Chaldean americans

by Mary C. Sengstock


Chaldean Americans are descendants of people from the northern Tigris-Euphrates Valley, presently located in the Middle Eastern nation of Iraq. The majority of Chaldean Americans live in Detroit, Michigan, although there are also Chaldean Americans in Chicago, Illinois; El Cajon, San Jose, and Turlock, California; and Oaxaca, Mexico. It is difficult to determine the exact number of Chaldeans in the United States because they are not represented as such in the U.S. Census. According to statistical projections from previous data on the Chaldean American community, however, it is estimated that Chaldeans in the Detroit metropolitan area may number as many as 70,000 to 80,000; in California they are projected at 2,000 to 3,000 persons.

Although Chaldean Americans constitute the bulk of Iraqi immigrants living in the United States, they represent less than 10 percent of the population of Iraq. While the vast majority of Iraqis, like residents of other Arabic nations, are Muslim, Chaldeans are Roman Catholic, and practice one of the 18 to 20 separate rites of the Catholic Church. They also differ from other Iraqis in that their ancestral language is not Arabic but a dialect of Aramaic, also referred to as Chaldean, Assyrian, or Syriac. As a result of their religious and linguistic differences from other Iraqi immigrants, Chaldeans tend not to identify themselves either with Iraq or the Arab world, but prefer being called Chaldean Americans.


Chaldean Americans are a highly religious people proud of their Christian heritage. According to legend, they were converted to Christianity by the Apostle Thomas on one of his missionary journeys to the East. (St. Addai, an associate of Thomas, is revered as a Chaldean patron.) In the third century, they were followers of Nestorius, a patriarch of Constantinople who was declared a heretic by the Roman Church for teaching that Jesus Christ was not concurrently God and man. This division between the followers of Nestorius in the East and the Roman Church lasted until 1445, when some Chaldeans were received into the Roman Church by Pope Eugenius IV. They were permitted to retain their historic rituals and the Chaldean/Aramaic language for mass and other ceremonies. Searching for an appropriate name to call this new Catholic rite, the Pope focused on their historic homeland, which in ancient times had been the land of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans. It was also the historic homeland of the prophet Abraham, who came from Ur, a city of the Chaldeans. Hence, the Pope chose "Chaldean" as the name for the new Catholic rite.

Over 95 percent of Chaldeans in the Detroit community can trace their origin to a single town, Telkaif, which is one of several Christian towns in the northern Iraqi province of Mosul, near the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh. Some of the earliest members of Detroit's Chaldean American community recall hearing stories from their grandparents about the conversion of their town from Nestorianism. This occurred in about 1830, when the town recognized the Roman Pontiff as the head of the Church.


While Chaldeans are believed to have immigrated to the United States as early as 1889, the first significant migration wave did not occur until around 1910, when Chaldeans began settling in metropolitan Detroit. At the time, Detroit was popular among a number of immigrant groups because of the growing automobile industry. It also had an established Middle Eastern community during this period, consisting primarily of Christian immigrants from Lebanon.

In 1943 community sources listed 908 Chaldeans in the Detroit area; by 1963, this number had tripled, to about 3,000 persons. An even greater number of Iraqi citizens immigrated to the United States due to changes in U.S. immigration laws during the mid-1960s, and growth in Detroit's Chaldean American community became even more dramatic, increasing to about 45,000 in 1986, and approximately 75,000 by 1992. (These figures are based on the statistical projections and estimates of Chaldean American community leaders.) This period also saw an increase in immigration to other parts of the country, particularly California.

The majority of Chaldean Americans left their homeland for economic and religious reasons. Telkaif in the early 1900s was a poor, non-industrialized village. Many left the town for nearby cities such as Mosul, Baghdad, Basra, or Beirut. Only later did some of them decide to migrate to the United States, or simply to North America. At the time the earliest settlers came, the United States had not yet introduced restriction on immigration, making entry relatively easy. Migration at that time was largely a male phenomenon; women and children generally stayed behind until their husbands, fathers, and brothers became established.

Chaldeans also fled their homeland to escape religious persecution from the Muslim majority in the Middle East. The combination of religious freedom, an established Lebanese Moronite community, and economic opportunity made the United States, particularly metropolitan Detroit, inviting. Once members of the Telkaif community had settled in the area, they encouraged others from their homeland to join them. Thus began an immigration process, known as "chain migration," between Telkaif and Detroit, that continues to the present.

In this process, members of a community who have already established themselves in a new location assist relatives and friends left behind to migrate as well. The assistance they provide can take many forms, including the provision of jobs, a place to stay, or, at the very least, information and advisement. Close relatives may even provide money for passage. In a typical chain, a man migrates first; later he sends home for his wife and children, or if he is not married, he may return to find a bride. As he and his wife become citizens, they arrange for the migration of their parents and siblings as well. And these, in turn, arrange to assist their spouses, in-laws, and other relatives.

This type of assistance became especially important in the 1920s, after the passage of U.S. quota limitations on migration. Under quota restrictions, only 100 immigrants from Iraq were allowed to enter the United States each year. These quotas reinforced the chain migration process by giving preference to the families of persons already in America, under the assumption that such persons would have assistance in the United States and were less likely to become indigent and require public assistance.

Migration of all types largely ceased during World War II when travel became difficult. It commenced again following the war, particularly with the introduction of the student visa, which allowed migrants to enter the United States for educational purposes, on the assumption that they would return home following their training. Many Chaldean Americans entered as students and later married members of the community, thus allowing them to remain in the country.

The 1968 change in U.S. migration law allowed for a significantly larger number of immigrants from Iraq, and the migration of Chaldeans increased substantially. A steady stream of Chaldean immigrants came to the United States, until the onset of the Gulf War when the United States placed restrictions on immigration from Iraq.

Acculturation and Assimilation

The steady rate of Chaldean migration has had a profound effect on the assimilation of Chaldeans in American society because it has provided a constant influx of Chaldean culture. However, many changes have taken place in Iraq since the first Chaldean settlers came to the United States, which, in turn, has greatly altered Chaldean American communities.

Like most ethnic groups, Chaldean Americans have also been affected by cultural differences between the immigrant generation and their children and grandchildren born in the United States. Chaldean Americans reared in the United States are more comfortable speaking English than the language of their parents. They attend school with non-Chaldeans, watch television, and adopt an American lifestyle.

Recent Chaldean immigrants were more likely to have been born and reared in one of modern Iraq's major cities, such as Baghdad, Mosul, or Basra. They are better educated and many have attended college or professional schools. The two groups differ socioeconomically as well; many of the earlier immigrants, and their children born in the United States, have prospered and moved into more affluent suburbs, while more recent immigrants, despite their educational background and general understanding of the English language, struggle among the nation's poor. Yet perhaps the most dramatic difference between older and newer Chaldean immigrant groups is language. Since World War II, Iraq has taught Arabic, the national language, in schools throughout the country. As a result, the Chaldean/Aramaic language of early immigrants has largely been replaced by the Arabic tongue of the newcomers. In fact, few immigrants know Chaldean at all.

Chaldean Americans are often mistaken for other ethnic groups in the United States, specifically Arab Americans. Like Arab Americans, Chaldeans tend to have large families, own independent businesses such as grocery or party stores and gas stations, and they even share some foods. On a deeper level, however, there are important distinctions between the two immigrant groups. The large patriarchal families of Muslim Arabs have traditionally allowed a man to take multiple wives, a pattern forbidden for centuries in the Christian tradition. Chaldeans also contend that women are accorded a higher place in their social structure than in the Arabic tradition. In the Chaldean community, many young women are encouraged to attain higher education. Even in the area of food there are important distinctions; Arabs do not consume alcohol and pork, which are forbidden in the Muslim faith. Chaldeans have no such restrictions. Many of these distinctions clearly flow from religious differences, but they are important distinctions in their own right.


Most modern-day immigrants speak Arabic, the dominant language of the Iraqi nation, but the earliest Chaldean immigrants spoke only Chaldean, which they also call "Jesus language," since it is believed to be the language that Jesus Christ spoke during his life. Some Chaldeans resent the fact that they were forced to learn Arabic in Iraqi schools. Inquiring which language Chaldean American children should learn usually provokes a debate. Practical thinkers consider the Arabic language more useful in today's world. More nostalgic individuals assert the importance of learning their original tongue. Hence, while most Chaldean Americans speak Arabic, they do not necessarily take pride in it.

Family and Community Dynamics

The Chaldean American family is not limited to the nuclear family of husband, wife, and children. Rather, it includes grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Indeed, Chaldeans are quick to point out that their shared ancestry means that everyone is at least distantly related to everyone else. Family names are recognized by everyone and enable members of the community to place everybody in relation to everyone else. Therefore, a Chaldean's family ties constitute a major source of identity within the community.

Chaldeans tend to have large families, in keeping with Catholic tradition. In the past, the number of children per couple averaged from five to six, with some couples having as many as 12 or 15 children. This number has decreased with second and third generations, but Chaldean families continue to be somewhat larger than the national average.

Ties to one's extended family are close and involved. Visiting between a married couple and the parents and siblings of both husband and wife are frequent, occurring at least several times each week, even daily. Extended Chaldean American families also perform numerous functions together, such as cooking, child care, or cleaning. Cooking and eating together several times each week is common. Child care is often shared by sisters, sisters-in-law, or grandmothers. Yard work for older relatives may be managed by younger members of the extended family.

Because of the importance given to family and community, Chaldeans prefer to have their children be endogamous, or marry within the community, as occurred in Telkaif. In the United States, many Chaldeans marry someone from outside the community, but the rate of endogamy continues to be high. Even those who marry non-Chaldeans (exogamy) usually remain close to their parents and siblings. Among Chaldeans, most exogamous marriages bring an outsider into the community, rather than resulting in the loss of a member.

Chaldean families exercise great influence over the individual. One example of this is the expectation that family preferences will be considered in the choice of a spouse. Chaldeans are also expected to open their homes to other members of the family, should that be necessary. This means that young people are expected to welcome their elderly parents or a visiting relative from Iraq into their homes, for periods which may last from a few weeks to several months or even years.

In its initial years, the Chaldean American community was a small and highly unified group. All but one or two families could trace their origin to the town of Telkaif; all were interrelated; and marriages were frequently arranged within the community or with persons in the original town. Moreover, they spoke a common language, Chaldean/ Aramaic, which they shared with few other Americans. Common interests in the Church and a community economic system also served to draw the members into a closely knit unit.

Over the past eight decades, however, significant changes have occurred in the Chaldean American community. What was, in 1960, a community of about 3,000 members has multiplied to nearly 25 times that size. Differences and divisions are inevitable. Many such divisions arise from the varying places of birth among Chaldeans. While early Chaldean immigrants were born in small, rural communities, more recent groups are from Iraq's large, industrialized cities. Moreover, many Chaldeans were born in the United States and are therefore heavily influenced by American culture. Other problems arise from economic wealth. Many established Chaldean families have obtained significant wealth in the United States. Several more recent immigrants, however, struggle well below the poverty level. Language too, tends to divide Chaldean American communities. Early immigrants maintain their ancestral Chaldean/Aramaic language, but more recent immigrants speak Arabic. At the same time, numerous American-born Chaldeans favor English. Such differences have torn communities, and even families apart. Nonetheless, Chaldean Americans remain somewhat unified by their common heritage and Catholic faith. Jobs, income, and other needs of recent immigrants are paramount in community priorities. Also, problems of the homeland, such as Iraq's recent wars, first with Iran and then with the United States, assume a prominent role in community concerns.


Many Americans have difficulty distinguishing Chaldean Americans from other American ethnic groups, particularly Arab Americans and Iraqi Americans, much to the dismay of the members of these groups, who are quite aware of the differences among them. While they share similar physical traits, they differ linguistically, culturally, and most importantly, in terms of religion. During the early years of the twentieth century, a period about which many Chaldeans have heard from their parents and grandparents, Arabic-speaking Muslims were abusive oppressors of Christians in the area in which Telkaif was located. Many Chaldeans have negative memories of treatment by Iraqis as well. In fact, from a political standpoint, many Chaldeans are more supportive of Israel than Arab countries in the Middle East.

Many Chaldean Americans remain resentful of their constant identification with the Arab American community. Most simply reassert their identity as Chaldeans. Others, however, have attempted to develop links with groups that share their religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage, though not necessarily their Roman Catholic faith. Chaldeans who follow this tactic have attempted to link with other groups sharing the Aramaic language and the historic tie to the Assyrian or Babylonian heritage. Examples are Nestorian Christians in the Chicago Area, and a community of Assyrian Christians of several denominations, including Chaldean Catholics, living in Turlock, California.

For a variety of reasons, however, most Chaldean Americans have not embraced this identity. Perhaps the most important reason is the salience of the Roman Catholic faith for so many Chaldeans. For them it is preferable to relinquish the Chaldean identity for the dominant Roman Catholic designation, rather than exchange their religious tie for a linguistic one.

A more consequential factor, however, may lie in the size of the Chaldean American community in the Detroit area. Chaldean Americans do not need to find another group with which to link themselves. With over 70,000 of their background in a relatively limited geographic area, they are able to find many others who share not only a general but a very specific historic, linguistic, religious, and ancestral heritage. As the major concentration of Chaldeans in the United States, they need look no further than each other for a meaningful ethnic identity.

The media has recorded many cultural clashes between blacks and Chaldeans in the United States, which have resulted from Chaldean Americans operating stores in fundamentally urban, African American communities. The large grocery chains have found these areas unprofitable and have largely abandoned them, but they can be quite profitable when run as an extended family business. Many blacks feel that these stores overcharge, only hire Chaldeans, and neglect to reinvest into the community. The high prices usually result from having to make purchases in smaller quantities. Chaldeans also hire members of their own ethnic group because they are usually family members who demand less income. Some improvements have been made, however, as many Chaldean stores are increasingly hiring more African Americans, thus contributing to the community.


Religion is of such importance in the Chaldean community that their name and identity derives from it. As full members of the Roman Catholic Church, Chaldeans follow the same rules and hold the same beliefs as other Catholics. However, they have their own leader, or patriarch, and the rituals used in their mass and other ceremonies are quite different from those practiced in the Western Church. Originally, they conducted services in the historic Chaldean/Aramaic language, but many services are now conducted in Arabic. Occasionally, masses are given in English for American-born persons of Chaldean ancestry.

The first Chaldean Church in the United States was founded in 1947 in Detroit. It was named "Mother of God," thus reaffirming the Chaldean split with their Nestorian heritage and their unity with Catholicism. More recently, the Church moved to Southfield, Michigan and was elevated to the status of a cathedral (Our Lady of Chaldeans Cathedral) when the Chaldean diocese of the United States was formed under the leadership of Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim. Prior to 1947, Chaldean immigrants usually attended services at Western rite Catholic Churches. For special events, such as weddings and holidays, many Chaldeans attended services at Lebanese Catholic Churches (of the Moronite Eastern rite), which share more in common with the Chaldean Church than Western rite Churches.

Chaldean children often attend Western rite Catholic Schools because the Chaldean rite does not offer such schools. This often requires parents to support two parishes, their own Chaldean church and the parish in which their children attend school. However, many children also attend special instruction in their own rite at the Chaldean Church.

According to Roman Catholic rules, members of the Catholic Church are expected to attend services and receive sacraments in their appropriate rite whenever possible. In practice, however, Catholics attend services at whichever Catholic Church is most convenient. Moreover, many priests of the Western rite can usually be persuaded to perform special ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals. Consequently, many Chaldeans have found it more convenient to attend Western rite Catholic Churches, especially in areas where there is a small Chaldean population. As a result, many second and third generation Chaldean Americans are likely to prefer the more "American" services of Western Catholic Churches. Nonetheless, Chaldean Churches remains important for recent immigrants, for whom the Arabic language and the familiar rituals are still meaningful.

The Chaldean Church has also served as the center of community social life for the bulk of its existence. In addition to weddings, funerals, and baptisms, the Church offers special ceremonies for Chaldean children who received First Communion during the year and, in recent years, a graduation ceremony each spring honoring all Chaldean young people who graduated from high school or college during the year. Sunday services provide an opportunity for members of the community to meet one another and exchange greetings and gossip. The church is also responsible for the formation of numerous organizations serving the community, including parish councils, family clubs, a men's club, a women's group, a business association, and youth groups.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Chaldean Americans have traditionally owned and operated their own businesses, primarily grocery stores. As early as 1923, when only seven Chaldean men lived in the Detroit area, there were four Chaldean-owned stores. In the 1980s, it was estimated that over 1,000 Chaldean-owned grocery stores were located in Detroit and its environs. Because the grocery industry has become saturated, however, many Chaldean Americans have moved into related areas. Newer immigrants often own party stores and gas stations. Immigrants who have been here many years, or their children and grandchildren, have moved into fields which serve the retail grocery trade, including wholesale food supply, marketing and maintenance of store fixtures (such as refrigeration equipment, freezers, burglar alarms), commercial real estate, business financing, and so on.

These are largely family-owned businesses. In some instances two stores owned by close relatives may work together in joint buying or advertising projects, but, for the most part, the stores are operated independently. These independent businesses are of extreme importance in the community as most family members assist in the family enterprise—even small children or immigrants who lack knowledge of English can make deliveries or stock shelves. This makes it unnecessary to hire other employees and helps to control business expenses. It also allows the family to assist other immigrants, who can be employed in the family business as soon as they arrive from the country of origin.

The role of these independent businesses in the welfare of the family and the growth of the ethnic community illustrates the influence of family over the individual. If the family store is to serve the purpose of assisting immigrants from the country of origin, then the family must be able to depend upon its members to play their role in its development. It cannot afford to have its most competent young people move into other lines of work. Consequently, many young Chaldeans who might have preferred other occupations were drawn into the grocery business. Most accepted this responsibility with little sense of loss, so great is the influence of the Chaldean family over its members.

This pattern has changed somewhat as the second and third generations born in America have moved into different occupations. Many Chaldean Americans have joined such professions as medicine, dentistry, law, accounting, and teaching, to name a few. Some immigrants also come to this country with skills in other occupational areas. However, grocery stores continue to serve as a major meeting place for members of the community and concerns about the grocery business remain a major topic of conversation among Chaldean Americans. The time schedules of these stores also exert influence over community activities. For example, weddings, family gatherings, and Church activities tend to occur late in the evening in order to accommodate the late closing hour of most grocery and party stores.

Politics and Government

An established community, Chaldean Americans actively participate in local, state, and federal government by keeping abreast of government activity and voting regularly. They are also quite interested in events taking place in their homeland.


The most dramatic event to affect Chaldean Americans in some time occurred in 1991 and 1992, when hostilities broke out between Iraq and the United States. As the only major concentration of Iraqi immigrants in the United States, Chaldean Americans received a great deal of attention from the press, the military, and the general public. Reporters from throughout the world sought to interview community leaders concerning their views. Military representatives worried about the degree to which local Chaldeans might be security threats. Moreover, rumors spread that Chaldean Americans would be incarcerated in a camp in Louisiana as was done with the Japanese during the Second World War. Since Chaldean Americans and Arab Americans are linked together in the public mind, both were subjected to harassment by the general public, who saw them as local representatives of a hostile foreign power—in spite of the fact that many Arab Americans immigrated from nations which were U.S. allies during the Gulf War.

For Chaldean Americans, who view themselves as committed Americans and do not identify strongly with either Iraq or the Arab World, the experience was distressing. The Gulf War was, in a real sense, a battle of brother against brother, since many families had sons in both the U.S. and Iraqi armies. Nearly all Chaldean Americans have relatives in Iraq; most had to wait weeks or months to learn whether they were safe. In particular, they were shocked by the carnival-type atmosphere of the war. The American public watched news reports of the hostilities like a sports event, and spoke of it in similar terms. Most distressing to Chaldean Americans, however, was the public's continued perception of their alliance with Arab Americans.

As a result of American resentment over the Gulf War, immigration from Iraq has slowed. The continuing difficulties between the two nations are a problem for Chaldean Americans who must worry about loved ones in their ancestral homeland and face discrimination in their adopted homeland.



Arrafideyn Newspaper.

Contact: Abdulk Halik Alfalah, Editor.

Address: 19204 Woodward, Detroit, Michigan 48203.

Telephone: (313) 893-3521.

Chaldean Detroit Times.

Contact: Amir Denha, Publisher and Editor.

Address: 17135 West 10 Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan 48075-2933.

Telephone: (810) 552-1989.

Fax: (810) 552-9688.

Chaldean Voice Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Father Manuel Boji.

Address: 25585 Berg Road, Southfield, Michigan 48034.

Telephone: (810) 356-0565.


Chaldean Voice.

Weekly radio program providing music, entertainment, and coverage of religious, cultural, and social issues. Part of the Chaldean Communications Network.

Address: 25585 Berg Road, Southfield, Michigan.

Telephone: (248) 353-1083.

Fax: (248) 353-1290.


Online: .

Organizations and Associations

Arab American & Chaldean Communities Social Council.

Contact: Haifa Fakhouri, Director.

Address: 28551 Southfield Road, Suite 204, Lathrup Village, Michigan 48076.

Telephone: (248) 559-1990.

Fax: (248) 559-9117.

Chaldean Federation of America.

Functions as an umbrella organization for most Chaldean American groups.

Contact: Sam Yano, Chairman; or Kam Kewson, Director.

Address: 18470 West 10 Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan 48075.

Telephone: (248) 557-2362.

Chaldean National Congress.

Address: 29732 Spring Hill Drive, Southfield Michigan 48076.

Telephone: (248) 552-8822.

Sources for Additional Study

Goodin, Michael. "More than party stores: Chaldeans move into mainstream," in Crain's Detroit Business, December 17, 1990, vol. 6, no. 51.

Kamoo, Ray. Ancient & Modern Chaldean History: A Comprehensive Bibliography of Sources. Boston: Scarecrow Press, 1999.

Sengstock, Mary C. The Chaldean-Americans: Changing Conceptions of Ethnic Identity, 2nd ed. New York: Center for Migration Studies, 1998.

Stertz, Bradley A., and Krystal Miller. "Chaldeans in Detroit are prime targets of threats, violence," in Wall Street Journal, January 21, 1991 pp. A1(W), A1(E).

Twin Rivers Bibliography: Assyrian, Chaldian & Syrians Past & Present, compiled & edited by Francis K. Khosho. Springfield, Illinois: Khosho, 1987.

User Contributions:

Reme A Sullivan
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Jun 6, 2006 @ 9:21 pm
I enjoyed reading the information on your site. I would like to know more about Chaldeans in Oaxaca, Mexico. Can you tell me where to fin more data?

Thanks you!

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Aug 31, 2006 @ 9:21 pm
I recently met a Chaldean man and wasn't quite sure what a Chaldean' was. I found your piece to be very helpful and through. I wonder how often Chaldean men marry American women...
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Nov 30, 2006 @ 6:18 pm
Very informative article. As a Detroit native, I missed the mass immigration of the Chaldean community to Detroit as I left there years ago.

Was very suprised to learn that the Chaldean people are Catholic; unfortunately, in the deep south at any rate all people from Iraq are lumped together. Very insulting slang is generally applied to these hard working folks.

Sounds to me like these are the types of immigrants the U.S. needs.

Great information.
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Jan 20, 2007 @ 10:22 pm
I've been dating a Chaldean gentleman in Detroit for 1 1/2 years and I've found this article insightful. When we first started dating I did not know anything about the Chaldean culture. He explained it to me, but until I read this article I didn't really understand. I'm proud to be a part of his life and understanding his culture makes me feel closer to him.
Thank you for posting this article.
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Apr 20, 2007 @ 9:09 am
I recently met a "chaldean" man and we have been dating for sometime now he is a great person. I met some of his family a few weeks ago, there were certain things that were considered inappropriate for me to do infront of his father and at that moment i reaized that i didnt now alot about his culture, since than i have searched the internet for information on his language and culture and have forund practically nothing! Reading this was very appreciated.. thank you for taking the time out to post some information and please keep things updated for me to check back on..
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Jun 22, 2007 @ 12:12 pm
I have been dating a Chaldean American for 8yrs now and I am a African American female. He has poposed to me, a year ago from today and now he states he does not believe in marriage. Reading this article help me understand a liitle more about the culture, but I am curious to know how many Chaldeans actually marry Americans? and if any have ever married a African American?
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Aug 31, 2007 @ 8:20 pm
I grew up in Southfield, Michigan my entire life and was in about 4th grade during the Gulf War. Right before the war began we had an influx of new kids from Iraq who were told to lie about their nationality because their parents feared how they would treated by non-Chaldeans. But in Southfield they had countless other kids and tutors who spoke both Chaldean, Arabic, and English to help them fit in.

In Southfield (and the other northwestern burbs of Detroit), Black Americans, Chaldeans, Armenians, and Jews all live side by side having all grown up together as kids. This limited diversity made for some interesting interactions.

For most of us black kids, the only catholics we knew were Chaldeans and Armenians, so we never mistook them for Muslims or Arabs. But sometimes understanding someone's culture makes it even easier to insult them (example: as kids we all knew that calling a Chaldean an "Arab" was a sure way to make him or her mad and callling a Black kid an "oreo" would always start a fight). It was a rule at my elementary school that you couldn't speak to someone in a language that they didn't understand (it was common for us kids to trick each other into cursing in a different language! lol). A true sign that you grew up in Southfield is that you know at least one solid and ridiculously offensive sentence in Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, or Chaldean! lol

Most of the kids I grew up with were second pr third generation Americans but I did have a few friends who were born in Iraq and remembered being very young there in small rural villages. Even fewer kids moved to the US very late in their childhood. Everyone picked up English very fast though because we had excellent ESL programs.

School correspondence was always sent home in three languages (English, Arabic, and Chaldean written in latin letters for the children to read aloud to a parent - Most kids couldn't read Arabic script despite being Tri-Lingual). The only Arabs I knew were Muslim teachers and they wore scarves over their hair so us kids never mistook them for Chaldean. The only other muslims I knew were Albanians but an outsider only noticed the difference in religions when Ramadan or Lent came around. If you visited the local mall in Dearborn, Michigan though, you saw tons and tons and tons of Muslim Arabs. As a kid I thought all Muslim women covered their hair and that most covered their faces because that is what I saw around me outside of Southfield. We really didn't know any better.

Since I moved away from Michigan as an adult, I always find myself having to explain what a "Chaldean" is to people when I bring them up in convos about my childhood. Chaldeans are just a natural and vital part of the city of Southfield.
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Jan 18, 2008 @ 11:11 am
This website really helped me with a huge school project! But the thing is I need to know more. If you know any good websites please e-mail me with in the next few days. if it is after than dont bother. thanks so much!

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Feb 1, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
i am a chaldean american!!! i love our culture, and i love all our loud family gatheringsss!!! lol. but i do wish that we as chaldeans get more involved in the community, and i wish that chaldean american young teens get more serious about school. GREAT ARTICAL!!!!! and REligon is veryy important, God Bless you for not being scared to out that in your aritical
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Mar 15, 2008 @ 10:22 pm
How often, a Chaldean man consider to have a serious relationship with a girl from other country. (like Mexico)?
How important is form them, to find somebody with their same culture and ideologies.?

Very informative article!
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May 28, 2008 @ 11:23 pm
I'm a chaldean american as well......i speak chaldean fluently and my parents do own grocery this article you said that most chaldeans speak arabic, this isn't true because although my family members do know arabic, we still speak chaldean in our homes. My grandma didn't even go to school and she knows chaldean, arabic, kurdish, and english
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Jun 2, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
Thank you for answering a number of questions that I have had for much of my life
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Jun 16, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
I love my Chaldean heritage! Although I am one of the few that openly married an African American and was "disowned" by my people, I still have respect for our family values and morals as I teach them to my children. I will never forget where I came from and will pass what I've learned on to my children.
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Jun 20, 2008 @ 2:02 am
Thank you for information about the Chaldean backround. Am chaldean and this helped me teach my kid were I came from. And what real Chaldeans
are about. In my mined most chaldeans are worm hearted,loving,and hard working people in the world . thank you agan for the information on your site
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Jun 25, 2008 @ 9:09 am
I have been in a relationship with a chaldean man for over two years now and we have some major cultural differences (as I knew we would). I just wondered if someone else was out there with the same situation, or maybe someone who knows the culture well enough to explain to me what "the norm" is when it comes to dating and relationships in the chaldean culture. I have yet to meet his family, he sais we should be engaged before this happens. And of course living together also is an issue. He has lived here over ten years (in U.S.), and lives as an american in all other ways, but it seems his decisions are based on his families opinion when it comes to our relationship.He satys at my place a couple nights a week, but sais we can't live together yet, I am starting to feel this is some sort of excuse.I want to respect his culture, and his families wishes but he must understand mine also. Can someone offer me advise, we love eachother and want to make this work. I would love to speak with another woman in this situation who found a way to make it work, or anyone with some suggestions.
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Aug 29, 2008 @ 11:11 am
To Jenny: I am married to a Chaldean. I can answer some questions for you. Just think long and hard about whether you want to deal with the cultural differences for your entire life. The culture is very aggressive about their traditions and you will probably have a wedding that doesn't really feel like yours.
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Aug 29, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
Oh My God!!! I love your article. That tells everything about Chaldean. I'm so proud o be a Chaldean but i hate when some people don't really know who Chaldean are! I hope they all read this article because it explains who Chaldean are.
Cynthia Bernadette Sha'aouni
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Sep 1, 2008 @ 12:12 pm
I like my half Chaldean roots and side. I like having a Chaldean/Buddhist father. I am happy to have Chaldean families in my background. I hope one day everything will be fine.

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Dec 25, 2008 @ 8:20 pm
As a grandson of Italian immigrants in the early 1900s,I can equate personally to the history so vividly and clearly enunciated in your extremely informative article. Bravo Bravo
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Mar 2, 2009 @ 4:16 pm
Excellent article about the Chaldeans. I was born in Turkey, but I live now in Belgium, Europe for about 20 years. There are also many Chaldeans who live in Paris, France. You can compare the metropolitan Detroit just like the one in Paris. However the majority of these Chaldeans are from Turkey. There are not so many differences between Chaldeans from Turkey and the ones from Iraq. We are also Roman Catholics and speak Soureth (Chaldean), we have the same culture and traditions. Except we don't speak Arabic and only a small group of people speak Turkish, mostly the elder who served in the Turkish army. Thanks again for this article. It's very useful to refer Europeans to this article, so they can learn something about the Chaldeans. Chaldean Pride!!!
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Apr 9, 2009 @ 7:19 pm
I am half Chaldean and half Irish-German/English American. I read some of the article and know that it is true that the Chaldeans brings their families over to the USA. My dad brought both his sister and brother here, to the USA. Then, lately some Chaldeans came here from Iraq. I think that it is hard to come from a mix background and get the complete knowledge of what is going on in the Chaldean group. But, I enjoyed the ethnic part of my Chaldean heritage. We had a party store growing up. It is a beautiful culture and people should learn more about it because it is the beginning of civilization and tells a lot about the origin of man.
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Apr 20, 2009 @ 8:20 pm
I am pure Chaldean as well and I live in El Cajon. I love this article and I would like to use it for my project in my English class. Also, I was born in Iraq, but we left it when I was a year old because of the war that started with US. Therefore, I learned English first, then Chaldean, and now I am learning Arabic. I don't like what the Muslim do to Catholics, but I don't think Arabic is a bad language to learn. I understand the languages very well and I love our traditions :)
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May 25, 2009 @ 7:07 am
great article, quick question:
How would you sum up the Chaldean beliefs and how do they differ from Roman Catholicism?
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May 30, 2009 @ 2:02 am
im an east african female that has been dating my chaldean boyfriend for 2 years, and his family seems to accept me, but this seems to be unusual in the chaldean/assyrian community. does anyone else have similar experience, please share!
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Jun 29, 2009 @ 11:23 pm
I am 100% Chaldean, but I was born here and grew up mostly speaking English. I find it somewhat disturbing when I go to the Sterling Heights library, in the foregin language section, I see 300 books, dvd's, tapes, etc, for Arabic, about 30 books on Tagalog, 30 for Chinese, several African tribes, 40 on Italian, German, 50 books on Spanish.

In the Chaldean section, there are 4 thin, and small books recently written in 07 by Margaret Shamoun, one teaches the numbers from one-ten, the other book teaches the colors, the third book teaches praying, and the fourth book teaches a few body parts.

Is our culture dying, or are there books and dvd's out there that can keep our language and traditions grow?

Anyone willing to team up with "pimselur", or "teach youself"?

Email me:
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Jul 6, 2009 @ 5:17 pm
very insightful article, was on vacation in Detroit and met some Chaldeans, very proud and intelligent people, i enjoyed my brief conversation, wish i could converse more. i grew up in Detroit but now live in Ft. Knox, Ky, area. are there any Chaldean communities here? is there a network social site i can visit?
Ryad Hamama
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Jul 27, 2009 @ 4:04 am
chaldean babylonian population over 200th,live in detroit mi phoenix ariz,chicago ill,san diego ,losangles,turlok,san jose,different states in mexico, windsor, ontario canada,and all over the world...
... in usa alomg they have about 20 catholic churchesthe family i know live in mexico more in 1850 are kasab..garmo,hamama,jabro etc..
also there is few chaldean dies in titanic tragedy>>
in iraq use to be more than about 3 milion chaldean ,they live in baghdad,basra,emara,nasrya,babil,hela,dewanya,and mosel ,karkuk,arbil telkef,algosh,betnaya,tesgopam,dehok,arbil and all over>>>>
Lana Johnson
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Aug 28, 2009 @ 4:04 am
Thank you so much for the article! I currently work as a nurse in San Diego, CA. We receive a lot of Chaldean patients from the next town over (El Cajon)... I have always wondered about the difference between Arabic speaking people and Chaldean speaking people from the middle east. This was a wonderful article.
I also want to say, that I always look forward to having Chaldeans as patients, I have never seen a more caring family atmosphere.
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Sep 25, 2009 @ 9:09 am
this website really helped me with my school project!!!
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Oct 8, 2009 @ 10:10 am
This is really capable stuff have a great day!!!!!!!!
Lana Matthews
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Nov 19, 2009 @ 2:14 pm
I am currently dating a Chaldean, and I have been for a little over a year now. I am english/indian/and a few others, but just consider myself an american! I have been so interested in chaldeans since the day I met my boyfriend. This article was very informative. It helps me see that I'm not the only one with questions. His family seems very nice, although I have only met his sisters (he has four, and no brothers) they were very nice and accepting of me. He said he wants me to wait to meet his parents which now seems normal to me, but I am wondering like the other how often chaldeans marry americans, and how accepting their families are about that desicion. So far chaldeans seem to be amazing, beautiful, and hard working people and should be very proud of who they are.
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Nov 22, 2009 @ 11:23 pm
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Dec 6, 2009 @ 2:02 am
This is a great article. i am 100% percent chaldean my parents were born in iraq in telkaif :) I was born here in metro detroit and my parents didn't make a strong effort to teach us chaldean. I am now working very hard to learn the language. To answer about 20 peoples questions about marry outside of the culture. It's not a pleasant truth. The chaldeans i've heard of that marry people of black decent have all been pretty much disowned by their families, Chaldean thats marry caucasians are more accepted. One thing I have learned about my people is that although we have strong catholic beliefs many tend to ignore the major ,God created all men Equal, ideal of christianity. It is very important to keep the heritage alive through our children so that we it is not slowly diluted but God bless True Catholic Chaldeans who see all people in their natural beauty that God gave them
John H.
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Dec 8, 2009 @ 8:08 am
I just read a book by Theresa Flores called The Sacred Bath: An American Teen's Story of Modern Day Slavery. It's a true story of the experiences of the author. It paints an unflattering picture of the Chaldean culture which is quite different from what I've read here. The author grew up in a Detroit suburb and was basically kept as a prostitute by a Chaldean family via extortion. How could this be?
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Dec 27, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
hallo friends i am muslim male but i support u s a and other who want gave freedoom to iraq or middle east ihope my presidint is christian but Cheldo or assyrian or other religon must support friend of christian who support them in iraq am muslim but isupport u also remmber u have many christian in middle east so u must do best job to help them and dont leave ur country to other pepole u must send support iwant do anythink to make muslim and christian out side in one line peace and friendship and stop teror and extrimist
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Jan 7, 2010 @ 5:05 am
I have lived in America for almost 20 years, outside going over the bridge to Canada with a few high school neighbors children. I lived in Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. I visited France, Denmark, Holland, and Mexico. As a First Generation Born from my Half Chaldean (on my father's) side and having an Irish-German/English national and Roman Catholic Background found integration with diverse cultures a rich and rewarding (but not work out) experience. I did meet people of other nationalities and religioun. But, there is never a place like those most in common with your background. As a half Chaldean human being of the God's green earth, I am thank ful for all the forms that I have the opportunity to fill my blotter all over the place.
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Jan 7, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
Hey, I just googled Chaldeans. Learned a lot here that I never knew before. Mostly, they are Roman Catholic. Interesting. Is this a guy you may be dating???
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Jan 18, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
We have at least 25,000 Chaldeans in El Cajon, CA. They are a GREAT benefit to us here and their restaurants have brought the best food imaginable to our eastern San Diego town.
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Feb 4, 2010 @ 10:22 pm
Hi I'm Lebanese from California and I was dating a Chaldean girl from ElCajon. I must say that she was an angel, she was very close to god, very nice, and very motivated.

She's very respectful as well and she brought me very very very close to God. I will always love her.
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Apr 7, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
Great Article. I found it very helpful and since I am from Oakland County and my community has a very large Chaldean population
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Apr 12, 2010 @ 1:01 am
I grew up in Metro Detroit(Madison Heights/Sterling Heights) as a full 100% Chaldean. And I must say this article is very accurate and very informative. For example my father and his five brothers all own their own gas stations/party stores, and when you said the younger generation is becoming more americanized, and don't know how to speak Chaldean or Arabic. I also have a large family(42 first cousins, and countless second cousins), and you're also right when you say Chaldeans are extremely religious because all the Chaldeans I know go to church every single week no matter what. And to answer all those questions about the mixed relationships most Chaldean families will accept as long as both involve respect each other's culture and religion, I have a cousin who is half Chaldean and half white, and his parents have been married for over 15 years, that shows that any mixed relationship can work. But I have never seen an African American and Chaldean American relationship, I would expect most families to be excepting but there are always of course a few who won't.
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May 17, 2010 @ 6:06 am
Wonderful article! Just attended a fantastic Chaldean wedding between my nephew and his beautiful Chaldean ancestry (American born) bride. Had some fascinating discussions with her mother, and really enjoyed the music, dancing, singing, joy, family ties, and emotion shown. If you haven't yet attended a Chaldean wedding, it is a joy! Very rich culture. Wonderful people. Your article was very helpful and informative to read.
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May 26, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
I REALLY NEED HELP WITH THIS ONE...I met this Chaldean man from the Sterling Heights area (which he just moved back to that area) I met him in Chicago, he seemed to have liked me ALOT at first, and seemed to be a really nice guy at first, HOWEVER, he told me that the only reason he wouldn't date me is because I have a child. I was married and divorced and Im 30. My son is 11 so I was obviously young when I had him. I am not Chaldean I am half Turkish though. I don't speak anything other then English and I am catholic. Well this man went from being super nice to being super mean in a very short period of time. He wouldn't talk about feelings/emotions he was very short ALWAYS when it came to even asking if he missed me. Well anyhow, he said the real reason is I have a son and his MOTHER WOULD NEVER allow him to date a girl with a child (he is 27) is this true? Or is this just one big excuse. His true colors came out, and he seems very very moody. However I know he cared but I don't know what happened.
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Jun 8, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
I am Chaldean and found this article very helpful to find out were my Mom and Dad came from. My grandma is from Telkaif. I'm proud to be a Chaldean!
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Sep 18, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
I am Chaldean-American and I have lived in San Diego for almost twenty years. I thought that your article was highly informative in terms of my Chaldean heritage and background, as well as very accurate. While I appreciate all this information very much, I am saddened that the other Chaldean villages within Iraq were not represented. We do not all come from Telkaif, but flourish from different villages including Betnaya, Zakho, Teskopa etc. I would highly appreciate it if you would supplement this information within your article, since it would would inform others of the different villages as well, rather than just focusing on one. Thanks again for writing this article, I really enjoyed reading it.
Emily Nguyen
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Nov 2, 2010 @ 12:00 am
This was a lot of good information. This help me a lot on my social studies project. I hope that there will be more about other countries!
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Dec 15, 2010 @ 3:03 am
I used to live in sterling heights before moving to California in 2008, all what I can say about Chaldeans that their women were very understanding and helpful, I had a great time there.
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Dec 26, 2010 @ 10:10 am
Our son-in-law is living with our daughter who teaches in Dubai. He worked with the British and the coalition in Basra during the Gulf War. He fled to Dubai due to death threats. Now he would like to immigrate to the USA. He is currently working at an insurance firm in Dubai and taking insurance classes. Where do we find Islamic help for him to immigrate?
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Dec 26, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
As a native Detroiter working w/many Chaldean party store owners and now as a ESL teacher in Minnesota, it's amazing how our local Chaldeans want to move to Detroit because of their potential familial contacts. I say, "Praise God" because I know how important family is for new immigrants.
From an historical point, families from European countries such as German or Polish cultures did the same "chain" immigration process in the 1800's and before WWI. What Chaldeans are attaining now, is not unlike what our WASP forbearers did before us.
This is still a free country. And if people seek religious freedom from religious tyrants, like the Pilgrims of 1620 did, then lets keep our doors open. The Pilgrims survived w/ the Indians help. Our new "Pilgrims" from Iraq will survive with our help.
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Feb 15, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
I'm a Black American that grew up in Ferndale and I really loved this article. A lot I knew from growing up with Chaldean friends but I never knew the history behind their Catholic religion. Thank you for putting this information together1
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Mar 20, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
I came across this article as I was thinking about writing an expose-style piece about race relations at some Chaldean grocery stores in Detroit. Although I grew up with Chaldeans in Southfield, Michigan, we weren't allowed to socialize much outside of school; so it's only been recently that I've gotten to know adults working in the city. I find the Chaldean men (with some exceptions) to be paranoid, conspiracy-driven, racist, misogynistic bullies, many of whom idolize the Italian-American mafia. Yes, it is hard to do business in high-crime/high-poverty areas, but these guys are so unnecessarily evil that it makes me want to scream!
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May 19, 2011 @ 1:01 am
In the Chaldean culture marriages were most of the time arranged marriages. The reason for arranged marriages is, the relation of families. When giving away your daughter or son in marriage, A father or mother want to know who this persons family is, their background, if they are capable to provide for their son or daughter financially. Since there are many villages in Iraq that make up the Chaldean culture there also comes the different accents to the Chaldean language, and the variety of last names. With information from last names and accents, you know what village the person/ family is associated with therefore you know of them. Chaldeans choose to keep marriages within the Chaldean community mainly to allow the growth of our Chaldean community. Arranged marriages in our culture exist, but things have changed, there are many races who have married within our culture... As a Chaldean I feel that I am no stranger to another Chaldean person because there's a huge chance that my parents know their parents or someone associated with them. I'm glad that I'm Chaldean but as a born american I'm loosing the beautiful language Jesus Christ spoke, and that's sad. I do believe that we are loosing the Chaldean nationality. Sometimes I sit down and I listen to my dad talking on the phone about this persons father and grandfather, their kids children, And I think that it is amazing..he knows all this information. Although there is no way I will remember everything to pass on to my children in the american society. Things are changing and if I'm loosing my language it's hard to believe how it will stay alive for generations to come...
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May 19, 2011 @ 8:08 am
very interesting story!! i think the Chaldeans have so much to contribute to detroit. Happy they are here. i hope they can get back their language back and not get lost in the american culture. tv can do that, best to have less tv.
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May 25, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
I'm 100% chaldean. And I'm not ashamed of it. I love my people. I'm very proud to be chaldean. Our women are very beautiful. Our language and background is very interesting. I was born in Iraq but my family and I been in Michigan over 20 years now. And I think its about time for us chaldeans to stop judging other people/race/color/ethnicity. Its 2011 we should all just get along and respect one another. I'm married to an african american male and everywhere I go all I hear is chaldeans talking about us. Its not fair. But I love him and I don't care what people say. All I'm saying is we can't help who we fall in love with. Let's all just mind our own business.. Who cares if a chaldean dates a asian/black/white/green/purple person its their choice and if they're happy that's all it matters. God bless!
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Jul 1, 2011 @ 12:00 am
I have recently been dating a chaldean gentleman and have experienced so much heart and affection. What a gentleman. He puts me first and makes me feel special. He has so much christian loyalty that it shows in his loving ways. I live in southern ca, and know through him, there are not many of them here. Too bad, their nice human beings.
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Jul 6, 2011 @ 6:06 am
Yes, this article is informative. What I would like to know is, how many non-natural born, illegal or have become legal citizens respect the men and woman who are several generation, natural born citizen of the United States of America? Do any of you actually celebrate our Memorial Day, Veterans Day, the 4th of July in honor of the men and women who have and still serve our country. The country that provides the luxury of freedom, medical, food, housing, welfare (many of which you are collecting)?? I've gone school with Arabic/Chaldean kids and a majority were not nice, they were spoiled and self-centered. As an adult, when visiting the El Cajon community of San Diego, I find this same demeanor with the adults. Both men and women are rude, inconsiderate, impatient, cheap, have nasty attitudes, act like they are better than their surroundings, let their children run around unattended... I actually smiled at a young woman one day and she just blew it off. I am a several generation, natural born citizen of the United States and I, as well as my family and many friends, are extremely proud to be American Citizens. It is very disappointing that illegal/non-natural born citizens (regardless of having a child in the U.S.) take so much advantage of the U.S. without any regards to the freedom we have allowed them just by stepping into our nation. Stop acting like you are better than us and start realizing how luck you have it living in the United States of America!!! What benefits would an american get in your country, if any... likely non! And remember the reasons why you left your country in the first place!!!
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Jul 6, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
I'm Chaldean & i wanted to see how other people viewed us & if the information was right & it was. I'm proud to know that some people actually don't think were Muslim. Everytime I go somewhere where they don't know what Chaldean it they call me terroist which I am not one
Dean South
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Jul 22, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
Very nice site, I learned a lot from it. Found the site while researching Chaldean's after I found a Chaldean recipe group on Facebook.
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Aug 9, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
This past Sunday my Bible Study Class (Southern Baptist) focused on certain chapters in Jeremiah where the Chaldean people were mentioned. It gave me the opportunity to speak of the years I spent in Detroit where I met so many wonderful Chaldean families. I still communicate with a few of them and I treasure their friendship. Most were very grateful for the opportunities that American offered them - particularly the freedom of religion since they were persecuted in Iraq. Several young men I knew volunteered to join the United States Marines, again a display of their love and devotion to defend their new homeland. God bless - LR
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Sep 24, 2011 @ 6:06 am
Hi iam self a Chaldean Catholic ,we are also know as Assyrians or Syriacs.

And i just want to say that are language are not "Chaldean" our language is Aramaic the holly language of Jesus Christ. To call this language chaldean is not really correct. It is Aramaic with the Syriac dialect.
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Sep 26, 2011 @ 5:05 am
Thank you so much! what a great article! I based most of my research on it. Thanks again!
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Nov 13, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
Thank you for this very informative summary. Research on this topic, lead me to your article, which has proven to be educational and enlightening. I knew that Caldeans are not muslim, had been told they are Christian, but didn't know they are specifically Catholic. Being informed certainly helps me to know more about my friends of other origins.

Being raised in a multi-cultural community, I'm very aware of cultural differences, although, not in any great detail. I'm a native San Diegan, 2nd generation of 4, with supposed European heritage, and quite possibly Lebanese heritage. My parents are both deceased, and I'm on a mission to learn more about my ancestry. Although, my parents were caucasian as far as I've known, both parents had a somewhat exotic look. I'm told very often that my last name is actually Arabic.

Here's to ...Thank you!
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Nov 14, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
I just loved this article, so informative. I am mexican-chaldean from Oaxaca and I am very proud of my traditions
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Nov 17, 2011 @ 9:09 am
Being born in Detroit to Chaldean Parents in 1949, there were only about 100 families here at the time. All were hard working and trying to make a better life for their families. My dad actually came to Detroit in 1926 and owned a party store. He left after a few years to get married in Tel kaif but was later to return in 1948. He loved the freedoms of America and sent us all to Catholic schools so we would develop good values. Our people are have very strong values and used to marry only other Chaldeans. Now though we are now part of the American Melting Pot, as generation after generation are losing the language and traditions.
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Jan 1, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
I am an American of predominately African decent. I grew up in Southfield, MI and I know several Chaldeans from Detroit, Southfield. Farmington Hills, Oak Prrk and Bloomfield Hills. ow is it that Chaldeans smile in my face but frown if a Chaldean woman/man marries/dates another american of predominately African decent?...even on with money? Why is that? Do Chaldeans truly not like brown people?
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Feb 9, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
After reading the Scripture lesson in church (Protestant) which was from Habbakuk, I was curious to know if the ancient Chaldeans were from Iraq or Iran, so I googled "Chaldeans". This article is a treasure--I had no idea there were people called Chaldeans even today; I assumed they were an ancient society subsumed into the general Iraqi or Iranian society. This is wonderful information, and I am so glad to have found it. So glad to read about Chaldean culture. Frankly, the Chaldean immigrant experience is virtually one-for-one with my mother's people, the Welsh. (Except for the stores and the gas stations, ha ha.) My grandparents emigrated here in 1924 and 1929 (grandfather first). We visited each other daily when I was a child, and my first language was Welsh. My Dad was American--he said I understood English, but when he spoke to me I would answer in Welsh. I understand the cultural emphasis on knowing who the potential mate is related to--that is not the way it is in Wales, but since they all came from the same villages, it was easy to know who was who. Not so easy now. My father's predecessors were Puritans, coming to the colonies sometime before 1638; Mom's in the 20th century. I grew up in Brooklyn with many first-generation Catholics, Jews and Protestants, some kids of color, mostly not, although the neighborhoods have changed over the years. We all got along just fine, and I value my childhood most highly. America is blessed to be the recipient of so many good people who have emigrated here from elsewhere. The Welsh have been persecuted by the English, of course, as have been the Irish. Immigrant stories are not so different from one another. As one African-American pastor in Los Angeles said, "We came here in different boats, but we're all in the same boat now." I cannot imagine living in a place where people are all the same--how boring. I love the differences.
lamya kory
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Feb 28, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

I wanted to know when this article was writen?
There is missing information.
Chaldean and proud
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Mar 31, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
I am a Chaldean woman living in a suburb of Detroit. I was born in the US, but my parents were both born in Iraq (Telkaif). I've lived in both El Cajon, CA and Detroit and I am so proud of my nationality and culture. We do have very strong values and traditions, church & religion is very important, and it sometimes seems 'crazy' or 'overboard' by outsiders. We are very close with our families, and love our friends like family. Chaldeans are also VERY hardworking people!

Chaldeans that have been in the US for a long time have managed to accept American culture much better than I can remember 20 years ago. Chaldeans truley love the US and love the opportunities they have had from being able to live in the US. These are opportunities they would have probably not had in Iraq.

From the marriage standpoint, I can say that Chaldean parents do prefer their kids to marry someone who is Chaldean, but will also accept those from outside the Chaldean community. What I've experienced and noticed (from my own family) is that they really want to know where the person came from. If their kids marry an 'American' (aka, anyone other than a Chaldean, LOL), then they have no idea about the family history. If they marry someone Chaldean, then they can get all the info they need to make sure their son or daughter will be part of a 'good' family. Chaldean parents might even object to their child marrying another Chaldean if they feel that person is not from a family with a good reputation. Parents usually do have a big say-so in who their kids marry, but as time goes on it's less and less.

I know alot of people are asking about a guy they are dating that are Chaldean. I would just say watch out, not just because he's chaldean, but just like you would with any other man. If he is making promises he can't keep and it just does't feel right, it probably isn't. I have cousins, brother-in-law's, and uncles that are married to non-chaldeans. It's not something that is uncommon at all. My children are 3 and 5 and I would support them with whoever they decide to marry!

I was very interested to read about the Chaldean community in Oxaca, Mexico. I had no idea. I did know there is a large population in Australia, but not Mexico. I want to find more info on that.

Thanks for the GREAT article! This is great info about Chaldeans which most people outside of Detroit and El Cajon really don't know much about!
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Jun 8, 2012 @ 7:19 pm
I am a caucassian american and I grew up in El Cajon, CA in a primarily Chaldean apartment complex for 18 years of my life. Chaldean people I grew up around always were kind and respectful. They always called me "habibi" and always wanted to feed me! :) I have only fond things to say about this culture from my personal experience, and I will never forget the sweet ladies, as well as my childhood friend, who always welcomed me with open arms.
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Jul 19, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
I had several questions about Chaldeans and their culture which were all answered in this great article.

Great read!

Thank you: )
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Jul 24, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Nice article!

Chaldean pride for life. So proud to be Chaldean!
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Jul 24, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Hello all,

There are a lot of comments about dating out of their race and I wanted to share my story. Let me first say that I am 100 percent Chaldean and I was born and raised in America. Growing up, I was taught to have a strong faith in my culture and religion. In my household, my parents spoke with my siblings and I in Chaldean. However, my mother and father do speak English, Chaldean, Kurdish, Greek, and Arabic fluently. Although I am very proud of my background and culture, I have dated out of the Chaldean culture, and sometimes it has worked well, and other times, not so much. The only rule I have when dating out of my people is that he must be Catholic because if I should marry this man, I do not want issues in raising our children Catholic because religion is very important to my family and I. My boyfriend of over a year and a half is Mexican. (He actually referred me to this article! ha ha) Over the last year and a half, we have not only learned about each others cultures, foods, language, and beliefs, but we have also learned how much Mexicans and Chaldeans have in common! My opinion on if relationships can work if they are from two different cultural backgrounds? Most definitely yes! Just as he would like to teach our future children Mexican values, I would like to teach them Chaldean values and have them be proud of both their blood heritages. But us Chaldeans have also grown up to respect our parents in that they need to be comfortable in who you are choosing to spend the rest of your life with. While some parents (such as mine) would be okay with their daughter being with a Mexican man, their are some who still frown on it. Sometimes parents bring their old school ways to America, and some choose to adjust to certain American ways. Although, you cannot expect parents to throw away everything they were taught just because they are in America now.

Good article and very good information. It makes it easier for people such as my Mexican significant other to learn about our people, so that he may understand me and the Chaldean culture more. Bravo!
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Aug 8, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
I am currently doing a research paper on our Chaldean language for college about where it came from and how old is it? Is there any good websites or books you can refer me to I'd really appreciate it. I am actually at the library right now typing this and I have only found one source about Chaldeans/Assyrians. I'm also looking for information on Chaldeans and how they are translators in the army and how not many people know how beneficial a translator is for our safety.

Information of the impact of Chaldeans in Southeastern Michigan could be helpful too.

Please email me if you can help.

Thank you
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Aug 9, 2012 @ 10:10 am
I am currently doing a research paper on our Chaldean language for college about where it came from and how old is it? Is there any good websites or books you can refer me to I'd really appreciate it. I am actually at the library right now typing this and I have only found one source about Chaldeans/Assyrians. I'm also looking for information on Chaldeans and how they are translators in the army and how not many people know how beneficial a translator is for our safety.

Information of the impact of Chaldeans in Southeastern Michigan could be helpful too.

Please email me if you can help.

Thank you
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Aug 29, 2012 @ 3:03 am
I am not Chaldean and dated a Chaldean for a year. I'm pregnant now and he's missing and wants no one to know. I'm curious if they are so strong on family ties, why is this man not wanting to own up to his responsibilities? I feel bad for our child that is now going to be fatherless.
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Oct 20, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

Thank you for this informative article! I saw a movie about conflicts between African Americans and Chaldeans in Detroit. I had never heard of the term Chaldean. So was very interested in learning about them. Thank you ag for the great information.
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Dec 22, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
I am a Caucasian woman and was living with a Chaldean man as his roommate. He was married but on the verge of divorce. He became my boyfriend. After his divorce,(by American Law only) he asked me to marry him. BUT, I refused because I never met any one in his family! In his culture they marry in the Catholic Church. They don't get a divorce from the Church. It is a shame to the family. Every holiday, vacation,and family gathering, he left me behind. He could not take me to his family or his friends. I was not accepted as a part of his culture. In their eyes I am a whore, even if we were to marry! Also Chaldea men come first. Women come second.
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Feb 8, 2013 @ 2:02 am
Article is good information. Felt research was important after visiting the local city court with a Chaldean judge.
Unfortunately, she did not seem nice. But instead, she seemed bitter, and angry with society that she was forced to deal with. My question is why one would feel so obligated to continue employment in an arena that disgusts them so.

And if it boils down to culture pride, or somehow feeling superior, it would have been received as such. Instead of a cultural rub of powerful hatred. We all know what that is called. And it has nothing to do with pride or justice. And that is what America should represent.
John Mellott
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Jul 27, 2013 @ 11:11 am
I am a nursing student at the University of Michigan in Flint and I have to do a cultural assessment assignment. I was given Chaldean as my culture to study. I knew very little about Chaldeans even though I have friends that are Chaldean. This article was so very helpful, what a rich and unique culture. It makes me want to seek out more information and even attend an Eastern Rite mass (I am Roman Catholic). Thank you, thank you for giving me a glimpse into the culture.
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Aug 19, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
I recently met a Chaldean man and spent a little bit of time with him. I really, really like him and it's mutual. I am European, Caucasian. Blonde with blue eyes. I met him in the USA. Because I am interested in him, I started reading about his culture and ethnicity.
Now I realize that things would be really complicated and his family might never accept a person like me. Yet, he talks about doing business together, moving to where I live, etc. I am very confused. We have slept together a few times and are maintaining a long-distance friendship right now.

I think we just have a lot of attraction that we had not expected to happen. To be honest, I was just looking for some temporary company, but he was really sweet to me and respectful. Had a very memorable time with him and I miss him. He says he misses me too. He was very warmhearted to me and very attracted to me. I am totally falling for him.

Why on earth would he want to invest in me if I am not some Chaldean virgin? He is 31 years old. I am confused. I feel like I need to save him from a headache and just ignore him from now on. Why would I ruin his life by causing problems?

He never spoke about our differences... he just said for a guy, it's an adjustment to start to live with a female. But he did not sound too opposed to it either. He never even asked me if I am Catholic. Is he just looking for a mistress or a concubine or something? If so, why would he risk getting too emotionally involved with me? Would it not be smarter for him to just date around without getting too involved? It seems he has some feelings for me. Maybe he is just saying nice things... I really don't know. Any thoughts??
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Aug 26, 2013 @ 7:19 pm
I must say this is very informative. I am Of Chaldean heritage born in America. I must tell you that there are many Chaldeans married to non Chaldeans. I personally know quite a few That are married outside the culture including Caucasian and African American. Chaldeans also belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church. We still fall under the Roman Catholic Church, however we do have some traditions that we keep and celebrate mass a little differently.

All in all, great article. I just had to let you all know these two things.
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Aug 29, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
It is great to hear that many Chaldeans marry non-Chaldeans. I will however never marry a guy whose family thinks I am a 'Western whore'. Maybe, a few generations from now, things will be different and they won't judge Western women for having more freedoms and options in life. I just want a normal life and a normal family life and keep my high social status. Any decent Western man can give me this, but I just happen to really like this Chaldean guy... oh boy :)
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Aug 30, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
I am American and my husband is Chaldean. He was not born here and the cultural differences are very interesting. His parents never had a problem with us getting married but I believe that this is a result of some other circumstances. I found this article to be very interesting and helpful. I have been immersed in the culture for years now, but am always learning. I think just like any relationship, the more effort you put in with the family, they see that and appreciate it and are more accepting. Fusion weddings are becoming more and more common with in the Chaldean community and think this shows how the culture is growing and acclimating to our area.
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Sep 17, 2013 @ 3:03 am
Dated a Chaldean man over 7 years.Nice respectfull people that treat guest well. Not a big fan of him being 28 working with his parenents making no money. Seems to be control issues with his mother is always calling 4 times a day when he helps them enouph. Some Chaldean me play the child role and spent too much time with parents. Now do not get me wrong I respect that in a man but this gave got out of control.
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Nov 20, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
All I know is that it is difficult to come from two cultures, Western and Chaldean. My mother and father were both Catholics, deceased now God rest their souls, but from other "worlds". My dad named me after a French saint and probably had his reason, in the eyes of society to do. Maybe, I am "French" made to people. Lol. I just as glad to be any part whatever god made me and glad to have tried dolma. ;)
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Feb 7, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
I am Chaldean and proud, but recently I have been searching through the internet and all I see is Aturaya, who claim to be Assyrians, changing all of the Wikipedia pages about Chaldean villages and making them Assyrian. Since when was Tel Kef Assyrian? How about Alqush? Ankawa, you name it. Even Chaldean people are being proclaimed as Assyrians. The Wikipedia page about the Chaldean Catholic Church says that we're Assyrian. WE ARE NOT ASSYRIAN, THEY ARE NOT ASSYRIAN. THEY ARE CHRISTIAN PERSIANS THAT FELL TO ENGLISH EVANGELISM. How could we be Assyrian, when Nebuchadnezzar led armies that defeated the Assyrian Empire and practically wiped them out. They are Aturaya, that is different from Assyrian. Aturaya means people of the the mountains, NOT ASSYRIAN. People use Wikipedia as a reliable source, although it is not, considering the fact that anyone can change it, but they always change it back. I'm tired of their shenanigans, they have no evidence that they're Assyrian. We have more evidence about being Chaldean. As much as we reject their so called name, they still force it on us. It shows that these people have no dignity, their leaders have a lot to gain from the Chaldean Community. Aturaya have NO SHAME.
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Nov 23, 2014 @ 6:18 pm
I am AA born and raised in Detroit and am now out of state, I would always hear someone say if you were Arabic, you had to be Muslim, in which I would always say what about Chaldeans? which no one knew about, so I was very much educated from this article also. It doesn't surprise me that when Chaldeans marry AA they get ousted by the families but not when they marry whites, they only know of what they see of our treatment from other racial groups,when they come to America, and only replicate what they see, even though the stores and gas stations they own are mostly patronized from AA.
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Sep 22, 2015 @ 7:19 pm
Thank you so much for this article!! I recently had been reading God's word and recently have learned very little about the Chaldean the (Jesus language) reading your article I've learned so much more and definitely want to learn more. I'm a Puerto Rican American new to Michigan and love to learn more about Chaldeans.
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Oct 17, 2015 @ 2:14 pm
My main interest was to trace Abraham's ancestry from Ur, and certainly this article has revealed so much and the unexpected about the chaldeans and their ancestral home in mainly Iraq and their imigration to Detroit, calfornia and other cities in the US. The aramaic language which was often spoken by the Lord Jesus proves the rea true idendity of Abraham's ancesrtry. Thanks, God bless the Chaldeans.
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Jun 26, 2016 @ 12:00 am
I've been seeing this Chaldean man for about 4 months now. since I'm a muslim and he is catholic and extensive history of conflict between my religion and his religion. He showed affection and love though he never say he loves me. He always says its impossible for us to be together. I told him I respect his decision and I still love him because he is such a gentleman, hard working, and caring. My heart ache. We are just texting as friends now. no more meeting. I'm very sad. I hope if we have next life, I would like us to be together.
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Feb 25, 2018 @ 5:05 am
My daughter fell in love with a Chaldean young man. We love this young man. After over 2 years of recovering from an injury, he has loved her through it. The only problem is, his parents have no idea she is alive. It’s placed a lot of undo stress on 2 very loving individuals.

His parents came to the States when they were young, so their Chaldean Iraqi values are strong. My husband and I come from old catholic values. Even though we did not deal with the ol diehard values of traditions, our parents did.

I know his parents are going to find out soon. My question is, how do we help these kids transition? Is it proper to open our home to them and meet the family? I pray to god they don’t look down on my daughter, because of her western heritage. He has bought my daughter a promise ring, so this tells me he is extremely serious. Right now he is worried about his education and this is something we support, but it’s difficult supporting them keeping this secret. Our daughter and her future is just important, Loved, valued as he is to his Chaldean family.
Jazz Essak
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Oct 30, 2018 @ 9:21 pm
This helps learn about the Chaldean community. I am Chaldean myself. My dad moved to the US from Iraq at a very young age and my mom was born in Greece and moved to Michigan at only a couple years old. This article taught me a lot.
It also helped me with an English project.
Great job to whoever contributed to this article(Fr. Manuel Boji)
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Mar 9, 2019 @ 12:00 am
Very misguiding information towards the Islamic Arab population, when pertaining to the marrying of 4 wives. Don't use things as a reference if your unsure of there meaning. That is how tales begin. The article was nice as I am married to a Chaldean, but I also have friends and family that are Muslim and I find some things to be segregating as we are all already segregated as it is we are trying to bring peace and compassion amongst one another, and use titles to destroy each other. This is the problem with society and the culture we live in.
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Mar 29, 2019 @ 1:13 pm
I wanted to check if this source is reliable. I am from the Detroit area, and found much of your writing accurate. I am a Christian Arab American with family history in Palestine and Jordan. I see that you wrote Arabs do not drink alcohol. This would be stated correctly if you said Arab Muslims. There is not mention of Arab Christians in your commentary which makes it not thoroughly vetted. Also, are you aware there are Christians in Iraq who are not Chaldean? These are important to note when you make an effort to talk about history.
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Jun 7, 2019 @ 7:19 pm
I taught at a High School in Southfield in the 70's and enjoyed working with the Chaldean students and there parents. I ran the co-op program and found the students to be hard working both in the classroom and at there retail job. The students received 2 credits for on the job training. They worked at stores in Detroit usually owned by family members and I always look forward going to them for my evaluation of the training contract. I am now 70 and have good memories of this teaching job.
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Sep 25, 2019 @ 1:13 pm
I am a Kurdish refugee from northern Syria. I left the country because of religious and ethnic persecution. I live with my wife and one child in Turkey. I was severely tortured in Syria. . We only have faith in the Lord, and we are confident that he will put an end to this journey that will give us a place to communicate at home. Lord be with you and bless you please help
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Sep 27, 2019 @ 10:22 pm
I’m a Muslim wanting to convert to Catholicism because of the Chaldean traditions and cultures does anyone know if I’ll be accepted , I have done some research, I don’t know how to make the first step.

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