Detroit Jewish News publisher Arthur Horwitz, left, of West Bloomfield and Chaldean News co-publisher Martin Manna of Bloomfield Township flip through a compilation of the content from their publications that helped launch the Building Community Initiative. / Photos by PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press
Initiative helps to unite Jewish, Chaldean groups by Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer. March 5, 2011.
Despite their differences, metro Detroit's Chaldean and Jewish communities have much in common.
They share cultural roots in the Middle East with ancient languages — Hebrew and Aramaic — that are related. Many have run small businesses: As Jewish store owners moved out of Detroit, Chaldeans often replaced them. And today, a major Chaldean center, Shenandoah Country Club, sits in West Bloomfield across from Temple Israel, a large synagogue.
"But they don't really know each other as well as they could or should," said Arthur Horwitz, publisher of the Detroit Jewish News.
So to help forge and enhance ties, Horwitz and Chaldean leaders developed the Building Community Initiative last year. It is being funded with more than $150,000 from business, government and academic sponsors.
The initiative continues to grow with programs aimed at drawing the groups together at community events -- from teen forums to cultural tours and business workshops. The next major event in May is to feature a discussion in West Bloomfield about women's issues in Jewish and Chaldean communities.
As a result of the initiative, Chaldeans are working to set up a fund that will finance start-up businesses in metro Detroit. The idea stems from a meeting last year with Jewish business leaders at TechTown at Wayne State University.
In May, the program plans to publish a supplement to the Detroit Jewish News and the Chaldean News four times a year. It will feature stories about the joint events and others in the communities -- from holidays to food to politics.
Horwitz, left, and Manna hold enlarged covers of their publications. The communities "don't really know each other as well as they could," Horwitz said.
The partnership has led to closer friendships, business ties and greater understanding.
"We have a lot more in common than differences," said Martin Manna, co-publisher of the Chaldean News, which launched in 2004 with Horwitz's help. Before, "we really didn't understand each other's cultures."
The emerging ties between the two communities have extended to other projects as well.
A separate program aims to create a Chaldean community group to help uninsured patients; it's modeled on a similar effort in the Jewish community, Project Chessed in West Bloomfield. The Jewish community is providing mentoring.
Through their interactions, both sides have found things that bind them.
Mary Romaya, 66, a Chaldean who lives in Farmington Hills, grew up in northwest Detroit a block away from a synagogue. Romaya is part of an arts and cultural committee with the initiative that has featured architectural tours of Chaldean and Jewish centers.
"We both have vibrant, active communities," Romaya said. "This can only make the communities stronger."
Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo < a t> freepress.com
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.