Assyrian American Oral History Project

During the pandemic in 2020, Ruth Kambar, an educator and author of Assyrians of Yonkers, and I conducted an oral history project with Assyrian-Americans who can mostly trace their roots back to Yonkers but now live in different parts of the county. Through Zoom, we interviewed a total of fifteen people. It was a pleasure to get to know the participants and listen to their interesting stories. People described similar cultural heritage but each person had a unique story to tell. With the insight of Ruth and the participants, I came to understand aspects of Assyrian culture that I did not know about.  I believe you will too if you take some time to listen to their interviews.  

John Ameer talked about the deep bond of the Assyrian community in Yonkers and the ancient Assyrian civilizations.

Darius and Barbara Baba talked about their families’ history and persecution they faced during the Assyrian Genocide. Darius also talked about being fluent in Aramaic.

David Benjamin described Assyrian customs that he learned growing up in Yonkers and Assyrian cuisine that he enjoys.

Alice Aziz David talked her family’s experience during the Assyrian genocide in Iran and the pride she feels for her culture on Assyrian flag raising in Yonkers.

Kenneth Kambar talks about his family’s history and amusing tales of swimming in the Hudson River.

Nancy Lee Jacobs described growing up in Yonkers with a large Assyrian family and being involved with the Assyrian American community in Yonkers. She talked about her family’s history and a memorable moment her grandmother’s family had with the Czar of Russia.

John Muldoon talked about the Assyrian American community in Yonkers and recalled amusing stories from some of his family members.

Matthew Multari successful advocated for the recognition of the Assyrian Genocide in New York State.

David Odishoo talked about the ingenuity of the ancient Assyrians and the closeness of the Assyrian community in Yonkers. He recalled stories of hardship his family experienced during the Assyrian Genocide.

George Porhat provided amusing tales about growing up in Yonkers and interesting information about being in England during World War Two.

Scott Christian Sava talked about how Assyrian artwork has inspired his own works. The movie that he directed Animal Crackers is available on Netflix. 

Vivian Sava described her Assyrian family growing up in Yonkers. She talked about Assyrian culture and art that she enjoys. Vivian told stories about her family’s experiences during the Assyrian Genocide.

Kathy Yacoe Skura talked about the influence of Assyrian art and culture on her own works and letters from her grandfather about the Assyrian Genocide

Mary Soleiman talked about living in Iran and moving to the United States. She described her family’s history and their experiences during the Assyrian Genocide. She talked about her effort to support Assyrians in the Middle East who are currently being persecuted.

Michael Walsh
Adult Services- Will Branch