“It is an American immigrant story of the old country, of assimilation in Yonkers, of Church-life and secular-life.”
Dr. Ruth Kambar spent two years sorting through a collection of family photos and photos from strangers to tell the story of fellow Assyrians. The Eastchester High School English teacher, who is second-generation Assyrian-American, compiled these artifacts in her book, Assyrians of Yonkers and she will hold a book signing on May 2, at Barnes & Noble in Eastchester, from 7-9pm.
Dr. Kambar had already recorded stories from her family for 10 years and documented this oral history as part of her doctoral studies at NYU, but in 2017 her studies took on a stronger meaning in her life.
Through an acquaintance of retired Art Teacher Sylvia Vigliani, she and Assyrian Artist Kathy Yacoe presented an exhibit at the Blue Door Gallery in Yonkers, featuring art, photos, and narrative portraying the Assyrian-American experience. This exhibit broke the gallery’s record for opening-day attendance. Assyrians flew in from as far as California to be recognized and validated through the exposition.
“I wanted to document that we are among multinational Assyrians, living in diaspora” said Dr. Kambar. “I wanted to show that we are still fighting to survive on-going genocide.” In the late 19th century Assyrians fled Turkey and Persia and settled in Yonkers, just miles away from Eastchester. Dr. Kambar’s family’s surviving members were immigrants among those Assyrian refugees who fled Ottoman Turkey and Persia in attacks that occurred between 1914 and 1915.
Kambar said she enjoys sharing her family’s narrative and meeting others with stories of immigration and assimilation. “We all come to this country with different stories, but we eventually make our way in the United States.” Kambar is following her grandfather’s plea to preserve her culture and identity, and to continue to lend voice to this minority among minorities.
All proceeds from Kambar’s book, one in Arcadia’s Images of America Series, will be donated to IDC and to ACERO to support minorities in the Middle East, many who live in refugee camps.