills Post Office Postmaster: Send address changes to “The Chaldean News 29850 Northwestern Highway, Suite 250, Southfield, MI 48034”

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CHALDEAN NEWS 11 5/18/11 8:51 AM


GUEST column

Fathers, don’t let your sons grow up to be thugs

T

sion playing basketball and he term “thug life,” acfootball with the other Chalcording to UrbanDictiondean boys in the neighborary.com, is referred to as hood. Although we were all “the opposite of someone havunique in our own way, one ing all he needs to succeed. thing we all shared was the Thug life is when you have fact that our fathers were abnothing, and succeed, when sent from our daily lives. This you have overcome all obstawas very similar to the thoucles to reach your aim.” This sands of African-American definition might surprise some Yousif Oraha children who had no fathers as the more reputable Dictionspecial to the growing up. ary.com describes a thug as “a At 14 years old, I learned cruel or vicious ruffian, robber chaldean news how to properly clean and or murderer.” Nonetheless, it start a hookah, how to play poker, is undeniable that these terms are comwhich sports games to bet on (one monly associated with the behavior of of the other kids knew a bookie), and young men in the Chaldean community. that Corona tasted much better than This is not meant to be pointing finBudweiser. Being the youngest in the gers at one side or another, but more group, I was introduced into a world of an explanation through the eyes of that unfortunately many of these other a young Chaldean man as to how this boys never grew out of. When the othlifestyle has integrated from the hip-hop er kids’ poor mothers would call them movement born in the ghettos and its and demand they came home because journey into the affluent and prospershe had found a pack of Newports in ous Birmingham community. their shorts, they would yell back and As a 13-year-old boy in Farmington tell her, “I’m staying out with my boys Hills, the average day consisted of runtonight! I’m not coming home!” The ning around the streets of the subdivi-

12

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

mother would then proceed to threaten to call his father, but she never would since he was probably too busy working at the store trying to earn a better life for his wife and children. Today, the same street life for many of these old friends is more advanced as the hookah has been replaced with the “blunts” (marijuana), the $10 poker game is now the $300 poker tournament, and so on. While their mothers were drinking chai and on the phone gossiping about how short that girl’s dress was at the wedding, her son was becoming a lifelong gambler, pothead and a regular at the strip clubs on Eight Mile. When the husbands came home, they would plead that they were too tired to fight with the kids and needed sleep. When understanding this common occurrence of many boys in uppermiddleclass cities in the suburbs, it is not shocking to me that these thugs are sprouting around communities such as Birmingham. Now instead of playing the blame game, let us try and prevent this behavior from occurring with the youth we have today.

I am pleading to mainly the fathers when I say that you need to be active in your sons’ everyday lives. This comes with being open-minded and being able to let your son talk to you about everything that teenagers face today. Obviously at first it might be hard to build a best friend-like relationship with your son if you have been absent for most of his childhood, but it is better late then never. You can start by talking to him about the problems you have faced as a teenager. By speaking freely with him, he will eventually do the same in return. Instead of handing him a $50 bill and telling him to have fun, keep that money and go out with him. It might sound cheesy or even be weird at first, but just hanging out and spending some alone time will translate into a better foundation for young and troubled Chaldean teens to grow into successful men. Yousif Oraha, 18, plans to attend Michigan State University in the fall and one day become a criminal defense lawyer.


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CHALDEAN NEWS 13


Photo by Hadi Mizban/AP

noteworthy

Fleeing Violence in Syria, Iraqis Return Home It’s easy to identify the Iraqis fleeing the violent uprising in Syria as they arrive by bus in Baghdad. They’re the ones carrying a sad array of worldly possessions: blankets and mattresses tied with cord; TVs and curtain rods; boxes once filled with food from the U.N.’s refugee agency now packed with clothes and baby toys. “It is better to die in our own country than to die abroad,” said Zeena Ibrahim, a 33-year-old pregnant mother of two. She returned with her husband from Damascus, where they have lived since 2006. Her husband used to be in the Iraqi army, and after receiving repeated threats and attending funerals almost daily for fellow soldiers, the couple decided to flee to the safety of Syria. Now that haven is gone. And as uprisings and revolutions sweep the Middle East, many Iraqis are beginning to return home. It is a development that says just as much about the improving security in Iraq as it does about the deteriorating conditions in countries that used to be stable. More than 900 people have been killed in Syria as the regime of President Bashar Assad has cracked down on a popular uprising that began in March. Although Iraq still has its share of bombings and shootings, it is nothing compared with 2006 or 2007, when bombings were a daily occurrence and death squads tortured people with electric drills. “No doubt Iraq’s situation now is better than the situation in several countries in the region and this has encouraged some Iraqis to return to their country and enjoy some peace,’’ said Salam al-Khafaji, Iraq’s deputy migration minister. How many will come home remains to be seen and is likely dependent on just how bad things get in the region, especially in neighboring Syria where many Iraqis had fled. The movement is raising concern among Iraqis about how the newcomers will affect the country’s economy and still shaky relations between Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq has seen waves of outward migration beginning

Petition Supports Nineveh Plain

A petition for the Nineveh Plain Province Solution is circulating via the Internet. Supporters are seeking language from the U.S. government to show support of Iraqi minority rights in the 2010 appropriations bill. The cost of relocating the 500,000 residents of the Nineveh Plain would be $8.25 billion, advocates say.  This proposed solution costs $128 million and will give the residents a hospital, university, running water, electricity, and so on.  The plan also calls for: 14

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

Tasty Treats

Iraqi refugees who have just returned from Syria unload their luggage in Baghdad.

with the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 and continuing through the sanctions of the 1990s. There was a brief period after the U.S. invasion when Iraqis came home, but that quickly changed when the bombings and killings began. The International Organization for Migration estimates that about 2 million Iraqis are in neighboring states. Some are in Jordan, but most live in Syria, which until 2008 allowed Iraqis to enter without visas. Al-Khafaji said the ministry does not have numbers on people returning from Syria. But anecdotal evidence at the vacant lot where the buses arrive from Syria suggests the beginning of what could be an exodus if the situation there deteriorates further. Buses pull in after the roughly 10-hour overnight journey from Damascus to Baghdad. Before the uprising began, about 12-15 buses traveled between Baghdad and Damascus each day. Now about 25-30 buses make the daily trip. Some returning Iraqis report fighting in their neighborhoods in Syria, with police everywhere. Others describe how Iraqis are being targeted. According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, 3,040 people returned to Iraq in January, 3,250 in February and 4,570 in March. That’s a jump from the 2,220 who returned home in December. With the exception of a jump in Christian families fleeing their homes after attacks on Christians, statistics from the IOM suggest few families are fleeing their Iraqi homes now. Some are returning from Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Iraq’s Migration Ministry says 2,250 have come back from Egypt since the protests began there in January. The government evacuated 383 people from Libya and 261 were evacuated from Yemen. Returnees are supposed to register with the ministry, but most go directly to family members who help them find a place to stay, meaning statistics are incomplete. While the Iraqi security situation has improved dramatically, the economy has not. Many Iraqis abroad left jobs behind and have little prospect for finding a new one in a country where unemployment can sometimes go as high as 30 percent. Iraqi officials seem to be preparing for even more returnees. Government officials had visited Libya before the uprising to encourage Iraqis there to return home, saying their country needed doctors, lawyers and professors. Iraq has given returning citizens 300,000 Iraqi dinars — about $250 — and there have been vague promises to find them government jobs and let students complete their degrees. So far, those promises have failed to materialize.

• Governance: Support for community dialogue and empowerment as well as parliamentary consideration of the Nineveh Plain Province ($3 million requested). • Economic Development: Support for development of a university ($36 million), hospital ($42 million), and basic infrastructure development ($47 million) in the Nineveh Plain. • Security: Increase Nineveh Plain Police Force to 5,000 with replacement of all officers not from the Nineveh Plain (costs borne by Government of Iraq). Total cost: $128 million. To date, the U.S. has spent $805.5 billion on Iraq, advocates say,

– Associated Press

and of that amount, only about $35 million has been exclusively targeted to minorities of the Nineveh Plain.  Learn more and sign the petition at http://aancoalition.rallycongress. com/4321/nineveh-plain-provincesolution.

Calling All Troops

For the second year, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will offer free general museum admission to active military personnel and their families (military ID holder and five immediate family members) through Labor Day as part of the Blue Star Museums program. Learn more at www.dia.org.

Samira Cholagh debuted her new cookbook, A Baking Journey, at a party in honor of the Adopt-a-Refugee refugee program on May 24. More than 300 people nibbled on homemade goodies prepared by the chef herself at Shenandoah Country Club. Professional performer Majid Kakka donated his musical talents to help raise money for the Chaldean Federation of American program to help Iraqi refugees.

Samira Cholagh looks over her book with guest Theresa Migdal.

Beware of Fake Insurance The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) is warning Detroit-area drivers that they may have unknowingly purchased fraudulent automobile insurance certificates from an entity claiming to be a Michigan-licensed insurance agency named Ethos Insurance (Ethos). An OFIR investigation found that Ethos and Don Diamond, a licensed insurance agent, were selling bogus policies purporting to have coverage through legitimate insurance companies. OFIR ordered Diamond, Ethos Insurance-Michigan, Ethos Insurance Group and Ethos Mutual Insurance Company to cease and desist from conducting unlicensed and fraudulent insurance activity. “Detroit drivers who purchased auto policies from Ethos or Don Diamond need to buy legitimate coverage immediately,” OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton said in a statement. “Right now they’re driving without insurance.” Drivers are urged to contact OFIR tollfree at (877) 999-6442 if they believe they may have bought a fraudulent policy.

People

Elliott Attisha is not just a pediatrician, he’s a photography enthusiast. Five of his pieces were selected for the biennial photo exhibit by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions. “The goal is to show how important health care if for children,” said Attisha, who works at Henry Ford Health System. “This was a way to bring my medicine and photography together.” The traveling exhibit was on display at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. Randall A. Denha of Denha & Associates in Birmingham has been named by Michigan Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in Michigan for 2011.


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CHALDEAN NEWS 15


Community Bulletin Board

A Cut Above

Mr. Ambassador s most famous singer, returned to Iraq ador

in q’ ss Ira ba r, hi Am ll Sa Kadim almed a Goodwi s abroad to be na Goodwill May after 14 year nd, UNICEF. As a fu n’s re ild ch ns tio ols. “My message for the United Na villages and scho t ec sp in ining ll wi he ... who are the sh Ambassador, care of children ke ta ent to sp s is s ha d ial fic an to Iraqi of q in 1997 ab id. Al-Sahir left Ira Ar sa h he ug ” ro q, th Ira g lin of future ing and trave rk wo en th tes. ira ce sin Em ited Arab most of his time banon, and the Un Le t, yp Eg as ch countries su

Muscleman

Dominic Azad Danno took first in the Teen Class and fourth in the Ligh t Heavyweight Class at the recent Michigan Novice competition at the Redford Theatre. Danno, 19, is a personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness in Shelby Township. He lives in Mac omb.

16

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

Hairstylist Souhayla Denha turned her lifelong dream into reality on May 24 when she opened Top Models salon & boutique in the Sugar Tree Shopping Center in West Bloomfield. The salon offers complete beauty treatments and unique jewelry, scarves, evening bags and other accessories, including items for men. Denha, a professional hair stylist for 23 years, plans to employ 20 people in the new shop.

oms No. 1 M of Sacred Heart hurch mbers

Me lic C n Catho quet Chaldea t Bellagio Ban a d gathere y 8 to celebrate Ma evening s Hall on ay. The D s r’ , raffle e Moth singers e re th d oms. include all the m r fo s e and ros

Have an item for the Bulletin Board? Send it to Chaldean News, 29850 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48034, or e-mail info@chaldeannews.com.


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CHAI time

chaldeans conNecting [Wednesday, June 1] Graduation: The Chaldean Federation of America and the Chaldean American Student Association present the 29th Annual Chaldean Commencement ceremony. 6 p.m., Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield. (248) 996-8384 or rula@chaldeanfederation.org.  [Monday, June 6] Food: Nutritionist Gail Posner, RD, MS, leads an informative tour through the grocery store with tips on nutrition and health claims. 7-8 p.m. Hiller’s West Bloomfield (15 Mile and Orchard Lake). The tour is repeated on Tuesday, June 7, 7-8 p.m., at Hillers Plymouth (Five Mile and Haggerty). Fee is $20 and reservations are required. GailPosner.com or  (248) 855-4558. [Wednesday, June 8] Fundraiser: Chaldean community outreach event raises election funds for Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. 5:30-8:30 p.m., 17th Street Bar and Grill, 3905 17 Mile Road, Sterling Heights. For tickets, call (586) 405-0805.

community events in and around metro detroit JUNE 2011

[Wednesday, June 8] Benefit: Men Who Cook event features male employees from Henry Ford Health System and other companies across metro Detroit showing off their culinary skills. Among the entertainment is the band Dr. Detroit, which features Mazzin Najor, Ron Kattoo, Gregory Olds, Amit Bhan and Keith Krasinski. Tickets are $20-$150. Proceeds benefit medical services for the needy. 5-8 p.m., Henry Ford Hospital tennis courts, Detroit. (313) 874-6616. [Thursday, June 9] Birds: Evening in the Gardens – Creating Backyard Bird Habitats is the topic of a workshop by Tim Nowicki, naturalist for Oakland County Parks. He will teach basic steps to developing a backyard habitat and ideas on birdwatching equipment, books and resources.  Bring binoculars. Fee is $20. 6:30 p.m., MSU Extension Tollgate Education Center, 28115 Meadowbrook Road in Novi. (248) 858-0887 or msue. msu.edu/oakland. [Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12] Chaldean Festival: Rides, games, food,

music and more at the Sixth Annual Chaldean Festival at Southfield’s Civic Center (Evergreen Road). Proceeds benefit the Chaldean Community Foundation. www.chaldeanchamber.com. [Sunday, June 12] Party: Channel 95.5’s “My Cuzin’s Radio Show” celebrates its one-year anniversary at Suraya inside Regency Manor in Southfield from 4-10 p.m. with a live broadcast from 5-7 p.m. as well as prizes, entertainment and food all night long. Admission is free but you must be on the guest list by contacting reneemurad@yahoo.com or (248) 697-1473

[Thursday, June 23] Golf: Eighth Annual Golf Outing benefits the Chaldean Community Foundation. The event at Shenandoah Country Club includes 18 holes, contests, a hole-in-one car giveaway, cigars, cocktails, dinner and a live auction. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the gunshot scramble is at noon. (248) 996-8340 or lisa.kalou@chaldeanfoundation.org.

[Thursday, June 23 – Sunday, June 26] Festival: The Fifth Annual River Days takes place along the Detroit Riverfront from the Renaissance Center [Friday, June 17 – Sunday, June 19] to Milliken State Park. Activities inNASCAR: NASCAR Weekend include tall ships, jet-ski demos, riverShaouni, cludes lots of races for car fans Dawn at boat tours, liveAgent music, sand sculpW. South Blvd.kids activities and the Michigan International Speedway, 89tures, bike tours, Brooklyn in the Irish Hills area. www. food. MI Admission Troy, 48085 is $3 and benefits MISpeedway.com. the248-879-8901 Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. Bus: www.RiverDays.com. dawn.shaouni.r5ec@statefarm.com [Sunday, June 19] Picnic: St. George Chaldean Cath[Monday, June 27] olic Church celebrates its annual Fireworks: Estimated start time is picnic with games, activities, enter10:06 p.m. for the 53th annual firetainment and food at the Knights of works, presented by Target at Detroit’s Columbus Park. Hart Plaza. www.The Parade.org.

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Dawn Shaouni, Agent 89 W. South Blvd. Troy, MI 48085 Bus: 248-879-8901 dawn.shaouni.r5ec@statefarm.com

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Dawn Shaouni, Shaouni, Agent Dawn Agent DawnShaouni, Shaouni,Agent Agent 89 W. South Blvd. South Blvd. SouthBlvd. Blvd. 8989 W.W.South Troy, MI 48085 MI 48085 Troy, MI 48085 Troy,248-879-8901 MI 48085 Bus: Bus: 248-879-8901 Bus: 248-879-8901 Bus: 248-879-8901 dawn.shaouni.r5ec@statefarm.com dawn@dawnshaouni.com dawn.shaouni.r5ec@statefarm.com dawn@dawnshaouni.com

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JUNE 2011

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CHALDEAN NEWS 19


HALHOLE!

[Births]

Blake Sean

A baby sent from Heaven above, from God to us a gift of love, from angels’ whispers we’ve been told, he is the treasure in life to behold. Our family has grown by two feet. We welcome with love, Blake Sean Zeer. He was born at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak on April 23, 2011 weighing 8 lbs., 4 oz. and measuring 21 inches. Proud parents are Sean & Candice Zeer and big sister is Mariah Ava.  Blake is the third grandchild to Farouk & Nidhal Zeer and the fourth for Isam & Violet Yousif.

Blake Sean

Nicholas

Our ultimate joy and blessing from God, Nicholas Gasso, was born on December 5, 2010, at 10:10 p.m. weighing 8 lbs., 7 oz. and measuring in at 21.5 inches long. He belongs to proud first-time parents Tommy & Evonne Gasso and is the first grandchild of Thamer & Lamia Gasso and Ibrahim & Mithal Mirza. The godfather is Steven Gasso.

Nicholas

Silas Christopher

Christopher & Madonna Arabo joyfully announce the birth of their first baby boy, Silas Christopher. Silas Christopher was born on April 7, 2011, at 10:04 p.m. weighing 6 lbs., 8 oz. and measuring 18 inches long.  He is the first grandchild for Salah & Samira Arabo and Mike & Riadah Awdish.  May God bless him always.

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CHALDEAN NEWS 21


religion

Recently deceased Community members

places of prayer

chaldean churches in and around metro detroit

THE DIOCESE OF ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE IN THE UNITED STATES St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese 25603 Berg Road, Southfield, MI 48033; (248) 351-0440 Mar (Bishop) Ibrahim N. Ibrahim www.chaldeandiocese.org HOLY MARTYRS CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 43700 Merrill, Sterling Heights, MI 48312; (586) 803-3114 Rector: Rev. Manuel Boji Parochial Vicar: Rev. Ayad Khanjaro Mass Schedule: Weekdays, 9 a.m. in Chaldean; Saturday, 5 p.m. in English; Sunday: 9 a.m. in Chaldean and Arabic, 10:30 a.m. in English, morning prayer at noon, high mass at 12:30 p.m. in Chaldean. MAR ADDAI CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 24010 Coolidge Highway, Oak Park, MI 48237; (248) 547-4648 Pastor: Rev. Stephen Kallabat Parochial Vicars: Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf, Rev. Suleiman Denha Mass Schedule: Weekdays, 12 noon; Sunday, 10 a.m. in Sourath and Arabic, 12:30 p.m. in Sourath MOTHER OF GOD CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 25585 Berg Road, Southfield, MI 48034; (248) 356-0565 Rector: Rev. Wisam Matti Parochial Vicar: Rev. Anthony Kathawa Bible Study: 7-9 p.m. for High School Ages in English; 7-9 p.m. College/Young Adult in English Mass Schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 8 a.m. mass in English; Tuesday, 9 p.m. mass in English; Wednesday, noon-midnight, adoration; Saturday, 5:15 p.m. in English; Sunday: 8:30 a.m. in Arabic, 10 a.m. in English, noon in Chaldean, 7 p.m. in English OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP MISSION Located inside St. Sylvester Church 11200 12 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48093; (586) 804-2114 Pastors: Fr. Fadi Philip and Fr. Fawaz Kako Mass: Sunday 12:30 p.m. in Arabic and Chaldean SACRED HEART CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 310 W. Seven Mile Road, Detroit, MI 48203; (313) 368-6214 Pastor: Fr. Sameem Belius Mass Schedule: Friday, 6 p.m. in Chaldean; Sunday 11 a.m. in Chaldean

June: Month of the Sacred Heart Behold this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return. Through you My divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth. – Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

ST. JOSEPH CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 2442 E. Big Beaver Road, Troy, MI 48083; (248) 528-3676 Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) Parochial Vicar: Fr. Rudy Zoma Mass Schedule: Weekdays, 10 a.m. in Chaldean; Saturday, 5 p.m. in English and Chaldean; Sunday, 8 a.m. in Chaldean, 9:30 a.m. in Arabic, 11 a.m. in English, 12:30 p.m. in Chaldean, 2:15 in Chaldean and Arabic. Baptisms: 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Habeba Hakim Keibo May 20, 2011

Fatima Zaro Herfy Dawood Safar Namy May 20, 2011 May 20, 2011

Hasina Mikhael Jirjis Nafso May 16, 2011

Tariq Salman Abed Elias Khami Marouf May 6, 2011 May 4, 2011

Najat Ayar Tominna May 3, 2011

Khairy Ballo Kizy May 2, 2011

ST. MARY HOLY APOSTOLIC CATHOLIC ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST 4320 E. 14 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48092; (586) 825-0290   Rector: Fr. Benjamin Benjamin Mass Schedule: Sunday, 9 a.m. in Assyrian; 12 noon in Assyrian and English ST. THOMAS CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 6900 Maple Road, West Bloomfield, MI 48322; (248) 788-2460 Pastor: Rev. Frank Kalabat Rev. Emanuel Rayes (retired) Parochial Vicar: Rev. Jirgus Abrahim Mass Schedule: Weekdays, 10 a.m. in Sourath; Saturday, 5 p.m. in English; Sunday 9 a.m. in English, 10:30 a.m. in English, 12:30 p.m. in Sourath, 2 p.m. in Arabic. First Thursday and Friday of each month, Holy Hour 10 a.m., Mass 11 a.m. in Sourath. Saturday 3 p.m., Night Vespers (Ramsha) in Sourath. aEvery Wednesday from midnight to Thursday midnight, adoration in the Baptismal Room. Grotto is open 24/7 for prayer and reflection. ST. TOMA SYRIAC CATHOLIC CHURCH 25600 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48335; (248) 478-0835 Pastor: Rev. Toma Behnama Fr. Safaa Habash Mass Schedule: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 6 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m. All masses are in Syriac, Arabic and English

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. This year the Feast of the Sacred Heart falls on June 11. The Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost. In addition to the liturgical celebration, many devotional exercises are connected with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Of all devotions, devotion to the Sacred Heart was, and remains, one of the most widespread and popular in the Church.

Information retrieved from catholicculture.org. 22

ST. GEORGE CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 45700 Dequindre Road, Shelby Township, MI 48317; (586) 254-7221 Pastor: Msgr. Emanuel Hana Isho Shaleta Assistant Pastor: Rev. Basel Yaldo Mass Schedule: Weekdays, 10 a.m.; Saturday, 6:30 p.m.; Sunday: 8:30 a.m. in Chaldean, 10 a.m. in Arabic, 11:30 a.m. in English, 1:15 p.m. in Chaldean.

Souham Jamil Marrogy April 27, 2011

Sana Japaya Alisa May 8, 2011

Masuod Agobi Hermiz Karim April 23, 2011

Violet Putres Kashat April 22, 2011

Submit your loved one’s obituary to info@ chaldeannews.com, or send it to Chaldean News, 29850 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48034.

Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term “Sacred Heart of Jesus” denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of His being, and His person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and sanctification of mankind. The “Sacred Heart” is Christ, the Word Incarnate, Saviour, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an infinite divinehuman love for the Father and for His brothers.

Prayer of the Month An Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Most sweet Jesus, humbly kneeling at Thy feet, we renew the consecration of our family to Thy Divine Heart. Be Thou our King forever! In Thee we have full and entire confidence. May Thy spirit penetrate our thoughts, our desires, our words and our deeds. Bless our undertakings, share in our joys, in our trials, and in our labors. Grant us to know Thee better, to love Thee more, to serve Thee without faltering.


JUNE 2011

CHALDEAN NEWS 23


are where

they

now? By Joyce Wiswell

Catching up with community newsmakers Whatever happened to that young woman who likes to sing? That man who ran for office? Those entrepreneurs and their new products? We decided to find out.

[March 2005]

Carey Denha: A Mega Hit The music industry has been good to Carey Denha. In addition to being the lead singer of the popular group Mega 80s, his production company Tangerine Moon is thriving. “Things are going pretty good,” he 24

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

said. “The local economy has not been the best but we are still doing really well.” Besides representing Mega 80s, the Clawson-based Tangerine Moon handles a number of bands that pay tribute to top 40s, the 70s, 80s or 90s, most of which play at private parties and corporate events. Mega 80s continues drawing fans, frequently playing the Magic Bag in Ferndale and hitting the road for other concerts including the House of Blues in Cleveland on June 3. “That is a pretty big gig and we’re proud to be there for the eighth time,” Denha said. Denha, now 40, continues to write acoustic music, which he said has “floating, haunting melodies and kind of a moody” feel. But don’t expect to see him performing these originals in public. “I create it and listen to it and that makes me happy,” he said. “It’s mine.” Visit www.Mega80s.com.

[April 2005]

Joey Nibras: Wacky Iraqi Gets Laughs The Wacky Iraqi is alive and well. That’s the message from Nibras Joseph Abboud/Kasmikah, aka Joey Nibras, the alter ego behind the standup comedian, which he de-

scribes as “a boater, a very goofy and naïve Iraqi.” “I’m performing standup as much as I can at clubs in Los Angeles. I use a lot of stuff from the media to keep it topical, and now I’m slowly working the Arab Spring into my act,” he said of the ongoing upheaval in several Middle Eastern countries. Nibras, who still works his day job as a photographer and videographer, said family matters in his native Beverly Hills forced him to pass up a sitcom on ABC. He’s excited about a new deal with the Comedy Network and Google TV, which will give him and his partners their own internet channel called Hollywood Outlaws. “This is probably the biggest thing in my career to date,” he said. “And, he added, “my mom is still taking applications for my marriage.” Visit The Wacky Iraqi on Facebook.


Josephine Dabish wih her cleaning products.

[January 2006]

Jason Antone: Staying Strong The last thing Jason Antone ever expected was to make a world record – twice over. But his tenacity in getting celebrities to call him on the phone has netted him two top spots from the Registry of Official World Records, which publishes the Book of Alternative Records — most congratulatory celebrity phone calls (246 in 3.7 years) and most unscripted TV appearances (116 in seven years). The stars call Antone for sponta-

[April 2006]

Josephine Dabish Fermanian: A Kinder, Gentler Cleaner Fed up with toxic chemical cleansers, Josephine Elizabeth Dabish Fermanian of Commerce Township decided to do something about it so invented her own multi-purpose cleaner, Germs Begone. Years later, it’s still selling well, and now a second product, Natural Glass and Surface, has been added to the lineup. Fermanian has seen some differences since we profiled her in April 2006; her then-toddler, Roman, is now 7 years old. And she’s changed the name of her company to Detroit Organics in honor of her favorite city. “I just have this profound love for Detroit,” she said, “so I wanted a name that reminds me where I’m from.” The all-natural Germs Begone is

Three times the fun: Triplets model the bibs.

around to green products – even Target now has a ton of green and organic things,” she said. “It’s becoming more widely known to think about the earth first.” Visit Green Josephine on Facebook.

neous interviews that he replays on his local TV show, JROCK Show. He recently scored his 247th interview when Brett Michaels gave him a ring. Antone, 29, has been doing the show for eight years and has interviewed the likes of Regis Philbin, Jimmy Kimmel and wrestler Shawn Michaels. Don’t ask him to pick his favorite. “Everyone asks me that, but I love all of them,” he said. “They all show me heart and love and respect.” Antone works hard at these interviews, contacting Hollywood producers and agents tirelessly. He’s never sure when or if someone will call. “If you told me that 247 celebrities would be calling me I would never have believed it,” he said. “I still don’t believe it.” Antone has Friedreich’s Ataxia, a progressive disorder of the muscles and nervous system, but is happy to report that he can still walk. “I pray a lot,” he said, “and God helps me out.” Catch JROCK on West Bloomfield’s Channel 18 on Thursdays at 10 p.m. (and repeated often) or visit JRockTVTripod.com.

..................................... [April 2006]

Ken and Virginia (Yatooma) Krolczyk: Into the Mouths of Babes

available in more than 20 Metro Detroit stores, including Hiller’s, Plum, Catching Fireflies and Love Child. Fermanian has just signed a deal with Dirty Deeds Diaper Service, in which her products will be offered to customers of the Rochester-based allnatural diaper service. Now she’s enthused about her latest invention, a touchless box for sanitary product disposal in public restrooms, which she wants to see manufactured in Michigan. She also keeps busy updating her Green Josephine page on Facebook, and was recently featured on Fox 2 Detroit and as one of Florine Mark’s Remarkable Women. Fermanian said people are increasingly becoming more concerned about the environment. “More and more and more people are coming

Though their youngest child is now 6 years old, baby bibs are still a big part of Ken and Virginia (Yatooma) Krolczyk’s lives. The couple continues to market Ken’s invention, the Multi Purpose Bib, a hands-free bottle holder for babies that received a

2010 Top Choice of the Year award from Creative Child Magazine. “We are on pace to more than double our sales from last year,” reported Ken. “We’re making a small amount – but we’re not getting rich off it yet.” The Krolczyks toyed with having the bibs manufactured in the Far East, but were dissatisfied with the quality of samples. So the bibs are made in Wisconsin. “It does take a bit from our profit margin but we heavily market the fact that it’s made in the U.S.,” Ken said. Sales, which are virtually all word of mouth via the Internet, have come from as far away as Australia and England. Their website includes glowing testimonials from parents and grandparents who appreciate the product, which lets babies sip their bottles on their own without being held. (The idea is to allow parents the free use of at least one hand while watching the tot, not to use the bib as a babysitter.) The couple, which has three children, continues with their careers, Ken as an insurance branch manager and Virginia as a high school counselor. She is also working on her doctorate degree in executive leadership, and Ken was just elected to the Utica Community Schools Board of Education. “We’re still contacting the larger retailers but we haven’t been able to crack that,” Ken said. Visit GotBibs.com. JUNE 2011

CHALDEAN NEWS 25


[March 2007]

Richard Sulaka: Vying for Mayor of Warren Richard Sulaka was campaigning heavily to become Warren’s first Chaldean mayor in 2007 – but, he said, God must have had a different idea. After Sulaka passed out on the campaign trail his physician diagnosed a heart problem – and ordered an immediate quintuple bypass. “I told the doctor I didn’t have time for the operation because of the election and he said, ‘if you don’t have this done now you will end up voting absentee – if you know what I mean,’” Sulaka laughed. Sulaka’s opponent Jim Fouts prevailed in the election, which Sulaka now believes was for the best as Warren continues to weather some dif-

Joe and Tammy Bidawid pose on their wedding day

[August 2007]

Joe Bidawid: Windsurfer Has a Cause — and a Goal Joe Bidawid is secure in his accomplishments, so much so that he never bothered to contact the Guinness Book to get himself listed after achieving a world record by crossing Lake Michigan unsupported on a stand-up paddleboard. Bidawid made

ficult financial storms. “My wife said maybe that was the best thing to ever happen to me, because I don’t need the extra stress. Everything works out and God has a plan,” he said. “His plan for me was the watch and enjoy my kids grow up and go to college.” That’s not to say Sulaka, 56, is finished with politics. He helped out in the campaign of Mark Hackel as Macomb County Executive and is currently acting as campaign manager for his son, Richard II, who is running for Warren City Council. Richard II, 25, is in law school, as are Sulaka’s other two children. Sulaka and his wife Giovanna are also keeping busy with their charitable bingo halls, two in Warren and one in Sterling Heights, and with their newest addition to the family, a German shepherd puppy named Melka – which, Sulaka pointed out, means “king” in Chaldean. 26

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

the 59-mile crossing from St. Joseph to Chicago in 18 grueling hours on August 26, 2007. In the process, he raised nearly $15,000 for cancer research – and changed his life. Halfway through his quest, Bidawid was off course due to poor weather and feeling quite discouraged, especially since the forecast offered no hope. “About midway through the weather and water conditions changed dramatically to my advantage. I felt like someone was looking after me,

like something bigger was happening,” he recalled. “It allowed me to focus and realize I’d been handed a gift.” Now 45, Bidawid still stays in top shape. He married Tammy, a kindred soul, last August and the two travel the world surfing at places like Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii and Costa Rica. The couple’s real world takes place in Michigan, where they live in Royal Oak and Bidawid runs IDEA Group Design, an engineering consulting firm. Now he’s in talks with sponsors about doing another dramatic feat on a Michigan Great Lake in the summer of 2012. Bidawid won’t spill details but said it will be as challenging as the Lake Michigan crossing. Though he achieved something physically remarkable, Bidawid said the social benefits of the crossing were even more dramatic. “It changed my life immensely. I never imagined I would have so much support and interaction with people,” he said. “I feel like I’m a different person and a lot more sensitive to those in need. It really allowed me to focus on what is important in my life and what’s important to the lives of people around me.”

..................................... [September 2007]

Melody Arabo and Margaret Shamoun: Chaldean for Kids Melody Arabo and Margaret Shamoun continue to market their books,

Chaldean for Kids, and “have sold a few thousand at least.” The series is designed to teach Chaldean by spelling the words phonetically in English and listening to an audio CD. There are now eight books in the colorful series: Numbers, Colors, Parts of the Body, Prayers, Food, Clothing, Animals and Nursery Rhymes. “We have lots of ideas for more books, such as words associated

with school and family members, but we have put plans on hold to focus on our families and careers,” said Arabo, who teaches third grade in Walled Lake. Shamoun teaches bilingual multi-level grades in Birmingham, and each woman has three children. Added Shamoun, “Melody and I are still very committed to preserving the Chaldean language.” Visit www.ChaldeanForKids.com or Chaldean for Kids on Facebook.


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JUNE 2011

CHALDEAN NEWS 27


Ashley Bahri as Salud in ‘La Vida Breve.’

[April 2008]

Ashley Bahri: Opera Singer Hits the High Notes When last we checked with aspiring opera singer Ashley Bahri (April 2008) she was about to graduate with a degree in vocal performance from Oakland University and spend the summer studying opera in Italy.

Three years later, her career is soaring as high as a soprano’s aria. Bahri was awarded a voice scholarship at New York’s Manhattan School of Music Conservatory, where she became the first student to direct a Baroque opera. “I chose to direct this opera infusing the Chaldean/Assyrian traditional dances and costumes,” she said. “This brought a great interest and awareness in the Chaldean culture from my coaches and fellow colleagues.” Bahri was also accepted into a prestigious Bel Canto Institute opera study program, which has lead to numerous awards and performances in New York, South Carolina and Vermont. In her final year at the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory, she was selected as the lead in the Spanish opera La Vida Breve, an opera in two acts and four scenes. For her recent graduate recital, Bahri sang 20 songs in five different lan28

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

guages (Spanish, French, German, English and Italian) at the Church of the Ascension in New York City. Now the holder of a Master’s Degree of Music in Opera, Bahri plans to continue studying and training. She eventually aspires to earn a doctorate degree in music and become a professor in voice. “I hope my love of music inspires others to achieve their dreams,” she said, “and to recognize the importance of music and the classics in life.”

ebrates masses and other church services, teaches seminarians and leads retreats.  He does not have an assignment yet and is still awaiting one by the Chaldean Synod, which has not officially convened for the past two years. About 75 percent of the 3,000 Assyrians who followed him to the Chaldean Church have been well integrated into three Chaldean dioceses, he said. Unity between the two churches is “not an invention by man, but an idea of Jesus Christ,” Mar Soro maintained. “The idea of unity, especially between the Assyrians and the Chaldeans, is at the center of my spiritual life.” He said he has noticed some differences between Chaldeans and Assyrians, particularly the fact that nationalism is at the core for Assyrians, while for Chaldeans life revolves around the Church. Mar Soro acknowledges that his journey has been sometimes painful. “I am a changed man and my soul has grown closer to God through the suffering I went through,” he said. “I praise the Lord every day for having so, so many friends. Some have been taken from me but I have been given so many more. I still love the Assyrian people whom I left. I know one day in God’s time the bitterness of this dispute will die in their souls.”

ews. Zielinski held a nine-inch knife to a 19-year-old nephew of Acho. As Zielinski fled, the nephews gave chase and one shot him twice in the left arm. Zielinski ended up pleading to unarmed robbery and is serving 8 to 22 years in prison. But he is suing Acho for a host of grievances, including his injuries, mental anguish and the loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life. The case has made its way through the legal system and has now been filed before the state Supreme Court. Acho’s business insurance is covering his legal fees, which Peters estimates at nearly $10,000 so far, but Peters said that is beside the point. “When a mom and pop store wants to get insurance they’re going to pay relatively expensive premiums for coverage because of cases like this,” said Peters, adding that the case has made it onto the list of the 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits. “[Zielinski] is a no-good felon and here he is wanting to be compensated.”

..................................... [February 2010]

Lamar Babi: Pursuing a Film Career Actor Lamar Babi of West Bloomfield still has his sights firmly set on Hollywood, and said a move to California appears inevitable. The 25-year-old looks forward to the release this year of his first feature

[August 2008]

Mar Soro: Charting the Possibilities of the Future Mar Bawai Soro was suspended, excommunicated, laicized (changed to lay status) and then sued by the Assyrian Church of the East in 2005 after his strident calls for unity between the Assyrian Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.  Civilly, the church prevailed, and “we returned all properties to the Assyrian Church in 2007,” Mar Soro told the Chaldean News. “That, for us, was a great liberation.” Mar Soro is now affiliated with the St. Peter Chaldean Diocese in El Cajon, California, where he works with Mar Sarhad Jammo and cel-

[October 2009]

Felon Sues Party Store He Robbed John Acho is still dealing with a lawsuit filed by a man who robbed his store in 2007. “This is still going on much to my chagrin,” said Acho’s attorney, Tom Peters of the Troy firm Vanderveer Garzia. “I’ve tried to get this case dismissed six or seven times.” On November 15, 2007, Scott Thomas Zielinski robbed the store Acho has just recently purchased, Nick’s Short Stop in Clinton Township, which employed two of his neph-

film, Crave, an independent thriller in which he plays a clerk – a small role that landed him a coveted SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card. “It’s a tough business but I’m not discouraged at all,” Lamar said from his day job at his family’s Quick Corner Market in White Lake. “I’m working my butt off, trying to move up in the industry. I know it’s a grind, you just have to keep your head up and have faith.” Visit LamarBabi.com.


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powerful p Sounds of the Soul has third outing By Vanessa Denha Garmo

P

oets took to the stage at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak for the Third Annual Sounds of the Soul Poetry Slam on May 4. Proceeds benefitted the Chaldean Community Foundation and Karmanos Cancer Institute. Bashar Kirma beat out nine other poets who recited their written works of art. Kirma, 30, was born in Baghdad and has a master’s degree in engineering. His winning poem focused on the devastation of abortion. Azizi Jasper, an artist from Grand Rapids, was the second place winner and Bianca Jidou, 21, a recent graduate of Wayne State University, came in third. Al Zara, the director of information technology at Clear Channel Communications, served as the evening’s host. Heather Sinawe, who co-founded the event with Salim Gasso, also wowed the crowd with her rhythmic words. Stephanie Barash was the event coordinator; Robert Kassa handled the promotions while Faris Najor organized the panel of five judges that included Chaldean News Co-Publisher and Editor in Chief Vanessa Denha Garmo; Tom Thomas, Sterling Heights High School teacher; Florence Dallo, professor at Oakland University; Albert Bajoka, Pharm.D, a pharmacotherapy specialist; and Jibran Manna, a Realtor and actor.

Event co-funders Heather Sinawe and Salim Gasso

Emcee Al Zara

Bianca Jidou

Marina Abdulnoor

Keegan “Seoul” Loye

Rachelle Hermiz

Reem Kajy

Holly and Feris Seba Photos by David Reed

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CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011


poets

[winning poem]

Society, Backwards! By Bashar Kirma

Dear Mom, I’m old in age, wrinkles cover my face, my hip needs a brace. I can’t see five feet in front me, my legs no longer carry me, the nurse every hour has to change me. At the disgrace of my dignity, I want my chance. Remember my wife Mom, I just found out on me she cheated, she begged and pleaded, I’m not flattered, my heart is scattered, and my being is shattered. At the agony of love, I want my chance. Last year of college Mom, but nothing to really celebrate, every day thinking of quitting cuz of my grades. Changed my career so many times, wasted weekends drunk off my mind, knowing I got no where to hide. For the “unsatisfaction” of wasting money and time, I want my chance. First day of high school Mom. I’m already an outcast, cuz I can’t think fast, my glasses are a thing of the past. All laugh at my full backpack, call me names cuz I think joining the band is a blast, but the theater club said I have a chance to be a part of their cast. At the experience of feeling alone, unwanted and confused, I want my chance. Finally in 6th grade Mom, I went to school today and this mean boy named Roy pushed me on the ground, I scraped my knee but I stood up to him, this time I didn’t flee, but the coward took out a gun and wanted to shoot at me. I know school shootings scare you Mom, but at fear for my life, I want my chance.

Ann Esshaki

Bashar Kirma

Mom, I overheard you the other day, calling me a mistake, you were looking for a break, this life you couldn’t take. I mean, if you don’t want me, let other people take care of me, don’t just freakin’ kill me ... Are you listing to me, lady. I want my chance to experience hunger, anger and laughter. I want my chance to experience spirituality, sensuality, want and desire. I want my chance to experience happiness, sadness, success and failure. I want my chance to experience every aspect of life: the good, the bad and the dire... I’m tired of being nice, I’m tired of you thinking you own my rights, I’m tired of you not wanting to make a sacrifice. Letting a hanger go through my body like I’m just a thing, or letting some doctor cut up my limbs like I’m some piece of string, letting my one and only DNA go to never exist again. I want my chance to live, mom. Do you hear me? At life, mom ... at life ... I WANT MY CHANCE.

Azizi Jasper

Lowrd Hanna

Junior Hallac

Crowded house

JUNE 2011

CHALDEAN NEWS 31


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celebrating culture Artists and performers keep traditions alive By Crystal Kassab Jabiro

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West Bloomfield. The venue bustled with culture, featuring art, music, poetry and a short play. Several painters and sculptors displayed their works in the atrium. Kamil Shallal has been drawing since he was 6. Because teachers at his Telkaif elementary school had limited resources, they would ask him to illustrate the subjects they were talking about such as maps and animals. When Shallal immigrated to Detroit in 1997, he was too busy working to paint. Now at age 69, he is back at the drawing board, motivated by his Catholic upbringing and Chaldean heritage. “I like to mix history with the culture,” said Shallal. One large and very complex painting he had on display took about 500 hours Photos by David Reed

M

ore than 30 years ago, young Chaldeans in Metro Detroit had a cultural awakening. They sought to preserve their language and traditions before they died out since much of the youth was assimilating into the mainstream American culture. A few young volunteers began airing a radio program in Sourath called the Chaldean Voice. Shortly thereafter, others created the Babylon Theater Group, an entertainment troupe that wrote and performed plays in Sourath. “We come from a rich culture. Someone has to preserve it and present it to show that richness,” said Shoki Konja, who has hosted the Chaldean Voice for 31 years. “It is the only way we can survive.” Both groups, which are still active, highlighted their heritage at the Chaldean Voice’s Second Annual Chaldean Cultural Festival on May 16 at Shenandoah Country Club in

“I want people to know our history,” said Wazi. “We have to teach our kids.” Other artists at the event included Dr. Sulafa Roumayah, Maysoun Hana, Zuhair Shaaouni, Randa Razoky and Yazi Shamina. The performing arts program began with a poem that started, “Ma baseema ila looshanen,” which translates to, “How beautiful is our lanto complete. The details of Telkaif guage!” Songs, music and poetry and the Babylonian icons were too were interspersed in the entertaining important to pass over quickly, he show. said, and he preserved every minute The last event was the short play detail. Bronee (My Son), written by Konja Although also a painter, Sabah and performed by two long-time actors Wazi sculpts as well. His replicas of the of the Babylon Theater Group, Adnan Ishtar Gate took him between 30 and Kalasho and Kamelia Matti, as well 40 hours each. He too creates art as a as American-born, Sourath-speaking vehicle to safeguarding the culture. Jonathon Shina, 23. Shina was approached by his father Hana and his friend, veteran actor Zuhair Garmo, about playing the part of the son. He was apprehensive at first but they encouraged him to get involved because he speaks Sourath. This, they thought, would help bring the young generation in. When he agreed, his family was surprised, his friends in shock. A mesmerized audience

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“My friends laughed at me thinking it was a joke,” said Shina, who own a MetroPCS in Southfield. “Then they realized I was serious and thought it was a good idea.” Bronee is a comedy about a couple bantering back and forth about their somewhat immature son. They want him to settle down, get married and

have a family. “It was easy because I was basically playing myself,” joked Shina. “I’ve heard these conversations in my own house!” The parents, played by Kalasho and Matti, try to think of girls he can marry but then give up. In the last few minutes of the half-hour show,

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Shina walks in and tells his parents he has been dating a girl and wants to get married. They are overjoyed and the play ends. While the audience is familiar with Kalasho and Matti, seeing this young, American kid with Chaldean blood speaking Sourath like he was in Telkaif made them proud.

From opposite page: 1. Sawsan Kizy 2. Sweet music 3. Sam Selou Wazi and his wife Remal 4. Khairy Bodagh 5. Ameed Asmaro 6. Sabah Wazi 7. Mohanad and Faez Karana 8. Kamil Shallal

JUNE 2011

CHALDEAN NEWS 33


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Chaldean Festival

Southfield Civic Center 26000 Evergreen Road Southfield, MI 48076

Friday, June 10 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, June 11 Noon-10 p.m. Sunday, June 12 Noon-10 p.m.

Proceeds benefit the Chaldean Community Foundation

tHE Merchants Row

Freshly squeezed Lemonade

Join hands and dance the Khiga

Jazz Night on Friday

Ice cream!

The High Striker – try a good hit in the middle of the target

Giant slide

On a clear day, you can see all the way to Detroit from atop the Ferris Wheel

Sixth Annual Elephant Ears – and Funnel Cakes too!

Depka (dancing)

Chaldean music, Chaldean food, Chaldean families

Fresh baked Baklava

Caramel apples

A B C D E F G H I J K L M

CHALDEAN


FESTiVA

L

AZ

JUNE 2011

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CHALDEAN NEWS 35

Majid Zengilou performs

Brave enough for the Yo Yo Swing?

Xtreme fun for all

A $23 Wristband gets you on all the rides

Live broadcasts from the Chaldean Voice

Win a stuffed Unicorn!

Tents hold all sorts of Things to buy

Sawsan Kizy performs

50/50 Raffle. Last year’s winner took home more than $2,000!

Test your knowledge at the Quiz Games

Pizza anyone?

Out of this world fun

New rides and attractions

N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


chaldean on the STREET

How would you revitalize Detroit? By Anthony Samona

Chaldeans expressed their opinions on how to reenergize the City of Detroit at the Chaldean Cultural Festival hosted by the Chaldean Voice at Shenandoah Country Club on May 16.

Detroit definitely needs more security. Safety is of great importance in Detroit. The response rate of Detroit police officers is too long compared to other local cities. If Detroit is a safe city, then more tourists will travel here. Another way to reenergize Detroit is to build a boardwalk along the Detroit River. The Windsor riverfront is much better than the Detroit riverfront. – Faiz Yono West Bloomfield

The first thing I would choose to do is to remodel or demolish the old, burned and abandoned buildings. Many people think of Detroit as an old city because we have old buildings. If Detroit had beautiful buildings like skyscrapers, it would open up so many jobs and it could be a city like Chicago. – Yazi Shamina Royal Oak

The economical and educational development in Detroit is something that needs to be revitalized. If Detroit brings in a better economical flow, then the city will increase economically. This is an advantage because it can bring back the schools that shut down because they could not afford to stay open. Safety is also very important in the city. – David Numan West Bloomfield

Detroit could be a wonderful city if it had a lot to do with the arts. The Detroit Institute of Arts is a great way to share and explore ideas with families about the arts. Detroit could provide more fantasy for the kids. Building theme parks, water parks or more museums are all great ideas that can revitalize the city. – Randa Razoky Sterling Heights

There are many areas in Detroit where I would see many homeless people on the streets. The city could definitely create more homeless shelters for the people who are unemployed and have nowhere to live rather than on the streets. Creating more higher-end restaurants in Detroit will also bring in people and travelers.

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

– Christina Murado Troy

– Judy Selou Troy

The best way to reenergize Detroit is by interacting with the different cultural groups. There are many different kinds of cultures, religions and nationalities in Detroit. Each one expresses its own unique culture to the city. This will definitely enhance the city. Planning more festivals for all the different kinds of people who live in Detroit is a great way of meeting new people and interacting with new social and cultural groups. – Shoki Konja Franklin

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Building beautiful shopping centers in Detroit will definitely get more people to come out and shop. Detroit does not have many shopping centers with nice clothing stores and boutiques. This can attract the young and older generations. This would bring energy back to Detroit.

Ways to revitalize Detroit would be to build more fun-filled attractions on the riverfront. This will definitely draw people’s attention and will bring energy to Detroit. This will also create more jobs for the struggling people who live in Detroit and are jobless. More attractions downtown will also revitalize the city. – Marcine Karmo Farmington Hills


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CHALDEAN NEWS 37


but have now reconciled and reside in Madison Heights. Sathab gives them advice and faxes copies of their identification over to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. 9:20 Sharon calls the Secretary of State office on behalf of a client who needs an Arabic interpreter so he can take his driver’s license test. They have told her that they have five interpreters available for this, but when Sharon went through the list she learns that three no longer do it, one just had surgery and the other lives near Toledo and won’t drive up to Macomb County.

Sharon Hannawa fields a call.

a day in the life of rast Never a dull moment for case workers By Joyce Wiswell

S

haron Hannawa is drowning in red tape. As the manager of Refugee Acculturation and Sustainability Training (RAST), her job is to help refugees navigate life in the United States. With limited resources and often less Englishspeaking skills, that’s a Herculean task for the newcomers. The RAST office at Ryan and 15 Mile in Sterling Heights just opened in March and was quickly swamped with people needing assistance. Assisting Hannawa are case workers Wally Abro and Kristin Jirjis Bajoka. Fluent in both Chaldean and Arabic, they greet the many people who drop into the center for help with myriad issues. The goal behind the Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) program is to help refugees help themselves so they can lead independent lives. Here’s a day in the life at the busy RAST office – in this case, Thursday, May 19.

ing refugees to Macomb Community College (MCC) departs. On board are about 20 students who attend four-hour English as a Second Language classes twice a week for eight weeks. Wally Abro rides with them in case there are any problems.

8:25 a.m. The chartered bus carry-

9:05 Sharon reminds Kristin that ev-

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CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

ery person who enters must sign in. The sign-in sheet is problematic because of poor handwriting and varied spellings of the same names. “That sign-in sheet is my Bible,” Sharon reminds her. “There is no such thing as a quick question. Everyone who walks in, we have to fill out an intake form.”

8:30 The office officially opens. 8:35 Sharon begins making phone calls on behalf of a client who is having problems with the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. They say he owes $1,400 in restitution while Sharon tries to explain a misunderstanding in the case. This is her third phone call on the matter. 8:45 Immigration attorney Sathab Abbo Ousachi arrives. She has recently been hired by the CCF as a consultant on legal matters, and spends two days a week at the RAST office assisting clients.

9:15 Wally returns from the bus ride to MCC. He is feeling a bit discouraged by the fact that several people were late for the bus and that five did not show up at all. “I started by being a bad boy today,” he says with a smile, relating how he strictly told ESL participants what is expected of them. 9:28 A couple enters a half-hour early for their appointment regarding legal issues. “They are anxious to get things resolved so they show up early,” Sathab explains. Their case regarding child support and the garnishment of wages is complex; the two once lived in Texas and were separated for a while

9:40 A woman comes in asking about job opportunities. Her pervious experience is working in hotels, and she says she’ll do anything but that. Wally says he will see what he can do to help her. She then asks how she goes about bringing her inlaws over from Iraq, and Kristin gives her information. 9:40 Sharon is on the phone with Macomb County Mental Health and the Probate Court regarding some paperwork a refugee has incorrectly filled out. 9:45 A couple enters and asks for help applying for a green card. Sathab prints out the form they need and Kristin helps them fill it out. 9:55 A woman comes in and asks about ESL classes. The next session starts in July, but she can’t start until September. 10 Wally helps a man complete a job application in English. 10:02 A woman needs an application to secure Medicaid for herself and her child. She has shown up before on his matter and has been told what documents to bring in, but she shows up empty-handed. Sharon says that Kristin needs to take the woman in person to the Department of Human Services office, but that she first needs to round up her papers. 10:20 A man asks to send a fax to his U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants caseworker. Sharon makes copies of his ID cards and sends the fax over. 10:30 Kristin leaves to drive a client to the doctor.


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CHALDEAN NEWS 39


10:30 Sharon gives Wally the phone number of someone who called but hung up so he can check to be sure they are OK. 10:41 The man who requested the fax returns to say his caseworker said the fax was not clear. Sharon takes his ID cards and scans them so she can send via email.. 10:45 The woman Kristin has dropped at the doctor calls to say the doctor is actually not there today. “We need to confirm appointments before we go,” Sharon says. 11 A woman who didn’t show up for ESL calls to say she was sick. “Next time please let us know right away,” Kristin tells her. 11:04 Sharon is back on the phone with DHS, which is demanding that a client pay for his own mental evaluation. DHS instructs her to write on the form, “consumer is indigent and can not afford the costs of psychological evaluation.” “How are these people who don’t even speak English supposed to maneuver the system?” Sharon vents. “It’s scary to me.”

12:09 Three women enter together and inquire about ESL classes. 12:15 A woman comes to see Sathab. She wants a waiver excusing her from taking the civics and English requirements on her naturalization exam. She was working with a different agency, which sent in the incorrect form. Sathab tries to determine if they will accept a secondary application for the waiver. 12:25 Sharon goes to Kinko’s to copy blank ESL applications copies. 12:27 Two women ask about jobs. They are both engineers. Wally takes their information. 12:45 A woman comes in to follow up on her application for low-income housing. Kristin helps her. 1:30 The bus brings back the ESL students. 1:55 Wally helps a man translate his certificate of Baptism.

2:15 A man brings in a letter saying he has been denied for unemployment benefits. Sharon calls the office and holds for at least 15 minutes.

11:21 A couple meets with Sathab. They have white cards – what is given to refugees and is good for the first nine months in the U.S. — but need to change them over to the more permanent green cards. Sathab handles the paperwork.

2:16 A man asks to meet in private with Sathab. Sharon (still on hold with the Unemployment Office) vacates her office so they can talk. It turns out the man must pick up some paperwork from the Madison Heights Police Station (MHPD) and also the local court proving a case against him has been dropped.

12 Sharon and Sathab meet regarding the green card case. The person’s last name is spelled one way on her visa and Social Security card and another (correctly) on her birth certificate and ginsia, her national ID card from Iraq. Her children’s names are also spelled differently and she wants them all to match up. 12:08 A man comes in and asks for translation so he can send in an application for a credit card. 40

CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

A bus brings back the ESL students.

1:55 Kristin fields questions from two middle-aged couples asking about ESL classes.

11:11 Kristin helps a woman write her resume. She has experience in laundry and food service. She also asks how she can qualify for Medicaid.

11:28 A woman comes in on behalf of another, who has been denied Medicaid. Sharon tries to call the DHS caseworker but his voicemail is full and is not accepting messages.

From top left:

Sathab Abbo Ousachi goes over a legal form. Maryan Shamoon gets resume help from Kristin Bajoka. Faten and Thaeer Tawfeek seek help with their green cards. Wally Abro catches up on his records

MHPD and the local court to get his paperwork. Wally’s schedule does not allow it until Monday, and the man is angry.

2:35 A man asks to have his mail read to him. It’s mostly junk but since he doesn’t read English, he doesn’t realize it. 2:56 Sathab has a frustrating conversation with an officious person at MHPD, who will not offer general information on how the man she is helping can get a copy of his paperwork. 2:30 Sharon finally gets a human on the phone at Unemployment. It turns out the man’s former employer input the wrong company number on the form, which is why he was

3:30 The office is surprisingly quiet and everyone seizes the opportunity to catch up on paperwork. rejected for benefits. Fortunately, he has come equipped with detailed pay stubs, and Sharon is able to resolve the problem – 52 minutes after she first dialed the phone. “This,” she said with a smile, “is why I can’t get any work done.” 2:40 The man who Sathab has been helping needs Wally to take him to

3:50 Sharon eats a few bites of her now-cold lunch and runs the vacuum around the back room. 4:20 A man comes in for translation; he is having surgery next week but can’t read his doctor’s orders. Wally explains what the instructions say. 5 p.m. The office closes.


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CHALDEAN NEWS 41


catholic conversions Local Muslims are baptized by Fr. Sameem By Vanessa Denha Garmo

T

he 23-year-old Muslim man who was just baptized this past Easter weekend at Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church in Detroit used to sneak into Sunday church in Baghdad with his friends to experience the Catholic mass. He sat in the pews but prayed privately. “I really couldn’t make it known I went to church or go more than once a month,” said the young man, who has taken on a Christian name of Peter. “I acted like I was just hanging out with my friends. If I publicized that I really wanted to be Christian, I would have been killed and they would have certainly killed my father.” His mother, already a practicing Christian, proudly sat in church watching her son be baptized alongside his younger sister, Mary. Peter’s father was baptized in a private ceremony at Sacred Heart. Pursing a complete transformation, the family will soon adopt a Christian last name. (The family fears reprisals from Islamic religious fundamentalists so asks that their last name not be used.) Peter, who is now part of the church choir, said it was much easier to attend Catholic mass prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Since the height of terrorism, all people wanting to practice their

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Christian faith have been under attack. “I was scared and very worried back then,” said Peter. Peter and his family were not the only ones participating in this holy sacrament; Mirela Nazarko, 38, is a Muslim woman from Albania. She and her three children also converted to Catholicism. “Religion is not in our blood,” said Nazarko. “We are typically Communists but I knew I wanted to be a Christian.” As a young girl in Albania, she yearned to learn more about Christ. Her belief strengthened as time passed even though she was not attending formal classes. When she arrived in the United States at age 19 she was finally free to pursue a faith that she said already lived in her heart. Like Peter, Nazarko also attended mass before converting. Although she was not fearful like Peter had been, she never felt a sense of belonging because she had not officially reformed. She recalled a particular dream about Mother Teresa, someone she dreamt of often. “When I was pregnant I was praying for a boy. I had a dream that I saw Mother Teresa and she was bouncing two little girls on her lap. I asked her if she could open the door for me please because I really want to get out. She replied, this time I will open the door. A monk took me on a hill and he had

Fr. Sameem performs the rite

GUEST column

incense and did the sign of the cross above my face and said, this time you learn.” Nazarko gave birth to her son, now 2 years old. It would be nearly 15 years after arriving to the United States before she would meet Fr. Sameem Balius through a co-worker, Nesreen Elias, a young Chaldean woman from the area. “I would talk to her about Christ and that I wanted to learn more and convert to Catholicism. She introduced me to the Chaldean church,” said Elias. Nazarko and her two oldest children, Fiona and Amy, attended Bible study and conversion classes with Fr. Sameem for several months leading up to the Easter Baptismal ceremony. Fr. Sameem had baptized a Muslim man more than a year prior to having met Nazarko and Peter. “In the times I have been approached by Muslims wanting to convert I counsel them and investigate their true intentions, that they believe in Christ before I will continue with classes,” said Fr. Sameem. “I have found that they were all so eager to learn.” Elias and her cousins, along with fellow Chaldeans, served as godparents to the converting Muslims. “I was honored to be asked,” said Lubna Soro, Fiona’s godmother. “I love Christ. I love our faith. I can say I am not only Fiona’s godmother but Mirela is my friend.” “We are surrounded by Chaldean people,” said Nazarko, who lives in Sterling Heights. “We had a party about two weeks after our baptisms and half of the 80 people were Chaldean.” Nazarko and her two daughters plan to learn both Aramaic and Arabic. Fr. Sameem has been giving them brief lessons using prayers to teach them the languages. She continues to attend mass every Sunday at Sacred Heart. Fr. Sameem is currently counseling and teaching four more Muslims on their way to becoming Catholics. “It is not about a religion,” said Fr. Sameem. “Christianity is about a way of life and how we live as Christians.” As for the recent converts? The future is promising. “I am so happy,” said Nazarko. “I now go to church and I feel like I belong.” “Today, I have inner peace,” said Peter.

A blessing to behold By Suzy Mansour The Easter religious holiday has always been very special amongst Chaldeans and is considered bigger than Christmas. It is referred to as “Ethaa Rabaa.” This past Easter was a very special one for Sacred Heart Chaldean Church. Instead suzy mansour of doing the routine play special to the that is performed every chaldean news year, Fr. Sameem Balius decided to resurrect the faith in the hearts of the congregation through a very emotional Easter Mass. On Easter Sunday Fr. Sameem Balius baptized two Muslim families who wanted to convert to Catholics. Hundreds of people attended Mass that day and witnessed this special event. He chose this day to represent the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a symbol to the resurrection of the faith that Catholics renew in their hearts every year on Easter. The two families that were baptized on Easter consisted of an Albanian family and an Iraqi family. They were able to choose their Baptismal saint names. The Albanian family consisted of a mother and her children. The Iraqi family was a brother and sister that have been in America a short time. After the baptisms were completed, the church filled with applause and the sounds of halhole. This is not the first time Fr. Sameem has roused the community. He was given Sacred Heart Church in December 2010 and immediately began to draw people back to Sunday Mass. Today, Sacred Heart church is full every Sunday. Fr. Sameem’s Bible Study on Tuesday nights also continues to bring in crowds and crowds of people. People come to hear the wisdom of his words and hopefully remember them and use them in their daily life. This passion has now spread to those of other religions. His belief is that religion, without deep and inner spirituality, cannot be and will not be fully understood nor felt. It is in this spirit that he baptized and converted these families. With Fr. Sameem’s support and our prayers, hopefully these families will come to feel the fullness of God’s grace and mercy through their belief in Jesus Christ. Suzy Mansour lives in Sterling Heights. She is a full-time student at Wayne State University and works part-time at Troy Beaumont Hospital Emergency Center. 


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CHALDEAN NEWS 43


blind justice? Visually impaired man fights for law school By Vanessa Denha Garmo

A

s a young boy, Angelo Binno always dreamt of being an attorney. The only thing standing in his way is the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Binno is unable to participate in a significant portion of the test that requires applicants to draw diagrams and charts. Born legally blind, Binno cannot conceive of or perceive spatial relationships. He has been denied admission to law school five times because of his LSAT scores, including three times at the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law, the Thomas Cooley Law School and Wayne State University. Last month, attorney Richard Bernstein filed suit on behalf of Binno against the American Bar Association (ABA) arguing that the LSAT is biased against the visually impaired and should not be required of blind applicants. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Bernstein, who is also blind, is not only Binno’s attorney, he was the last student to be admitted to law school without taking the LSAT. The ABA changed its policy nearly 15 years ago under pressure from the Law School Admission Council — the company that administers the LSAT. “Law schools should have the right to control their own application process,” said Bernstein. “If a law school decides to waive the LSAT for Angelo, they should be able to do so

without the threat of being stripped of their accreditation.” Binno, 28, speaks English, Arabic and Chaldean, is a graduate of Wayne State University and worked two years for the Department of Homeland Security where he was awarded a high security clearance. His interest in law heightened when he volunteered for Judge Diane (Dickow) D’Agostini’s run for a seat in 48th District Court. Binno was only 14 years old at the time. “I knew I wanted to be a lawyer,” recalled Binno. “I loved working on that campaign.” Today, he wants to help others with civil rights issues. “This is going to be the most important case I will ever prosecute,” said Bernstein. “It is ridiculous that he can’t go to law school because he can’t draw a diagram. It is mean spirited. It is sacrificing people. It is not about just making a difference for Angelo. This is about not limiting civil rights and disability rights in the country.” Prosecuting civil rights issues has been Bernstein’s life’s work; he has dedicated his entire life to protecting people with disabilities. “If you limit people’s ability to go to law school who have a background of being disabled, than you are limiting social change and you are limiting progress,” he said. Unlike many other professions, the law is an area in which people

Angelo Binno and Richard Bernstein believe they have a winning case.

with disabilities are able to excel, Bernstein said. “For people with disabilities who struggle and everything is a hardship, the law is the one great equalizer. The law gives us a chance to have the strength to do the things we need to do. The law gives us equality.” Because Binno cannot read or write due to his blindness, he has learned to retain information. “His other senses are so strong,” said his father, Samir Binno. “His hearing and his memory are very strong, which are good assets for an attorney.” “I would also argue that blind people make the best attorneys,” said

Bernstein. “We don’t go into a courtroom with notes and we are not linear like people with sight. We have to remember things and we retain information like a narrative. We can tell the story and not just recite the facts and the law.” For now, Bernstein and Binno have a battle to fight before Binno could be accepted into law school. “There are certain stereotypes and misconceptions about people with disabilities,” said Bernstein. “By not allowing Angelo into law school because he can’t draw just validates people’s own prejudices.”

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Sommer Yono, Diane D’Agostini and Derick Kassab field questions.

Photos by David Reed

‘not worth it’ Panel tackles teen drug use By Ann Esshaki Teens listen attentively.

T

he Chaldean community is not immune to drugs and alcohol abuse. In fact, the increase of abuse within the teenage community prompted the Eastern Catholic Re-Evangelization Center (ECRC) and its youth division Chaldeans Loving Christ (CLC) to sponsor a frank talk on “The Law, Teens and You” on May 11. The Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition (GWB) in partnership with the West Bloomfield Library hosted the event, which included a question and answer session, at St. Thomas Chaldean Church in West Bloomfield. Lisa Kaplan, the youth director of the GWB, opened the event with an introduction for the organization and introduced the panel, which consisted of Sommer Yono, a social worker at Orchard Lake Middle School; Judge Diane D’Agostini from Oakland County District Court; and Detective Derick Kassab of the West Bloomfield Police. Each panel member spoke briefly about the current issues of drug and alcohol abuse in the youth community but the words, “illegal and completely not worth it,” said by D’Agostini, struck silence in the room. Immediately after the panel’s introductions, the hands of teens and CLC leaders flung up and ques-

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CHALDEAN NEWS

JUNE 2011

He added that he has seen girls ages 14 or 15 strung out on heroin and one time saw a boy wearing just shorts passed out in his own vomit lying on a piece of cardboard in a garage. “His friends thought it was funny,” said Kassab. “A life of users is a dismal one,” said D’Agostini. A “sense of urgency” is what Sommer Yono called it. She spoke about the pressures associated with fitting in socially and wanting to stay connected to a group. Younger individuals may feel like they have to do drugs in order to fit in or even to remain friends with people. She also mentioned that many of the teens she has spoken with are afraid to talk with their parents and that is why school social workers, counselors and teachers may be better outlets. The hot topic of the night was marijuana. Although D’Agostini informed the audience that a marijuana charge is a misdemeanor, Kassab made sure to let everyone know just how expensive that can be — “thousands of dollars” and at least a year of probation. Still, marijuana is in common use among youth and although the drug itself doesn’t have any addictive components, “it’s the high that is addicting,” said Yono. Marijuana is considered a gateway drug that leads to more addictive substances such as cocaine, heroin and even over-the-counter medications like cough syrup. The GWB holds an open forum every month at the West Bloomfield Library to help prevent youth from abusing drugs and alcohol. “One kid using is one too many,” noted Kaplan. Theresa Atisha of Bloomfield Hills, whose children attend St. Elizabeth Daoud Mary’s Orchard Lake and St. Hugo makes a of the Hills, attended the forum alcomment. though she said she is confident in their choices. “They will never try [drugs] because they have deep faith. They know exactly what is right and wrong,” she said. “Teaching starts at home … a strong family is a strong foundation. Be involved. Ask questions. Who are their friends?” CLC member Paul Atisha is 17 and attends Walled Lake Central High School. Asked what he would do if a friend was abusing drugs, he had no doubt. “I’d talk to them and become closer to them.”

tions flared. One teenager, a female anxiously sitting in the front row, wanted to know if she would get in trouble if she took someone to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Kassab informed her that going to the hospital is the right thing to do, especially since her friend could possibly die from alcohol poisoning. “Most of the time,” said Kassab, “the authorities will be more lenient with people who are cooperative than those who lie.”


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ARTS & entertainment

way out west Chaldeans pursue musical careers

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wo Michigan natives now living out West are hoping to make it big in the world of music. Mario Cholak has been pursuing music since he was 13 and living in his native Southfield. Cholak moved to Phoenix, Arizona, six years ago, and began writing rap and techno songs shortly afterwards. He’s now 19. “My stage name is Filo and I perform at local clubs here in Phoenix,” Cholak said. Cholak is currently working on his album, “Thank God,” which will be available on iTunes. His video, “My Swag,” can be viewed at www. youtube.com/itsfilo. He is also shooting videos for three more songs and has worked with artists like Willy Northpole, who is signed to rapper Ludacris’ record label, DTP. “I record at two different studios, and I’ve built a good working relationship with Willy Northpole,” Cholak said. “He’s like a mentor to me.” Cholak said his faith is a strong motivator. “Without God there is nothing,” Cholak said. “I have a song on my mix tape called, ‘Why Wouldn’t He?’ which is dedicated to Him.” Cholak has not interacted much with Chaldeans in Arizona, whom he said are generally more individualistic than acting as part of a community. “I think that the Chaldeans here who work with the church are the closest to representing a community,” Cholak said. “Other than that, we’re

Photo by Chadwick D. Fowler

By Omar Binno

Above: Mario Cholak, aka Filo, works in the studio. Left: Megyn Hermez belts out a tune.

just a part of Arizona’s ethnic minority.” Out in California, 20-yearold Megan Kashat, who goes by the name Megyn Hermez professionally, hopes to make it as a singer. Her music has a jazzy/ R&B feel. Hermez has been singing since age 8 and began dancing at 16. At age 18, she competed in Barcelona, Spain, at the Prix De Espana World Cup Dance, winning second place for the American Dance Company. Last year, she was a backup dancer for R&B artist Charlie Wilson. “When I toured with Charlie Wilson I performed at the biggest award shows and full stadiums across the country,” Hermez said, listing the 2010 Grammy pre-telecast, Mo Nique Show, Wendy Williams Show, Macy’s Festival and the Trumpet Awards show as her major credits. Hermez, a native of Novi, moved to North Hollywood, California, in May 2010 and wrote 15 songs in two weeks.

“In that time I also had my album produced,” she said. “I was offered a deal by a music group, but I turned it down because my entertainment attorney advised me against the unfair terms and conditions in the contract.” Hermez’s album, “Anxiety,” debuted this spring. Check out her work at megynhermez.com, or at facebook.com/megynhermez.

Timely Release California hip-hop artist Tommy Hanna – aka TIMZ – has released a solemn music video, “Refugee,” which decries the persecution of Christians in Iraq and their struggles resettling in the United States. It features Michigan singer Majid Kakka and was directed by Ron Najor. Watch the video at youtube.com/watch?v=XfhL1pkXSt4. TIMZ’ new EP, Future History, is available on iTunes. Proceeds will be donated to the International Rescue Committee to aid refugees in need. Visit timzonline.com.

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CHALDEAN NEWS 49


ECONOMICS and enterprise

Hurricane Grill: A storm of flavor By Joyce Wiswell

I

f you’re not lucky enough to be jetting off to Florida or the Caribbean, you can at least fake it for a few hours at Hurricane Grill & Wings in Southfield, which opened in December. Reggae music, surfboard décor and “windows” overlooking sandy beaches, palm trees and azure waters await diners at the new tropical-themed spot. Though it’s not known in these parts, the Hurricane franchise is popular in Florida, where there are 32 locations. “We almost have a cult-like following,” said Mike Elrod, the chain’s director of operations, who spent two weeks in Southfield assisting with the opening. “We like to say, ‘take a flavor vacation.’” Restaurant Business magazine ranks Hurricane among the 10 fastest-growing franchises in the country and Franchise Times named it No. 21 on its latest annual Fast 55 list. The chain is also expanding into New York, Ohio and Arizona. George Zoma, the Southfield gen- Diners enjoy a slice of beach life. eral manager since March, said he is never frozen, while the beef is Angus-certified. working 70-hour weeks, including The restaurant encourages experimenting with opening and closing every day. Despite that schedsauces by offering a four-flavor sampler, and even ule, he hopes to expand Hurricane’s bar hours to 2 gives diners the option of creating their own sauce a.m. and add more liquor options. combinations. And they’re not just for chicken; Elrod The menu offers up salads, sandwiches, burgers, recommends trying the sauces with fish and beef, too. shrimp, mahi-mahi and chicken tenders. And, of New this spring are $7 lunch specials, which are course, there are the signature boneless wings, which guaranteed to be served within 15 minutes. Mahi come with a choice of more than 30 flavor sauces in and shrimp fish tacos and shrimp and cheese quefive “hotness” categories. There’s Teriyaki or Honey sadillas have been added to the menu. Mustard for the timid, Chipotle Raspberry for the With 80 seats, the restaurant has a cozy feel. An more adventurous and Ridiculously Hot or Habanero outside patio seats another 16, and live music may Lime Toss for fire eaters. Popular sides include Garlic be added. & Parmesan Fires and Crispy Sweet Potato Straws. Developer Ron Asmar of Tinelle Properties is Hurricane promises that its chicken is all natural and WEST BLOOMFIELD PLAZA

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the region’s master franchisee and built the Southfield site. He has plans for the Michigan market to develop a total of 15 locations within the next five years. The chain strives to be environmentally friendly. A percentage of the cooking oil is recycled into the making of bio-diesel fuel, no trans-fat is used in the cooking oils and beverage cups are made from corn and completely compostable. With eight flat-screen TV sets – always tuned to sports – and a welcoming bar, Zoma is hoping to see Hurricane take off as a happy hour destination with two-for-one drink specials from 3-6:30 p.m. and after 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Among the beverage choices are dozens of beers, a variety of margaritas, and the house special – the Tropical Hurricane, a concoction of rum, pineapple, orange juice and grenadine. Zoma, 27, said he’s enjoying the sometimeschaotic restaurant business. “I’m here to please the customers,” he said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make people happy.” Hurricane Grill & Wings is located at 29852 Northwestern Highway, just south of Inkster, in Southfield. Call (248) 996-8296 or visit www.hurricanewings.com.

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CHALDEAN NEWS 51


ONE-on-ONE

Congressman Gary Peters: Advocating for refugees

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ongressman Gary Peters (D-Michigan) is serving in his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives representing much of Oakland County. He recently sat down with Co-Publisher Mike Sarafa to discuss politics, the economy and the community.   Chaldean News: Has the partisan atmosphere in Washington changed since the killing of Osama Bin Laden? Gary Peters: It improved bi-partisan relations in the short run but it didn’t last very long. The entire Congress was briefed by Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Republicans were very laudatory and supportive of the Administration in that meeting. For a moment, we all came together as Americans to appreciate the excellent work and sacrifices made every day by the men and women in the armed services and our intelligence agencies. CN: Will his capture and killing be a political benefit to President Obama and therefore all Democrats running for reelection, including you? GP: It is hard to say. Certainly, the president deserves credit. It was the right policy and the plan was well executed. The strength and professionalism of the president’s national security team was evident. It was a huge, huge success. Generally speaking, I believe that good policy makes good politics. CN: For Iraqis, the nexus of the Bin Laden capture and his history with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia further drives the point that the former regime in Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. Rather, that 9-11 served as an excuse for the Bush Administration to attack Iraq. Do you agree that the war with Iraq was unrelated to the war on terror? GP: History will decide this issue. As more and more classified documents become public over time, the picture will become clearer. I was not in Congress at the time and therefore was not privy to all the information. But there is no question that it was a distraction from the larger and more important effort in Afghanistan. And the loss of life on both sides is tragic. CN: You have been very active in your efforts to assist with the issue of Chal52

CHALDEAN NEWS

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dean refugees. Can you give us an update on those efforts? GP: I was very happy to be able to sponsor and promote the Domestic Refugee Re-settlement Reform and Modernization Act of 2011. We now have 19 co-sponsors. The goal is to assist with the resettlement of refugees who have been forced to flee their home country because of a fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality or political affiliation. The Refugee Act of 1980 authorizes cash and medical assistance as well as access to housing and job placement services for newly arriving refugees. These benefits are intended to help refugees achieve self-sufficiency through employment during the eightmonth period that benefits are currently provided for. More than 30,000 Iraqi ref- Congressman Gary Peters once was Michigan’s lottery ugees have been resettled into commissioner. the United States since 2007, many of whom were forced to islation makes important reforms to the flee their homes because of ethnic, resettlement system that will result in religious, and sectarian violence, or a stronger, more efficient, and nimbler were forced to flee because of supprocess that will integrate more refugees port they gave to American military into the American economy. operations. Recent reports indicate the program is failing to address vital CN: You’ve been very active on bankneeds of these refugees, resulting in ing issues and trying to help free up credas few as 10 percent of refugees havit for small businesses. Do you think we ing obtained employment in some are making progress on that front? areas. The resettlement program GP: The No. 1 concern I heard from does not adequately address many small businesses over the past two of the barriers to employment facing years has been the lack of capital. refugees arriving in the U.S. The reThe credit markets were frozen and sult is a bleak future for many refusmall companies here in Oakland gees, including unemployment and County couldn’t get loans. We took homelessness. Moreover, the impact action to increase access to capital of an impoverished refugee comfor small businesses, and the nummunity reverberates throughout the bers are clear. As soon as changes larger region as social services are took effect, small businesses here in strained and states grapple with proOakland County saw a huge increase viding for a refugee crisis within their in lending — and that means more own borders. jobs. My understanding is that [Bank Many Iraqi refugees are highly eduof Michigan] also experienced a large cated entrepreneurs, doctors and other increase in your SBA volume. So professionals who could be utilized to you can see first-hand that the proaddress shortages, serve others in the gram worked. There is still a lot more refugee population and contribute work to do to rebuild our economy, meaningfully to the local economy. Yet but these are positive steps forward. without proper support upon arrival, these refugees are at risk of remaining CN: What is being done to restore the underemployed or dependent on federavailability of credit for home buyers? al assistance for years to come. The legGP: I am working on legislation to

reform the mortgage markets that would wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while establishing a new system of private associations — funded by private capital — to continue ensuring liquidity in the secondary mortgage market. The goal would be to put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts and ensure that middle class families can still achieve the dream of homeownership. However, I don’t think we should completely eliminate government’s role in the mortgage market. This would undermine the fragile housing recovery and essentially eliminate the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The idea would be to create more competition and more of a marketplace for mortgage originations — and hopefully to begin to restore some normality to mortgage lending. CN: What are the two or three main issues related to the budget and budget deficit and where do you come down on them? GP: We need to do three things. First, we need to grow the economy. When that happens the deficit shrinks. The freeing-up of credit that we discussed earlier is about growing the economy. Secondly, there are cuts that need to be made. These need to be prudent and should not undermine the social safety net for the most vulnerable Americans. But cuts in expenditures are needed. Third, we need to evaluate the revenue side. A simpler, fairer tax code that removes the many special interest loopholes will help grow the revenue base but also make it more consistent and predictable. CN: With Michigan expected to lose a congressional seat due to its population drop, what do you think the new map will look like and which districts are likely to be affected? GP: Redistricting is a political fact of life every 10 years. The lines will have to be redrawn. This process resides with the state legislature and, in the age of term limits, you have to believe that there are political considerations going on at that level. But the bottom


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line is that Oakland County’s population has held steady in comparison to the rest of the state and is most certainly deserving of one congressional seat. CN: Can you name me one area of agreement and one of disagreement with the president? GP: We continue to work very closely with Obama Administration officials in the area of small businesses. We worked very closely together to create the Small Business Lending Fund program and to make temporary improvement to SBA lending. I consider myself a deficit hawk and would like to see the Administration be a little more aggressive on cutting the deficit. CN: Same question for the governor. GP: In the area of helping Michigan businesses, we’ve been very engaged with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Specifically, we worked very closely with the governor and the MEDC to help provide more funding for the collateral support program being administered by the state. So you can see we’ve been very consistent in our efforts to help small businesses and this issue has enjoyed bi-partisan support. I think the governor’s budget goes

too far in the cuts to education. We cannot undermine the future of Michigan and the importance of an educated work force due to short-term budget issues. It needs to be more of a priority. CN: Much of the Chaldean community in Michigan resides in your district. Tell us about your outreach efforts and how people can call on your office for help. GP: As you know, I’ve enjoyed a strong relationship with the community for many years and in many capacities. As a state senator representing Southfield, I worked very closely with the Chaldean community. I remember well the many, many hours I spent at Southfield Manor for various events. As lottery commissioner, I worked directly with the retailers and organizations on helping improve business for retailers and for the state. Now, representing much of Oakland County in the U.S. House, I think I have more Chaldean constituents than any other congressional district. I’ve worked very closely with the Chaldean Federation and your Church and your Bishop on the plight of Christians in Iraq and the refugee problem. I enjoy great friendships in the community and do my best to represent the issues important to your community in Washington.

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Everyone was in high style at Shenandoah Country Club for the Sixth Annual Mother and Daughter Fashion Show. Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church presented the popular event on May 4. 56

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Volunteers and staffers of the Chaldean Voice radio program gathered at Shenandoah Country Club on April 27 to celebrate its 31st anniversary and raise funds for its continued operations. Saher Yaldo and Fawzi Dalli 58

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JUNE 2011


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Chaldean News June 2011