When Women Ruled in the Middle East

Although we’ve been led to believe otherwise, women in ancient Mesopotamia had more rights and independence than women in those regions have today. They contributed to building the cradle of civilization and, unlike in modern eras, they were revered. As a result their lands flourished. 

The shift away from, and the attempt to destroy, feminine consciousness has caused so much pain and suffering for the people in my birth country of Iraq.  It has led to the gradual and systematic demise of my ancestors. During  my younger years, I experienced much trauma in that land where the principal hit me for skipping Saddam’s parade and  not knowing the answer to a question. We lived in constant fear. In contrast, in the United States I was coddled and supported by teachers and mentors so that I could follow my dreams, even though many of them had the “white skin” that is often criticized for having privileges that others do not.  As a result, I became an author, filmmaker, and have held many prestigious positions, which I go more in depth with in this article: https://voyagemichigan.com/interview/meet-weam-namou-of-sterling-heights/

Through a lot of healing work, I’ve gotten past the traumas but every once in a while something happens that brings the pain to surface once again. The recent tragic loss of a 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini is one such incident. On September 16, Mahsa was arrested by the morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly. She died in the hospital in Tehran, Iran, due to police brutality according to witnesses. Her death has resulted in a series of large-scale protests across the country, putting a focus on violence against women in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  On October 1st, demonstrations were held worldwide in 130 cities to show solidarity with the women and men protesting in Iran, many who have lost their lives. 

The idea that women today have to risk and lose their lives for basic human rights hurts my heart. I think about their struggles, the people we left behind in Iraq, like my childhood best friend, Niran, who I wasn’t able to say goodbye to because we fled in secrecy. I once asked my mom if she’d heard any news about Niran and her family and she said that Saddam forced them out of their home because of their Iranian roots. I often think about her and wonder where she ended up. 

From left to right: My friend Maysa in white, myself in red, and my friend, Niran, in blue

I watch the news and see women rising up, fighting for their freedom, while a broadcaster like Mehdi Hasan, host on MSNBC and NBC, says that we should stand with Iranian women protesting for their freedom, but emphasizes the hijab is a choice. He claims that “everyone wants to push their own agenda right now, their own hobby horse, while Iranian women risk their lives in the streets…”

My heart continues to weep for that land because it feels to me that the majority of its population continues to be in denial. My book event for Pomegranate was canceled last year because the Muslim community was against the storyline; a Muslim woman wanting to remove her hijab. They even refused to read the book. This happened here in the United States, 11 days before the Taliban captured Kabul. 

The Pomegranate film is led by women talent who represent the communities  in the story.  It was nurtured by well known figures in the film industry, including Scott Rosentfelt, the producer of Home Alone. The cancellation was the result of a fear to offend a highly conservative group that is not even supported by the majority of its own community.  It was the result of fearing the beauty and strength that women possess, which is a blessing, as well as their spiritual essence. 

Now more than ever, it’s important for the world to learn about the contributions and stories of women in Ancient Mesopotamia. In doing so, you will help heal old wounds and create a more harmonious way of life. You can learn about these women by reading the book Mesopotamian Goddesses. Then blast their names everywhere and teach young children about their amazing contributions to society! https://www.amazon.com/Mesopotamian-Goddesses-Unveiling-Feminine-Power/dp/1945371803/ref=sr_1_4?crid=9S4X11LV7JRJ&keywords=Weam+Namou&qid=1664815327&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIyLjQ4IiwicXNhIjoiMi40MSIsInFzcCI6IjEuNTkifQ%3D%3D&sprefix=weam+namou%2Caps%2C86&sr=8-4

Artwork circulating the Internet of Mahsa Amini

Every month, I interview remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m letting loose and sharing morsels of my life.



Walking in Balance 

When my neighbor has guests, and they gather in the backyard during warm weather days, she will often bring me a small cup of Turkish coffee. She hands it to me over the fence. Sometimes placed on the saucer, next to the small cup, is a stick of chocolate, dried mangos, dried apricots, walnuts, dates, or zlabia, the Middle Eastern equivalent to funnel cakes. When she sees that my husband is home, he too receives a cup of Turkish coffee. We both feel nourished by the hospitality of our Middle Eastern traditional ways. 

I drink the coffee. The bitter but delicious taste is strong and rich. I hear Aramaic words from the neighbors’ home. They sound like birds singing. This ancient language has me traveling to my ancestral land. I journal, read, and remember those who have passed; my mother, my father, one of my precious mentors, and most recently, my dear teacher, Lynn V. Andrews. 

Lynn passed away on August 17 at 4:44 pm. She was a mystic and the bestselling author of the Medicine Woman series. Her four-year Mystery School changed the lives of thousands of her students, particularly women. As such, it ended up influencing the lives of countless men and women, since we all affect each other. For decades, Lynn dedicated her life to the path of writing and healing Mother Earth, the mind, and the heart through ancient practices of the ancients. She had us raise the question, “What did they know that enabled them to live successfully on this Earth for so very, very long… that we have forgotten in such a short span of time?” 

From her and her unique and intimate circle of women, I learned to walk in balance, with one foot in the physical world and another foot in the spiritual world. I learned to heal and transform my life with one act of power after another. I learned to continue to learn on a daily basis. I learned that we have all we need, right where we are. All we have to do is look; then appears the right story, the right job, the answered prayers, the perfect neighborhood and neighbors. 

It was when I was looking that Lynn and her magical world appeared to me. I ended up becoming an apprentice in her school for four years, and later, the mentor for her apprentices. I ended up writing a four-part memoir series about the experience, which later expanded into workshops and classes to pass on the teachings that brought me from dark to light. This has led to many inspiring projects and groups, including this very blog and community called The Path of Consciousness. 

Read more about my experience in the Mystery School.

Here’s an interview I did with Lynn V. Andrews:


Just a reminder, the online lecture series on the “Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess” begins this Saturday, September 10, 2022. If you’d like to register you can email info@chaldeanculturalcenter.org or use the QR code below.


Every month, I interview four remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m letting loose and sharing morsels of my life.

Traveling the World From Home

When I was younger, I traveled to Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Israel, and many other countries to see the world. I was passionate about life and what’s out there. 

For over a decade, I enjoyed the beauty that other lands, traditions, and cultures had to offer. I took long walks in regal towns with colorful houses and flower-adorned alleys, sat on floors of Bedouin homes to drink delicious, minted tea and eat tanoor baked bread, rode donkeys and horses, buses, and trolleys, all while reflecting on the wonders of life. The process filled my heart with love and life, and it cleansed me of many preconceived notions, prejudices, and beliefs. It also helped me understand other’s points of view, including animals, trees, and nature.  

At an event in Morocco (late 1990s)

During my last few trips, something changed in me. I realized that I no longer needed to travel far to experience the wonder and beauty of other cultures. It’s all right here, just around the corner from home. Coming to this realization, I feel the same excitement as when I used to travel regularly. I meet the most wonderful people and visit the most fascinating places on a regular basis whenever that desire comes up  – no need to look for travel dates and tickets!

Just recently,  I visited the Arab American National Museum with colleagues, where we learned  about the Mandaeans, an ancient people that I had researched but not extensively.  Afterward, we enjoyed lunch at a Yemini restaurant followed by coffee at a Yemini café. Not long ago, I attended a gathering at a nearby church where a spiritual teacher, Ashwin Kapadia, PhD, who is visiting from India, gave his discourse in Integral yoga. In July, I had the pleasure of interviewing indigenous minority communities from Iraq: the Yazidi, Mandaean, Marsh People, and Kurdish. Why did I highlight their communities? Because I love celebrating others’ heritage as much as I do mine! 

Learning to celebrate and honor your heritage is important, but it’s just as important to do so unto others. This teaching, which is prevalent in America’s focus on diversity these days, has brought much richness and value to this country.

What richness is around the corner of your home that you can travel to this week?  

In Prague while studying poetry through the University of New Orleans (2001)

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There’s a lot of exciting things happening and I’d love you to be a part of it. I’m particularly looking forward to a new book club by a UK-based art historian and author, Emily Porter, and the first annual Beth Nahrain Conference which will focus on writers of Mesopotamian descent. See below for details!


Partaking in Others’ Act of Power

I have been enjoying listening to audiobooks for years, imagining the day one of my fourteen books would be available in this format. Then one day out of the blue, my niece Sandy asked if she could create a sample audiobook narration  from my book Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School. I thought this was a lovely idea and gave her the go-ahead. When she sent the audio for my approval, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting her voice to be so engaging and professional in its delivery. 

Through our conversations, I learned about her earlier interests in theater and acting and her current desire to shift careers from a yoga instructor to an audiobook narrator. The stars having aligned, as they say, I asked if she would like to narrate Pomegranate.  She was excited about the opportunity but had her reservations, since she hadn’t yet narrated an entire book and there was a lot involved, such as numerous male and female characters of various age groups and ethnicities. But I have a knack for discovering talent – it’s all around me actually – and I said, “Let’s give it a try.”

The time, effort, coaching, proper recording space and equipment, and the ability to self-direct as well as receive direction from me, created a priceless experience for both of us and a lovely audiobook. What was amazing is that ACX, the Audible.com platform, approved it from the first get-go which says a lot about Sandy’s professionalism. (Tune in on June 30th when I’ll be interviewing Sandy and she’ll discuss the process – see info. below). So far we’ve had wonderful feedback, the story resonating with listeners because it’s funny, it’s real, and it asks important questions. 

One of the first things I learned from my four-year apprenticeship in Lynn V. Andrews’ mystery school is the Act of Power, a transformation practice to help you reach your dreams. This practice propels all my projects, but particularly Pomegranate. The most magical part about it is that when you help another with their Act of Power then the blessings are doubled and tripled – as was the case with me and Sandy working together. 

Do you want to partake in our act of power? Since we just announced the release of the audiobook on May 25, it would be so meaningful if you can take a listen to the 5 hour 25 minute book on Audible – the 525 is pure coincidence 🙂 – and leave an honest review. It would be a great help in getting the word out. You can click the image or link below to get to it.

If you don’t have an Audible membership, you can get the audiobook for FREE with a 30-day Audible trial.

Just CLICK HERE TO GO TO AUDIBLE, start the trial process, and get the Pomegranate audiobook!

Thank you so much in advance and we hope you enjoy the book!

And if you listen and enjoy it, please tell a friend or two about it!



Every month, I interview four remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m currently running a series on Mesopotamian Goddesses.

HERE’S THE GUEST LINE-UP FOR JUNE 2022:

Creating the Audiobook for “Pomegranate”

A guest blog by Sandy Naimou

The births of my children gave me less and less reasons to travel.  The pandemic helped me to embrace being home-bound.  But now, my children were two thousand miles away and so was the comfortable quiet solitude of my home.  It was time that I take the next step in my life.

It was my first trip to the Krotona Institute in Ojai, California, where a small group of us were there to take on various projects that would keep us busy for the next year.  I was going to take a series of related classic texts written in the early 1900s and produce them into audiobooks.  Audiobook narration was that “next step in my life” and I was in the middle of producing Weam Namou’s book “Pomegranate,” which had to take a back seat while on this trip.

On the Krotona campus, the first early morning was still and chilly.  The rest of the residents were tucked away in their respective adobe-styled dwellings, but the birds were actively singing and fluttering about.  Michigan’s bitter January weather was behind me, but I was grateful on this first morning in the mild winter of the Ojai Valley that I had my light winter jacket where I could hide my hands away.

I walked through the Sanctuary of Connections on the campu, a garden for contemplation.  Step by step, my eyes sensed the newness in my surroundings.  At the start of the path a statue of a Lioness stood to greet those who entered.  Weathered, but revered, various offerings were placed around her majestic stance.  The plaque on her throne read:

“Touching the forehead of the lioness

Speaking the name of one who suffers

Forming the connection to nature

Embrace healing powers.”

Then I found I was moving to a statue to symbolize a world religion, and another statue and another.  Great traditions that hope to uplift humanity:  Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Sufism, Indigenous traditions, Hinduism, Theosophy, Judaism, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, and the teachings of Krishnamurti.

As I approached the end of the path, a small shining sphere caught my attention and brought me closer to the tree from which it hung.  I felt a deep connection to the tree before I realized what I was seeing and sensed it pulling me in, rather than being pushed by my own curiosity.  The sphere glistened within its small, bare, and modest foliage, the branches of the tree thin and the leaves spare.   I walked closer, still not knowing what it was.   There it was, the smallest pomegranate I have ever seen, and the only one I have ever seen on an actual tree.  The fruit’s skin had burst open, and its seeds were exposed.

I was surprised, no, I was astonished.   There I was, experiencing a parallel path with the fruit staring at me and my own life, and that moment moved the lines to create a clear intersection.

After deep soul searching in 2021, I realized that I wanted to shift away from teaching Yoga full-time to narrating audiobooks.  It was very much a “mid-life crisis” experience and through deep inner listening and self-observation, I began to realize this was the next step.  Although, when do we actually truly “know” this sort of thing? All we can do is be open to continue learning about what the steps might be.  For instance, when I began, I thought I would only be able to work on non-fiction books since I don’t read fiction and I’m not a trained actor.  And then it occurred to me that I was avoiding the things I had, once upon a time, loved to immerse myself in, but stopped doing when I was prohibited from going away to college to study acting.  I was avoiding fiction and I was avoiding acting.  When Weam was impressed with my initial reading of her book in October 2021, I realized that I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, avoid either one anymore.  

And standing there in the Sanctuary of Connections, looking at the little ruby red pomegranate, I understood that the steps I have taken through the garden of my life are moving me in the direction that I am to go. 

As a second-generation Chaldean-American immigrant, Weam’s book spoke to me, a book which I know quite intimately after multiple readings, recordings, and analysis. In portraying the characters, I was eventually able to incorporate their personalities within my own being, bringing me closer to these cultural roots.  

But more than that, the book spoke to me on a spiritual level, one that goes beyond imagined lines of nation, culture, religion, and gender.  Immersing myself in it, I was able to incorporate the character’s souls in my own being.  Their desires and struggles brought me to the Sanctuary of Connections within my own heart.  Weam’s experiences and the story she shares with us, helps us to see that these desires and struggles transcend all the societal labels, these imaginary lines, that we are exposed to everyday which make us feel separate from each other.  

For ages we have been trying to teach each other that we are all One, through traditions, religions, stories, and laws.  And yet, it seems that these teaching tools, in our limited ignorance, have been used to create divisiveness in our hearts and minds.  But there is hope.  And beautiful stories like “Pomegranate,” which holds within its center the Sanctuary of Connections, will help us create a future of Unity instead.  

Author Bio: Sandy Naimou has a B.A. in psychology & M.L.A. in women’s and gender studies.  She teaches Yoga, serves on the board for The Theosophical Society in Detroit, and, as you already know, is an aspiring Audiobook Narrator.  

https://www.sandynaimou.com/


Check out my YouTube channel to learn about this week’s guest, who I’ll be interviewing live. Subscribe to my channel and set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

We are exploring the effects of global war and trauma during May.

Here’s the guest line-up for May 2022:

Interview with Hiba Dagher, Poet & Founder of Hikayat

Hiba Dagher is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, pursuing a degree in English & Ethnic Studies. She is the founder of Hikayat, an organization that celebrates and centers artists, writers, and creatives from the SWA/NA region and its diaspora. She is the recipient of two Hopwood awards, and her work has been featured in the Shuruq writing showcase, Xylem literary magazine, Cafe & the Inside Out anthology. You can find her @mtnsdaughter on Twitter.

Interview with Rev. Michael Bazzi, Author & Professor of Aramaic

Rev. Michael Bazzi (Emeritus) was born in northern Iraq in the beautiful city of Tilkepe, 10 kilometers north of Mosul. He was ordained a Catholic priest in Baghdad in 1964. He later went to Rome where he earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology in 1974 from the Lateran University. He also has degrees in mass media and group dynamics.

That same year, 1974, Fr. Michael came to the United States and began serving as a priest in the Green Bay Diocese in Wisconsin. He also began what was to become a lifelong love of teaching the Scriptures and the Aramaic language by teaching workshops throughout the region

Fr. Michael served a central role in establishing three Chaldean Catholic parishes in the United States: in Michigan, and California. Since 1985, Fr. Michael has served at St. Peters Catholic Church in El Cajon. In 2015, Fr. Michael was made Pastor Emeritus at St. Peter’s Cathedral.

He is currently in his thirty-first year as a Professor of Aramaic at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. Between the college and his parish, Fr. Michael teaches more than 100 Aramaic students a year.

Fr. Michael has authored ten books, five of which focus on the Aramaic language: Read and Write Aramaic in the Modern Chaldean DialectBeginners Handbook of the Aramaic Chaldean AlphabetsAramaic Language Chaldean DialogueThe Advanced Handbook of Modern Aramaic Language Chaldean Dialect Vol. II, and Classical Aramaic, Elementary Book I, which he co-authored with well-known Bible scholar, Dr. Rocco Errico. Two of his books focus on the Chaldean people and their heritage: Chaldeans Present and Past and Who Are the Chaldeans? Two books which will be published by Let in the Light within the next year, deal with Scriptural teaching: Teach Yourself the Bible: The Pentatuch (Torah) and Teach Yourself the Bible: Matthew’s Good News. His final book, Tilkepe: Past and Present, is a fascinating compilation of his original research on his hometown of Tilkepe and is written in both English and Arabic.

Fr. Michael has led numerous tours of the Middle East. In 2010, the San Diego Law Enforcement Officials named him their Citizen of the Year.

You can checkout Father Bazzi’s books via this link https://letinthelightpublishing.com/shop/

Interview with Dr. Rocco Errico, Author, Lecturer and Biblical Scholar

Dr. Rocco A. Errico is an ordained minister, international lecturer and author, spiritual counselor, and one of the nation’s leading Biblical scholars working from the original Aramaic Peshitta texts. For ten years he studied intensively with Dr. George M. Lamsa, Th.D., (1890-1975), world-renowned Assyrian biblical scholar and translator of the Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text.

Dr. Errico is proficient in Aramaic and Hebrew exegesis, helping thousands of readers and seminar participants understand how the Semitic context of culture, language, idioms, symbolism, mystical style, psychology, and literary amplification—Seven Keys that unlock the Bible—are essential to understanding this ancient spiritual document. Dr. Errico’s publications include: Let There Be Light: The Seven Keys, And There Was Light, The Mysteries of Creation: The Genesis Story, The Message of Matthew, Setting a Trap for God: The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus, Sodom and Gomorrah: What Really Happened, Classical Aramaic Book 1. He is also the co-author, with Dr. Lamsa, of 13 Aramaic Light biblical commentaries (seven on the New Testament and six on the Old Testament).

Dr. Errico is the recipient of numerous awards and academic degrees, including a Doctorate in Philosophy from the School of Christianity in Los Angeles; a Doctorate in Divinity from St. Ephrem’s Institute in Sweden; and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the School of Christianity in Los Angeles. In 1993, the American Apostolic University College of Seminarians awarded him a Doctorate of Letters. He also holds a special title of Teacher, Prime Exegete, Maplana d’miltha dalaha, among the Federation of St. Thomas Christians of the order of Antioch. In 2002, he was inducted into the Morehouse College Collegium of Scholars.

Under the auspices of the Noohra Foundation, he continues to lecture for colleges, civic groups and churches of various denominations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. https://noohra.com/

Interview with Dr. Susan Adelman, author of “After Saturday Comes Sunday”

A pediatric surgeon, Susan Adelman has also been an editor, a president of many medical organizations, a painter, sculptor, jeweler, and now an author. After extensive travel – including many trips to the Middle East and India – she wrote the biography of a dear friend of hers and her law professor husband. This is Ram Jethmalani, a legendary lawyer, member of the Indian parliament, former law minister, writer, mediator of the Kashmir dispute and law teacher. Adelman’s husband called him the greatest lawyer in the English language in the world.

Her second book evolved out of her friendship with a Chaldean grandmother who she met while performing a series of operations on her nephew from Iraq. This became a book about Aramaic, those who still speak it today – Chaldeans, Assyrians and Kurdish Jews – and the impending doom of the Christians in the Middle East because of ISIS and related groups. At present, Adelman is working on a book about the deep connections between Jews, Israelis and India – linguistic, cultural, and historic – and their linkage through Zoroastrianism.

Watch the interview with Dr. Adelman and read the following Q&A:

Q: What is the book After Saturday, Comes Sunday about, and what inspired you to write it?

A: The book tells the story of the Aramaic language and the last living people to still speak it, the Chaldeans, the Assyrians, and the Kurdish Jews. It then turns to the challenges the Christians have had, and still have, in the Middle East and what we need to do to help them if they ever are going to maintain Aramaic as a living language.

Q: What did you discover throughout the process of writing this book, particularly in regards to the relationship between the Jews and Chaldeans?

A: I already knew a great deal about the closeness between the Jews and Chaldeans in the old country, because I learned much from the Karim and Norma Hakim family over the last forty years, but of course my research added much more to the picture.

Q: You wrote on page 45, “The greatest Jewish community of the ancient world was in Babylonia.” Tell us about that history, and how, little by little, it became extinct in Iraq.

A: The Jews first were brought to Assyria by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and next by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.  In each of these two exiles, thousands of Jews were deported to Assyria (probably Nineveh Province), then Babylon.  After the great temple was destroyed in Jerusalem in 70 CE, Jews escaped in all directions, many of them to join their countrymen in Iraq.  For hundreds of years, 90% of all Jews in the world lived in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, under Muslim rule.  This was a highly organized community, a center of learning, and the place where all the most important Jewish literature was compiled.  Baghdad was one third Jewish up to the Second World War.  That war, and the persecutions that took place in Iraq after the formation of the State of Israel, caused the Jews to flee to Israel.

Q: What are the differences between the Aramaic spoken by the Jewish people and that spoken by Chaldeans and Assyrians?

A: Aramaic is an ancient language, perhaps dating back to 1000 BCE, and over time it has undergone many changes, evolved, spread to many countries and communities, developed new dialects and in some places undergone changes that created a new language.  Several different scripts even evolved.  Different communities – Jewish, Christian and Muslim, Samarians, Mandaeans – developed their own variations, some of which are mutually intelligible and some not.  In some towns the Christians and Jews could understand each other and converse.  In other towns, even towns that were not large, the differences were so great between, say Syriac and Jewish Aramaic, that they could not understand each other.  The grammar stays the same in all of them, and they share this grammar with Hebrew and, to some extent, with Arabic.  I speak Hebrew and some Arabic, and this enables me to understand some Chaldean, but I suspect I am largely relying on the Arabic that is mixed into it.

 Q: After Saturday, Comes Sunday was your second book, and it’s very well researched. So is your first book Rebel: A Biography of Ram Jethmalani. What challenges did you face writing your books, given that your career was previously dedicated to the medical field?

A: The first book drew heavily on the many trips we have made to India and the over 40- year close friendship we have had with Ram Jethmalani.  I had heard many of his stories in real time, and what I had to do was research the details, the background and the legal cases.  The next book drew on the over 40-year friendship I have had with Norma Hakim and her family, and it also drew on my many trips to Israel plus my previous knowledge of Jewish history.  What I had to do, again, was to research all our respective histories, the differences between the different communities, the important people, and the major events.

Q: What message do you want your readers to take from your book?

A: In the last chapter I go through the needs of the Chaldean community if they want to settle again in their historic villages in Iraq, speak their language and keep their culture alive.  To do that, they need help from a superpower, and that power must be us.  They have done a great deal of work in putting together their issues and needs; now we need to follow their lead.

Q: Based on your research and observation, your intimate relationship with the Chaldean community, and your interest in world affairs, what future do you see for the Christians in the Middle East?

A: While I know that some of my Chaldean friends say that all that needs to be done is to turn out the lights, I am more hopeful.  I even am hopeful as I watch what has happened to the poor Maronites in Lebanon.  I even maintain hope when I see how the Kurds have been betrayed, and how they see themselves as competing with the Chaldeans for the same land. I think it will take a massive effort to reestablish a Chaldean community back in Iraq, and I think the diaspora will have to step up in an effective way.  Remember though, the Jews did it. In the end it may be hard to attract a lot of people to villages, but if there are places to go to, some may retire there, young people may visit, even stay, educational centers may be built, and tourism may develop.

Q: What future do you see for the Aramaic language?

A: The language lives on in the Jewish Babylonian Talmud, many Jewish prayers and in the Jewish religious schools all over the world.  I am pleased to see that the Chaldean churches are getting interested in teaching Chaldean and that there are websites and courses in Aramaic available now.  If Chaldeans and Assyrians continue to push this education, they plus the Jews can keep their respective versions of Aramaic alive.  Remember, Hebrew almost died as a spoken language until the State of Israel was recreated. Then the language was revived, words added from Arabic, English, French, German and Russian, and the grammar modernized.  If the Chaldeans could keep their community intact, they can do the same thing.

Q: Are you currently writing a book, and if so, what is it about?

A: Yes, drawing from my experience writing about India and about the Middle East, I am writing about what draws so many Israelis, and Jews in general, to India.  What are the deep and historic connections between us?  Do they go through Iran? Yes.  How are our Jewish, Hindi and Buddhist religions connected through the historic religion of Iran, Zoroastrianism?

Interview with Omari Rush, Executive Director of Culture Source

Omari Rush has engaged the arts as both a passion and profession, and in each mode, he continues to enjoy discovery and deepening impacts. As executive director of Culture Source in Detroit and as the governor-appointed chairman of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, he advances efforts to have creative and cultural expression thrive in diverse communities. Complementing that work, Omari is a board member of Arts Midwest in Minneapolis, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in Washington, D.C., and the Lewis Prize for Music.

Omari earned degrees in music from Florida State University and the University of Michigan, and extended his love for learning by managing the K-12 education program of the University Musical Society (UMS), by serving on the John F. Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education National Advisory Committee, and by serving as the chairman of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation. A lapsed clarinetist, Omari now uses his voice to co-host an arts-focused radio show on WEMU-FM and recite Robert Frost poetry. https://culturesource.org/