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University of Detroit Mercy teaches Aramaic (Chaldean)
By John Thomas :: Sunday, January 11, 2009 :: 97640 Views :: Article Rating :: Career & Education, Community & Culture

For thousands of years the language of Aramaic has existed, descended from Sumerian and Akkadian roots.  The language is still spoken by the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac people today, and is one of the four recognized languages in the Iraqi constitution under Syriac (Eastern dialect of Aramaic). 

The University of Detroit Mercy has recently established an Aramaic course teaching how to speak, read and write Aramaic, as well as studies pertaining to culture and history. The class starts January 17th and is taught by Mahir Awrahem, who is also a professor at Baker College. 
 
The 15-week is an introductory course  open to all college and high school students.  Prof. Awrahem is excited for the start of the program, “When I lived in Iraq, there was no such thing as learning Aramaic in schools; I am excited to be teaching the language of Christ especially at the University level.

According to Lawrence Mansour, Director of Ishtar Cultural Center, “The establishment of the Aramaic class is only the first step to promoting awareness of the language and history of the indigenous people of Iraq.” Mansour also stated that before the establishment of the course no other opportunities existed for students to learn their own language and receive college credit. “Students before were forced to take other languages for college credit; now they can take Aramaic.”  
  
Back in 2001, Prof. Awrahem traveled back to Iraq where he was astonished to see the development of Syriac teaching schools in the Northern part of Iraq.  “The level at which the students were reading was amazing; it motivated me to want to come back and teach the Syriac language to people in America.” 

Prof. Awrahem was approached by Mansour to establish the course but found many hardships in the beginning. “To establish a course at a University level is one thing, but to establish the curriculum of a rare language like Aramaic is another,” says Mansour. “We wanted to show that Aramaic is alive, and it even contains words for technology, physics, chemistry - the list is endless.” 

Depending on which university the student attends, the credits are transferable up to 6 credits.   Recently, other Universities have acknowledged the class to provide for easier transfers of credits between them and UDM.  The list range from U of M, MSU, Wayne State University, Oakland University, the list goes on. 

The course is taught at the Ishtar Cultural Center which is located on 15 Mile rd just southeast of Dequindre rd. as a convenience to students who might not  be able to attend classes at University of Detroit Mercy.

The course consists of two parts: the language portion and history and culture, allowing students to also receive history credit, as well as satisfy general education requirements. The Aramaic language was recently added to the official roster of the University, and has been evaluated by numerous doctorial professors around the country.  For more information visit www.Aramaicstudies.com

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Comments from the following blog entry: http://zxr12.yoursexualaids.net/2012/06/18/chaldean-aramaic/

St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.