Remembering Obelit Yadgar

Date: September 8, 2023

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation deeply mourns the passing of Obielit Yadgar, a cherished voice in the Assyrian community and an honorary guest at our recent Assyrian Renaissance Concert. His dedication to the arts and his unparalleled passion for storytelling have left an indelible mark. As we reflect on his invaluable contributions, let his legacy inspire and guide future generations.


Obielit (Obie) Yadgar’s journey began in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was born. A year later, his family moved to Tehran, Iran, where he spent the majority of his younger years. Later on, Yadgar and his brother immigrated to the United States. Though he initially settled in New York, it was in Chicago where he completed his high school education and made the decision to become a writer, inspired by his great-uncle’s legacy.


The young Obie Yadgar often observed his great-uncle, renowned Assyrian writer and historian Rabi Benyamin Arsanis, hunched over his desk writing. That same passion drove Yadgar to pursue his own writing career, in which he published two novels and a book of humor: Will’s Music, Whistling to Cairo, and Obie’s Opus, all available on Amazon. In addition, he made significant contributions to the Zinda magazine in the form of essays and short stories. In Yadgar’s own words, “These essays and short stories are slice-of-life pieces on the Assyrian world.”


Following a tour of duty as a U.S. Army combat correspondent in Vietnam, Yadgar began a distinguished career as a classical music broadcaster. He worked for many years in Chicago, though it is Milwaukee where he established his home and a name for himself. His program “Obie’s Opus” played on Sundays from 8 to 9 A.M. on WMSE Milwaukee, 91.7 FM.


He also hosted Musing with My Samovar, presented by the Assyrian Podcast.


Though he is no longer with us, both broadcasts can be streamed via one’s smart device.


Written by: Sarah Gawo & Cassandra Ledger

Published by: Brian Banyamin 

Assyrian Instrument: Lyers of Ur

Date: August 29, 2023

Paintings, ornate vases, reliefs, and other pieces of ancient fine art depict musicians playing a myriad of instruments. However, it’s rare the instruments they are modeled after survive to this day— and stringed instruments, in particular, are quite fragile. This made the excavation of the Lyres of Ur in 1922 a magnificent feat.
Three lyres and one harp were discovered at the Royal Cemetery at Ur, dating back to the Early Dynastic III Period of Mesopotamia (between 2550-2450 BC). Due to how the lyres were discovered, it is believed that the instruments were used during burial ceremonies. Though the wood was decayed, the instruments are covered in nonperishable materials such as gold and silver. As a result, archaeologists were able to cast them in a liquid plaster and recover them. Now, the Lyres of Ur are recognized as the world’s oldest surviving string instruments.
The lyres were distributed among those involved in the expedition and the country from which they were found. The Golden Lyre of Ur, or the Bull’s Lyre, which was the finest, was given to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. The Queen’s Lyre and Silver Lyre are both at the British Museum. The last instrument, the Bull Headed Lyre, is held at the Penn Museum.
To better understand how this instrument may have worked, the Oriental Institute in Chicago set out to create a replica of the Golden Lyre. After years of meticulous work from musicians and artists alike, museum guests can bask in what the instrument would have looked like in its prime— and they can even hear it too.
The Lyre Ensemble podcast, an endeavor created by the Oriental Institute, chronicles the recreation of this ancient instrument and how it may sound in traditional Mesopotamian music. Though the exact sound can never be recreated without the exact same materials used thousands of years ago, an approximation can be achieved, allowing us an exciting view of the past we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Image Credits: © The Trustees of the British Museum Released under: “CC BY-NC-SA 4.0” license.

Kilmer, Anne Draffkorn. “The Musical Instruments from Ur and Ancient Mesopotamian Music.” Expedition Magazine 40, no. 2 (July, 1998): -. Accessed August 24, 2023.

Written by: Cassandra Ledger

Published by: Brian Banyamin

Abee Sargis

Date: February 17, 2023

Abee Sargis was born in Iraq and obtained a degree in economy and business administration from the University of Baghdad. He also earned a diploma in acting and directing. Sargis began his acting career by performing in plays written in Assyrian and Arabic at his local church and in school plays. He later became a radio and television speaker, while living in Baghdad. Sargis’s breakthrough in acting came when he participated in the Assyrian Cultural Club and starred in his first international drama, “Doctor Against His Will.” Sargis stated that his play “Betan Khata” has gained significant popularity and has been performed in various locations including Chicago, California, Canada, and Australia. In 1986, Sargis relocated to Chicago, where he continued his acting career and took part in various plays, including “Mother’s Cry.” He subsequently began directing and acting in films, and has appeared in five movies to date: “Akh Min Khimyani,” “Cousins,” “Basimtet Reesha,” “The Cross of Mary,” and “Journey of Eternity.” During a conversation I had with Sargis, he mentioned having upcoming projects in the works.


Sargis’ latest film, “Journey of Eternity,” as described on IMDb, focuses on the story of Esho, a school teacher played by Abee Sargis, and his challenging experiences. He was falsely accused of National Movements. Additionally, Esho witnessed the imprisonment of many Assyrians and the execution of three of them. Following his release, Esho embarks on a journey to honor the memory of the slain activists. During his journey, Esho encounters an advocate from the United Nations Human Rights Organization, an American journalist who supports highlighting the ongoing oppression in the Middle East.


The Assyrian Cultural Foundation extends our appreciation and honor to Abee Sargis, the film’s lead actor, for his contribution to the project. Additionally, the Foundation would like to express gratitude to all those who offered their support for Abee Sargis and acted on behalf of the Foundation.

Published by: Brian Banyamin

Written by Sarah Gawo



“Journey of Eternity.” IMDb,,

Sgt. Saul J. Joseph

Date: May 23, 2022

Sargent Saul J. Joseph was born on June 23, 1920, in Iran. Well respected, not only does Sgt. Joseph carries a Silver and Bronze Star; however, also carries a Purple Heart for the wounds he suffered in action. Widely decorated, Sgt. Joseph also received medals from France and Britain as well.

Sgt. had brothers, Samson and David who also served in the military in World War II. Sgt. Joseph served in the same company as his brother, Saul, through the war and was married to a woman named Olga.

Sgt. Joseph earned the Silver Star for his bravery while fighting in France on September 16, 1944. According to The Military Times, “In order to increase the effectiveness of his weapons platoon’s support of the assaulting units, Sergeant Joseph, acting platoon leader, ordered his gun crew to serve as ammunition handlers while he assumed operation of the crew’s light machine gun. In vain, the enemy attempted to silence his weapon, for although wounded by mortar fire, Sergeant Joseph tenaciously held his position until his fire was masked by the advance of his own troops. Only then did he allow himself to be evacuated. Sergeant Joseph’s gallantry in action is in accord with the military traditions of the United States”



The Silver Star is the third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Armed Forces. It is awarded for gallantry in action:

  1. While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States;
  2. While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  3. While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Actions that merit the Silver Star must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the meet Medal of Honor or a Service Cross (Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, or the Air Force Cross).



The Bronze Star also known as the Bronze Star Medal or BSM for short, is a military medal awarded for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone. Wear of a “V” device on the medal is authorized for acts of valor in combat.


The Purple Heart

To receive the Purple Heart, the Army’s current regulations require that a soldier be injured by enemy action and receive documented treatment from a medical officer. The Army’s official list of wounds that “clearly justify” the award includes, “Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.”

In his later years, he later then ended up working for the Lincoln Park Zoo as a Senior Zookeeper.




On his Birthday in the year 2013, Sgt. Joseph was presented with an honorary street name in Chicago, Illinois. This was sponsored by Alderman Ameya Pawar. The honorary street can be found on the 4800 block of North Lawrence Ave at the northwest corner of Ashland and Lawrence

Sgt. Saul J. Joseph then passed away on December 25, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois.


Published & Written by: Brian Banyamin


Paul Davis Newey

Date: June 25, 2021

Did you know that an Assyrian man worked as a detective in Chicago in the mid-20th century?  Paul Davis Newey was perhaps best known for working as the chief investigator for the Cook County’s State Attorney (Cook County is where Chicago is located).  However, during his career, he also worked for the United States Secret Service, the Federal Narcotics Bureau, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).


Paul D. Newey was born to the Reverend Paul S. Newey in 1914.  His Assyrian parents came to the United States from Urmia, Persia (Iran), where his father had served as an educator in both the villages of Gulpashan and Geogtapa.  However, Paul Newey, Sr. eventually came to the United States to attend the Chicago Theological Seminary, in order to become a pastor.  After graduation in 1913, he married Mary Yonan, whose family was originally from Tkhuma in Turkey.  In 1919, Newey, Sr. founded the Assyrian Congregational Church on 4447 Hazel St. in Chicago and served as the pastor there for the majority of his life.


The Reverend Newey’s son first became interested in detective work after watching crime movies.  He dreamed of becoming an FBI agent, so earned a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1940.  According to his August 24, 2001 obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Newey’s application was not accepted by the FBI because of his “ethnic” appearance, so he had to find work elsewhere.


While working as the chief investigator for the Cook County’s State Attorney, he busted illegal gambling establishments, such as one run by Al Capone’s cousin, Rocco Fischetti.  He also detected a group of Chicago policemen involved in a robbery ring and a group of Traffic Court workers who were taking the money from traffic fines for themselves.  Sometimes, Newey used controversial methods in his investigations, such as hypnosis, which he actually studied at the Hypnotism Institute of Chicago in 1958.  In 1959, he controversially used hypnosis on a woman so that she could identify her kidnapper.


Beginning in 1961, Newey started his own private practice in law and detective work.  He often helped churches and senior citizens for free.  Newey passed away at the age of 87 in 2001, and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois.



Written by Esther Lang



“$85,000 Taken in Dice Raid Goes Begging: Fischetti Denies Ownership.” 1959.Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Sep 10, 1-n11. (accessed April 26, 2021).


“ANCI’s Upcoming Events…” ANCI Newsletter 12, no.15. 1996.


Harrison, Stephen. 1959. “Adamowski Backs Newey on Hypnosis.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 10, 1. (accessed April 26, 2021).


“John Marshal Law School Distinguished Awards Dinner.” Assyrian Star. March-April, 1970.


“Key Kidnap Witness Hypnotized: Done by State Aid; Mistrial is Declared.” 1959.Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 09, 1. (accessed April 26, 2021).


“Newey, Howe Plan Private Police Agency.” 1961.Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), May 27, 8. (accessed April 26, 2021).


“Paul Davis Newey.” Find a Grave. (accessed April 26, 2021).


“Paul S. Newey.” Find a Grave. (accessed April 26, 2021).


“Paul Newey’s Crime Busters Hunt for Jobs: 10 Losing Out Dec. 5 in Political Shift.” 1960. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Nov 15, 1-a4. (accessed April 26, 2021).


Paz, Sarah Sayad. “Chicago Calling.” Assyrian Star. November-December, 1970.


“Reverend Paul S. Newey.” Assyrian Star. January-February, 1972.


Walberg, Matthew. “Paul Newey, 87.” Chicago Tribune. August 24, 2001. (accessed April 26, 2021).


Wiedrich, Bob. “Hypnotist Wins Vindication at Last.” 1978.Chicago Tribune (1963-1996), Jan 12, 1-b4. (accessed April 26, 2021).


Wiedrich, Robert. “Paul Newey: An Investigator with Methods of His Own; Raids Bring Fame. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Mar 06, 1960. (accessed April 26, 2021).


Wiedrich, Robert. “Paul Newey: An Investigator. Chicago Daily Tribune. Mar 06, 1960. Quoted in Assyrian Star. March-April, 1960.