U of M students celebrate Lebanese Independence

(ANN ARBOR, MI) — The Lebanese Student Association at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor hosted a Lebanese Independence Day celebration on Thursday, inviting students of other cultural backgrounds to learn about their Lebanese heritage.

“We want to educate others about our Lebanese culture,” said Ayah Anani, president of the student-run group. “It is a chance for us to exchange cultural identities with other students and show them what Lebanon is about.”

John Akouri, President and CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce, spoke about Lebanese-American success stories and the importance of IMG_2985preserving a cultural heritage.

“We see successful Lebanese-Americans in almost every sector,” said Akouri. “From business to law, medicine to technology, Lebanese-Americans have built a strong reputation across the country.”

Donations from the event were given to the “Giveback Lebanon” project, which aims to serve underprivileged Lebanese children and seniors this Christmas, the group says.

Anani says the group is busy planning for the Annual LSA Unified Gala, which will take place on January 17, 2015.

Four universities — University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Oakland University, and University of Michigan – Dearborn — participate in the gala, which draws 800 people annually and awards four $1,000 scholarships to Lebanese students.

RELATED: The Oakland University Lebanese Student Association will also host an Independence Day event on November 21. For more information, click here.

Muslim woman files suit against Advance America

(DEARBORN, MI) — An Arab American woman filed a discrimination lawsuit against Advance America in Inkster, Mich. on Wednesday.

Raghdaa Ali says she walked into a cash advance provider in June when the clerk told her to “get out,” she told WYXZ-TV in Detroit.

Ali claims the clerk pointed to a dress code sign on the door and asked her to leave, saying her religious head scarf violated the no hat policy.

“This is our beliefs and our religious (beliefs) — we cannot take it off. She said if you cannot take it off, we cannot serve you,” she told WXYZ-TV.

Ali filed a federal lawsuit against the corporate parent, claiming that Michigan does not require the removal of the scarf for state ID, and asking to remove her headscarf is unlawful.

“Lack of (knowledge of) religious culture,” is to blame says Ali. “This is my country and I have the same right as they have.”

Advance America Cash Advance was founded in 1997 and is the largest provider of the non-bank cash advance services in the United States.

“For the safety of our customers and employees, Advance America requires the temporary removal of hoods, hats, sunglasses and other head coverings in order to be admitted into our centers,” said Jamie Fulmer, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Advance America. “We intend to vigorously defend the legitimate security purpose of our practice in court.”

Ali says she has the support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.

“In this instance, we are talking about a religiously protected activity. In this instance, we are talking about mistreatment towards somebody because of the way they look,” says Fatina Abdrabboh, the director of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.

Watch the WXYZ-TV report below:

University to launch center for Lebanese diaspora studies

For more than 150 years, millions of Lebanese have been emigrating from Lebanon to create successful diaspora communities around the world. Yet there has never been a center outside Lebanon devoted to learning their stories.

An $8.1 million gift from Dr. Moise A. Khayrallah and his wife, Vera Khayrallah, will change that.

With the support of the Khayrallahs — who moved to the Triangle from their native Lebanon in 1983 — NC State will soon be home to the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, a thriving international hub for research into Lebanese immigration and migration more broadly.

Housed within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), this will be the first privately endowed center at NC State. It follows the creation in 2010 of the university’s Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies, which sought to preserve and publicize the history of the Lebanese community in North Carolina.

“We felt it was critical to show how this one community established itself here in North Carolina and then contributed to local commerce, education and success,” said Moise Khayrallah, who has founded several drug-development companies in the area. “And that was a very, very successful program, I have to say.”

Dr. Akram Khater, professor of history at NC State, serves as the program’s director. Like the Khayrallahs, he first came to the United States from Lebanon to further his education. Years later, he and Dr. Khayrallah met over coffee to draw up a public history project.

“We were discussing how, after 9/11, the prevailing narrative about Arab-Americans — including the Lebanese — became focused on terrorism or tabouleh, violence or salad,” said Khater. “Conspicuously absent was any sustained mention of the richness of the culture, of the heritage and of the myriad contributions of Lebanese-Americans to America for over a century and a half.”

Funding from the Khayrallahs and the resources of a vibrant public history program in CHASS have enabled Khater and other NC State researchers to spotlight those contributions. Lebanese-Americans in North Carolina have generated an estimated $4.5 billion of revenue. Among the 16,000 people who make up the community today are the Georges of Hickory, whose legacy includes Lowes Foods, and the Koury family, who own the Greensboro convention center of the same name.

By retracing the steps and recording the stories of Lebanese immigrants to the state, Khater and graduate students in the department of history unearthed enough material to sustain an online archive, a PBS documentary, a K-12 curriculum and a multimedia museum exhibit, Cedars in the Pines.

“As I saw him and his team at the Department of History and other departments at NC State come together and bring all of these programs and activities to life, I was very impressed,” said Moise Khayrallah.

The Khayrallahs’ gift will allow NC State to build on these successes through the creation of the Khayrallah Center, a groundbreaking international institution that Khater will helm. A home for scholars and students from around the world, it will establish NC State as the premier research and outreach site for the Lebanese diaspora. At another level, the center will allow NC State to engage in vital national and international debates about immigration and its global impacts.

“Creating the first endowed center at NC State is a real signature landmark for us,” said Dean Jeffery P. Braden of CHASS, noting that this is the largest gift in the college’s history. He added that the center’s mission — deepening the American public’s understanding of migration — makes it a perfect fit for NC State.

“Part of it is our land-grant tradition,” said Braden. “Part of it is our ‘Think and Do’ culture. But we really have the structure of bringing our disciplinary knowledge and the scholarship that we do out of the university, out of the academy, and bringing it into the community.”

For the Khayrallahs, that kind of outreach is key to revealing the contribution of immigrants to American life.

“We all have so much in common, but a lot of times people don’t even notice those commonalities,” said Vera Khayrallah. “But we are all one people, and we all went through the same things to bring us here.”

To learn more about the Khayrallah Center, click here.

Source: North Carolina State News – Original Source

CLFW hosts Lebanese citizenship drives across USA

CLFW REGISTRATION

(WASHINGTON, DC) — The Christian Lebanese Foundation in the World (CLFW) is hosting five campaign drives during the rest of November, encouraging Lebanese-Americans to preserve their roots in Lebanon and register as Lebanese citizens.

“We want to encourage people outside of Lebanon to have an affection for their motherland,” said Nada Abisamra, Director of CLFW, in an interview with ART America.

CLFW and Project Roots aims to register people of Lebanese descent free of charge in the United States.

CLFW will visit the following locations during November:

  • Westlake, Ohio at the Northern Ohio Lebanese American Association Heritage Ball on November 15 starting at 6pm.
  • Stockton, California at St. Sharbel’s Annual Hafle on November 15 starting at 6pm.
  • Easton, Pennsylvania at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church on November 16 starting at 10am.
  • Warren, Michigan at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church on November 22 starting at 6pm, and November 23 starting at 11am.
  • Greer, South Carolina at St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church starting at 11am.

For more information, visit clfw.orgClick here to access the campaign flyer with more information about required registration documents.

Watch the promotional video below:

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St. Sharbel Church in Warren to sell; build new church

(WARREN, MI) — St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren, Mich. announced a surprise decision last week by the parish advisory council to sell the church and its properties at a community meeting, indicating it will relocate to a new church northwest of Warren.

The meeting, which was held on Oct. 30 at the Tamer Hall, invited both regular and inactive parishioners, and affluent members of the Lebanese community to announce the decision.

“We have received a significant offer and it’s moving forward,” said Paul Fayad, chairman of the board of St. Sharbel.

According to an open letter sent to parishioners on Nov. 6, Fayad said Life Application Ministries — the church next door — and St. Sharbel have mutually agreed on a sale of $3,180,000. There is currently $600,000 in the church bank account, according to Fayad.

“After four days of negotiations, they signed a final purchase agreement on Friday, October 24, 2014,” Fayad wrote in the letter. “Bishop (Elias) Zaidan agreed with and signed the purchase agreement which was then submitted to Life Application Ministries.”

The open letter says the offer will be finalized by the end of the year, and Life Application Ministries will move in by the end of May.

A temporary location “within a few miles” will house weekend liturgies until a new church is built, according to Fayad.

The church is set to move out in May but will “keep all of the Stained Glass Windows, religious items, donated items and personal furniture.”

Fayad says a building committee will be formed to begin discussing potential property locations and construction planning.

“The area of focus is from 16 mile to 23 mile and from west of Hayes to east of Van Dyke,” he said. “We will be working with an architect and other professionals on the design of the new church and supporting buildings.”

Fayad said he welcomes emails from parishioners who may have questions or concerns.

“We’ll review (emails) and take your suggestions seriously,” he said.

A former parishioner, who prefers not to be identified, said he was disappointed with the announcement. He says the church should have checked with its congregation before signing any agreement.

“It is common business practice for an organization to check with its people before making a big decision,” he said. “It is especially important when this organization gets financial support from the people.”

Bishop Zaidan is reportedly ‘eager’ by this new decision and says he would “love to see more churches open in the future,” despite declining numbers of active Maronite parishioners.

Sources say St. Maron in Detroit would close its doors “in a heartbeat, if a seller comes forward.”

To view the open letter to parishioners, click here.

American, Lebanese flags torched at Dearborn home

(DEARBORN HEIGHTS, MI) — A Lebanese-American family woke up in the middle of the night to a fire outside their home in Dearborn Heights, Michigan on Sunday.

The American and Lebanese flag were both lit when the homeowner looked outside his window just before 2 am.

“I heard some noise in the kitchen and I thought it was my daughter coming home from work,” he told FOX 2 News in Detroit. “I got up and here’s a man standing in my kitchen with a piece of wood with fire on top of it.”

The homeowner, who wants to stay anonymous, said this is the second time this happened in the past two weeks.

He describes the suspect as a man with a thin build about 5 feet 11 inches tall. The suspect was wearing a black hoodie and a black ski mask covering the face. The homeowner chased the suspect outside, but the suspect hopped the fence, he said.

“I’m going to put back the American flag and the Lebanese flag. That’s my house I can put whatever I want in there,” he said.

WATCH the FOX 2 News Report:

Fox 2 News Headlines

PHOTOS: Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Salute to Women

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(TROY, MI) — The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce recognized 10 women during the Autumn President’s Power Lunch “A Salute to Women in Leadership” event at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Troy, Michigan on Friday.

FBI Community Outreach Specialist Bushra Alawie, Wellness Expert Julie Booksh, Attorney Sabrina Cronin, WXYZ-TV Medical Expert Dr. Victoria Dooley, Judge Vonda Evans, Radio Personality Shelley Irwin, Businesswoman Jennifer Deeb Kluge, Eastern Michigan University President Dr. Susan Martin, Author Yasmeen Suri, and Consul General of Macedonia Elena Zarkovska spoke about their professions and life as successful women during a panel hosted by PR agent Josephine Dries.

See photos below:

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OTV visits Detroit to report on St. Rafka relics visit

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(LIVONIA, MI) — The relics of Saint Rafka visited St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church on Lyndon Street in Livonia this week featuring several divine liturgies and evening prayers with the holy artifacts.

“We couldn’t ask or a bigger blessing,” said Father Tony Massad. “We have the holy Eucharist and our sister, sister Rafka with us. I couldn’t ask for a bigger blessing — for more joy.”

OTV Lebanon and Noursat attended the divine liturgy and spoke to several local Lebanese-Americans.

Watch here:

For a list of locations of Saint Rafka relics, see the flyer issued by the Eparchy of St. Maron – Brooklyn below:

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VOTE: Michigan Lebanese-American Election Guide

(DETROIT, MI) — The Lebanese Examiner Michigan Election Guide is a special election-year report by Lebanese Examiner’s Editorial Staff endorsing candidates that have previously supported or matched the opinions of the majority of Lebanese-Americans in Michigan.

We urge the Lebanese-American community to support these candidates by voting on November 4, 2014.

The endorsements expressed by the Lebanese Examiner Editorial Staff do not necessarily express or imply an endorsement from advertisers or individual staff members.

Endorsed. (3)

Rick Snyder became Michigan’s 48th governor when he was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2011. In his inaugural address, he described his vision for reinventing Michigan by creating more and better jobs, revitalizing the educational system, and revamping government to focus on providing excellent service to its customers, the state’s 10 million people.

With the state’s people and economy struggling, Snyder infused his administration with a sense of urgency, saying he wanted to accomplish four years of policy reforms in his first year and then maintain that pace. He describes his approach as “Relentless Positive Action.” That means solve a problem with no credit or blame and then move on to the next one.

Governor Snyder has been accessible to ethnic communities, including the Lebanese-American community in Michigan. The Governor’s reinvention of Michigan is working and making a difference in the lives of all people across the state. Michigan’s economy is at a 10-year high and nearly 300,000 private sector jobs have been created in the state during the governor’s tenure.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to re-elect Republican RICK SNYDER for Michigan Governor.

Endorsed. (2)

Congressman Gary Peters has focused his efforts on uniting our communities of different ethnic background, races, and cultures by fighting for the things that we can all agree on – a stronger local economy, more good paying jobs across our region and a fair chance for everyone to succeed, he says.

When Mr. Peters was first sworn into office in 2009, the future of Michigan’s economy was in serious jeopardy. Following the collapse on Wall Street, our auto industry was on the verge of bankruptcy, thousands of Michiganders were out of work through no fault of their own, and many seniors wondered how they could ever afford to retire.

Gary Peters stepped up and worked tirelessly to revamp Michigan’s economy, introducing tough economic recovery bills and working closely with the Obama administration to get positive work accomplished.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to elect Democrat GARY PETERS for United States Senate.

Endorsed.

David Viviano is the 109th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and was appointed on February 27, 2013, by Governor Rick Snyder. Prior to his appointment, Justice Viviano served as Chief Judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit and Macomb County Probate Courts. He was first elected to the Circuit Court in 2006.

Prior becoming a judge, Justice Viviano worked at two nationally renowned law firms, Dickinson Wright PLLC in Detroit and Jenner & Block LLC in Chicago. He then started his own firm, Viviano & Viviano PLLC, where he specialized in commercial and criminal litigation, zoning, and real estate law. Justice Viviano has also served as the City Attorney for the City of Center Line.

Justice Viviano has been a strong advocate for improvements in the administration of justice. In 2008, he and a small group of colleagues were selected by the Michigan Supreme Court to review the jury system in Michigan. The Supreme Court adopted many of their recommended reforms, which are now used by judges throughout Michigan. For their efforts, Justice Viviano and his colleagues received the 2012 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation from the National Center for State Courts.

Justice Viviano has never been ashamed of his Lebanese-American ethnic ancestry. Instead, he has embraced it and been an active member of the community, often attending Lebanese-American events and supporting church and banquet functions.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to elect Justice DAVID VIVIANO for Michigan Supreme Court.

Endorsed. (7)

Debbie Dingell is President of D2 Strategies and chair of the Wayne State University (WSU) Board of Governors, to which she was elected statewide in 2006. An active civic and community leader, she is a recognized national advocate for women and children.

Dingell is immediate past chair of the Manufacturing Initiative at the American Automotive Policy Council. For more than 30 years she served one of Michigan’s largest employers, the General Motors (GM) Corporation, where she was President of the GM Foundation and a senior executive responsible for public affairs. In her commitment to job creation, Debbie recently led the effort to bring the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, a $20 million partnership designed to help create jobs and economic growth, to southeast Michigan.

Dingell and her husband have been proud supporters of the Arab-American community in Michigan, often attending local events and supporting the mission of Arab and Lebanese-American organizations.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to elect Democrat DEBBIE DINGELL for Michigan’s 12th Congressional District.

Endorsed. (4)

A resident of Canton, Bobby McKenzie was born in Dearborn and raised in Dearborn Heights. For 50 years, McKenzie’s father has run a small vacuum business in Wayne County and demonstrated that success is earned, not guaranteed. McKenzie learned these values while working part-time for his father’s business in high school and college. These values have kept him grounded throughout his career.

McKenzie is now fighting to represent with integrity and humility the same part of Michigan that made him who he is today.

Most recently, Bobby served as a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State. Before the State Department asked Bobby to join its counterterrorism office, Bobby worked on African refugee issues and taught courses at Wayne State University as an adjunct lecturer.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to elect Democrat BOBBY MCKENZIE for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.

Endorsed. (8)

A lifelong resident of Warren, Jordanian-American Nick Hawatmeh earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Wayne State University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy School Of Law where he was selected to be the commencement speaker of his graduating class.

Hawatmeh’s leadership experience includes serving on the Warren Zoning Board of Appeals, the Michigan Board of Chiropractic, and he was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as a member of the Michigan Speech-Language Pathology Board.

Hawatmeh is also an active member of Our Lady of Redemption Melkite Catholic Church in Warren where he is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has always been a supporter of the Lebanese-American community, our local churches, and organizations.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to elect Republican NICK HAWATMEH for Michigan’s 25th District in State Legislature.

Endorsed. (6)

With three children currently enrolled in the Dearborn Public Schools, Mariam Bazzi knows how important it is to make sure our kids are getting a quality education. A quality education is only possible when we take care of our schools, students and teachers.

Bazzi says we need to continue to work to provide an environment where kids are taught to compete in an ever-changing global market.

Bazzi earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan – Dearborn, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University School of Law. She is currently a Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

Lebanese Examiner urges you to elect MARIAM BAZZI for Dearborn School Board.

Samar Nader: UN Correspondent

Lebanese-American journalist Samar Nader has worked in many scopes of storytelling over the course of her career. As a broadcast reporter, newspaper publisher, and filmmaker, she has viewed and reported on national and global stories through multiple different lenses.

Born in Lebanon, the New York-based journalist has remained connected with her native Lebanese roots, often traveling to her home country for family visits and international assignments. She travels frequently, and has become fluent in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.

Today, Nader serves as an official correspondent for United Nations Security Council Meetings and other high-profile UN events, a position she’s held since January 2007. Since 2008, she’s also worked as newspaper reporter for El-Nashra newspaper, and as a TV correspondent for New TV, Al-Jadeed, a 24-hour Pan-Arab station based in the Middle East. She previously worked as an international correspondent for Radio Canada International.

In 2013, Nader owned the copyrights to Al-Mohajer newspaper, an internationally recognized news outlet, and the oldest known newspaper for the Lebanese diaspora. Nader revived the publication more than 100 years after its distribution ended with assistance from the World Lebanese Cultural Union and her colleagues Walid and Frances Mourani. World-renowned philosopher Gibran Khalil Gibran wrote in the newspaper in the early 20th century. Nader admired Gibran’s work and reintroduced the newspaper in honor of her father, who was battling cancer at the time.

Nader highlighted diaspora successes, activities, and social dilemmas, quickly growing the publication as a source of research for the Lebanese Foreign Ministry and its Consulates and Embassies around the globe.

As a lifelong storyteller, Nader prefers to work behind the camera. Growing up in Lebanon, Nader dreamed of becoming a movie producer and director, but her family urged her to enter a profession outside of the arts. Her mother, a retired Arabic literature professor, influenced her career choice and storytelling talents. Nader also credits her grandfather, a city-wide school director, Lebanese poet, and famed English translator, for impacting her career.

Nonetheless, as she matured, Nader returned to her early passions, writing and producing her own film which chronicled historic stories of Lebanese-American emigration. Nader created a docudrama where she interviewed elderly figures, over 100 years old, who narrated their arrival to America and the challenges they faced. The film, called Olympia, is named after Nader’s grandmother, who immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1920.

In her free time, Nader is an avid volleyball player and swimmer. She also enjoys serving the Lebanese communities as an event organizer and emcee for special ceremonies. She previously hosted the annual Miss Lebanon competition for two years, and more than 20 pageants recognizing women in various Lebanese cities.

Nader is also the founder of three non-governmental organizations, including two in Lebanon, and one part of the United Nations. She launched the UN Arab Ladies Club along with fellow journalist Khawla Nazzal and Her Excellency Saja Majali, Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the U.N. Geneva. Until now, the organization ahs honored more than 10 Lebanese and Arab poets and writers.

Today, Nader is working to document the stories of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. She has worked on a series of stories, which highlight the plight of refugees in the Lebanese public school system, and human rights violations against women and girls. She is also working with high-profile officials within the church to shed light on the dilemmas of Christians in the Middle East. Nader said these issues have made her emotionally drawn to participate in more advocacy work.

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