Arab Heritage Month

Trying to catch up on my email to make Thanksgiving plans, I found a link to the schedule for Chicago’s Arab Heritage Month. Once again I have managed to miss a great deal of it.

I was most disappointed to find that the Jasmin Jahal School of Dance‘s “Belly Dance Workshop: Intro to Sword Dancing” was over.  Not that I could have gone; it conflicts with my work schedule. Several years ago I went to Jasmin’s Arab Heritage Month event (an introductory lesson was only $10 back then, not $35) and greatly enjoyed the workout. Jasmin is a great teacher with apparently limitless energy. Even those with two left feet will believe that they too can learn to belly dance. The type of dance here is the traditional kind that is done at Arab wedding parties, the kind with only women present, not the kind done in certain (unnamed) north side Greek restaurants .

Unlike the Arabeque Arab festival, there is no master list of participants for Arab Heritage Month. Here is my own partial list, collected from hovering a mouse over the calendar of events:


The two-part PBS film “Islam: Empire of Faith”

The Desert Triology [sic] of Nacer Khemir

Continuous exhibit

“Arab World Cultural Display” at Green Hills Public Library, 8611 W. 103rd Street, Palos Hills
from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM from November 1-30. Admission: Free


Mondays: “Mornings with Ray Hanania” on WJJG 1530 AM Radio for guest information

Saturdays: Islamic and Arab Voices of Chicago presents “Arab Culture and Countries” & “Arab-Americans Past, Present & Future” on WCEV 1450 AM and streaming live online at


Galerie du Maroc (Moroccan Arts)
exhibit of Images du Maroc by Michael Monar
a traditional music performance by Bulbul Ensemble (see “music” below)


Arabic for children on Saturdays from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM at Bridgeview Public Library (year-round) “Arabic Story and Basic Arabic Language Class for Children”


“Homeland Insecurity, the Arab-American and Muslim Experience after 9/11” by Dr. Louise Cainkar. Over a hundred in-depth interviews conducted  in the Metropolitan Chicago Area, about the experiences of Arab-Americans and Muslims after 9/11.


Bulbul Ensemble is a takht based in Chicago. The ensemble plays the music of Oum Kalthoum, Fairouz, Asmahan, Sabah Fakhri and others, including composers Muhammad Abdal-Wahhab, Assi and Mansour Rahbani, Sayid Darwish, and other great artists from 20th century Near East music. Musicians: Nai: Kim Sopata, Oud: Rami Gabriel, Percussion: Doug Brush,Violin: Steve Gibons.

[Bulbul’s next public appearance:  Saturday, Dec 5, 2009, from 3 pm to 5 pm Il-Bulbul Arabic Music Ensemble Performs at Oak Park Winterfest
Downtown Oak Park, IL. — check their webpage for some amazing  concert excerpts with unfortunately low sound quality]

Assi El Hellani & Shada Hassoun in Concert at Rosemont


Chicago’s Premier Arabic/English monthly, Al-Offok Al-Arabi Newspaper (The Arab Horizon), presents an introspective look into Chicago’s Arab-American Community. The paper has been covering the local scene and its organizations & individuals for over ten years…Links: profile for editor Amani Ghouleh.


Oriental Institute’s highly acclaimed special exhibit “The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer of Ancient Egypt.”

Upcoming events

Just for my own reference I’ve pasted here the info for a couple of upcoming events, tomorrow’s Oriental Institute (the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark) tour is not to be missed.

tonight (free music downtown):

What: Amman Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International Program presents Doris: The Arab Musical Star
Where: Chicago Cultural Center – 72 E. Randolph, Chicago
When: Nov 18, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Description: The Amman Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International Program cordially invites you to a performance by Doris, the fabulous Arab musical star.

Admission: Free, but reservations are required

For more information email or call Adrienne Tongate: 312-742-5320

also tonight (radio):


Connecting Women Radio presents “Celebrating Arab Heritage Month”

Where: Nov 18, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PMDescription:

CCHR Advisory Council on Arab Affairs member Hanadi Abukhdeir will be speaking about the Advisory Council and Arab Heritage Month, and author Alia Malek, will be discussing her new book “A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories.”

For more information, call Faten Abdallah: 646-595-3653

tomorrow (U of C campus museum tour):

Oriental Institute presents “Gallery Tour: The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer of Ancient Egypt”

Where: University of Chicago – 1155 E. 58th Street, ChicagoWhen: Nov 19, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PMDescription:

Don’t miss this last chance to tour this exhibit with Curator Emily Teeter before it closes on December 6th!

Learn the behind-the-scenes story of how the Oriental Institute produced this three-dimensional biography of an ancient Egyptian priestess, and see how forensic scientists have used the latest CT data to reconstruct Meresamun’s physical appearance as she actually looked nearly 3,000 years ago.

For more information call: 773-702-9507 or visit:

A week from Monday:

Eid Al-Adha (!!?!)

What: Moraine Valley Community College presents “Eid Celebration”Where:

Moraine Valley Community College – 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills, Room U111

When: Nov 30, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PMDescription: Do you have friends, colleagues or classmates that celebrate “Eid” and have always wondered what it is? A short presentation about the significance of the holiday will be presented. Enjoy free Middle Eastern sweets in celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid Al-Adha. Also have your name printed in Arabic calligraphy to take home!

Admission: Free

For more information, contact Multicultural Student Affairs: (708) 974-5475

Posted in Arabs. Tags: , . Comments Off on Arab Heritage Month

Un-Establishment of Religion: Chicago Mayor Daley Freaks out the Methodists

Note: if you arrived at this thread looking for information about disability events Friday and Saturday (from

The Disability Community Open Mic will be hosted by the Temple on July 24th from 6-8:30pm in the James Parlor. This is an annual event that provides a forum for people to share their thoughts, writings, and poems about the disability experience. Food and drinks will be provided.

Come watch the Disability Pride Parade on Saturday July 25th with your family and friends. Parade steps off is at 11am from Van Buren St and marches north on Dearborn to Washington St, ending at Daley Plaza. Over 40 disability groups march as a way to increase disability awareness and promote the belief that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. Stay for the fun post-parade celebration with music, performances, and speakers in Daley Plaza. There are also exhibit booths where the Temple will have a booth to share information about our church.


Can you close down a church with uneven parking regulations? The Methodist church in the historical Gothic building across the street from Daley Plaza is about to find out. Churchgoers who tried to park in front of the church Sunday found themselves greeted with the following sign:


Do Not Park Here

After 30 years of cooperation the city has decided to withdraw its permission for us to park on Washington and Clark Streets on Sunday mornings. They will tow without regard for our attendance at worship services.
You may park for $5 at the Washington-Wells Madison Self Park Garage. Enter at 172 West Madison or 170 West Washington. Get an over-ride ticket available from the person on duty at the Temple’s Washington Street entrance.

The street, usually parked full on Sunday morning all around Daley plaza, was totally deserted.

Methodists during 11 am service

but a few did make it into the church:

Do Not Park with handicapped cart

Compare this to the vibrancy of the city on Easter Sunday:

Easter Sunday-Washington avenue

How does the city deal with other churches about parking?  I walked over to the Gold Coast to see how the Mayor’s own church, Holy Name Cathedral, was faring.  As it turns out, God is on vacation over at Holy Name:

Holy Name on vacation

but the parking situation couldn’t be better.

Holy Name across parking lot

In case anyone is wondering, the parking lot belongs to Holy Name Cathedral and the Archdiocese of Chicago:

Holy name parking sign1

And other churches?  I walked over to St. James Episcopal, also a historic church, famous for their weekly rush-hour wine-tasting concerts, and found a quiet side street equipped with paid parking machines, as is the area surrounding Holy Name.

St James Pay to Park

Although the city is no doubt desperate for more revenue to pay for it’s O’Hare expansion and other projects, “Pay to Park” is not a viable option for Washington Avenue where the Methodists hang out–it’s a very central street prone to rush hour gridlock.

Instead of trying to shut the city down to residents during the weekend, City Hall should be trying to open it up.  Like most American cities, Chicago experienced a decline in the 60’s , and is now beginning an upward trend. The city has a new vitality in the city center, typified by overall gentrification and some new condo developments on the near south side.  Although not as well funded as institutions like Fourth Presbyterian and the Pacific Garden Mission, the above church has done way more than its share for those who have fallen through the city’s safely nets–the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill–even though it has meant church members being accosted on their way in and out of the church and some older church members being afraid to walk even as far as the bus stop. Now many of those social services have been shifted elsewhere and I no longer see large numbers of panhandlers and homeless in the immediate vicinity of the church and plaza.  But the city should be taking advantage of the new atmosphere of security to promote the city, and to turn it into something the residents can use, rather than trying to turn it into a ghost town and shut down those who are making a positive contribution.

Here is an example of what the plaza should look like.  It’s a group of children playing on the Picasso during one of the festivals last year.

I love photographing the Picasso and somehow manage to take a picture of it almost every time I’m downtown, which isn’t that often due to parking and transportation costs.  But at any rate, this is what art is for. This is what Chicago is for.
picasso eyes

temple and picasso picasso with children temple and picasso1

*”Unestablishment of Religion”:

The First Amendment
“ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ”

UPDATE: Temporary signs have been posted permitting Sunday parking with a permit.

Overcast Full Moon At Perigee

“The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.”  *

*Clement Clarke Moore–who also happened to write a Hebrew dictionary…or was it really Henry Livingston?

Photos taken just after and just before midnight without flash or tripod, but okay, without zoom.  Moonrise 5:34 pm, moonset 7:47 am.

Posted in Curiosities. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Overcast Full Moon At Perigee

Three more days for the Chicago World Music Festival

The Chicago Music Festival runs from September 19-25 this year with free or very reasonably price concerts at various locations around the city.

Arabic artists this year are Dhafer Youssef of Tunisia, Ensemble Al-Kindi of Syria, and Gaida Hinawwi–listen to her |here|, a female vocalist from Iraq in the traditional maqam style.  The Iraqi already performed Sunday, and the Syrian group preformed Friday–drat, they bill themselves as “Whirling Dervishes of Damascus”.

Yet to come–


The Dhafer Youssef concert (Sufi Mystic Fusion) is Wednesday 9/24 7:30 P.M at the Museum of Contemporary Art–Admission $15. Listen to a sample of the music–“Farha” from Electric Sufi–at the festival website |here|. (Click on Wednesday) Also  Wednesday night is Mor Karbasi with the flamenco-esque Shephardic Ladino music from Jerusalem–see Thursday for the link.


You can also hear Dhafer Youssef  Thursday from 11:00-2:00 PM at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Theater free.  (And bask in the glow of the Tiffany stained glass dome at the same time.) To be broadcast line on WNUR 89.3 FM on the “Continental Drift” international program.  Also appearing in this venue is Mor Karbasi–listen here, oh, yes! from Israel with Sephardic Ladino Music–the music and language of the exiled Jews of Spain–sounds interesting, but they are separted by two acts–could that be a coididink?

The festival ends Thurday with an open house/Mexican market at the Cultural Center. For addresses see the City of Chicago’s official festival website.

The links for audio tracks again are:

Chicago Music Festival

Gaida Hinawwi–listen to her |here|

Mor Karbasi–listen here, oh, yes!

or look for links yourself on this list of featured artists

Lo Cor de la Plana from Spain, a capella male voices

Posted in Arabs. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Three more days for the Chicago World Music Festival

Riding the Storm Out

The rain has finally stopped here in northern Illinois. In the aftermath of days of downpouring rain in the weather pattern pushed north by the latest hurricane, I’ve had a chance to mow the lawn, dump the water out of the citronella candles, and take a long walk in the sunshine. Although the streets have opened again and are clear of water, the signs of the long rain remains.

For once the park is free of goose poop. Usually you can’t take a step without looking down, but today the road is clean. Hmm, wonder where it all went. Ya don’t suppose it washed into the lake where it will increase the nitrate levels and lead to more algae?

The most disheartening was the guerilla East Side Book Exchange, now derelict. The book exchange has been through rain, snow and fire, every time rising like the phoenix. Today the neon blue paint has been covered with black, but there is no sign of a book, just gang signs and spider webs. Where the park district used to mow around the steel shelves, now there is an overgrown path through the thistles.

This is the way civilization ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.

Posted in Curiosities. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Riding the Storm Out

Who Would Jesus Vote For?–thirty black preachers say Obama

Undaunted by the experience of the church in Pasadena a few years ago that spent $200,000 to defend its tax-exempt status after an anti-war sermon preached by a guest preacher, a dozen or so black preachers gathered in a Chicago church this week to announce their endorsement of Senator Obama for President.

One preacher told the group that “Sen. Barack Obama best represents our hopes and aspirations” while another said the “black church supports Obama” and another called him “the man of the hour”. The “black church”? Whatever happened to God’s church? And all the “render unto Caesar” stuff in Luke 20:25?

We’ve got boots and shoes on the ground and we’re knocking on doors,” Finney said. (Rev. Leon D. Finney Jr. of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church). “We’ve got busloads of people leaving from Chicago over the weekend and they will be in Indiana.”

Maybe if Obama wins, the IRS won’t pay too much attention to these churchs’ tax exemptions or to issues of separation of church and state.

On the other hand, John McCain has been endorsed by evangelical preachers Rod Parsley and John Hagee. So how do we know which bunch of pastors really has the hotline to what God is thinking?

My own pastors? None of them–former or current–appeared in the picture.