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Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner says:

“April 1 is the tax foreclosure deadline. HELP IS AVAILABLE.” “I am committed to fighting foreclosure to keep families in their homes and companies open for business. Foreclosure prevention protects property values, stabilizes neighborhoods, and helps keep Oakland County a great place to live, work, and play. Help me fight foreclosure by contacting our office before the April 1, 2019 tax foreclosure deadline if you or someone you know has delinquent taxes.”

Call 248-858-0611 OR VISIT




9:16 AM


Do You Want To Lead Your Own Team? • Make the life you want • Financing available • Subway stores immediately available Attend our in-person seminar on 2/11/2019 to take the next steps to build your own Subway® franchise in Western Wayne County. Please RSVP by 2/6/2019 to Jaime Cherkasky at or call 248.645.7777.

Think Fresh, Development Agent for Western Wayne County An Elia Group Company



MARCH 2019


MARCH 2019


on the cover


“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9




departments 6


All for love 8


First generation American guilt 12










Representative of the 8th District talks about her relationship with the Chaldean community 34


Finding a need, seeking a change



A Catholic novel that looks at the non-traditional family in the time of Christ


The importance of colon cancer screening 36









More than six decades of a sisterhood and going strong




Preparing for the holiest holiday of the year

The genesis of the Chaldean cheat sheet

MARCH 2019


from the EDITOR


The Chaldean News, LLC

All for love


Vanessa Denha Garmo MANAGING EDITORS

Denha Media Group Writers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Ashourina Slewo Halim Sheena Paul Natinsky Bianca Kasawdish Johnathon Markus Monique Mansour M. Lapham Lisa Cipriano


Alex Lumelsky with SKY Creative GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Zina Lumelsky with SKY Creative

OPERATIONS Interlink Media



Ashourina Slewo



Interlink Media Sana Navarrette Tania Yatooma MANAGERS

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: March 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”

other businesses. Zaid Elia as the Business Person of the Year just makes sense. Steve Kaplan is an elected leader who is one of the few true public servants in the country. We somehow became a country of elected people The love of sisterhood with personal agendas. However, Steve Kaplan Last month, as I sat at Najat George’s house is serving in his position just as our founding falistening to a group of women in their twilight thers intended – with the focus on the constituyears talk about more than 60 years of friendship, ents. The West Bloomfield Township Supervisor VANESSA I found myself a bit envious. They are known knows his community well and the people living as the Socialites who have spent decades laugh- DENHA-GARMO in it. He should serve as an example for others to ing, crying, celebrating and mourning life. Ev- EDITOR IN CHIEF follow. He deserves this special tribute. CO-PUBLISHER ery woman needs gal pals like this, I thought as I John and Ann Mansour have done sometook notes and munched on fresh fruit and Nathing so profound yet unintentional in the jat’s famous takhratha (meat pies). midst of a tragedy – they brought a community together They walked me through their lives both individually in faith. Through what can only be deep pain that renand collectively. I share this month the story of these Soders you breathless, this couple emerged from darkness cialites who convey messages of loyalty, trust and camarato shed light on others. There are no two people more derie. They are still together after all these years because deserving today of the Humanitarian of the Year Award. they truly love each other as friends and sisters. They took a horrific accident and turned their pain into love for others. The love of brotherhood Just as there is a sisterhood in our community, there is a It’s all about love anyway growing brotherhood among the men. This bond is beAt the end of the day, isn’t that what life is really all about? ing birthed out of the Catholic faith. Our cover story is a Okay, I haven’t figured out the answer to the trillion-dolspread, much longer than we typically write, because it is lar question: What are we doing here? But I do know that conveying the stories of three different men’s ministries God put us here and God is love. He shares it with us so within the Chaldean community. However, there are we can share it with others. other men and other groups who participate in retreats, So, where’s the love? prayer groups and evangelization. In your heart! Men of Faith includes voices of many who talk about their own personal journeys and their efforts to bring others to Christ. Their love of faith is what unites them. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”— 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love in the community We also feature three stories tied to the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. These awardees are all so deserving of recognition. I am honored to know them all personally. I am really excited to have them elevated and acknowledged. Zaid Elia is not only a savvy business man but he is engaging and insightful. Many people can learn much from this man who has a series of restaurants and

Alaha Imid Koullen (God Be With Us All) Vanessa Denha-Garmo Follow her on Twitter @vanessadenha Follow Chaldean News on Twitter @chaldeannews

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In who do we trust?


hen our oldest daughter was about six months old, her first word was not mama or dada. It was “hi.” Not only did she know how to say it she seemed to sort of know when to say it. It was sort of extraordinary actually and it was MICHAEL G. kind of cute. But then it also SARAFA became annoying because she SPECIAL TO THE would say it all day long every CHALDEAN NEWS time a physical person crossed her line of vision. I would often marvel how this young baby child was born with an innate sense of wanting to engage with people. Of course, she was still unconditioned by her parents and society where she would ultimately learn that her first reaction should be to be wary of people she didn’t know. It didn’t always used to be that way. In the old days, things seemed simpler and it was a lot easier to trust people. I had forgotten about a personal allegory until my brother was giving a toast at my wedding. It happened probably about 12 years earlier. I was 18, my brother 17. We passed a guy on the side of the road with a blown-out

tire. He looked desperate. We stopped. He was a middle aged white guy with a clunker car who seemed down on his luck. There didn’t seem to be much we could do to help. He didn’t have much of a plan and either did we. After some conversation, he decided he could walk to a pay phone and call for a ride. But he didn’t have any money and that didn’t solve the car problem. After a minute, I gave him a $20 bill and my AAA card provided to me by my Dad in case anything like that ever happened to me. The gentleman was extremely grateful. He took my address and agreed to mail me back the money and the AAA. I was more worried about the latter not fully understanding what a AAA card was all about. My brother correctly pointed out this this seemed like a bad idea and that our dad was not going to be happy. He didn’t think the guy would mail anything back and frankly I wasn’t quite sure about it either. About two weeks later, an envelope arrived with three beat up $5 bills and five singles and the AAA card along with a grammatically challenged but sincere letter of thanks. Apparently, the episode made an impression on my younger brother who took it as a lesson in the transformational power of being able to trust those we don’t know. The whole paradigm of trust has shifted, in my view, in the wrong direction. In politics, Ronald’s

Nejla Israel, MD

Reagan’s “trust but verify” has turned into a zerosum game. In society, what was once a natural inclination to trust has been destroyed by scandals, abuse and entitlement. I was invited last month to Kirk in the Hills for a presentation by Dr. Gregory Ellison, author of “Fearless Dialogues.” In his book and presentation, Dr. Ellison reminds us that welcoming strangers to our midst is not always easy. Yet, Jesus calls us to welcome strangers as surely as we would welcome him. Dr. Ellison writes that when we do not see and hear each other as persons of worth, we are unable to collaborate and work toward the change that may be necessary. That seems to be a great place to start—to begin to see every person as a person with worth. This is not a grand or massive requirement. It can be a series of daily and weekly little things as opportunities to connect with and trust people present themselves. In our youthful vigor, my brother and I tried to get outside our comfort zone to help a stranger. But by keeping his word and showing us his genuine goodness, the stranger became a blessing to us--even though on the surface it may have been seen the other way around. We trusted him and he didn’t violate that trust, teaching us a valuable lesson at a young age--that people are inherently good. Just as a little baby is born with an innate sense of trust and belonging, our willingness to see people as brothers and sisters may be a blessing in reverse--one that comes back tenfold. Therein lies the paradoxical and transformational power of trusting one another. Trust. Sometimes it’s just a little thing. But you never know. It could spark a chain of kind acts.

Bassam Thwainey, MD

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MARCH 2019



There are special numbers that we always look forward to. We pick them. We own them. We love them. We play them. They’re our Daily 3&4 numbers. Try your luck on Michigan Lottery Daily 3&4 games. Daily 3 wagers are 50¢ and $1, and you can win up to $500; a $1 wager for Daily 4 has a top prize of $5,000. Drawings are twice a day, seven days a week at 12:59 pm and 7:29 pm. Visit your favorite Lottery retailer and play Daily 3&4. Odds of winning: Daily 3: Straight: 1 in 1,000; 3-Way Box: 1 in 333; 6-Way Box: 1 in 167; 1-Off Straight: 1 in 1,000; 1-Off One Digit: 1 in 167. Daily 4: Straight: 1 in 10,000; 4-Way Box: 1 in 2,500; 6-Way Box: 1 in 1,666; 12-Way Box: 1 in 833; 24-Way Box: 1 in 416; 1-Off Straight: 1 in 10,000; 1-Off One Digit: 1 in 1,250. Knowing your limits is always the best bet. Call the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline for confidential help at 1-800-270-7117.

MARCH 2019


GUEST column

First generation American guilt


he American Dream is my blessing and my burden. As a first generation American, the fight to achieve the American Dream is a constant one. My parents came to this country not long after they married in 1992. Escaping persecution and looking for an opportunity to be more, they have been here for more than 20 years. They never achieved the American Dream, though. My mother has worked harder than anyone I know, only to fall short of her own American Dream. Instead, she worked tirelessly to make the American Dream attainable to me and my siblings. She struggled so we could have a shot at success. She passed her dream onto us. So why do I feel guilty? Because of a little thing called first generation American guilt. Everything is about my family’s journey to America. It’s a story I proudly tell. But it’s the same story

that keeps me feeling rigid on my path, scared to stray or make any mistakes that are sure to cheapen everything my mother has done to make this path a reality. I can’t falter because somehow, it’s become my job to lift myself and

Everyone wants to make their parents proud. But when you are the child of immigrants, it all becomes a lot more urgent. my family away from this dark backstory and into a bright future. I can’t take this opportunity for granted so I have to succeed. I can’t just be smart. I can’t just graduate. I have to be the best. I have to make a name for my-

self. All in the name of validating my mother’s journey. A lot of pressure comes with being the child of immigrants. Everyone wants to make their parents proud. But when you are the child of immigrants, it all becomes a lot more urgent. You’re not just passing your classes because you want to

JOIN OUR GROWING TEAM. The Chaldean News is looking for motivated candidates to fill full-time salaried sales positions. Qualified candidates should email a resume to



MARCH 2019

go to a respectable college, but because your parents were forced to flee their home and never had the opportunity to go to school. Because they left their home to give their unborn children the opportunity they knew they would never have. DREAM continued on page 14




6:00 P.M.




Business Person of the Year Zaid Elia CEO and founder of The Elia Group

Humanitarians of the Year John and Ann Mansour Alexander & Gabrielle Mansour Memorial Fund

Special Tribute Steve Kaplan Supervisor of West Bloomfield Township



Ambassador Fareed Yasseen Embassy of the Republic of Iraq along with several other local, national and international dignitaries

Saad Abbo U.S. Ice Corp Jason Abro Renee Lossia-Acho KW Domain Luxury Homes International



Mojo Channel 955’s Mojo in the Morning

Ron Babbie Salam Elia Nada Jamoua

EVENT TICKETS $175 per person $1,500 for a table of 10

C A L L 2 4 8 - 8 5 1 - 1 2 0 0 F O R D E TA I L S A N D S P O N S O R S H I P I N F O R M AT I O N



State of the City at Regency

Holiday Inn Grand Opening Livonia Mayor Dennis Wright joined Mike and Kenny Koza for the ribbon cutting at the new Holiday Inn Hotel at 275 and 6 mile in Livonia on Thursday January 31, 2019 at 5 p.m. Just a 20-minute drive to and from Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the new Holiday Inn Detroit Northwest off of 275 is a choice destination stay for business travelers as well as visitors to Michigan.  The hotel is just minutes from restaurants, shopping and entertainment in cities

such as Novi, Plymouth, Northville and Farmington Hills. It also features a banquet all for both corporate and personal events such as weddings and bridal showers. “This Holiday Inn-Johnny’s Steakhouse project is the latest of several hotels to open in Livonia, continuing several years of incredible economic development in our community,” said Dan West, president and CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce. “We are grateful for this latest project that converted a dated hotel and restaurant into a fresh new property.”

Meeting the Pope On November 21, 2018, the Mansour family, thanks to the wish granted to Adriana Mansour by Make A Wish Foundation, were able to meet Pope Francis after the Pope’s Audience held at St Peter’s Square in Rome. “We are thankful to be in the presence of our Holy Father to have the opportunity to receive his blessing,” said the Mansour family.

Regency Manor of Southfield is undergoing extensive exterior renovations just in time to host the annual State of the City address organized by the Southfield Chamber of Commerce. The event brings together Southfield and Lathrup Village residents, businesses, and government leaders to discuss the future of the cities, build strategic partnerships and to network. The event, presented by Beaumont, will feature speeches from Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garret along with remarks from Beaumont President. “We always make a point to host the State of the City in Southfield and this year we will be doing the annual address on March 18 at the Regency Manor,” said Mayor Siver. “The Regency is a great facility and we are looking forward to highlighting the year’s accomplishments and looking to the future. We’re also looking forward to employing the new audio-visual equipment that Regency has included with their renovations to give our presentation.” The renovated exterior will compliment the elegance of the newly renovated interior. Designed to accommodate both social and corporate events, the newly renovated luxury hall will offer a number of amenities for guests. The venue offers a, “newly renovated luxury hall with classic, sophisticated and elegant décor providing a brilliant ambiance for any special occasion or event. Designed with high ceilings, magnificent crystal chan-

deliers, two full bars and more than 7,000 Sq. ft of distinctive elegance, our superbly equipped facility has been designed to accommodate social and corporate events alike.” In addition to these renovations, Regency Manor offers a “truly unique” menu and an experienced staff to bring their guests the perfect experience. These renovations to the venue will be complete just in time to host the Southfield State of the City address in mid-March. Mayor Kenson J. Siver will be giving his annual State of the City address on Monday, March 18 at 10:00 a.m. Joining Mayor Siver will be Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garret. The mayors’ joint address will bring together residents from both Southfield and Lathrup Village, businesses, and government leaders under one roof to discuss each city’s future, build strategic leaderships, and network. “We will be ready to host Mayors Siver and Garret as they give their annual State of the City addresses,” said Jason Najor of Regency Manor. “We are honored to share and showcase our beautifully renovated hall while hosting an event where members of the community can join their representatives and leaders in conversations about the progress of their city.” Tickets to the State of the City address can be purchased online. Tickets must be purchased in advance as they will not be sold after March 13 and will not be sold at the door. Tickets include a plated lunch, refreshments, valet and coat check. state-of-the-city-address/

New Shenandoah Board Members The Shenandoah Country Club board members met in early January to elect new board members. The following were chosen to sit on the board.

Chaldean News Goes to Land Down Under Reader Ban Manna took the February issue of the Chaldean News on vacation with her to Australia. 12


MARCH 2019

President: Raad Kathawa Vice President: Jamal Kalabat – Treasurer: Oliver Bahoura Secretary: Nada Jamoua Officers: Hani Mio Patrick Kattoo Saad Abbo Kal Najar Raid Putrus

Receiving of the Habit Raad Kathawa

On Saturday, February 2, Postulants Monique Setto and Angie Kassab received their habits and religious names. Becoming Sr. Mary Bernadette and Sr. Maria Immaculata respectively, they took this next step in their formation at Mother of God.


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MARCH 2019


CHAI time

CHALDEANS CONNECTING Saturday, March 2 Surviving the Social Jungle: Kids Empowered is hosting their third annual Surviving the Social Jungle Conference for parents, students (grades 3 through 8), and professionals on Saturday, March 2 at 9:00 a.m. Hosted at the Academy of the Heart in Bloomfield Hills, this conference will address the management of unfriendly peers and prevent bullying. Shortly after the Surviving the Social Jungle Conference, Kid Empowered will be hosting the Teens Empowered Conference at 1:00 p.m. Open to parents, teens (grades 8 through high school), and professionals, the Teens Empowered Conference will be about new strategies for addressing the challenges that teens are facing today. Tickets can be purchased for $16 in advance or $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at the following links: Surviving the social jungle: https://survivingthesocialjungle. com Teens Empowered: Saturday, March 2 Music: The Berman will be hosting Nashville Hurricane, a one-man guitar epic for two nights only. Catch the one-man show on Saturday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m. or on Sunday, march 3 at 4:00 p.m. A manager, a mentor, a mother, and a guitar prodigy tell their versions of what happened to the legendary fretboard phenomenon known as the “Nashville Hurricane.” Filled with furious finger picking and unforgettable characters, the Nashville Hurricane will blow you away. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (248) 6611900 or visit Saturday, March 2 Masked Ball: The Medallion, Macomb’s Gala event will be hosted at Penna’s of Sterling in Sterling Heights on Saturday, March 2 at 6:00 p.m. All proceeds from this fundraising event will benefit the Trauma and Surgical

DREAM continued from page 10

Everything I do is to uplift my mother and use the opportunity she gave me to the fullest extent. It’s a running joke in my family that when I walked across the stage at my commencement in 2017 that my mother should have waked the stage with me, gotten a degree with me. But it’s not a joke. It’s the truth. Her sacrifices are the reason I could even make it to class every single day and finally walk across the stage to receive my degree. Those sacrifices are the reason 14


MARCH 2019

COMMUNITY EVENTS IN AND AROUND METRO DETROIT MARCH 2019 of live entertainment, casino gaming, hors d’oeuvres, raffles, private drink service, and culinary stations — all set against a historic architectural backdrop. All event proceeds will benefit further renovations to the boat house. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

EMPOWERED Services at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. Medallion Award honorees will be recognized at this black-tie event. In addition, the evening will feature dining, dancing, mock gaming, and package raffles. Tickets are priced at $250. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (586) 263-2968. Friday, March 8 Empty Bowls Detroit: Empty Bowls Detroit is returning to Eastern market on Friday, March 8 from 5:00 to 10:30 p.m. The evening of celebration with live entertainment, wine/beer, and soups from Detroit-area restaurants to benefit the Cass Community Social Services food program. Guests will take home a ceramic bowl as a reminder that someone’s bowl is always empty. Local celebrities will be serving soup at the event. The Empty Bowls Detroit auction of custom-painted bowls by celebrities will be on display. Tickets are priced at $50 and include soup, bread, beer/wine, cheese, and dessert. Attendees must be 21 years or older. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

I can’t slip up. If I do, I’m squandering the opportunity that she worked so hard to give me. I get frustrated at times and start to wonder what it would be like if I was not first generation American. What if I was just like everybody else I grew up with and my parents had been born in the United States? I quickly squash those thoughts, though, because I have overcome way too much and worked too hard for this to bring me down. I’m proud of my story. But I can’t help it when the guilt eats away at me and make me feel as though every single one of

Saturday, March 9 Night in the City: The McLaren Macomb Foundation will be celebrating The Crystal Ball: “Night in the City” on Saturday, March 9, at the MGM Grand Detroit at 6:00 p.m. The 34th annual black-tie gala will feature a cocktail reception and gourmet dinner, followed by a raffle and live auction. Guests can enjoy music by Nouveauté. The expected crowd of more than 600 will honor the long-term members of the McLaren Macomb medical staff and recognize the exemplary work of 2019’s four Daisy Award-winning nurses. All proceeds from the evening will benefit the new McLaren Macomb In-Patient Rehabilitation Center. Tickets are priced at $275. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (586) 741-4330.

Friday, March 15 Grief Support: Join Allnette as they host a grief support and recovery night on Friday, March 15 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Southfield Pavillion. This night is specifically tailored for individuals who lost a parent or have suffered any type of loss. It offers a safe place to seek advice and support amongst other families. Some of the most comforting words in the universe are “me too”. This group will offer the opportunity for individuals to honor the life of their loved one by expressing feelings of personal loss and grief, learn from others who have experienced a similar loss, get support, care and help in a non-judgmental and confidential environment. For more information, call (248) 491-8116.

Saturday, March 9 Monte Carlo Night: Join the Belle Isle Boat House on Saturday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. for their third annual Monte Carlo Night to experience its monumental history. Upon arrival to the red carpet, guests will be transported to an evening of vintage glamour in the form

Monday, March 18 State of the City: Hosted at the newly renovated Regency Manor, the mayors of Southfield and Lathrup Village will be giving a joint State of the City address on March 18 at 10:00 a.m. The Regency Manor recently underwent major renovations just in time to host the State of the City. The venue offers a, newly renovated luxury hall with classic, sophisticated and elegant décor providing a brilliant ambiance for any special occasion or event. Designed with high ceilings, magnificent crystal chandeliers, two full bars and more than 7,000 Sq. ft of distinctive elegance, our superbly equipped facility has been designed to accommodate social and corporate events alike. Tickets to this event can be purchased online https://www.southfieldchamber. com/state-of-the-city-address/

my actions has to somehow pay homage to my mother’s sacrifices. It’s my job to validate the risks my mother took and the challenges she faced so I could have a taste of the coveted American Dream. It’s a heavy burden, the American Dream. Now, I’m not complaining about the opportunities I’ve been given or even having to make my mother proud – I appreciate them more than anyone will ever know. However, as a first generation American, everything you do slowly becomes about your parents and their sacrifices and less about your own individual journey.

Where in the book does it say that I have to sacrifice pieces of myself to make my mother proud? She’s certainly never said this was the case. She just wants me to be happy. But I can’t shake these thoughts that I have to do it for her. I want to do it for her, but I’ve allowed this guilt to cloud a lot of my own journey. It’s hard to put these thoughts into words; it almost feels selfish to voice them (there’s that guilt I was talking about), but my fellow firstgeneration Americans will understand where I’m coming from.

TEXT Get Payment Plan

ALERTS! Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree introduces “Project Tax Message,” a free text messaging service designed to remind taxpayers about upcoming payments.

Get Enrolled, Call (313) 224-5990 Visit for more information. To ask a question, please email the Treasurer’s team at or call 313-224-5990.

MARCH 2019


ECRC corner

Faithful: Husbands and fathers leading families to Christ


hat is the role deep desire in us to teach of the father in our children the truths today’s family? about the Trinitarian famMost of the people reading ily. (1 Timothy 3:5) for if a this will say “to provide for man does not know how to his wife and children and manage his own household, to ensure their financial how can he care for God’s future.” That statement is Church? absolutely true. It is one of According to St. Paul, a JEFF KASSAB the roles of the father in the father must be able to be the family, but is it the most im- SPECIAL TO THE head of the household and CHALDEAN NEWS portant role? take control of his family According to the secular and be the father that God world, the father’s role is a fourfold has created him to be. Now, this does plan: a provider, a protector, a leader, not mean that a woman has no role and a teacher. The questions I pose: or say in all of this. What it means what are we teaching our families? is that, we were created in a certain Where are we leading our families? order with certain roles given to each Let’s address the first question. parent. God created man and woman What are we teaching our families? equal; He created woman from the God the Father has given us our rib of man, the center of his body to wives and children as gifts to us. make her equal with him. Not above We don’t own them or have control the rib, so she cannot say, “I will rule over them; they belong to God and over you” and not beneath the rib He has blessed us with this beautiful so man cannot say “I will rule over treasure. Our first and foremost duyou,” but from the center so they ties as a father is to raise our children can say “let’s do this together as one in the faith. We start by teaching flesh” (Gen 2:24) Therefore, a man them morals and values according to leaves his father and his mother and what God has written on the human clings to his wife, and they become heart of every man, “The natural law one flesh. is written and engraved in the soul of The next question I asked: “where each and every man” (CCC 1954). are we leading our families?” Before I Since we are made in the imanswer this question, it is important age and likeness of God, we have a that this role be done as parents; it 16


MARCH 2019

cannot be done alone. The husband needs the support of his wife and the wife needs the support of her husband. How can the children see the love their parents have for the Trinity? The relationship with God the Father should be top priority; a true father should love his wife. The love and friendship that he has with his wife should be indispensable. This love should not stagnate, or

When your children grow up and have no clue who Jesus is or what he has done for them, don’t be disappointed with your children, be disappointed with yourself. worse yet, fizzle out.  On the contrary, his human love blessed supernaturally by the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony should blossom, grow, and flourish until the moment of death. The father should love his children and see

them as a precious treasure that God has given to him with the primary purpose of bringing these little ones to their ultimate destiny, which is heaven.  A child is a gift given to a father and mother but with the primary purpose of the parents being ladders by which the children can climb to heaven. Fathers must lead their families to Jesus Christ. If a father does not know Jesus, how is he going to get his children to know Him? When your children grow up and have no clue who Jesus is or what he has done for them, don’t be disappointed with your children, be disappointed with yourself. You must provide for the spiritual needs of your children. Teach them to pray as soon as possible. Children have brains like sponges. Whether they absorb dirty water or clean water, is up to you. The father should be a man of prayer and not be afraid to show it publicly. A man is at his greatest when he is on his knees in prayer! He should pray with his family – the blessing of meals, family Rosaries and active participation in the Holy Mass. A father should pray frequently and fervently for his family for their protection from all evils— physical, moral, spiritual—and for his family’s sanctification and salvation. An authentic Christian father should have his eyes fixed on heaven at all times and stay aware of the world and the dangers that menace the flock (his wife and children) entrusted to him. The greatest desire of the father for his family should be the salvation of their immortal souls. Jesus said, “What would it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? What can we offer in exchange for our immortal soul?” Man must constantly be in a deep relationship with God. His wife must be cherished as the greatest gift on earth, and his children should be treasured as priceless gems. Saint Joseph was the greatest earthly father ever created; we should turn to him for his intercession and for his fatherly instincts. He is the patron of families, patron of fathers; he will help us and guide us to be the best fathers we can be. St. Joseph foster father of Jesus, pray for us. Jeff Kassab has a BA in Pastoral Theology and is on the board of the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC).


Don Peter Cassa July 5, 1923-January 31, 2019 Dear family and friends: We regret the loss of the late Don Cassa. Son of Peter and Zarifa Cassa. Husband of Bahija Cassa. Father of Michael Cassa; Donna Merogi and her husband Lahib; Darryl Cassa and his wife Teri; Ken Cassa and his wife Nancy; and Claudia Cassa. Grandfather of Margaret Merogi, Thomas Cassa, Nicholas Cassa, Matthew Cassa and Andrew Cassa. Don Cassa served in the U.S. Third Army in World War II, 261st

Infantry Regiment, 65th Infantry Division. His medals, naturalization papers, and an interview with him are on display in the Veterans Exhibit at the Chaldean Cultural Center at the Shenandoah Country Club. Thank you and God Bless You.

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The men of Genesis 4:9

Men of faith “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9 BY VANESSA DENHA GARMO


ere is a question for men in the community: Are you your brother’s keeper? If you ask those who started and participate in a men’s group, they would answer with resounding, “yes, I am.” It was the question Jeff Kassab asked of himself when he and friend Bashar Kirma were chatting about men in the Chaldean community. “We struck up a conversation about men who seem so lost and need guidance,” said Jeff. “We started talking about prayer and what it means to be a man of faith. From that conversation, we decided to start a men’s group and we called it Genesis 4:9 because we truly believe we are our brother’s keeper.” This was to be a true brotherhood — no wives, sisters, moms, daughters or aunts allowed. The first meeting was about three years ago at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and about 35 men attended. Today, Jeff has an email list of nearly 400 men and more than 200 men are active in the group. “We have learned that we have many of the same struggles,” said Jeff. “We have speakers who come in and talk about a variety of subjects like pornography, attending church, marriage and what it means to be a man bringing his family into the faith.” 20


MARCH 2019

“This ministry really reflects the strength in the church,” said Pelar Esshaki. “The strength in the family makes the church stronger. A faithful father and husband strengthens the family. Our families need a faith leader at home.” It is about brothers, beer and BBQ. The guys will often go out after the talk and get a bite to eat – often BBQ – and a beer to drink. They started to meet every other month at Mother of God Cathedral in Southfield. Most recently, they decided to rotate locations to include St. Joseph. Pelar was not always a man of deep convictions. He had a reversion to Catholicism. “Jesus was not much more than Santa Claus to me,” he said. “I didn’t have a relationship with Christ. When I met my wife and her devout Catholic Family, I became stronger in my faith.” As Pelar grew closer to Christ, his wife’s faith grew stronger. They were leading each other as husband and wife to Jesus. “Our faith skyrocketed and our relationship is stronger than ever,” he said. Parents of soon to be nine children, they are raising their children in the faith as they to continue to evangelize to others. And, so are the men of these ministries.

The goal is to bring more men into the ministry. “It is growing but compared to the community, it is still a small number,” said Esshaki. I don’t see as many men in the Chaldean churches as I do in the Latin Rite churches.” Joseph Stephan got involved in the group from the beginning and and as a project manager by trade, organizing events for the men’s group was a natural task for him. After attending a Man Up retreat, Stephan felt a strong nudge from the Holy Spirit to organize a men’s conference for the Chaldean community. “Every person we talked to about the men’s conference was 100 percent on board,” said Joseph. “You don’t always see that kind of support. It was amazing. Everyone was backing us up on this conference.” “A venture like this takes a lot of planning,” said Jeff. “We worked on this for months and were blessed to bring in speakers like Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers and Justin Fatica.” Like many others, these men have busy lives. “This ministry gives men the opportunity to talk about their relationships with Christ, with their spouses and with their families,” said Joseph. “In our culture, our emotions are tied to us at the hip. We can bring our concerns to each other.

I have had men ask me how they can get their family to pray together because they have never prayed before. This ministry has shown these men how to have a prayerful life. I have learned so much about my friends through this ministry. We are helping eachother.” Jeff, Pelar, Bashar, and Delone Arabo all approached Fr. Pierre separately about wanting to start a men’s group. “It shows this desire to discern what God is calling of these men,” said Fr. Pierre. “We prayed about this and we knew this ministry was what God was calling us to do.” Within the Genesis 4:9, a goal is to challenge men to form their own groups within the larger group. “Perhaps different men can invite men to hang out at their house around a sporting event and some beer and then talk about their lives, their families, their faith and their role as fathers. Men relate to men and women relate to women. It’s human nature,” said Fr. Pierre. Faithful fathers “When you look at the statistics, you can see the importance of a father’s role in the family,” said Pelar. “Stats show that children without fathers have a greater chance of going to jail. There is a significant role the father plays at the leader of the family. There are things a man brings to the family that a woman can’t bring. Children look to their dads as heroes. A boy should look to his dad and know what it means to be a man and a daughter learns from a father how a man should treat his wife. Fathers shape the family.” Fr. Pierre Konja often quotes the same statistics when he talks about

a father’s role in the family. “These stats are staggering. They show if the father is a regular church goer, the children are substantially more likely to attend mass, something like 80 percent and only 30 percent if the mother is a regular church goer,” said Fr. Pierre. “When you look at the world, family is at the root of the problems in the church, in society and in history.” Not discounting a woman’s role in the faith and family, Fr. Pierre merely notes that it is different than a man’s role. “I felt very compelled to promote this men’s ministry so men can bring their families to God. Women have an important role to educate their kids too, but when you see your father kneeling to the Lord or praying the Rosary, it has a profound impact on the family.” Stephan views the role of faithful man similar to the parable, ‘if you give a man a fish, you feed him for the day. If you teach him to fish, he feeds his family for a lifetime.’ “There is nothing more important than a man’s role in his family,” said Joseph. “As a husband, I am supposed to lead my wife to Christ. We cannot be afraid to show our kids how we pray. We must take action. We must show them how to build a relationship with Christ.” “I wish more people would ask this question about their role as faithful fathers so we can give the answer,” said Jeff. “Without men leading their family to Jesus Christ, their family is doomed. There is no question about it. As much as the mother does to lead the family to church, it is not the same as when a man does it.” Acknowledging a woman’s role, Jeff noted, “women have important roles in the family, of course they do, but we need the men in our community to realize their responsibility. Man was created first. God put him in charge. From the center of his body, He made woman. He made them equal. A man has a certain responsibility to take care of his family. When you talk to women, they will say they want their husband to take charge of the family.” It is about .showing, not telling. “When your children come home and they see their father with a Bible or Rosary and they see him praying, it is a powerful testimony,” said Jeff. “You don’t have to preach, you have to show. You can preach it all you want, but to make a difference, you must live the faith.”

The Breakfast Club Every morning a group of men attend mass at ECRC. What started out with a handful of men among a group of 40 some people during the Lenten season about seven years ago, evolved into The Breakfast Club. A group of men hang out after church, have coffee, breakfast and talk about faith. “We usually start out talking about the Gospel reading and homily,” said Faris Acho. “Help-

because he knows I love him. If he yelled at me, I wouldn’t be mad, because I know he loves me. This is a brotherhood.” Fr. Pierre Konja, ECRC’s pastor at the time, approached Shamasha Salam Rabban about celebrating daily mass at 8:00 a.m. during the fasting weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. “We saw the turnout. We saw this hunger. Fr. Pierre asked us to pray on it. The Holy Spirit worked

had no customers in the beginning either,” chimed in one of the men, followed by laughter from the group. Ibtahal Atisha started making coffee and offering light refreshments in the beginning. Rafed Yaldo started bringing cheese and bread. The after-mass coffee turned into conversations about how to encourage more people to attend morning mass. The men credit Sally Najor, Ali-

The Men of the Breakfast Club

ing others is what today’s homily was about and you are hearing Shamasha Salam Rabban tell his story about doing just that.” On this day, the men engaged in storytelling about faith and good works. The room fills with laughter and joy, telling stories and sharing jokes, but most of all talking about the faith. “There are many men who think being Godly is not fun,” said Tom Naemi. “They focus on things instead of God and are away from the church. They think the church is about rules and it takes the pleasure out of life. In reality, it is our faith that brings us joy, peace and serenity. You wake up calm. You look forward to going to church and joining in on this brotherhood.” In the background, Leo talks over Naemi and he shouts, “Leo!” “See now, he is not mad at me

and and we continued with daily mass even after Easter,” said Shamasha Rabban. “It became our 24-hour energy. We couldn’t wait for mass the next morning. There was such a hunger for Christ.” They attend mass daily to listen to the word of God, “and to have it sink in our minds, our hearts and our lives,” said Shamasha Rabban. Every day they apply a verse from the bible to their day. “That is how we live our day,” said Shamasha Rabban. “We live according to the church teachings and the bible. We come meek and humble to praise the lord every morning. We are like a small flame that is warming up the whole pot. We are a small group of men but we offer our prayer to the whole community.” Shamasha Rabban recalled handling the entire morning mass duties by himself in the beginning. “You

ya Mazi, Maha Samona and Atisha for keeping the breakfast club going. Each day, a different priest celebrates mass and often on Tuesday and Friday, Bishop Francis is the celebrant and homilists. “The breakfast club conversation flows from the mass,” said Faris. Yaldo started to record the mass and the cheese he brought to munch on after mass is what birthed the Breakfast Club. “We started to go to the kitchen for Rafed’s cheese,” Shamasha said with laughter. “We made what we called the ‘healthy sandwich’ – a slice of swiss cheese with bread and toasted it in the oven and while we waited for the cheese to melt, we talked about faith.” It then turned into an all-out breakfast. Different people took turns bringing food, making a variety MEN OF FAITH continued on page 22 MARCH 2019


MEN OF FAITH continued from page 21

of traditional Chaldean dishes like hareesa, ghamar, kaletcha and even more elaborate breakfasts for the holiday season. “We are nourishing our body and souls,” said Mike Awdish. “These daily masses and talks are my daily bread. The homily, the mass, it gives me insight for my day.” “The day I miss morning mass, something is missing from my life,” said Mukhles Samona. “I feel it. I enjoy coming here to see each other and to share the word of God. It carries me through my day.” The men started to bring friends and family to mass. Khairi Samona was encouraged to attend mass by Saad Samona. “I first thought, wow, 8 a.m. that is early for Chaldeans. I started coming and I love it. I am semi-retired. I started having responsibilities like kitchen manager,” he continued as they laughed. The Breakfast Club conversations after the 30-minute mass have become a bonus for the group. “We feel good all day,” said Khairi. “One guy who comes here used to go the casino and stay up late almost every night and now he comes to mass every morning,” noted Tom. “You don’t know what you are missing until you start attending daily mass.” Daily mass and the Breakfast Club is now very much part of their lives. “I enjoy coming here,” said Awdish. “I enjoy being with the guys here. I met all of these guys here and they are now my friends.” “I started coming here during Lent,” said Acho. “During this Lenten time, you take care of the one thing you are focused on. I thought coming to daily mass would be a good thing for Lent then when it was over, I thought this would be good to do every day throughout the year. I kept coming. I realized I was surrounding myself with good people, holy people and being nourished through the gospel and homily. We discern things about our faith and life during our Breakfast Club conversations. I invite others to attend. It is a 30-minute mass and we spend about another 30-minutes with the Breakfast Club and it’s an hour of my day. If you are looking for something to do during lent, take on a daily mass.” “We love it, we have built a camaraderie,” said Naemi. “We have good friends here. We really love 22


MARCH 2019

each other.” “We pray for others,” said Khairi. “We have collected donations for people in need.” “This daily mass is such a big part of our lives and we are used to waking up and coming to church and when we don’t, we know something is missing,” said Awdish. “The friendships we formed are priceless,” said Mike. “My faith means a lot to me of course and to my brothers here,” said Saad. “We have our Catholic freedom to speak to God our father and invite the Holy Spirit in. We don’t come here passively. We come here to receive the Eucharist. We receive God’s graces. This daily mass helps me with my life. I talk about my faith with my family. I share it with my wife and daughters.” Shamasha Salam didn’t set out to help people’s marriages but his faith and this journey he is on has led him to help others. He credits much to his breakfast club group who he shares stories with regularly. “He is a peacemaker,” said Saad.

keeps the breakfast club going. “We appreciate Aliya and Adnan. They work so hard to keep our club going,” said Saad. “We come here and hear so many stories of faith like people healed through Tom’s healing service. We understand the sacrament more. We talk about salvation, church and our sacraments.” “We encourage people to come to daily mass and join our Breakfast Club,” said Mike Samona. “Come and give it a try.” “Men who are the head of the family and are faithful men are role models to their kids,” said Leo. “I have four kids. We pray the Rosary every night or the Divine Mercy prayer. We cannot live without prayer.” “We must take what we receive and share it with others,” said Saad. “We take it to our friends and family. We share this knowledge. I share these stories with my wife and children. We talk about morality and Shamasha shares the Catechisms with us. We can take that information to others. If we get something

for us, that changes you forever. God cares so much about us and He gave his son for me and for you. We are so unworthy. We are very humbled; we get lowered and lifted up at the same time.” “You appreciate your family more,” said Mike. “You feel closer to them.” “When you attend mass daily, you a realize what really matters,” said Shamasha Rabban. “Life is beautiful and life is worth living. God gives us guidance.” “This is about being joyful and happy,” said Tom. They found fulfilment in faith. It is intertwined in all areas of life including their work life. “You can have money,” said Acho. “You can’t allow money to have you.” “Faith is sufficient. It gives us what we need,” said Shamasha. “If we think about what we want, it is endless but when we look at life from a faith perspective, we get what we need. We can’t live this rat race and take our eyes off God. You will always just want more. Earthly things die. If

My faith means a lot to me of course and to my brothers here. We have our Catholic freedom to speak to God our father and invite the Holy Spirit in. We don’t come here passively. We come here to receive the Eucharist. “We come here because we enjoy seeing my brothers daily and it stays with me all day and keeps my mind in order.” Leo Zoma learned about ECRC through the monthly healing services by Bishop Francis and Tom Naemi. In 2014, Leo was suffering with back problems that were progressively getting worse. A cousin mentioned the healing mass. With a herniated disc, Leo attended and upon Tom praying on him, he fell out in the Spirit. The pain started to subside. “I thanked our Lord the pain was gone,” he said. “I was amazed. I went to ask Fr. Frank at that time what I should I do to get closer to God. He pointing to the cross he carries and said, ‘increase your prayer.’ I started to attend daily mass. Every time I attend, I feel I am living a piece of heaven on earth. I am closer to God. He has given me a comfortable and happy life with peaceful and good people around me. I am amazed and appreciative.” The men continue to express their gratitude to everyone who

– SAAD SAMONA wrong, Shamasha corrects us.” Sharing faith can be a struggle for some people but through these men’s groups, it is becoming easier for others. “We share the truth,” said one of the group members. “The truth lies in knowing Jesus Christ.” “Being a daily communicant, we understand attending the mass is living it,” said Shamasha. “We hunger for Christ. We hunger for the truth and we know Jesus Christ is the truth. To come to have Him dwell in us is powerful. That joy of Christ, the happiness He brings, we receive through prayer. We receive graces and love through prayer of mass. It is the highest prayer we have in the church. We take it out to the world and we profess it. The Eucharist breathes life in us.” The daily mass and their Breakfast Club Group has changed these men. “You are more patient,” said Faris. “Things that used to bother you, bounce right off now. When you come and see what really matters, God gave us only Son got die

we think about spiritual things, that gives us life.” Leo was working 18 hours a day and seven days a week and barely found time for his family let alone his faith. “I didn’t see my family,” he said. “I barely paid my bills. When I gave my life to God, everything turned around. I am not stressed any more. I can pay bills and take care of my family. That daily Eucharist is the security I need. We are supposed to start Heaven on earth. Hearing God’s word daily, allows us to do just that.” Each man in the Breakfast Club actively invites others to attend daily mass and join their morning discussions. “Men who don’t go to church and join a men’s ministry don’t know what they are missing,” said Saad. “We didn’t know. We came here to learn and our lives changed. Our families changed. Our kids changed.” Faith has become a part of every aspect of their lives. “You cannot separate faith from your work and daily life; you have to live your faith

The Men of Holy Martyrs Church

completely,” said Saad. “I cannot say I am at work and I am going to live this way. That is picking and choosing. Our faith life must be part of every area of our lives.” “When we leave mass, we have Jesus in our hearts,” said Faris. “Some people go to church to check the box and they don’t want to connect to Christ throughout the day. Jesus wants us all the time” “Sometimes when we talk about Jesus, people say it’s too much,” said Saad. “They don’t want to hear more than one line. They walk away.” “As Christians we represent God everywhere; we have to bring light where there is darkness,” said Leo. “Everything we discussed here today, we discuss all the time in the Breakfast Club,” said Faris. “We ask ourselves these same questions.” Men in the Church The idea for a men’s group at Holy Martyrs was initiated by the desire to fill a void. “Our parish/community has many groups dedicated to many causes, except for men/fathers who are the head of their families, hence, the idea of starting a group for men,” said Shamasha Yousif Elias. “Our group, Martyrs Men was established in January 2017 and we chose the

name to reflect Holy Martyrs Church in Sterling Heights.” The group – primarily Chaldean Catholic men – meets once a month on the first Thursday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. “We recognize our need for God’s help,” said Shamasha Elias. “We gather in an atmosphere of trust and equality to share Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Catholic Church to the world. We unconditionally accept each other and prayerfully support one another.” Up to 20 men typically attend the meetings that focus on a variety of topics including current news stories, “and how these stories impact our faith and families,” said Shamasha Elias. “We discuss different topics of interest to the group. Social, religious and personal topics of interest are discussed in an atmosphere of love and brotherhood.” Shamasha Elias says the group is a calling that took about two years to bring to fruition. “As a father, husband, and brother, I felt the need for this comradery and this support from men of faith,” he said. “I saw the need within others as I started praying for this group and planning its inception with my friend Raad Kashat.” Like Genesis 4:9 and the Breakfast Club, the men of Holy Martyrs

want to deepen their faith. “We want to support men’s Catholic faith, grow in spirituality, and strengthen families,” said Shamasha Elias. “This ministry will try to enrich the reality of the Church, over and above the experience of the Sunday liturgy. It also focuses on men who have lost the yearning for the Catholic faith and are minimally or not active in the Church.” Their motto is, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17.) “At the other end of the scale, the ministry offers very active men a means to step back to take time for spiritual growth.” All Catholic/Chaldean men 18 years and older are invited to join the group. “We need the support and strength of each other. We’re not going to talk at you, but you’ll find a humble, hospitable, and brotherly atmosphere, in which we share our experiences and offer support to each other. We’re planning our second Lent retreat in March, come join us,” said Shamasha Elias. The Men’s Ministry Whether it is Genesis 4:9, the Breakfast Club or the Men of Holy Martyrs, these men of faith are part of growing ministries within the com-

munity. “We sometimes have a hard time getting across to other men the importance of our faith or coming to a meeting,” said Pelar. “They look at it as another church thing. It is about saving souls, saving our community. Look at what the world offers and what our community is getting involved in. We need to lead our kids and generations after them to Christ.” “God, though Jesus, has revealed himself and that is not an accident,” said Fr. Pierre. “We receive our fatherhood from God. We are created in His image – His love, sacrifice, mercy and patience. With God in your marriage and families, you can change the world. Your children will know God and they need to know that God loves them. When you know the real love of God, you can reflect that love on your family and bring Him to the world.” Genesis 4:9 will be meeting on March 15 at St. Joseph. The featured speaker is Dr. Ralph Martin, professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and President of Renewal Ministry. ECRC and the Men’s Group are planning for another Men’s Conference in 2019.

MARCH 2019



Jesus and his stepsiblings A Catholic novel that looks at the non-traditional family in the time of Christ BY M. LAPHAM


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very Christmas the iconic image of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – are seen across the world. However, in some branches of Catholicism including some Orthodox and Eastern Rites there is much more to this non-traditional family. In those faiths, Christ might have had stepsiblings. The concept of Christ having siblings is usually more in line with being a protestant, and in some cases to discredit his divinity. However, this understanding of a stepbrother or sister is not all that widely understood or embraced. Brother in Aramaic is often interchangeable with the word cousin. While not widely accepted in all Catholic traditions, Bill Kassel’s book My Brother’s Keeper embraces the belief. As a practicing Roman Catholic, however, the work does not come from his personal belief. The novel gives the idea a great deal of respect and thought, partially because it is based on Kassel’s own interest and study of forgotten (non-canonical) scripture. These books were often written by early Christians and circulated in the early years of the church, but the church later omitted many from the more recognized version of the bible Kassel’s book specifically follows James, who in the Bible is referred to as “brother of the Lord” in the book of Galatians. My Brother’s Keeper views the statement literally, unlike most Catholic teachings. It portrays James as the youngest son of Joseph and his deceased wife. Growing up, James is a good student of the Torah and is sent to Jerusalem to study to be a rabbi. This all happens while Jesus is growing up in Nazareth. Joseph believes Jesus is destined

for greatness, and on his deathbed asks James to look after Jesus. From that point on James life focus was to protect Jesus, and Kassel said he “wanted to explore what it means to be Jesus’ brother.” He uses the relationship between Jesus and his stepbrother as a way to explore and contextualize the religious and sociopolitical landscape of the time and how the message of Christ sent shockwaves through the

political and cultural powers. He specifically looks at the cultural and religious complication between three Jewish groups the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, all of which were vying to be the dominant Jewish voice, and the Roman Empire, which feared an uprising. “I forced myself into the position of the people ... how would I have reacted,” said Kassel. As an example of the tensions, the Sadducees were influenced heavily NOVEL continued on page 34

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ocated in Sterling Heights, the active in the community, as the memChaldean Community Founbers involved with it help to register dation – the nonprofit arm of individuals at churches, community the Chaldean American Chamber events, as well as at various forums. of Commerce – has a four pillar mis“Members of our team once helped to sion: advocacy, acculturation, comregister 50 individuals after mass durmunity development, and cultural ing one of our drives,” recalled Bahri. preservation. According to their “It was an exciting moment for all of website, they are a human and social us involved with the initiative.” services organization providing assisAnother initiative of the Chaltance. They were founded in 2006, dean Community Foundation, Breakand host a wide-range of programing Barriers, which provides assistance ming and solutions for the Chaldean and advocacy to those with special community and beyond. needs, hosts community events from Stacy Bahri is the Strategic Initiatime to time. Members of the Hey tives Manager of the Chaldean ComU Vote initiative were present at munity Foundation. She, along with a Breaking Barriers event this past a dedicated team, helped to establish summer, where they helped individuan initiative in fulfilment of the CCF als register to vote. “The Chaldean mission. The Hey U Vote initiative, Community Foundation has regislaunched in 2017, tered hundreds of came together in individuals to vote order to remedy since the launch an issue within the of the Hey U Vote Chaldean community. “We have a large number of U.S. citizens in the Chaldean community that are not registered to vote. The Hey U Vote campaign was launched by the Chaldean Community Foundation in an effort to encourage eligible community members to register to vote, as well as aid with voter regis- Bahri and her team prepare to register Chaldean voters at a community event. tration,” said Bahri. In developing the marketing for the initiative, Bahri Campaign,” said Bahri. “I’m proud to found it essential to include elements be a part of such a devoted team who of Chaldean culture. “We came up understands the importance of this.” with a name for the campaign that “Our goal for the program is to represented the Chaldean commuencourage the Chaldean community and heritage. The word ‘Hey U’ nity to get out and vote on issues in Chaldean means ‘Come.’ In other that matter to them and their family words, we are saying, ‘Come vote!’ and participate in the decisions that After the name was created, we shape the future of our community,” worked with a designer to create the said Bahri. “In the future, it is our logo, which incorporates Aramaic.” hope that we will have more comThe logo can be found on tmunity members become politically shirts and on posters which are visinvolved and hold elected positions.” ible at Hey U Vote drives. IndividIndividuals who would like to uals who register in person at the register to vote may do so in person Chaldean Community Foundation during the regular hours of operation receive a t-shirt with the logo. at the Chaldean Community FounThe initiative prides itself in being dation.




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MARCH 2019


Developer, restauranteur Zaid Elia earns chamber honor BY PAUL NATINSKY


he Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce will recognize real estate developer and restauranteur Zaid Elia as much for his knack for innovation as for his business expertise at the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce’s Awards Gala May 3, in West Bloomfield. The chamber will present Elia, 40, with the Businessperson of the Year Award at the Chamber’s 16th Annual Awards Gala. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in biology, Elia chose not to follow his father’s example of practicing medicine and earned a law degree from Wayne State University. He used his legal expertise to work in real estate development through opportunities that presented themselves on his mother’s side of the family. “I practiced business and real estate law for a few years. In late 2006, I formed the Elia Group, LLC, which is a real estate development company. We develop and manage commercial retail shopping centers. We develop and purchase office buildings, mixed used buildings, all different types of real estate,” said Elia. Shortly after hanging out his shingle, Elia found himself staring down the barrel of a recession, an especially rough time for the real estate and property development industry. Necessity being the mother of invention, Elia happened to run into the development agent for Subway sandwich restaurants in western Wayne County (which includes the entire county, except for Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park and the Grosse Pointes). He jumped at the chance to diversify and was eager to manage franchises throughout the territory. There was one catch, the development agent had to own a franchise and show a profit running the business. Elia rolled up his sleeves and took his Subway shop to three months of 20 percent-plus profit. Today, he owns about a dozen Subway stores and is the development agent for about 100 stores in Wayne County, providing business support and operational expertise to franchisees. Much like his expansion from real estate development into restaurant operations, Elia sort of fell into the 26


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fine dining arena by the peculiar requirements of a business deal. He ran into the owner of the Birmingham landmark restaurant and bar, 220 Merrill. He knew she was selling the building housing the business and he was interested in buying. The catch? Once again, he would have to run a restaurant business in which he had no experience—this time a high-end restaurant. He remodeled the place and reopened it with new flair. “From there, I realized that this was my passion. I loved the hospitality business. It was exciting. It was a challenge. I was able to build strong teams and basically grow from there,” said Elia. He said he hires highly qualified people and trusts them to run the day-to-day operations of the restaurants, while he manages the larger aspects of the business. “My business is two-fold; 50 percent of my business is real estate

development, and 50 percent of my business is hospitality. My hospitality company is called The Iconic Collection,” said Elia. The fine dining and iconic venue side of Elia’s business now includes 220 Merrill, the Parc Restaurant in Detroit, the anachronistic press and police hangout, Detroit’s Anchor Bar and several other classic Detroit dining and drinking locations. Further expansion is on the runway awaiting take-off. “We have a full schedule of new restaurants on the horizon,” said Elia. “We just purchased Cadillac Tower in Downtown Detroit. It’s a 425,000 square foot building that we’re redeveloping. I am purchasing 511 Woodward in Downtown Detroit, which we’re going to redevelop. The Cadillac Tower is probably going to be developed into a hotel and apartments. Currently, it’s an office building. We’re

going to add retail on the first and second floor, hotel and apartments.” Elia said his background in real estate and law has allowed him to understand the foundation of real estate and business. “I love the people side and operational side of retail. I have combined both of them to kind of make that winning combination of right location, right brand and provide the iconic experience I want to provide all of our guests,” he said. The Elia Group employs 600 people. It started with one employee— who is still there—in 2006. Elia is looking forward to the Chamber’s May 3 awards dinner. “It is an honor to be recognized by the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce. I am proud to be part of an organization and a community with so many successful entrepreneurs,” he said.

Humanity after loss BY ASHOURINA SLEWO


nspired by their strength and efforts to give back and help the community, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce has chosen to recognize John and Ann Mansour as the Humanitarians of the Year at this year’s Chamber Awards Gala for their work within the community. The 16th Annual Chamber Awards Gala will be hosted at the Shenandoah Country Club on Friday, May 3. “On behalf of my wife and I, it’s bittersweet to be receiving this honor. It’s been a long road and the real humanitarians here are my children,” said John Mansour. “They’re the ones that are driving all this, they’re the ones that have made the impact.” Following the tragic loss of their children Alexander, 11, and Gabrielle, 6, in July of 2013, the Mansour family found great peace in their faith as several Chaldean seminarians from Sacred Heart Major Seminary offered their love, prayers and understanding. In addition, Father Andrew Seba was with the family from the onset. “We are grateful to our diocese, the wonderful priests, and to Bishop Francis for his support of my family and our mission,” said John Mansour. “If you asked me who a seminarian was or what that meant in early 2013 before the accident, I wouldn’t know how to answer that question without going to the dictionary,” Mansour said. “When the accident occurred, we were in the hospital and a family member of ours connected us with one of the seminarians and that was at the time Fr. Patrick Setto.” Then a seminarian, Fr. Patrick would join the Mansours at the hospital every day, offering to pray with them. Not long after accepting Fr. Patrick’s offer, other seminarians followed suit. “All the seminarians were at our doorstep from the start and they’ve continued to be at our doorstep since,” said Mansour. Grateful to be enveloped by this great love, the Mansour family wanted to give back to those that helped them. Consulting with their church, John and Ann were curious as to how the seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary were being financially supported. “We were told that there was one offering a year and that’s kind of how they fundraise, among other community events,” explained Mansour. From that point it became clear to the Mansours that the best way to give back would be through financial support for the seminarians. Stride for Seminarians was born. “It was then that we thought it would be a great idea to put them on the map and create awareness about who they are, not just because of who they are or what their mission is, but for what they’ve done for my family and what they can do to serve others in the community,” said Mansour. “…there

was a need to support these guys financially in their endeavor to become priests.” Since its inception, Stride for Seminarians continues to see great success, furthering the Mansours’ mission to support the very seminarians that supported them. In addition to aiding the seminarians, John and Ann found they had a calling to help others as they grieved. “Unfortunately, following our tragedy, there were many others that followed suit,” Mansour explained. “We had folks knocking on our door, asking us for support behind the scenes and I think it was soon realized that this was a calling we have to serve others in need like we are in need.” As people came to them for support, John and Ann knew the only way to help anyone through the grieving process was to come together and lean on each other. “Those that have been there, that have lost a loved one, there is a true connection,” Mansour said. “We felt in our heart that we had an obligation to be able to help these people in any way we can and just understand that first and foremost we must preserve our faith. We have to continue to believe and trust in God.” With the help of Fr. Pierre Konja and the Chaldean Sisters, John and Ann were able to coordinate with the church to launch the Grieving with Faith and Hope support group. Initially, meetings were hosted at the Chaldean Sisters’ convent, but as more people came to the meetings, we felt the need to create more awareness and formally become part of ECRC. The support group has been

in existence since April 2016. “It has now moved to ECRC because over time, unfortunately, this group has continued to grow and we just want to ensure that we create the awareness through ECRC, a center we are blessed to have in our community and with the support of Patrice Abona and others at ECRC,” Mansour explained. “It’s an honor to be an addition of ECRC – this went into effect last year.” These efforts to help others have proven to be beneficial to the Mansour family’s own healing as well, says Mansour. “Our group, filled with many incredible individuals, have gone promoted our support group and created awareness and united people through these efforts, but most importantly they have been one component of our healing at home. It’s helped us as much as it has helped our church and our community to not lose sight of God and to continue to strengthen our faith.” While the Mansours are honored to be recognized by the Chamber, they feel the recognition goes beyond them. From their children to the community members that helped them heal and pursue Stride for Seminarians and the grieving ministry, the humanitarians are not just John and Ann. “There are many other humanitarians behind the scenes that I believe also deserve the recognition; our seminarians, our diocese our incredible Stride committee members, and our entire community who supported my family and have continued to do so,” Mansour said. “We are grateful for the support. In my mind, everyone who has had a hand in all of this, is a humanitarian.” MARCH 2019


A tribute to the West Bloomfield supervisor BY LISA CIPRIANO


tribute is intended to show gratitude. And that’s exactly what the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is doing for West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan this year. It will take place at the chamber’s 16th Annual Awards Gala on May 3 at the Shenandoah Country Club. Kaplan will be honored with a special tribute for the devotion he has shown to the Chaldean community for which he serves. “It’s a tremendous honor. I’m overjoyed and humbled,” said Kaplan. The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is a partnership of Chaldean businesses and professionals working together to strengthen members’ business, increase job opportunities, encourage expansion and promote Chaldean business and culture. The Chamber seeks to service and represent Aramaic-speaking people, including Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs. That’s the chamber’s mission statement and it closely mirrors one of Kaplan’s goals in West Bloomfield’s government. Since taking office in 2016, Kaplan has made it a priority to appoint members of the Chaldean community to various board commissions as well as hire them to open positions in the township. Why has this been a focus for Kaplan? It’s to better serve a large portion of his constituency. West Bloomfield Township has the second largest Chaldean population in Michigan, aside from Sterling Heights. As a result, Kaplan has been on a mission to make sure they are properly represented in their local government. “Chaldeans make up about 20 percent of the population of West Bloomfield. There are some very qualified individuals in the community and by appointing them, we’re gaining their knowledge and 28


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understanding of the community,” explained Kaplan. Aside from appointing members of the Chaldean community, Kaplan has hired seven Chaldeans to positions at the township offices as well. Kaplan says he’s not trying to fill any sort of quota. It’s based on experience and merit. “The quality of these individuals is tremendous,” he explained. “Chaldeans have historically done well in business. Many are professions, lawyers, physicians and architects. They have something to offer to the community.” That diversity not only reflects the citizens of West Bloomfield Township, but makes serving them more efficient. “We have people working here who speak Chaldean, Arabic and even Maltese. That’s really helpful

when we have residents come in with English as a second language. Its helps them feel more comfortable,” he said. The Chaldean Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala is a much awaited annual event with who’s who of business, political and civic leaders. Former honorees include Congressman Sander Levin. “We like to recognize those leaders who go beyond the call of duty to help their constituents,” said Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. “Steve is one of those leaders who truly focuses on serving the residents in the community in which he serves. He is well-versed on the Chaldeans and our needs as well as on West Bloomfield Township. He is a relationship builder and a team player. Our board is proud to recog-

nize him.” Kaplan is one of three honorees at this year’s awards gala where a video montage highlighting the inner workings of his office will be shown. He’s looking forward to the video educating members of the Chaldean community about his commitment to serving them in both the appointed and hired positions. “There will be about 950 people in the audience of mostly Chaldeans. I think that probably a majority of them are unaware of the diversity that we have on our township board,” explained Kaplan Kaplan will be attending the gala dinner with his closest loved ones. “I’ll be bringing my lovely wife of 32 years, Lisa, my daughter Stacy and her two children. We’re a team,” Kaplan concluded.

Fighting to win, fighting to survive BY BIANCA KASAWDISH


t’s amazing what you learn about yourself and life when you have no choice but to embrace it,” says Clarence Dass. At just 31 years old, attorney Clarence Dass found he had a battle beyond the courtroom to fight. He found out on Holy Thursday in 2017, that he had stage 4 colon cancer. Now founder of his own law firm, legal expert for WXYZ-TV and Adjunct Professor at Rochester College, Dass began to feel off at the beginning of 2017. He started having stomach aches that lasted for hours and even days. He lost his appetite, became very tired quickly and began losing weight, all with no explanation. And when he randomly experienced a very high fever one day, he knew something was wrong. After seeing a gastroenterologist and then scheduling a colonoscopy, his doctor told him he found cancer when he woke from the anesthesia. This came with no history of colon cancer in his family, at the age of just 31 years old. “At the time I learned the news, I had just left the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. I had just launched my law firm only a few months prior, and I had just met the girl who is now my wife. In a matter of minutes, my entire life changed,” he says. “A few questions immediately came to mind. Would I lose my hair? Would I lose my strength? Would I be able to work? Would I make it?” He began chemotherapy soon after his diagnosis, and did twelve rounds over the course of six months. Dass shares that he would go to the hospital to get chemo, go home for three days, and go to work. “While at the hospital, I would talk to clients, call courts, and do legal work. No one knew what was happening, but I was running my law firm from my hospital bed,” he says. In his third week of chemo, the deportation crisis began. Hundreds of community members were caught in raids carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and detained. During this time, Dass went down to ICE headquarters to help his

clients, who he learned had just been detained. He stayed with their families all night, and did an interview with Fox 2 News about the situation. “There were times when I was doing live media interviews about the deportation crisis while connected to an IV,” he says. “I remember one day doing a live interview on The Mildred Gaddis Show from inside the bathroom at the hospital, and speaking with the Detroit Free Press every few days to provide an update, all while watching the chemo drip.” The entire time, Dass kept his battle a secret from many. “I knew that if I shared this news, it would take away from the work I was trying to accomplish for my clients,” he explained. “I also knew that I loved practicing law and helping others. If I continued to do that, it would also help me keep fighting the cancer.” Dass then began radiation every day, all the while he was planning

his wedding to his wife, Renee. He shares that with each round, his side effects became worse, to the point where he couldn’t get out of bed some days, leave his room or even answer the phone. He began to look different, swollen, tired, and older – his hair even turned gray. “My life was becoming slower and slower as the world around me felt like it was getting faster and faster,” he says. Steadfast in his fight, Dass kept going. Near the end of 2017, he learned it had all worked. The cancer had become smaller and smaller, and in January of 2018, he had surgery to remove what remained of it. By the end of the surgery, he learned he was cancer free. “Suddenly, the things that mattered before don’t matter anymore. All that matters is whether you are able to wake up in the morning healthy and happy, and whether you can share that health and happiness

with the people you love,” he says. On advice for anyone else going through a similar situation, he says, “Each one of us has a cross to bear, the same way Jesus did. We will all suffer in some way throughout our life. But what matters is not how we are suffering, but rather how we view our suffering. Every experience in life is an opportunity to grow and help others. As bad as things seem at any particular moment, as long as we are alive, we have already won half the battle. Do not give up.” Dass credits his family for the love and support they offered him day in and day out. “I want to thank my family, my dad, mom, two sisters, and my wife and her family for being by my side every step of the way— with everything from picking things up from my office for me or at other times just being there. They are my biggest blessings, and I would not be here without them.” MARCH 2019


Front row seated on floor, left to right: Rosemary Sarafa, Mary Romaya, Fadiya Sarafa, Venus Sadek, Najat George, and Caroline Matti; Middle row sitting on chairs, left to right: Josephine Sarafa, Jean Farida, Mary Thomas, Margo Kory, Malika Agnastopoulos; Back row standing, left to right: Julie Hallahan, Lilly George, Fredericka Bahoora, Nawal Shallal, Selwa Sesi, Juliet Najor, Judy Abbo, Samira Essa, Paula Denja, Firyal Yono, and Ameera Zachary.

Left to right: Nawal Shallal, Ameera Zachary, Najat George, Josephine Sarafa, Julie Hallahan, Mary Romaya, Paula Denja, Firyal Yono

The Socialites More than six decades of a sisterhood and going strong Youth Club from the 1950s. Left to right, Frank Thomas, Ruby Najor, Vickie Saroki, George Hakim, Joe Matti, George Najor, Bob Dickow, Alec Thomas, and Pete Acho.



t all started as a youth group and evolved into a sisterhood that has lasted more than 60 years. “We wanted to date and our parents didn’t want us to date,” recalled Josephine (Saroki) Sarafa, an original Socialite member. “We started a youth club so our parents would allow us to get together and they loved that we were hanging out with each other because deep down they wanted us to marry Chaldeans.” Sarafa was among a small group of Chaldeans who were born in America or who emigrated as children. They were teenagers in the 1950s. “We attended each other’s birthday parties and graduation parties.” They came from large families and the boys and girls were cousins and friends. They played baseball on Sundays at Palmer Park or Belle Isle. “We wanted a regular teenage life,” said Josephine. Mike George started the youth group and served as the group’s first president. “Michael was a leader and he really formalized our group,” said Josephine. “Our parents encouraged us to hang out. They saw that we were having fun. We were the sparks of the community. We were the youth.” “We were good kids,” said Julie. “We would go out on Saturday night and go to Mass at 2 a.m. at St. Aloysius church in Detroit.” “We were brought up as good Catholics,” said Mary (Denja) Chigi. “We had pizza at Famous Pizza restaurant on Woodward across from the Fox Theater,” said Julie (Najor) Hallahan. They began to formalize the group and started meeting at the first Chaldean church in America – Sacred Heart – located on Euclid and Hamilton at the time. They named the youth group the “Sparks”. “We actually had bylaws and took notes at meetings,” said Mary. “We had parties at each other’s homes and our 30


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moms were more than happy to make us food,” said Josephine. The women began to branch off into their own group called the Coronets. “We thought of ourselves as princesses and we crowned ourselves the Coronets,” said Josephine, who was the third person to serve as president of the Sparks Youth Group. “We put on talent shows and invited our parents,” said Mary. The original Socialites originally named the Coronets started out with 15 women. “We always got together at Najat’s house,” recalled Julie (Najor) Hallahan, an original Socialite. The original included: Najat (Dickow) George, Paula (George) Hanoosh, Nancy (George) Talia, Josie (Saroki) Sarafa, Vickie (Saroki) Sarafa, Sally (Essa) Vanderveer, Margaret (Essa) Jelsch, Virginia Denja, Mary (Denja) Chigi, Judy (Binno) Abbo, Ruby (Najor) Huhn, Julie (Najor) Hallahan, Farial (Najor) Dickow, Theresa (Najor) Bogos, and Rosemary (Hakim) Abate. “I remember I ordered a cake for one party with the number 12 on it because 12 of us attended and I had our names written on the cake,” said Najat. “We even had a song about our group,” said Julie. “Farial Najor Dickow used to sing it.” Once again at Najat George’s house, a Socialite who married a Spark – Mike George – a few of the original members and a couple of women who later joined, reminisced about their group that evolved into a lifelong friendship. “We made a pact to never gossip about anyone,” said Josephine. “We talk about our lives, our families and exchange recipes,” noted Mary. Some of the men at the time joined the military including Mike George, but eventually the women began to get married. Some married men they met in the youth group, others did not. Some married Chaldeans and others did not. “These women are like my sisters,” said Julie.

“We have shared so much with each other.” “I have seven brothers and no sisters and these women have been there for me. Najat threw me a bridal shower,” said Firyal Yono. They have gone through many life stages together – being single, getting married, having children and coping with death. “We were in each other’s weddings,” said Mary. They even remembered being the first Chaldean kids to have their communion in America. They celebrated the Sacrament at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit. “When I married Raoul, these women immediately welcomed me into this group,” said Paula Denja, who is from Spain. “The second time I met Najat was at a party and she was dancing. I had so much fun. I thought I was in a movie at the time. I saw Najat in this beautiful dress dancing to Arabic music. She immediately welcomed me into the group.” “Ruby and Najat were the dancers of the group,” said Julie. Najat has entertained the group more than any other member. “I have had 103 parties at this house throughout the 40 plus years I have lived here,” said Najat. “Paula learned Arabic dancing and she taught us how to dance to Spanish music,” said Najat. “I will never live on a lake but I truly appreciate these get togethers overlooking this beautiful lake,” said Mary. “She has a house conducive for parties and she has the energy to put them on.” “Najat treats us like we are royalty,” said Josephine. “If it wasn’t for this group. I would miss out on so much,” said Ameera Zachary. Today, they typically meet every Thursday morning at Ellen’s Café in Sylvan Lake. “We are taking the winter off because of the weather but will be back together in March,” said Mary. Julie came to America just before her seventh

birthday. Her family lived near the Saroki family and she became fast friends with Josephine. “I met Najat when I was about 14 or 15 years old,” said Julie. “She invited me to hang out with the girls. I have been part of the group ever since.” Julie and Josephine attended the same college and both became educators. “We have been close friends since our childhood,” said Julie. “I remember Josephine insisted we participate in some kind of Easter duty,” said Ameera. “She always incorporated our faith.” As they sat around the dining table at Najat’s house, Julie passed around a photo album of old pictures and Paula brought along photos from her sister-in-law, Virginia. “She was always so protective of the photos. She was so worried about me taking them out of her house,” said Paula about Virginia. The women attribute the longevity of the friendship to loyalty and love. “We genuinely like each other,” said Firyal. “We talk about our joys and problems.” “We actually love each other like sisters,” said Julie. “We are not catty.” “We have never betrayed each other and we have common values” said Mary. “Najat has been the glue in this group.” “Najat has kept us together,” said Paula in agreement. “We never ever gossip about other people,” said Josephine. The women hoped their own daughters and granddaughters would form the same friendships. “It’s much different today than when we were younger,” said Nawal Shallal. “These women welcomed me into the group when I was newly married and new to the country. They have been a big part of my life. I wish all women in all generations could have friendships like this.” “I think the generations today are lost generations,” said Najat. The Socialites today are a mix of women from varied backgrounds. Some were stay-at-home moms and homemakers, others worked full-time jobs and had careers that lasted decades. “We know with this group, there is always someone to lean on,” said Firyal. “We truly are happy for each other when good things happen and sad when something bad happens,” said Josephine. “We have no resentments towards each other.” Fighting back tears, Paula shared how her Socialite sisters helped her through a tragic time. “When I lost my son, these women were here for me,” she said. “Najat and Mike got all our friends together and my family came in from Spain. I will never

The Socialites: Past and Present

29201 T ELEG RA PH ROA D, SU IT E 330 SOU T HF IELD, MI 4 8 034

Najat George Mary Romaya Josephine Sarafa Paula Denja Firyal Yono Ameera Zachary Nawal Shallal Julie Hallahan Margaret Essa Sally Essa Mary Jane Farida Samira Essa Mary Denja Paula Hanoosh Nancy Talia Vickie Sarafa Mary Chigi Judy Abbo Margo Kory Rosemary Abate Mary Thomas Juliette Jonna Venus Sadek Fadiya Sarafa Rosie Sarafa Judy Binno Juliette Najor Carolyn Matti Malika Agnastopoulos Ruby Huhn Lilly George Farial Dickow Federika Bahoura Selwa Sesi

( 24 8 ) 327- 69 6 8 OF F IC E ( 24 8 ) 8 0 9 -3579 FAC SIMILE


forget that. Years earlier she threw me a surprise birthday party.” “It was for your 40th,” said Najat. “She was there for me in the good times and bad times,” said Paula. Sharing a similar situation Julie chimed in. “When I lost my daughter 12 years ago, it was around Najat’s 70th birthday party. I didn’t go but Najat called me the next day and was crying on the phone. She told me how much she missed having me there.” After a two-hour conversation over lunch at Najat’s house, it was apparent that nothing would ever break the bond among these women. “We truly enjoy being with each other,” said Nawal. “We like to talk to each other,” said Firyal. “There is no jealousy among us,” said Najat. “We don’t compete with each other,” said Josephine. “We are there for each other in joyous occasions and sad occasions,” said Mary. “There is nothing superficial in this friendship.” “We genuinely like each other,” said Paula. “We are family,” said Ameera. “We are sisters,” said Julie.

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Info Night Chaldean News-Feb-March2019.indd 1

MARCH 2019


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Who are the Chaldeans? HISTORY


Chaldeans are indigenous to Iraq

Chaldeans are Eastern-rite Catholic, converted by the Apostle St. Thomas

History spanning 5,500 years dating back to Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers Predate the Arabs, Turks and Kurds From the Arab world but are not Arabs The Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) for his wife

1750 BC Hammurabi introduces his Code of Laws

The Chaldean Church is led by the Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans, currently Mar Luis Sako The Chaldean Catholic Church is in full Union with the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope is the highest authority

Abraham, the Father of three Faiths, was from Ur of Chaldeans


The King of Ur created Hammurabi’s Stele, one of the first known codes of law, currently on display at the Louvre

Estimated 2,000,000 Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people in the World Estimated 500,000 Chaldeans in the United States

LANGUAGE The Chaldean language—called Syriac—is the oldest continuously spoken language in the world and a dialect of Aramaic

3000 BC Sumerians invent writing

Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew all share the same alphabet and are all Semitic languages

Chaldean businesses contribute nearly $11 billion to the economy of Southeast Michigan

Nearly 60% of Chaldean households own one business Two Chaldean Catholic Bishops in the U.S. Francis Kalabat in Michigan and Emanuel Shaleta in California There are 160, 000 Chaldeans living in Southeast Michigan, mostly in Macomb and Oakland Counties

Aramaic is the oldest continuously spoken language and the language spoken by Jesus Christ.

Mar Luis Sako

1900 Chaldeans begin immigrating to the United States

Necessity is the mother of invention The genesis of the Chaldean cheat sheet BY MONIQUE MANSOUR


s president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, Martin Manna has been giving presentations to the greater Metro Detroit area on the Chaldean community for quite some time now. “Being a part of the Chaldean Community Foundation since its inception in 2006 has given me the opportunity to speak in front of leaders and companies about our community, so that they can understand the Chaldean community historically, culturally, and economically, to name just a few ways, and to give them an overall sense of our culture,” said Manna. When Manna received a message to speak before the Chaldean American Student Association at Oakland University, he accepted it straight away. But this presentation ended a little differently than he had anticipated. “I soon recognized that many of the students didn’t completely understand what I meant when I began talking about Chaldean faith, family, 32


MARCH 2019

and the history of our community,” he explained. There’s a popular proverb in the English language: Necessity is the mother of invention. This is precisely the bolt of insight that rained down on Manna after giving the presentation. “All of this made me realize that we need to do something to help this new generation within our Chaldean community, many of which probably aren’t all that familiar with the sacrifices made by the generations before them...nor do they know how special they are to be part of this dynamic speak the language of Christ and to have a unique history like no other community in the world.” Manna decided a one-page digital document which can be easily accessed, shared, and referred to was just the solution to this problem. It will serve as an educational tool that people can use to understand what it means to be Chaldean, and it is an

initiative of the Chaldean Community Foundation. “On this document, there will be facts about the demographics of our will explain things like what it means to be an Eastern Rite Catholic, who our bishop is, who our patriarch is, some of the contributions our community has made, various information which will tell where it is that we come from.” The document was posted to Instagram at the end of February and on the Chaldean Community Foundation website? *Insert some facts/stats about sheet.* “My hope is that those who read it and access it will feel a sense of pride. That they will get closer to their faith and to our language,” said Manna. It will also serve as a valuable tool to explain to others outside of the Chaldean community of what it means to be Chaldean. “All of this is meant to help with culture preservation, one of the

main tenets of the Chaldean Community Foundation. Knowledge is power,” said Manna. This cheat sheet of sorts will be updated and reposted as needed. “All of the dashboards and infographics that we have at the Chaldean Community Foundation are revisited once a year. We make changes and updates as necessary. We hope to do the same with the cheat sheet,” said Manna. According to their website, the Chaldean Community Foundation is a human and social services organization providing assistance. They aim to improve the stability, health, and wellness of those they serve through advocacy, acculturation, community development and cultural preservation. They spearhead various programs and solutions and are active on social media. More information about the organization can be found on their website,


Representative of the 8th District talks about her relationship with the community


e had the opportunity to ask Representative Elissa Slotkin questions as they pertain to her new position in Congress and her work with the Chaldean community. Slotkin represents the 8th Congressional District. What are your goals for your first year in office? What about the first term? I have a lot I want to accomplish, but one overarching goal is that, a year from now, I want people to feel a real change in the way they interact with their Member of Congress. My goal is to bring a new approach in both style and substance. We’re planning in-person town halls, but also Facebook town halls and video updates, and are looking at ways to bring mobile offices right to folks’ neighborhoods in order to be as accessible and responsive to their issues as possible. What is your relationship with the Chaldean Community? I am so thankful to have a close relationship with Chaldean community. Just this past December I participated in a roundtable with leaders in Iraqi faith communities, including many Chaldean leaders. I’m really proud that my experience serving three tours in Iraq has brought me closer to the community in and around our district.   What are the top issues in your district? Lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, returning a sense of decency and integrity to our politics, and passing a once-in-a-generation infrastructure reform to upgrade our road and water infrastructure –– those are the things I hear about every day from constituents, and I’m already working on them. On many of these issues, there is a lot of common ground between the two parties — and I’m hopeful that we can make real progress.  

Elissa Slotkin

How do you plan to work on both sides of the aisle on issues in your district? This is something I deeply believe in, and I believe it starts by people getting to know each other. I am already enjoying getting to know the other freshman Members of Congress with service and veteran backgrounds from both sides of the aisle. If you start any conversation from a place of common ground, it is possible to move forward on important legislation –– on infrastructure, border security, protecting the environment. And that’s what I’m committed to doing. How did your time in Iraq prepare you for a career in politics? My three tours in Iraq taught me the importance of having a sense of mission. That no matter what, you wake up in the morning and you know what your mission at work is, whether it’s protecting U.S. forces and the U.S. homeland, or working to improve the lives of the people you represent. Frankly, we need more of that mission-focus in our politics, and being able to maintain that focus helps you cut through the vitriol and just get to work on the issues that matter.

How do you plan on keeping the community’s needs at the forefront during your time in Congress? As a new member of both the House Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee, I have a platform that allows me to lead on issues important to the Chaldean community and to bring them to the attention of senior leaders in Washington. I also hope to take a bipartisan CODEL to Iraq this year. I pledge to be as available and responsive as possible to the issues facing the community — and I’ve already heard from members of the Chaldean community on issues facing folks here in Michigan, and in the Nineveh Plains. In particular, we will be opening an office in Rochester, which will offer a nearby point of contact. What are some issues or solutions you are working on now? Unfortunately, the government shutdown was the primary focus as we entered Congress, but I was proud to take steps to help ease the burden on federal workers, as well as ensure that another federal

government shutdown never happens again. I co-sponsored a bill to allow federal workers to borrow out of their retirement accounts, as well as a bill to fund the Coast Guard during the shutdown, and I am particularly proud of legislation that I introduced to end shutdowns for good, called the Shutdown to End All Shutdowns Act. This bill would transfer the pain from federal workers to the decision-makers in Washington by suspending their pay and travel in the event of a government shutdown. In addition, I’ve co-introduced legislation, called the FLAT Prices Act, to stop abusive drug pricing practices, and co-sponsored a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. I co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would provide 60 days of partial paid leave for those who need time away from work to care for a new child or a sick loved one. And I offered my first amendment, to the Veterans’ Access to Childcare Act, that would improve veterans’ access to health care, especially mental health care. And there will be lots more to come. MARCH 2019


DOCTOR is in

The importance of colon cancer screening


olon cancer is the red meat is often a core second leading component of every meal. cause of cancerThere are also protecrelated deaths in the tive factors that you can United States. Every year, take to decrease your risk approximately 135,000 of colon cancer. Eating people in the United more fruits and vegetaStates are diagnosed with bles, exercising, taking in colorectal cancer and over an adequate amount of JOHNATHON 50,000 people will die befolate and fiber, and being MARKUS M.D. cause of it. These numcompliant with your choSPECIAL TO THE bers can be very scary, and lesterol medication will CHALDEAN NEWS in fact, you might know decrease your risk of colon someone who has been diagnosed cancer. In addition, quitting smokwith colon cancer. ing, decreasing red meat consumpThe majority of colon cancers tion, and controlling your diabetes develop from pre-malignant polare all important and necessary to yps, which if left alone, have an lowering the risk. increased risk of turning into canFortunately, we now have effeccer. This process is clinically silent tive screening tools, and the vast and typically has no symptoms unmajority of colon cancer can be pretil cancer is present. Once present, vented. There are several different many patients will develop fatigue, modalities currently in deployment weight loss, a change in their bowel to prevent colon cancer, but the habits, or start to see blood in their most common one is the colonoscostool. At this point, the process is py. The colonoscopy is a procedure less likely to be curable. where a flexible camera is inserted in Risk factors for colorectal cancer to the rectum and advanced to the include but are not limited to a famend of the colon to an area called ily history of colon cancer in either the cecum. Once there, we slowly your parents or siblings, certain gepull the camera back and look for netic disorders, a history of colon polyps. Once polyps are identified, polyps, eating red meat, a high fat we remove them through the camdiet, a high calorie diet, smoking, era, collect the tissue, and send it alcohol use, obesity, and diabetes. to a pathologist, who then tells us In America, the average citizen has what kind of polyps were removed. a 5% lifetime risk of developing coBased on the number of polyps, the lon cancer, but if you have a family size, microscopic analysis, and other history, that risk increases to 12% or risk factors we can then make rechigher. It should be noted that red ommendations of when to schedule meat more than doubles your risk of the next colonoscopy. Depending colon cancer. In our community, on a person’s risk factors, this is

typically 3, 5, or 10 years, with some exceptions. As scary as that sounds, most endoscopy centers and hospitals (including mine) use medications such as propofol to keep you sedated during the procedure. Propofol has the distinct advantage of putting you to sleep very quickly once infused, and you rapidly start to wake up once the infusion is over. Your only restriction is to not drive or

have been Christ’s school of thought. He cites Christ’s famous “do unto others” philosophy as possible paraphrasing of Hillel, a Pharisee rabbi. Of course, the Holy Bible does not end with his effect on the religious practices of the first century A.D., or even his crucifixion and neither does this book. As a rabbi, James cultivated relationships with Roman leadership, particularly Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who gave the order to torture and eventually kill Christ. Despite these relationships, James could not save Christ. The focus on these political pressures shows inevitability to the crucifixion.

This approach of portraying it from a political light comes from heavy research into the times and places Kassel wrote about. One thing he hopes his research and writing will work against the centuries’ long anti-Semitic propaganda that Jewish people as a whole are responsible for Christ’s Crucifixion. The focus on James’ law background comes from biblical accounts of his role in early Christianity. Not the least of which taking a lead role in determining what Jewish practices would be carried over to the new religion, and if gentiles could practice. Christ reveals himself to James

NOVEL continued from page 24

by Greek and Roman thought, even giving support to the Romans during their occupation of Palestine. The Pharisees believed in an afterlife, in contrast to the Sadducees, a concept, while not lacking in modern Judaism, is far more associated with Christianity. As a result, he believes James and Jesus were Pharisees. The Essenes believed temple leadership was corrupt and opposed the Roman occupation so much that they stockpiled weapons. Oddly enough, given biblical accounts of his challenging of the Pharisees, Kassel believes this would 34


MARCH 2019

We now have effective screening tools, and the vast majority of colon cancer can be prevented…the most common one is the colonoscopy. make any medical or legal decisions that day. If you are afraid of anesthesia or worried about the rare risks of perforation or bleeding, talk with your doctor as an un-sedated colonoscopy or other screening options are available. I frequently tell my patients the hardest part of the colonoscopy is not the procedure itself, but rather the preparation involved. Indeed, those who have had a colonoscopy

will tell you this is the part they dread the most. I frequently tell my patients to consider the prep as a bowel cleanse. Preps can range from 4 liters of fluid to as little as 72 oz of solution, but availability ranges due to cost and insurance coverage. I cannot stress enough that the preparation is the most important part of the whole process. You must follow your prep instructions exactly as written. Multiple studies have shown that prep quality is one of the most important factors that increase polyp detection rates. Colon cancer rates have fallen over the past two decades and this can mostly be attributed to screening. Every patient should undergo screening colonoscopies at age 50. This number changes to 40 or 10 years before the youngest family member was diagnosed if there is a family history of colon cancer. For example, if a father was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 48, his children should start screening at age 38. I would also recommend that if you see blood in your stool, no matter what age, you should see a gastroenterologist. Finally, a noninvasive method of testing for polyps or colon cancer is a test called the Cologuard, which was FDA approved in 2016. This requires mailing in a stool sample that can then be analyzed for abnormal tissue, and if positive, a colonoscopy is recommended. This test is done on a yearly basis. I hope you have found this information informative.

after his resurrection, and it is at this point in the book that James realizes Christ is the messiah. While My Brother’s Keeper is fiction, Kassel said he did not stray very far from scripture in writing this book, and believes Chaldeans will especially enjoy seeing their perspective on Christianity, which is often overlooked, represented with reverence. Bill Kassel talked about his novel on Ave Maria Radio with Teresa Tomeo. You can hear the podcast at His book is available at brothers-keeper-novel-family-jesus/

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chaldean on the STREET

Preparing for the holiest holiday of the year! BY HALIM SHEENA

With lent and Easter right around the corner, we wanted to know how members of the community prepare.

I prepare for Easter during lent by incorporating more prayer throughout the day. Instead of driving and listening to music, I’ll throw on the rosary or chaplet of divine mercy. I also really focus on fasting because I’ve learned through experience that any form of suffering helps grow closer to God if you allow him to share you sorrow. I also try and go to church more than just every Sunday – Amanda Ibrahim, 21, Sterling Heights

One of my favorite ways to spend my time preparing for Easter during lent is by watching The Passion of the Christ. Although it is saddening to watch, it is a significant reminder of the reality that Jesus Christ endured on the cross. Furthermore, I prepare for Easter during lent by fasting. It is important that we sacrifice something to show our gratitude towards God sending down his son to die on the cross for our sins. – Daleana Dabish, 20, Warren

Preparing for lent I try to be more courageous in using the gifts God has given me. I begin by giving myself a reasonable goal that I can continue to do even after Easter. While praying, fasting, and almsgiving I try to find ways to feed my soul and the soul of others. Letting myself truly enter in Lent with purity and generosity of the heart. – Nicole Summa, 27, West Bloomfield 

To prepare for lent I pray for the strength to keep my promises to God and to spread his word by letting him work through me. I also repent to start my Lenten season with God and I meditate on the meaning of lent and why we fast in order to grow throughout the Lenten season.  – Nicole Nofar, 26, West Bloomfield 

I spend my time preparing for Easter during lent by preparing for the resurrection of Jesus Christ through prayer and fasting. This is the time we are especially called to repent and ask for mercy and forgiveness for our sins. I spend a lot of time going to church, adoration, and confession. – Dana Betty, 21, West Bloomfield 

I pray that my sacrifice, whatever it may be, is truly offered to Jesus. Also, while I prepare for Easter during lent I try to surrender everything I have in my heart to Jesus because he died for all of us and he is true love! – Derrick Jemmoa, 22, Troy 



MARCH 2019



Help Wanted! Please consider hiring one of our many new Americans. More than 30,000 Chaldean refugees have migrated to Michigan since 2007. Many possess the skills and determination to work hard for you and your organization. The Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) has a bank of resumes of candidates qualified to do a variety of jobs. To inquire about hiring a New American, call or email Elias at 586-722-7253 or

Chaldean Community Foundation Sterling Heights Office 3601 15 Mile Road Sterling Heights, MI 48310 586-722-7253

Profile for The Chaldean News

Chaldean News - March 2019  

Chaldean News - March 2019  


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