In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Can a dying language revive Lebanon's Christian population?

By Justin Salhani

Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by the patriarch of Lebanese Christian Maronites, Bishara Boutros al-Rai, as Lebanon's President looks on upon his arrival at Beirut's airport

Maronites used to play a crucial role in the region, but their power and sense of identity are waning. One organization hopes to reverse that by reviving their ancient language, Syriac

JewishWorldReview.com |

BEIRUT — (TCSM) Lebanon's most prominent Christian group, the Maronites, used to be so influential that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat reportedly quipped that "The road to Jerusalem passes through Jounieh," referring to a town north of Beirut that was a stronghold for Lebanese Christian militias.

The quote has a certain poignancy — and nostalgia — more than 30 years later, with Maronites increasingly afraid they will be marginalized. Their population and political power have waned as their numbers dwindle — a result of emigration during the country's civil war — and birth rates rise in the Muslim community.


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Lebanon has not had a census since 1932, so exact figures are hard to come by, but experts usually estimate that Maronites make up about 20 percent of the total population today, with other Christian sects making up an additional 19 percent — a huge decline from last census in 1932, which recorded Christians as a bit more than 50 percent of the population, with Maronites the largest of any of the 17 recognized sects.

With the end of the civil war in 1990 and a reconfiguration of the Lebanese political system, an agreement made the prime minister's office, traditionally held by a Sunni, more powerful than the presidential office, typically held by a Maronite — a flip of the previous arrangement. The agreement also reconfigured parliamentary representation, from six Christians for every five Muslims to a 50-50 arrangement.

The Maronites also fear that the rise of regional Islamic movements will bring discrimination and persecution — fears shared by Christians elsewhere in the region, like the Copts in Egypt and the Assyrians in Iraq — despite Lebanon's long tradition of freedom of religion.

Some Maronites believe that the best way to slow or end the slide into decline is to bring back Syriac, the ancient language of prayer for Christians across the Levant. The Maronite Church traces it heritage back to the 4th century and Maronites mostly spoke Aramaic in daily life up until the 13th century.

Haytham Chaer is the president of Bnay Qyomo ("Sons of the Resurrection"), a non-governmental organization working to revive the "language of Christ" in the Lebanese Maronite community. Doing so, he believes, will strengthen their identity.

"In Lebanon we say 'The Lebanese land shouts in Syriac'," says Mr. Chaer.

Dr. Mario Kozah, a professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), says the church identifies with Syriac in terms of not just language, but also culture, history, and geography. Syriac was a dominant language in the region since well before the days of Jesus and up until the 14th or 15th century.

That the Maronite church's official name is the Syriac Maronite Church shows how integral the language is to their identity, says Dr. Kozah, who teaches Arabic and Syriac (though not connected with Bnay Qyomo) in what he says is probably the largest university class for the Syriac language in the world.

"The name of this church gives you an indication of the way it identifies itself," says Kozah. "Its cultural and linguistic identity is Syriac."

But while the Syriac language may flow through the veins of Maronite history, not everyone believes its revival would strengthen the Maronite community.

According to Dr. Sami Nader, a professor of economics at Universite Saint Joseph in Beirut, the Maronite community has flourished the most when it has opened up and expanded economically — something done by speaking a common tongue with neighboring communities.

Kozah agrees. "What is interesting about the Maronites is that they very quickly took up Arabic, much earlier than other Syriac communities and churches, and quickly adapted."

While spoken largely in the Levant region and parts of southern Turkey, Syriac spread as far east as India and parts of China. Today, Syriac survives in Iraq, where it is seen as an official minority language, as well as in some schools in Sweden and Israel.

Kozah believes that one of the reasons Maronites survived in such relatively large numbers in comparison with other Syriac churches is because of their early adoption of Arabic.

"Only in Lebanon do you still have some kind of strength and vibrancy left in minority communities," he says, noting that the Syriac communities in Iraq have all but disappeared, half of them in the last five or six years, as have most of those in southeast Turkey.

This vibrancy may be at least partially due to the delicate Lebanese political structure, which ensures that each religious community has fairly equal representation in the government. The complicated arrangement has mostly kept a lid on any simmering religious tensions that tore the country apart in the 1980s.

Chaer says the Maronite Church has not put enough support behind Bnay Qyomo, likely because of the political implications and concerns that the revival is a guise for drawing divides between Lebanon's various religious communities.

"We are not trying to say that we are against (other religious sects and communities in Lebanon)," says Chaer. "This is false. We want to work together."

"We don't have a religion problem. We just need people to understand our culture."

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© 2012, The Christian Science Monitor