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IMPACT Breaking Barriers



















































on the cover


Measuring the aftermath of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan

features departments 6


Not knowing is a scary place to be 7 8










A conversation about religious freedoms DOCTOR IS IN BY JOHNATHON MARKUS

Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis 30


A taste of Mediterranean in Detroit 34


Real estate attorney Paul Jonna takes over as COO of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce





New Year’s resolutions


New apartment complex opening next to Holy Martyrs







from the EDITOR


The Chaldean News, LLC


Vanessa Denha Garmo MANAGING EDITORS

Denha Media Group Writers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Ashourina Slewo Halim Sheena Paul Natinsky Bianca Kasawdish Stephen Jones Heather Elia Johnathon Markus


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Vanessa Denha Garmo Martin Manna Michael Sarafa SUBSCRIPTIONS: $25 PER YEAR THE CHALDEAN NEWS 30095 NORTHWESTERN HWY, SUITE 101 FARMINGTON HILLS, MI 48334 WWW.CHALDEANNEWS.COM PHONE: (248) 851-8600 Publication: The Chaldean News (P-6); Published monthly; Issue Date: January 2019 Subscriptions: 12 months, $25. Publication Address: 30095 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334; Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rates is Pending at Farmington Hills Post Office Postmaster: Send address changes to “The Chaldean News 30095 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334”

Not knowing is a scary place to be


didn’t realize a law could pass and still be conmarijuana laws, it may take the same time or fusing even to law enforcement until I read even longer to solidify recreational marijuana. the recreational marijuana ballot proposal. There are still many unknowns at this point. My head was spinning just writing this month’s We don’t know what we don’t know. That is cover story. It’s legal yet, ambiguous; no one is a scary place to be. certain exactly how to interpret or enforce it. I get the issues raised by law enforcement, At least that is what I discovered in my interhealth professionals and educators. They are views. It is scary because you are dealing with a valid and should be addressed. substance that can alter brain development and There are many uncertainties in life. When VANESSA cognitive function. something is out of your control, you have to There are the supporters and non-supporters DENHA-GARMO take a leap of faith in God that all will turn out of the law. We attempted to cover as many angles EDITOR IN CHIEF okay or even better than you hoped. CO-PUBLISHER to the story as possible. We looked at it from a leHowever, it’s frustrating to know that there gal perspective, religious perspective, community could have been some kind of control over this perspective and business perspective as the law impacts law but our leaders failed to do the right thing or that is various people and organizations. We wanted to underwhat appears happened in Lansing. The legislature didn’t stand – now that it is legal – what does it mean? take on the marijuana issue and instead they let the people decide and now we ended up with a confusing law. We don’t know what we don’t know. As time passes, As a mother and an aunt, I am I can only surmise things will come up regarding marimost concerned about the youth juana that have to be addressed after the fact. We will be scratching our heads saying, “Oh, we didn’t know!” and the long-term effects on Obviously, marijuana is not the only story worth telling this month but it an important one. No doubt each of them if they use it while their us know someone with a grow house or dispensary. I am near certain that this will be a topic of discussion in our brains are still developing. community for years to come. What does this new law really mean? We don’t really After all my interviews, I ended up with a 5,000-word know. How will it affect our families? We don’t know. What article which was ultimately edited down but is still quite will the long-term consequences be? We don’t know. long; I assure you it’s worth the read. If nothing else, I And what we don’t know, could harm us. It truly is a discovered that all of us in some way or another could be scary place to be. affected by recreational marijuana becoming legal. As a mother and an aunt, I am most concerned about the youth and the long-term effects on them if they use it while their brains are still developing. I am a supporter of medical marijuana. I do believe Alaha Imid Koullen there are valid applications and positive results but I also (God Be With Us All) support scientific research of it and proper administration Vanessa Denha-Garmo of the substance. After all, it is a drug whether it is derived from nature or not. Follow her on Twitter @vanessadenha Just like it took about 10 years to tweak the medical Follow Chaldean News on Twitter @chaldeannews

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his past December dian Prime Minister talk of 5, mid-morning, that era was a reminder of I made sure my a by-gone era of political schedule was cleared. I leadership. The leaders of was intent to watch on the western world included TV what was sure to be President Francois Mita historic occasion—the terand of France, Chanmemorial service for Presicellor Helmut Kohl of dent George H.W. Bush at Germany, and Prime MinMICHAEL G. the Washington National ister Margaret Thatcher of SARAFA Cathedral. It did not disGreat Britain. With PresiSPECIAL TO THE appoint. dents Ronald Raegan and CHALDEAN NEWS The service was prehis successor George H.W. cise, elegant and grand but still very Bush, they stood down the Soviet moving. The eulogists included forEmpire and finessed the reunification mer U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, of Germany, closing the 20th century John Meacham, the senior Bush’s in epic fashion. biographer, former Canadian Prime President George H.W Bush’s Minister Brian Mulroney and, of right-hand man and best friend durcourse, President George W. Bush. ing those times, prior to them and I was coming of political age durever since was James A. Baker. Baker ing the presidency of H.W. Bush. To was Secretary of State in the Bush listen to stories from that era was presidency but was present with the fascinating. They included small and elder Bush since the two men were funny anecdotes as well as epic inin their 30s. It was the preacher’s euternational events. It was the elder logy that Wednesday afternoon that Bush who presided over the fall of caught my attention. the Berlin Wall as the leader of the On the morning before Presifree world. To hear the former Canadent Bush passed away, he had been

mostly unconscious. But his old friend Jim Baker came by the hospital as he had done almost every day during the last week. President Bush perked up. “Where are we going, Bake’s,” H.W. asked. “We’re going to heaven Mr. President,” Baker replied. “That’s where I want to go,” Bush responded.

went on to become Vice President of the United States for eight years and President for four. The other was Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and Treasury Secretary and one of the most successful Secretaries of State in modern times. But there he was, rubbing the former President’s feet on his death bed. It was a little thing.

I was coming of political age during the presidency of H.W. Bush. To listen to stories from that era was fascinating. They included small and funny anecdotes as well as epic international events. With President Bush barely conscious throughout the remainder of the day, Baker stood at the foot of his bed rubbing his feet. This was not a mother and child. It was not a husband and wife. One was the Ambassador to China and to the United Nations and Director of the CIA. He

But it was a powerful gesture of compassion; a true moment of tenderness; and a simple act of genuine love between two buddies in the twilight of their lives. Even amongst two political giants of their time, it’s the little things that matter in the end.




A Priestly Ordination Fr. Daniel Shaba and Fr. Peter Patros are the newest priests at the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego. Fr. Daniel and Fr. Peter were ordained alongside each other on December 19.

People’s Choice Winner Maysoun Y. Seman, who’s faith inspired artwork graced our cover last month has been named People’s Choice Winner for her mixed media artwork titled “Mary and Elizabeth – The Visitation” in the Seventh Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition, part of a multimedia show of religious-themed art at The Saint Vincent Gallery at Saint Vincent College. This award is based solely on ballots cast by visitors to the exhibition during its month-long run. A total of 44 works by artists from 17 states and three countries were included in the unique exhibition where artists worked in mixed media, stainless steel, oil, acrylic, photography, watercolor, cast stone, plaster, fabric and others.

Patrick Tomina

Saad Abbo

New Board of Directors Elected The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual board elections on Wednesday, November 14 at the Shenandoah Country Club. This year, 15 chamber members ran to fill the seven open seats. About 200 members attended the event to vote for their next board of directors.




Eman Jajonie-Daman

Nahid Elyas, M.D.

2019 CACC/CCF Board of Directors Executive Board

CACC Directors

Chairman: Sylvester Sandiha

Secretary: Eman Jajonie-Daman

Executive Vice Chairman: Patrick Tomina

Executive Committee Members: Nahid Elyas, M.D. Joe Hurshe Jason Najor

Vice Chairman: Michael Sarafa Treasurer: Saad Abbo

Jason Abro Ron Babbie Salam Elia Caldin Konja Michael Romaya Anthony Toma


Chaldeans contribute nearly





B U I L D I N G B U S I N E S S , C O M M U N I T Y A N D R E L AT I O N S H I P S !

The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is comprised of more than 950 members, representing nearly 4,000 businesses.


annually to Michigan’s economy*












30 100 %

M A J O R C O N C E N T R AT I O N O F I N D U S T R I E S Our members represent a wide range of industries including: H O S P I TA L I T Y


R E TA I L ( I N C L U D I N G S T O R E S A N D S U P E R M A R K E T S )


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CHAI time



Wednesday, January 9 Fox on the Fairway: “A Fox on the Fairway is a charmingly madcap adventure about love, life, and man’s eternal love affair with … golf.” Running from Wednesday, January 9 through Sunday, February 3, the show takes audiences on a hilarious romp, which “pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy denizens of a private country club.” A Fox on the Fairway” is a tribute from Ken Ludwig to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over the top romantic shenanigans. A Fox on the Fairway will be shown at the Meadow Brook Theatre, Michigan’s largest producing theater located on the campus of Oakland University. To purchase tickets, call 248-377-3300 or go online to

Monday, January 14 North American International Auto Show Gallery: 2019 marks the thirteenth year of the ultra-luxury automotive event, The Gallery. This event has now become the official kick-off to the North American International Auto Show. The Gallery will be located at MGM Grand Detroit. Guests will experience a nearly $10 million collection of the most acclaimed automobiles the world has to offer, including brands such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls Royce, to name just a few. The strolling dinner will be available form 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. and the Car Salon will be available form 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit Wednesday, January 16 Quarterly Networking Meeting: Join the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce for their first Quarterly Networking Meeting of the new year! The “Fun After 5: Quarterly Networking Meeting” will be hosted at the Bank of Ann Arbor in Birmingham from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This complimentary event is open to members 10



and one guest. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be available for guests to enjoy. The food and refreshments will be featuring a taste of Birmingham from local area restaurants. For more information about the Quarterly Networking Meeting, or to register, please email or register online at event/quarterly-networking-meeting/ Friday, January 18 AutoGlow: All are invited to Dream Big at the 2019 AutoGlow Friday, January 18 at Ford Field in Detroit. Benefiting the Children’s Center, the night to step out is complete with a strolling dinner, drinks, and dancing all to help the children dream again. Dream Big at the AutoGlow, presented by Ford Motor Company, will benefit more than 7,500 vulnerable children and families that the Children’s Center supports and helps those children and families overcome behavioral, emotional, educational, and physical challenges so they can heal, grow, and dream again. For more information or to purchase tickets to this event, please call 313-262-1085 or visit Saturday, January 19 Quicken Loans Winter Blast: Experience winter in Detroit like you never have before with Quicken Loans Winter Blast weekends! The traditional Winter Blast event has expanded to four festival weekends at Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit. Quicken Loans Winter Blast weekends will feature winter activities, live entertainment, and food from local restaurants for the whole family to enjoy. Traditional Winter Blast activities will be divided up among the four different weekends, with many activities appearing during each Quicken Loans Winter Blast weekend. A deviation from tradition, this year, admission to Winter Blast weekend is free. For more information about Winter Blast weekends, visit Saturday, January 19 Meadery Bus Tour: Join the Motor City Brew Tours for their Meadery Bus Tour on Saturday, January 19 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The bus tour will take you to three meaderies in the metro Detroit area including: B. Nektar Meadery, Schramm’s Mead in Ferndale, and Cellarmen’s in Hazel Park. Tickets for the brew tour are priced at $55, participants must be 21 years or older. The tour ticket includes a guided tour, a free Motor City Brew Tours gift, water/snacks on the bus, and mead samples at each meadery

stop. Where available, will be taken on a guided brewery tour. Everything is included in the ticket price. For more information about the Meadery Bus Tour, call (248) 825-3085 or email Friday, January 25 Ann Arbor Folk Festival: Get ready to find your folk! The annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a fundraiser for The Ark, returns to University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium for two different nights of folk and roots music on Friday, January 25 and Saturday, January 26. The Ark is Michigan’s nonprofit home for folk and roots music. “Considered one of the top music clubs in the world, The Ark is renowned for the quality and breadth of its programming. The Ark is an intimate 400-seat club presenting performers ranging from young upand-comers to classic figures of the folk genre.” For more information about the annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival or to purchase tickets, visit w w w. t h e a r k . o r g / s h o w s - e v e n t s / events-workshops/folk-festival

Wednesday, January 30 Pitch Club: Pitch club is a mentoring and funding program hosted across the state of Michigan. According to their website, Pitch Club “has ongoing monthly events that provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors. The events are meant to educate, network, inspire and provide valuable experiences for being investable. As part of the events, 3 lucky entrepreneurs will receive the opportunity to practice their pitch and discuss business plan with funding experts, giving them a better understanding the mindset of an investor. Presenters will be given milestones to complete. In addition to guidance from our host and guest experts, attendees will be given a survey to provide additional feedback to the presenters. Pitch club will also feature a guest keynote who can speak on topics related to starting a company, technology, and opportunities for entrepreneurs.” This Pitch Club event will be hosted Wednesday, January 30 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Bamboo Detroit. You can find more information about Pitch Club by visiting,


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New Year’s resolution for Catholics BY JEFF KASSAB


ow, January 2019 olic apps such as prayer, – time again to Catholic radio stations, make those New Bibles, church locations Year’s resolutions and probfor mass times, Catholic ably for many of us, these are podcasts that talk about top on your list: lose weight, the faith, etc. Keep theses do better financially, take apps on the first page of more vacations, get a betyour phone, maybe in one ter job, get organized, and folder so you can easily acJEFF KASSAB spend more time with famcess them and in your spare ily. I’m sure all of us have SPECIAL TO THE time you can make use of had one of those on our list CHALDEAN NEWS those apps to learn more and in reality, how long do about your faith. we really keep them (if we even start Once you’ve downloaded the app them at all)? that tells you what time masses are, If you’re the type of person that you can start attending one extra has a hard time keeping these typical mass during the week; you will be New Year’s resolutions, how about surprised how many churches offer trying something new this year? How masses before you go to work. Shrine about making resolutions that will of the Little Flower has 6:00 am daily make you become a better Catholic mass followed by confession every in 2019? If we try to become better day. Our Chaldean Churches and Catholics, in return we will become ECRC all offer daily masses. You better individuals and be able to will receive many graces and blessgrow in our faith in this upcoming ings just by doing that one thing. year. Surprisingly, none of these on Consider going to confession this list are difficult at all. Let’s take a once a month. Yes, I know it’s diffilook at them. cult to go to confession, but once you Since our smart phone is at our start going, maybe once a month and hip or in our hands 24/7, this is the you notice you are committing less best place to start. Download Cathand less mortal sins, you will want to 12



keep going to keep your soul clean and in good standing with God. Almost every parish and ECRC offer some type of bible study or faith class. Attend one and read your bible daily. The bible is the word of God and it is alive and active in our lives

Almost every parish and ECRC offer some type of bible study or faith class. today, but you must allow the word of God to be active in your life. Read it and live it. Daily prayer is a must and the best way to pray is the daily rosary. The prayer of the rosary is the most asked for in the Message of Fatima. The Blessed Virgin Mary requested in all of her six apparitions to pray the rosary every day. Every pope and saint in the Catholic church had a devotion to the blessed Virgin Mary and the rosary. We must remember that our ultimate worship and praise

is to God and God alone, but the Mother of Jesus, the second person of the blessed Trinity will lead us to her son if we are lost. If you are like most Catholics and only go to church on Sundays just to fulfill your obligation, you are missing out on many beautiful teachings of the faith. Read a book about the faith, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, books by popes or saints, anything that will help become a better Catholic. Go on Amazon and type in “Catholic books” and you will find many books about the faith for a reasonable price. Once you start reading about the faith, you will not want to stop. Find a Patron Saint and learn about their lives. Saints are a valuable resource to us that have been given to us by God. They can help you in many aspects of your life. We are able to relate to the Saints because many of them lived lives like ours and were able to achieve heaven as we can also achieve heaven. They give us hope in Christ. Finally, I want to share with you something that changed my life forever; Eucharistic Adoration. I started with 15 minutes a week and fell in love with being in the presence of our Lord. It did not take me long to work up to an hour a week to 3-4 days a week. Jesus is waiting there for us to come pour out our hearts to him. To praise and adore him as did the Magi when he was just a baby. Jesus wants us to spend at least an hour with him a week “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Mt 26:40). For me, the best part of my week besides mass is holy hour. Find a chapel near you that is open 24 hours and go and spend some time with Jesus. My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we all want to become better people and do better things in life, but it all must start with God. He sent us his son because He loves us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus is alive, make him a part of this amazing year that is coming up in your lives, get to know him, love him, pray to him, follow him, but most of all let him be the center of your life in 2019. Jeff Kassab has a BA in Pastoral Theology and is on the board of the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC).


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It’s legal: now what? Measuring the aftermath of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan BY VANESSA DENHA GARMO


arijuana is big business and it was long before the law passed to legalize it on a recreational basis. On December 6, Michigan became a green state, making it the 10th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Even before Michigan’s recreational marijuana law went into effect, grow houses, dispensaries and medical marijuana licenses existed. The law is officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. In 2008, the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative, establishing a medical cannabis program for serious and terminally ill patients, was approved by the House but not acted upon, and defaulted to a public initiative on the November ballot. “Prop 1” was approved by 63 percent of voters, making Michigan the 13th state to legalize medical cannabis. With the passage of proposal 1, it is not legal for anyone 21 years or older to grow, consume, and possess marijuana, but not purchase or sell it; only those with medical marijuana 16



cards can buy more. The same goes for growing. If you already have plants in your house, they are legal to grow and harvest for your own use. But buying marijuana plants or selling the marijuana that you grow is still illegal. It seems confusing and it is to many people including law enforcement. So, it’s now legal but what does that really mean? That depends on who you ask. The Legal Perspective This law was decided by a vote of the people and right now there is a transitional period. “The state has one year to come up with the regulatory framework for sales of recreational marijuana,” said Mike M. Bahoura, principal attorney of Bahoura Law Group, located in Troy, MI. The firm practices almost exclusively in cannabis licensing. “However, we do know that for the first two years after the state begins accepting applications for recreational sales, only those who have been approved to sell medicinal

marijuana will be allowed to apply to sell recreational,” said Bahoura. “In other words, if you want to sell recreational marijuana in the next couple of years, you need to be approved for medical marijuana sales first.” Law enforcement would agree that the law is not yet clear. “We as police, don’t decide the laws, we enforce them,” said West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton. “Just because it is legal doesn’t mean someone can walk down the street on Orchard Lake Road smoking marijuana. The medical marijuana law was decided 10 years ago and it took about ten years for that law to be tweaked.” Police officers must look at this from various angles, including from a motor vehicle violation perspective. For example, will impaired driving be treated similarly to alcohol regulations? “God bless America for ballot initiatives but there are issues dangling and unresolved,” said Patton. “The ballot initiative says zero tolerance offense yet we are getting

conflicting reports on what is probable cause to arrest.” Police are looking at the need for a motor vehicle code for marijuana use. “If this was done at a legislative level, they would have heard these issues come up but the legislature didn’t want to listen and it became a ballot initiative and now these issues are coming up after the vote. We have unanswered questions and issues in limbo.” The language on the ballot initiative is ambiguous and conflicting. “You can’t consume Marijuana in public, it reads,” noted the Chief. “What does consume mean? Does that including smoking or eating a brownie with marijuana in it?” Under the new law, one can carry up to 2.5 ounces as long as they’re not at a K-12 school or on federal property. In your own home, you can store up to 10 ounces and grow up to 12 plants. Chief Patton continued pointing out the confusion with the law and the issues that are unresolved. “Unless the legislature weighs in more,

we will continue to have unworkable parts, too many loop holes,” he said. Each city will have the option of allowing recreational sales, as they do now with medicinal sales. “We are hopeful that those municipalities who are friendly to cannabis businesses will opt-in for recreational sales and allow existing provisioning centers – commonly referred to as dispensaries - to also sell recreational marijuana,” said Bahoura. “For the Chaldean community members (and others) who have been approved for medicinal sales, this expands their potential customer base from only those who have a medical marijuana card to anyone who is 21 years or older. And so, the economic ramifications are significant.” The township of West Bloomfield has opted out in terms of allowing businesses to operate Marijuana shops. “We looked at Colorado and 65 percent of their municipalities have opted out,” noted Chief Patton. “Although people can share what they grow with family and friends, how do we regulate or know if they are selling it or bartering it?” There seems to be a thought among cities that if they do not optout of recreational sales, then they have opted-in by default, however, that is not accurate. “A cannabis business cannot simply open up shop in a city because that city hasn’t officially opted-out,” said Bahoura. “There are still potential criminal issues for selling marijuana without the proper licensing. Each municipality has the option to opt-in or opt-out for medical and recreational marijuana. For the municipalities that decide to opt-in, the state has given them full control over how many of each type of license.” Chief Patton warns there is no quality assurance with the products. There are no regulations. This is a major concern considering the drug overdoses on the rise in the country. “There is no one regulating what is actually in the marijuana products,” said Patton. There have been studies that show marijuana is a gateway to other drugs including a study shared by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Of the 57 overdoes in the last 4 1/2 years, we have had 16 fatalities due to heroin overdoses in West Bloomfield,” he noted. “I don’t have 16 homicides or deaths from car crashes. Heroin deaths are the second leading cause of death in West Bloomfield. I realize a majority of people smoking Marijuana will not have a negative affect or major addictions but it doesn’t discount the problems.” Law enforcement does expect to see a spike in traffic accidents due to impaired driving. “We know it will

spike and perhaps level off but this will be an issue,” said Patton. “This is not a green light to light up, get high and get behind the wheel; It is not and I suggest you don’t for your own safety and safety of others.” Although legal on the state level, it is still illegal on the federal level. “There is currently no funding from the federal government for marijuana enforcement at the state level,” said Bahoura. “President Trump has indicated that he would support removing marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic, although time will tell if that happens with this administration or the next. It may take some more time, but it seems inevitable.” However, businesses can still find themselves on the wrong side of the law if, for example, they aren’t paying their taxes properly or ensuring they are in strict compliance with the state marijuana laws. “One of the major issues with the federal government’s stance on the issue is that it prevents traditional Banks from accepting funds from these businesses or to provide much needed financ-

marijuana or consuming non-smokable marijuana products. College students who are wanting to light up, slow your roll; don’t assume you can possess or consume marijuana in your dorm room. Many universities have drug-free policies that can remain in place despite any change in state law. If you have a medical marijuana card and can legally purchase marijuana products, there is nothing stopping you from giving pot to your friends and family. If you want to give away extra greenery, you can’t collect payment for it. That would be illegal. The Business Perspective Many extremely successful business people are now investing in cannabis. “They look at this as an opportunity to enter into an industry while it is still in its infancy,” said Bahoura. “This is appealing for both the experienced business person as well as the younger generation looking to get into their own business for the first time. They have done their homework and realize that there are sig-

business and allowed me to bring it to the gardening industry which caters to the marijuana growers.” Brikho pointed out that Chaldeans are entrepreneurial and have been since arriving into the United States more than a century ago and over the last 100 years. “I have never met such a hard-working community and driven community,” said Brikho. “Chaldeans are the pioneers of this industry in the state of Michigan. Brikho argues that many Chaldeans were instrumental in pushing the legalization of marijuana. “The very people that helps pass all these laws are now being disqualified for being in the business prior to the laws taking effect,” he said. Marijuana is more heavily regulated than liquor. “It is certainly more difficult to obtain a marijuana license than it is a liquor license,” said Bahoura. “The process of obtaining a marijuana license from the State is quite rigorous.” Each applicant is subjected to a very thorough examination of all of their personal and business financial

Although legal on the state level, it is still illegal on the federal level. “There is currently no funding from the federal government for marijuana enforcement at the state level.” ing, as some of these endeavors require substantial amounts of money to get started,” said Bahoura. Even a landlord who is simply renting space to a marijuana business cannot accept any rent that is based on a percentage of sales (as is common in other lease deals), without also going through the same rigorous process. All investors will still be disclosed, but they would not be subject to the same scrutiny as the majority owners. “I fully support the bill requiring the disclosure of criminal incidents only in which the applicant has been convicted, not simply charged, as is required now,” said Bahoura. “Being innocent until proven guilty is one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system. Being arrested or charged but never convicted should not be held against anyone in their application process.” Although it is legal to smoke, there are still some provisions similar to alcohol laws. You must smoke in private or in a business zoned for smoking, for instance. Don’t expect to see people lighting up on the streets; just like alcohol, it will be illegal to consume marijuana in public. In addition, landlords, leaseholders, and business owners can prohibit smoking pot on their premises but, they cannot stop you from possessing


nificant amounts of money they can legally make. These new laws have really given this industry a sense of legitimacy and rightfully so.” “I truly am happy about the law being passed by the people,” said George Brikho. “There are many good people who have been punished far too long for this plant, this Godgiven plant,” he continued quoting Genesis 1:29. “Where do we draw the line on what the government can tell us what to consume and what not to consume? Many people are overweight; when is the government going to intrude on their lives and tell them that the amount of food they eat is not good for them and it will kill them.” Recreational retail shops won’t open for at least one year. The state has until December 6, 2019 to figure out licenses and regulations for recreational pot shops. As a small business owner in the gardening industry, Brikho said it will affect him in a positive way. “It will also affect many of the gardening suppliers, as well as steel manufacturers, as well as plant food manufacturers when they produce products for this industry,” he continued. “It will also help the government in tax revenue so the government’s tax base. It has helped me take the talent that I have learned from the retail

accounts going back three years, as well as a thorough vetting of any tax delinquencies, litigation history and, of course, any criminal history. “Time will tell how the industry shakes out, but for now, there is plenty of opportunity for those trying to get into the business, whether it is through cultivating or selling, or by providing ancillary services to the industry, such as security services, packaging materials, signage, or web development,” noted Bahoura. “We did everything in our power for the average Michigander to have an opportunity to get into this industry to be able to provide for their family and the future of their families,” said Brikho. There are many who still protest the law and want it changed. The law could potentially change, but few believe that could happen. When a ballot initiative passes, it requires a 3/4 majority of both the state House and Senate to make any changes. But that doesn’t mean some legislators aren’t trying. A bill has been introduced that would make it illegal to grow marijuana in your home, and would drastically change the tax structure established by the law. “I know there are some people in our community who frown at those MARIJUANA continued on page 18 JANUARY 2019


MARIJUANA continued from page 17

who own dispensaries or other marijuana businesses but then also happen to own liquor stores themselves,” said Bahoura. “The irony is not lost on the rest of us. This industry is here to stay, embrace it.” The Community Perspective There are several groups who strongly oppose the law including those concerned about it getting into the hands of minors. There is great concern regarding the impact marijuana will have on the youth. “We are very disappointed about the law and are concerned about youth,” said Lisa G. Berkey, executive director of the Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition. “We want our kids to make wise choices and we know they don’t always do that because their brains don’t develop until mid-20s.” Over the years, there have been national campaigns designed to educate people against the dangers of cigarette smoke. “They have been affective,” noted Berkey, “however, kids think that smoking cigarettes is worse than smoking marijuana. They have been taught their entire lives that cigarettes cause cancer but they don’t think marijuana is dangerous.” Although the legal age to consume is 21 years old, there is still great concern that marijuana will become available to tweens and teens. “It is harmful for their developing brains,” noted Lisa Kaplan, LMSW, CAADC, CPC-R, program coordinator-Maplegrove Community Education. “It creates and worsens depression and anxiety, and can cause psychosis.” Kaplan also shares the concern of police and that people will drive under the influence, and cause more traffic accidents, injuries and deaths. She also does support studies that marijuana use leads to other drugs. “There is disagreement on whether it is a gateway drug. I strongly believe that it is,” said Kaplan.  “Nobody begins with heroin.  After using a drug for a period of time a user will look for a stronger high and turn to other drugs.  Tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are drugs and we think of them as gateway drugs.” There are 19 coalitions in Oakland County as well as task forces reviewing the current law and are waiting for more information. “There is so much gray area with this law,” explained Berkey. “We still don’t know enough about the regulations but that doesn’t change the dangers 18



related to marijuana. We put the cart before the horse with this law.” Lisa Kaplan is on the board of the Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition which has many programs designed to educate parents, students and school officials on the dangers of drugs. “Legalization of marijuana sends a mixed message to students. Similar to alcohol, being legal for adults indicates it must not be harmful,” said Gerald Hill, Ph.D., superintendent of West Bloomfield Schools. “Being illegal for youth is something that parents need to stress, as possession or being under the influence at school will bring disciplinary consequences.” The mission of the Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition is to build community partnerships to reduce high risk behaviors including alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, to help ensure that our youth may grow to their greatest potential. “The Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition’s “Kids in Charge” curriculum, taught by community volunteers in our elementary schools, will need to be revised/updated,” said Dr. Hill. “I’m sure that Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and social service agencies will be requesting and providing educational programs on the legalities and health issues related to use and abuse.” Dr. Hill shares many of the same thoughts as others. “The concerns include health, mental health and safety risks, potential legal consequences of using a prohibited substance, and another distraction from learning,” he said.  “I am surprised by how easily the proposition passed in the November election.”  It’s not just smoking marijuana that poses problems, edibles also create significant issues. “There are edibles packaged in boxes that look like other commercialized treats. Imagine a kid taking a marijuana-laced pastry to school,” said Berkey. “We are not proactive in this country. We are reactive. Tobacco started out by being glamorized by showing TV stars smoking. But when they realized the problems, they started educating people on the dangers. It is the same with vaping. If they regulated in the beginning, maybe our kids would not be vaping.” Both Kaplan and Berkey highly recommend that parents educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of use. “Do not do the research on the computer,” said Kaplan. “Be familiar with vapes/electronic cigarettes, wax,

shatter, and marijuana oils. Take adolescent use seriously, as the younger a person starts using, the higher the likelihood of addiction.  Have a zerotolerance policy, and give the clear message that use is forbidden.” The Religious Perspective Among those who not just frown upon it, but strongly speak against recreational marijuana are religious leaders. The Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of the United States issued an official statement last month regarding recreational marijuana and other drug use in the Chaldean community. The full statement is on the Chaldean News Website. “Our Diocese is another voice in the church condemning drug use outside strict therapeutic reasons,” said Fr. Matthew Zetouna. “In particular, the church is against the legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan for many reasons. Wherever marijuana has been legalized, it has had a detrimental impact and terrible consequences hitting the family, hitting the youth, and hitting society … In the interest of protecting our family, our human dignity and our youth, the church is very vocal against the legalization of recreational marijuana.” Fr. Matthew, among many clergy, receive numerous phone calls regarding drug issues in the community. “Have you had to bury a young kid who overdoses? Have you had to think of the words to give to the family looking at you to help them make sense of the situation? I am sick of burying people who overdose,” said Fr. Matthew. “I am terribly sick of it and it’s unfortunate that our community will hide away instead of getting help because of shame on the family.” Fr. Matthew urges people to consider their moral obligations before going into this business. “Like anything else you have to look at the proper protocols and the right way to do things,” said Fr. Matthew. “Are you being honest or dishonest? Look at your buyers. If your buyers are using for strict therapeutic reasons and following the norms that are given, then it could be morally permissible to sell. In that way, it is similar to selling alcohol. If your clientele is abusing marijuana, then you have an obligation to stop selling to them. If you know someone is abusing it, then you cannot enable them.” In recent months, Fr. Matthew

has heard many arguments, defending the use of Marijuana including, how is it different from alcohol? “The mere fact that an activity is made legal by the government does not automatically mean that it is morally acceptable. Like alcohol, marijuana has intoxicating effects, but marijuana causes one to experience a “high,” often accompanied by grogginess and impaired judgement,” he said. “If it is used therapeutically, the resulting impairment is seen as an unintended secondary effect outside of the drug’s main beneficial use. In other words, if one is using marijuana for its intoxicating effects, it is wrong for several reasons (like getting drunk with alcohol). With alcohol, one may justifiably drink it as long as the intention and result is not to get “buzzed” or intoxicated.” “There is no question as to the social evils that will increase as marijuana usage is continued to be embraced as a neutral practice in society,” stated the church. “To our young people, especially, the normalization of recreational marijuana socially is unacceptable. Children and families will be damaged as a result. Using marijuana for adolescents often results in significant changes to brain structure and cognitive functioning. Fr. Matthew reiterated the statement with a personal appeal to the community. “The reason I didn’t touch Marijuana when I was in high school is because I value myself too much and I didn’t want to lose a fraction of who I am. Marijuana is not worth the risk of losing who I am, my ability to articulate. I encourage people to speak up. Encounter Christ for encouragement. Ask for help. You are all worth it. Your life is too valuable to compromise.”

RESOURCES REFERENCED IN THE ARTICLE: Catechism of the Catholic Church 2291 marijuana-brain.aspx aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academyof-Pediatrics-Reaffirms-Opposition-toLegalizing-Marijuana-for-Recreational-orMedical-Use.aspx research-reports/marijuana/marijuanagateway-drug *This information does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions or are interested in entering the cannabis industry, you should consult with legal counsel.

Second in charge at the chamber

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY Attorney Randall Mansour Social Security Disability and Veterans Benefits Attorneys

Real estate attorney Paul Jonna takes over as COO of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce BY STEPHEN JONES



Kelly, Riggs, & Mansour 625 E. BIG BEAVER STE. 204, TROY, MI 48083 • Specializing in Social Security Cases (SSI/SSD) & VA Benefits • We’ve won thousands of cases • Assistance with the initial application process • Help from start to finish with the entire claim man, Jonna operated a private law practice, offering a wide range of real estate legal services as well as practical business advice. Jonna also served as president of The Chaldean American Bar Association. Jonna is looking forward to bringing the dynamic skill set he’s developed through previous experiences to the CACC and CCF. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to utilize my expertise as a lawyer, former board member, commercial landlord and small business owner to help implement the strategic initiatives of the Chaldean Chamber and the CCF that will benefit future generations,” he explained. Jonna currently resides in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with his wife and three kids ages two, four and six. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Oakland University before earning his J.D. with honors from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Jonna is a high school graduate of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. “There are so many amazing people invested in these organizations, from business members to those who rely on the CCF,” Jonna said. “I’m excited to join an amazing staff that works tirelessly to advance the missions of both the Chaldean Chamber and the CCF. Our community and our dedicated staff work together to make the Chaldean Chamber and the CCF what it is today.”

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he Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce (CACC) and its non-profit arm, the Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF), added the position of Chief Operating Officer to its leadership team. Paul Jonna will step into the role where he will be responsible for managing operations and staff. The CACC is an organization dedicated to maintaining the economic vitality of the Chaldean American business community, and the area’s leading ethnic chamber comprised of more than 950 members that represent more than 3,500 businesses. The CCF is a community-based human services agency that provides social, educational and family development services to more than 30,000 clients annually, who are mostly refugees and recently arrived immigrants. The president of the CACC/CCF is Martin Manna. “It is an honor to join Martin and team on a full-time basis and help contribute to the long-term goals of each organization,” said Jonna. “The Chamber and CCF continue to grow at an unprecedented rate and next year is no different with the groundbreaking of a 130-unit low income apartment complex and 18,000 square-foot expansion of the CCF building that will include a primary care unit and expanded behavioral health services.” Jonna worked as a staff attorney for The Taubman Company, which owns, manages and develops superregional shopping centers in the U.S. and Asia. In this role, Jonna advised on legal matters relating to lease compliance, litigation and specialty leasing. He also recently served on a work life culture committee at Taubman, where he collaborated with a team on improving efficiencies and communication in the workplace. Prior to his tenure with Taub-




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Senior living New apartment complex opening next to Holy Martyrs BY VANESSA DENHA GARMO


nside Holy Martyrs church last November both Fr. Manuel Boji and Nohra Hailo offered a sneak peek into the new residence being built next to the church in Sterling Heights. “It is an independent living residence,” explained Fr. Boji. “As long as one family member is 55 years or older, they qualify to rent one of the apartments.” It’s been a few years since the Chaldean Diocese built a senior living facility. The first one – Chaldean Manor – next to the Mother of God Cathedral was built in 2000 with the second phase being built in 2002. There are 68 units at Chaldean Manor. About 50 percent of the 98 units next to Holy Martyrs are leased and are priced at lower than market value. There are both one and two-bedroom apartments along with a deluxe room that has a bonus room. The units are available inside the three-story building set to open early 2019. The rooms range from 730 square feet to more than 800 square feet ranging from $750 to $975 a month. Water is included in the price. Each apartment is equipped with appliances, granite countertops, washer and dryer in a carpet-free environment. “The community here is larger than the Southfield Location,” said Fr. Boji. “The need is greater here in terms of offering a senior living facility. We struggled in the beginning at the Mother of God Location. It was a new concept for us. There was this belief that people were abandoning the parents when in fact this offers more care for them. This does not mean the children are not taking care of their parents.” Hailo, who will be moving her office inside the apartment complex and running the day-to-day operations, already has a variety of activities planned for the residents. “We are already creating a calendar for next year that will have monthly activities on it,” she said. “We will host cooking classes and exercise classes as well as religious classes.” 20



The calendar will be passed out to residents and displayed inside the dining room, Chapel and exercise room. The plan is to have activities every single day. Hailo has already reached out to various members to lead some of the activities. She is also considering having cooking contests like who can make the best pot of dolma. “We can have so much fun and we plan to create a great living environment.” The facility is equipped with a public kitchen with warming stations where events can be held. “We are planning for potluck nights where each resident cooks a different dish and we enjoy a meal together in the first-floor kitchen,” said Hailo. She also has outside activities planned where she hopes to take field trips and bus tours such as a tour

of Churches. “We want to keep our families busy and entertained,” she said. “We are creating a quality of life for them.” Hailo is also considering a bus tour to Frankenmuth, for instance. Currently, there are Chaldeans living in Senior Living facilities in the area but they are not Chaldean owned. “This enables them to engage with their own community members. They are making new friends,” said Fr. Boji. “They can speak the language and enjoy our food and feel like they are living in one big extended family together.” In addition to having a shared kitchen and exercise room, the facility has a chapel. “We plan on celebrating mass there, especially in the winter when it may be too difficult for some residents to walk over to the

church,” noted Fr. Boji. They had a meet and greet scheduled for last December and will have a ribbon cutting scheduled for this year. The grounds also include a community garden with a Stations of the Cross path. A volunteer committee of community members with experience in the buildings and trades helped facilitate the project. The oversite committee members included: Fr. Manuel Boji, Fr. Andrew Seba, Naji Abdal, Fadi Seman, Steve Kranjnik, Francis Boji, and Isam Yaldo. Architects for the project is GAV Associates, Inc. (Ghassan Abdulnoor). Construction management for the project is provided by K4 General Contractor, Construction Management is Jamal Kalabat and Aram Palanjian.

Hungry for health or hareesa? You don’t have to compromise HEATHER ELIA, R.D.N.


like; nut butter, olives, or cheese. Use just the tip of your thumb to estimate portions of calorically dense foods such as: butter, coconut oil, or sugar per each meal. When we eat with our eyes, they deceive our mind thinking we are deprived of food when, in fact, we aren’t. The western food culture and our eating habits, leads us to consume almost double the recommended individual portion size, which is why it’s vital to practice mindful eating. This implies eating slower and paying attention to what we are eating. This will not only make it

Photos: Amy Guip

he holiday season has come to an end, and it’s time to begin your new year with a fresh start focusing on health and wellness. You won’t need to compromise your favorite foods to meet your health goals. It’s all about portion size. We often serve our meals family style, meaning we lay our food out in large serving dishes and help ourselves to our favorites. When doing this, it’s helpful to utilize portion control skills, which is in the palm of your hands, literally. Here’s how to use your hand as a visual guide to estimate portion size: Depending on your hand size, your palm is equivalent to approximately 3-4 ounces. This is valuable to portion out your protein. A palm size of protein will contain roughly 21-28 grams of protein, just enough for a meal. Examples of protein sources include: Chicken, turkey, beef, fish, and eggs. Your fist is equivalent to approximately 1 cup (8 ounces). Use a clenched hand to measure out your favorite non-starchy vegetables (examples include: asparagus, leafy greens, zucchini, mushrooms, turnips/ beets, eggplant, cauliflower, and broccoli). It’s essential to ensure you consume at least 1 cup (or one fist) of vegetables with each meal to reach a recommended goal of 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. Use a cupped hand to assist with gauging your carbohydrate intake. A cupped hand measures out to approximately a ½ cup (4 ounces). Use this to help you measure out proper portions of carbohydrates like: rice, pasta, beans, and lentils. Your thumb, from your knuckle to the tip, is about 1 ounce. Use it to measure out dense foods in you meal


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easier to stay in tune with our hunger cues, but will also prevent reaching for a second plate of dessert, which many regret almost instantaneously. Speaking of dessert, let’s discuss sugar intake. Reducing sugar consumption doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s a gradual process that won’t happen overnight, and once you start to cut back you’ll soon realize it’s something you should have done years ago. Over consumption of sugar has proven to contribute to health complications like: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and tooth decay.

Tips to cut back on sugar: Rent Drink more water. Cut back on: Due toenergy media: 10/16/2018 sodas, drinks, lattes, and “healthy” smoothies. Opt for sparPublication: Chaldean News kling flavored water and unsweetRuncoffee/tea date: November, ened whenDecember, trying toJanuary satisfy your needs. Size: 1/3 page, 4.375 in. w. x 8 in. h. Keep sauces on the side. Sauces are a common place to find added sugars. Instead of having something smothered in BBQ sauce, place it on the side and mindfully use as little as necessary. Try substituting sweet sauces with different flavors that don’t contain as much sugar, such as: mustard, pesto, or fresh chili/herbs. Eat whole foods. Processed foods habitually use sugar as a filler to bulk up products. If you can consume food in its whole form, then take advantage of it! By doing this, you are

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getting the full3:47PM nutritional benefit, Proof: 10/12/18; and also aren’t ingesting unnecesFor:additives. Broadway InTry Detroit/Nederlander sary food swapping to Detroitprocessed (Fisher Theatre & others) avoid foods. For example: instead of reaching for a Agency: SMZ advertising granola bar, opt for mixed nuts/fruits instead. Design: Frank Bach, Bach & There are several subtle changes Associates; Phone 313-822-4303, we can make to our eating habits, and I hope you found these tips helpful. Controlling portion size and reducing sugar intake is one of the first steps toward mindful eating and preventing certain diseases. Wishing you a HEALTHY New Year, with just a HINT of sugar! Heather Elia is a Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Private Practice Clinician. She has a passion in helping others heal through the power of food and nutrition. JANUARY 2019


Martial Arts schools bring focus, discipline to Southeast Michigan BY PAUL NATINSKY Sam Kas-Mikha


artial arts training and culture are alive and well in Southeast Michigan’s Chaldean community thanks to competitor/entrepreneurs like Sam Kas-Mikha, Jalal J. Dallo and David Garmo. All three are competitive martial arts practitioners in various disciplines who have turned their passion into a profession and dedicated themselves to teaching their art to others. Kas-Mikha, or “Master Kas” as he is known to fans and students has retired from competition as a titlewinning kickboxer to run the Family Karate Academy in Shelby Township. Kas-Mikha says he was 37-0 as a kickboxer and won eight titles at several weight classes. Now in his late 40s, Kas-Mikha sees himself teaching his art “forever.” He earned a junior blackbelt as a teenager, and at 48, said he is one of the younger 10th degree practitioners in his discipline, a feat he accomplished in October. Martial arts competition is tough, but so is building a business around teaching the art to others. KasMikha bought his business while he was in high school after the instructors with whom he was training decided to close their facility. At first, he planned to simply change training venues, but soon discovered that at 17, he was a better fighter than the 25-year-old proprietor of the training facility he was considering. A rude awakening ensued when Master Kas saw his student census drop from 62 to 22 almost immediately upon opening up. Today, he is still at it training students, ranging from a four-year-old child to “Grandma Pat,” a septuagenarian whom he trains privately. Kas-Mikha takes on students for the first few weeks and won’t start charging them “until they love it,” which apparently has not been a problem. Permanent students get a free uniform and pay $89 per month for two classes to start with. Later, a kickboxing class is added on a third 22



Jalal J. Dallo

day for those who impress. If Master Kas’ path to martial arts has been a focused, one-track journey, Jalal J. Dallo’s has been the merging of two-path route. Dallo is an immigration and defense attorney, a practitioner of weapons-heavy Filipino martial arts and an instructor in Boxe Francaise Savate (French kickboxing). Dallo said he became an attorney because of his martial arts background. “A true martial artist believes in self-defense and the defending of others,” he said. Whether practicing criminal defense or immigration law, Dallo characterizes himself as his clients’ “sword and shield.” Dallo made his commitment to teaching martial arts indelible in 2014 when he opened Dallo Martial Arts in Southfield. Training a student body of about 40, Dallo took matters into his own hands when he found he didn’t like the way his own instructor treated students. Dallo, 41, said he wants to be “a present and cultivating teacher” and run a facility centered around families.

David Garmo

“What sets us apart is my attention to detail. When you come into my school, you come into a boutique school that is very well maintained,” said Dallo. Dallo’s love of martial arts began with a childhood obsession with Bruce Lee. When he was young, he watched some Bruce Lee movies on TV and decided he wanted to do be like the famous fighter/actor. “It was just a childhood thing that never went away,” said Dallo. Dallo teaches classes in the evening from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and plans to open a second location at the end of 2019, close to his law practice in Sterling Heights. David Garmo, 28, has just signed the lease on his new business, Assembly Jiu Jitsu in Bloomfield Hills. Garmo is still in the prime of his competitive years and after spending the past year in Japan, capping off a 10-year competitive international run at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he shows no sign of slowing down. Although, he does plan to slowly cut back his competition schedule to focus on

teaching. Garmo brought back more than just title belts from the orient. He plans to offer a tonier approach to martial arts than the standard “four walls and a mat” set up. A coffee bar, hand-painted murals and professional interior design will flavor Assembly, which is targeted for a March/ April opening. For $180 per month, Garmo will offer training on both days and evenings six days a week with a focus on beginner students. Garmo will bring the benefit of continuing his competition to his students. His plan includes competing alongside his students and organizing participation in events where that’s possible. All of these martial arts professionals fell in love with their art at a very young age. But all also insist that no one is too old to benefit from the discipline, self-respect, confidence and fitness that stem from practicing martial arts, regardless of which of the vast variety of forms one chooses.


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Infertility: breaking the stigma BY BIANCA KASAWDISH


ith so many couples struggling silently with infertility, three women in the community shed some light on what they went through with having children – the ups, the downs, and everything in between. In a Mom to Mom show hosted by Lisa Denha brought by the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC) and shown live on the Chaldean Moms of Metro Detroit Facebook page, these women shared their stories of infertility and how they each managed to find their way through faith. Kristina Awdish After almost eight years of marriage and a long journey to conceive, Awdish and her husband suffered two miscarriages when they found she had low progesterone. She then had a third miscarriage. After seeing a NaProTechnology instructor, she learned the method and started tracking her symptoms for a few months. This Creighton Model monitors biomarkers of the menstrual and fertility cycle. This required her to do blood work often and track her levels of progesterone which was found not to be as high as 24



it should. This required her to then take injections of progesterone every two weeks to make sure the levels were okay. Soon afterwards she was given her gift and she and her husband welcomed a daughter into the world. She is now pregnant with her second child. “It’s a wonderful thing to want children,” she shared. “Having a child is not a right. I am undeserving and I’ve been trusted with a gift with this child.” On stigmas within the community on IVF and abortion, which is on the rise, she shares that there are so many other ways that are moral and approved by the church. She believes we’re all in need of God’s grace and we should talk about infertility and miscarriage more often. On words of advice for other women struggling with infertility she states “It’s not your fault. Don’t let people make you feel guilty.” Sandra Kizy Kizy got married later in her twenties and didn’t rush to have children right away. She went the Natural Family Planning (NFP) route and, when she and her husband were ready to start

trying to have children, they tried for two years. They then decided to see a fertility specialist and after many tests, bloodwork, and an invasive procedure, found she had very severe endometriosis after having no symptoms of it. “Infertility, in general, is a lot more common these days,” she said. “Women are pursuing careers, are waiting longer to get married, and, when they get married, are waiting a little longer to have kids for whatever reason that may be.” During that time she had discussed options with her husband, one being adoption. She shares that she had contacted a woman she was referred to about adoption and was considering it and praying about it, only to learn she was pregnant very soon after. Her son is now five and she also now has a daughter who is three. Wanting to expand their family further, Kizy then had a late term miscarriage at 20 weeks and is currently trying for a third child. Dawn Pullis After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at just 21 years old and catching it at the right time, Pullis was left infertile. Through difficulties dating

in the community and knowing this would be a struggle with her future partner, she knew adoption would be the route they would have to go. After marrying and deciding to start a family, she and her husband wanted to give a home to a child in need rather than go another route such as IVF. After going through the adoption process, Pullis and her husband met their daughter when she was just a day old. She shares that as soon as they met her, they knew she was meant to be their child. “God gave me the gift of forgetting the struggles once my daughter was born. I cherish her and appreciate having her more than anything,” she said. She shares that adoption is a blessing, and “It’s as if I gave birth to her.” She also shares that she would love for her daughter to know as much about herself as possible and maybe one day she will have contact with her birth mother. While the journey to motherhood is not easy for some, it’s time to break the stigma. For all of these women and for all women struggling with infertility, hold on to the hope that what’s meant to be will always find a way.

100 Questions and Answers about Chaldeans BY ASHOURINA SLEWO


orking with his students, author and Michigan State University journalism professor, Joe Grimm, has published a number of cultural competence guides about various cultures. His fifteenth and latest guide puts the spotlight on the Chaldean community. The book, “100 Questions and Answers About Chaldeans” came on the heels of the raids led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in June of 2017 that lead to the detainment of hundreds of community members. These community members faced deportation. With these massive raids came many misunderstandings regarding the Chaldean community. It became clear to Grimm that a cultural competence guide about the community was now more important than ever. “With people being detained for possible deportation, we had to act,” explained Grimm. “It is a journalist’s job to report relevant information when it is needed. We saw this guide and these times as our clear obligation to serve the public.” While the deportations play a part in the making of “100 Questions and Answers About Chaldeans”, Grimm had always planned to write this guide about Chaldeans. The raids bumped it up on his list of guides to write, though. “What makes a guide about Chaldean American special is that this place – southeast Michigan – is the heart of Chaldean America. That gives our people a tremendous advantage and a big responsibility to learn what we can locally and to share it widely,” said Grimm. “Personally, the first peer of nonEuropean descent I spent an extended time with was a classmate when I was a student at St. Bede’s School in Southfield. That was more than 50 years ago. After St. Bede’s, I attended Brother Rice High School, where I met more Chaldeans. Living my whole life in the Detroit area, I have known Chaldean Americans in many contexts.” In order for Grimm’s guides to be useful, the process of writing each guide is thorough. First, they begin by conducting interviews to learn

what Chaldean Americans to describe basic, everyday questions or assumptions non-Chaldeans have about the community. “These can be questions or assumptions that Chaldeans hear all the time or questions they think people really ought to have the answers to,” said Grimm. In writing these guides, Grimm and his students have four ethics. They are to be respectful of the peo-

corrected our work,” said Grimm. “We approached people from many perspectives. People we worked with directly included Bishop Francis Kalabat and Fathers Manuel Boji, Pierre Konja and Patrick Setto. Others were Vanessa Denha Garmo, who advised before the class even began and who then visited it. Martin Manna has a similarly vital role.” Other community experts in-

and not widely understood. The church is central. So is family. The distinctions of religion, nationality and cultural tradition have to be explained,” said Grimm. “The growth of our Chaldean community in terms of education and employment, especially entrepreneurship, is a real story of success and needs to be understood.” “Things are not as they were. We wanted to examine Chaldeans’ his-

ple they write about, be accurate in portraying the identities, be authoritative by using solid sources, and be accessible. The guides are meant to be accessible as possible. For this reason, the books are made available in print and digital at a low cost across a number of platforms. Grimm and his students then edit each other. In addition, they solicit critiques at the formative and question writing stages as well as at the end of the process. In this process, several members of the Chaldean community have had the opportunity to guide Grimm and his students. “These guides cannot possibly be done without help from experts in the community. They have been kind, knowledgeable and patient with us as they explained things or

clude author Jacob Bacall, Mary Romaya, Mariann Sarafa and Ann Rabban from the Chaldean Cultural Center, Zina Salem and Jane Shallal of the United Community Family Services (Chaldean American Ladies of Charity) and even the president of the Chaldean Heritage Foundation, Tom Alkatib. Other notable community members assisted, including Judge Diane D’Agostini, State Representative Klint Kesto, Assistant Metro Editor Sally Tato, Margaret SarokiShamoun, chair of TEACH, and Joe Sarafa. Providing several photos is Wilson Sarkis. Topics covered in “100 Questions and Answers About Chaldeans” will range from the church, employment and entrepreneurship to myths and stereotypes in the community. “The church is very important

toric origins and, of course, contemporary history in the United States and Iraq. It is both tragic and hopeful.” Grimm hopes readers of this guide will learn about the flourishing Chaldean community of metro Detroit and be confident in their interactions with Chaldean Americans. “It is very simple. We wish to give people the confidence to have better conversations with Chaldeans,” explained Grimm. “We want them to feel less afraid that they will ask a question that is hurtful or that embarrasses them. This is a slim little guide and is just a starting point, not the whole story.” There is not yet a release date for “100 Questions and Answers About Chaldeans.” When released, it will be available for purchase on Amazon. JANUARY 2019



A Conversation about about religious freedoms The Chaldean News talks with Representative in the U.S. for the Kurdistan Regional Government. BY VANESSA DENHA GARMO


he Chaldean Community Foundation recently organized an International Religious Freedom (IRF) roundtable discussion at the Chaldean Cultural Center inside the Shenandoah Country Club. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, representative in the United States for the Kurdistan Regional Government was among the speakers. We followed up with her for this one-on-one discussion. CN: Why have these roundtable discussions? BR: Understanding each other’s perspectives and concerns is an important component of tolerance and peaceful, respectful coexistence, and so we need to continue to listen to each other. Religious freedom roundtable discussions like the ones that have happened in Washington and Michigan, and the one that will happen in Erbil, are great opportunities for representatives of different communities to deliver their concerns. As a government, it is especially important for us to hear the needs and concerns of the community. CN: Why is in important for the Kurdistan Regional Government to work with IRF? BR: We will seek any opportunity to engage our community, especially minorities, and learn about their needs. IRF has developed a unique and hopefully productive platform for this. CN: What has this group accomplished over the last eight years, since its inception? BR: We have only worked with IRF since summer of 2018, so I can’t speak to their other endeavors. But I think that even in this short time, we’ve improved contacts and goodwill between KRG and civil society organizations. Tolerance and understanding between communities are difficult to measure, but I think forums like the IRF roundtables are very important. CN: What have been some of the issues discussed? BR: The IRF roundtables operate under Chatham House rules, so I can’t give you specifics, but I can say that we have very frank discussions about the status and future of religious and ethnic minority groups in the Kurdistan region. It is a great oppor26



tunity for me as KRG Representative to listen, to learn and to convey my government’s position on issues such as faith, genocide and accountability, property disputes, political representation and calls for self-administration by different groups. CN: What action plans have come from the discussions? BR: The meetings in the United States were really about setting the framework for the roundtable meetings in Kurdistan. We hope to see a Kurdistan meeting of religious groups early in 2019. The International Religious Freedom Roundtable has said it will support the roundtable in Kurdistan.  CN: What was the purpose of the meeting on December 10 at Shenandoah Country Club? BR: As always, it was a chance for civil society organizations, advocates, and religious leaders to share their concerns with each other and with the

KRG. U.S. government officials were also present as observers and members of congress took part. CN: What is the hope of bringing the faith-based communities together? BR: Some of Iraq’s dysfunction comes from the distrust and misunderstandings that communities have about each other. By bringing them together and giving them a forum for their voices to be heard, we hope to ultimately bring about greater understanding in our society. CN: Why does the Kurdistan Region care about religious freedoms? BR: The people of the Kurdistan Region are from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds. In Iraq, we have seen how destructive religious intolerance can be, and we want to ensure that the Kurdistan Region remains a peaceful place for all of its inhabitants and citizens.

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the DOCTOR is in

Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis


his brief summary of impairs passage of the Inflammatory Bowel camera. Surgery is reDisease is designed served for removing narto help you understand the rowed segments of bowel basics of Crohn’s and Ulcerbut unfortunately is not ative colitis and highlight key curative. differences between the two The diarrhea can be and hopefully help you seek loose, watery, or bloody out a doctor if necessary. and occurs over several Ulcerative colitis is an inweeks.  They can be asJOHNATHON flammatory condition limited MARKUS M.D. sociated with urgency strictly to the large intestine SPECIAL TO THE (feeling the need to go), (colon).  The colon is the CHALDEAN NEWS frequency, pain, weight part of the GI tract that reabloss, fatigue, anemia, and sorbs water and where stool is creatthe diarrhea can wake you up from ed.  The inflammation here is localsleep.  Many patients at the time of ized to the superficial layers of the diagnosis have over 20 bowel movecolon.   The most common sympments per day!  These symptoms toms are diarrhea with mucus and/ should prompt you to see a doctor or blood but the pain is typically as soon as possible.  There is a sigless severe.  During a colonoscopy, nificant overlap with irritable bowel inflammation is typically continusyndrome which at times can delay ous with a clear start and end with the diagnosis as patients can have sparing of the anus.  Removing the both occurring at the same time.  large intestine is curative. It should be noted that waking up Crohn’s is also an inflammatory from sleep for a bowel movement is disorder which can manifest anyalmost never considered normal. where in the gastrointestinal tract.  Both of these conditions are The inflammation here is transmuconsidered autoimmune disorders ral, essentially meaning that it is where the immune system attacks deeper.  Thus, inflammation, stricthe body for unknown and unclear tures, and fistulae can occur from reasons.  There is a genetic and the mouth to the anus.  The most environmental component but the commonly affected area is the tertrigger has yet to be discovered and minal ileum, the last part of the this is an active area of research.  small intestine prior to transitionThe disease can start at any age ing to the large intestine.  The diarbut typically manifests between 15rhea here is typically more “porridge 35.  Patient with one autoimmune like” and associated with significant disease are also at risk for another pain.  Crohn’s is also more comautoimmune disease. monly associated with anal disorThe treatment for these condiders including abscesses and fissures.  tions has progressed rapidly in the On a colonoscopy the inflammation past 20 years after an initial slow is occurs sporadically and at times start.  In the 1950’s the only two

treatments were corticosteroids and sulfasalazine. Corticosteroids work quickly and effectively but their long-term use has been associated with diabetes and osteoporosis.  Sulfasalazine has been largely replaced by the aminosalicylates such as mesalamine.  The 1960’s brought us Azathioprine (Imuran) and Methotraxate.  As a side note, if you are a woman on methotrexate, you should NOT get pregnant as this medication is known to cause harm to the fetus. The world of inflammatory bowel disease changed in 1997 with ap-

These conditions are life-long and require an intimate relationship between you and your gastroenterologist. proval of the TNF-alpha inhibitors. This one of the first medications that was able to place patients in deep remission without pain or diarrhea.  However, these medications were not without flaws.  Namely, many patient’s lost response either due to adaptation of the disease or creation of antibodies which deactivated the medication.  There was also an increased risk of infections and lymphoma. Two new medications have been approved for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.  Vedoli-

Going Green? Read Chaldean News online at 28



zumab (Entyvio) was approved in May of 2014 for the treatment of both Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis. This medication blocks white blood cells from entering the GI tract.  Ustekinumab (Stelara) was approved for Crohn’s disease in September of 2016 and is now one of the most prescribed medications for moderate-severe Crohn’s.  This works by inactivating proteins that stimulate inflammation.  There is minimal cancer, infection, and antibody formation with both of these medications.  Finally, Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) was approved to treat UC in May of 2018. These conditions are life-long and require an intimate relationship between you and your gastroenterologist.  Goals of therapy have changed over the years with more emphasis on aggressively treating any inflammation rather than symptoms.  These conditions are associated with increased risks of cancer, vitamin deficiencies, and infections which further necessitate open and clear dialogue between you and your doctor.  It can be scary to think that these disease are for life but there is a significant amount of hope for those afflicted with either of these diseases given the vast amount of ongoing research.  With aggressive care and a close relationship with your gastroenterologist many of the symptoms and complications can now be avoided.   For further information visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation:

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A taste of Mediterranean in Detroit Sahara Restaurant and Grill slated to open third location BY ASHOURINA SLEWO


ahara Restaurant and Grill’s decades long history has a humble beginning on the corner of 9 Mile and Woodward in Ferndale. Since the inception of their first location, co-owners Zeana and Saad Attisha – who are also husband and wife – have worked to expand. Several expansions took place at their second location, where several family members and even Saad’s parents worked alongside him. A West Bloomfield location was also opened, but closed only four years later. A Sterling Heights location came in 2004 and a Farmington Hills location in 2006. “He opened more restaurants as the desire for more locations grew,” Zeana said. It was in 2016 that the pair built their latest location in Sterling Heights. This location was built with the idea of drawing in bigger crowds. “It was built to accommodate banquet parties and corporate events, with a full dining area and 4-Season patio,” said Zeana. This location brings an ambiance unlike that of the current Oak Park location. From the patio to each unique chandelier in the dining area, this restaurant lends itself to an evening of fine authentic dining. This in part due to Zeana’s design as she had a hand in the décor. “Much of the décor and flooring was imported from overseas,” she explained. Today, the duo owns Sahara Restaurant & Grill in Oak Park, Sahara Restaurant & Banquet Center in Sterling Heights and Sahara Market & Bakery in Warren. With their eyes on a fourth location in District Detroit along Columbia Street. “Oak Park remains popular because it’s located in the center, between the East and West side,” explained Zeana. Olympia Development of Michigan announced the addition of the restaurant to Columbia Street late last month. “Olympia entertainment proposed a 3rd Sahara in the District Detroit near the new amazing Little 30



Caesar’s Arena,” said Zeana. “We are currently developing the plans and menu.” Detroiters will be able to enjoy the newest addition next year. “We will announce our grand opening in Detroit when we get closer to the ribbon cutting ceremony,” explained Zeana. The new restaurant menu will include classic Sahara favorites in addition to new menu items that will satisfy the increasing desire for “fresh and healthy food options”. On this new farm to table menu, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options will be available. “Sahara will bring to the new restaurant in District Detroit, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food and favorites that many people are looking forward to,” said Zeana. “It will be an exciting new dining destination for people to visit when they come to downtown Detroit. The favorite food items will of course still be on the menu, but with the introduction of some new items” With their new demographic in mind, the Attisha’s are working to design the new location and cater their menu to their new audience. During the warmer months, patrons will be able to dine outdoors.

“Each Sahara is unique to its demographic location” explained Zeana. “We are designing the Sahara in District Detroit in a way that we feel people coming to downtown would like to see and the options that they will like. Columbia Street will be an exciting place to go.” As the community favorite makes its way downtown, the Attisha’s have the same hope for this location as they have had for all other locations: to satisfy patrons. “Our hope for Sahara in the District Detroit is to still be able to offer patrons amazing food and good service and a beautiful Mediterranean location with a well-established his-

tory in the metro Detroit area,” explained Zeana. With the new restaurant slowly on its way to fruition, the Attisha’s are optimistic and excited to be a part of the bustling new developments in downtown Detroit. “The District Detroit is well on its way to offering so many amenities for so many people to be attracted to when coming down to the Detroit area,” said Zeana. “It’s fun for friends and families, the stadiums and arenas with all their events going on all year are sure to be a welcoming place to go. Sahara Restaurant is excited to be a part of it all.”


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New year’s resolutions BY HALIM SHEENA

With the New Year finally here, we wanted to know whether people continued to make resolutions. We asked members of the community whether or not they made New Year’s resolutions.

No, I do not set a New Year’s Resolution. I live my life day by day because who knows what could happen tomorrow. I try to embrace each present moment. Happy New Year! – Rawnek Yaldo, 47 years old, Shelby Township 

Yes, I try and make New Year’s resolutions every year. I write an email to myself using a website every year on January 1st with that year’s resolutions. At the end of each year I receive that email and am able to look back and see the progress I made during the year. – Janel Yousif, 18, Shelby Township

Every year, I make New Year’s resolutions. Around this time of the year, I always like to think back on what I’ve done and what I can do to be better. My resolutions are the push I need to be a better person and I try to accomplish them every year :) – Melaney Habib, 18, Shelby Township

Although I set goals for myself throughout the year, the new year always represents a fresh start and a new beginning. I always make new year resolutions because it allows me to look back at the year that passed and reflect on what goals I was able to achieve and what goals I need to work on.  Some goals are big and some are small, but making resolutions helps me to begin the new year with a positive and hopeful outlook. – Linda Mamou, 44, Shelby Township

Yes, I try to make a New Year’s resolution every year because I feel like it’s a great opportunity to push myself to accomplish things I failed to do in 2018. Going into the new year feels like a fresh start to me, therefore I think adding goals will help me make the best of the new start. I hope to reach all my New Year’s goals and create a positive year. – Angelina Narra, 18, Shelby Township

I make New Year’s resolutions to test myself. I want to see how well I can push myself and resist quitting. I see beauty in progression, you know? After a while you see yourself develop into what you pictured, I strive for that. You then become a catalyst for others to make a difference in their lives, the most fulfilling thing of the process. – Saeed Habeb, 22, Shelby Township




Chaldean News – January 2019  
Chaldean News – January 2019