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Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 14:36:53 -0500 (CDT)
To: [click here to e-mail a comment to the gnosis mailing list.]
Subject: More on Mandaeans in U.S.

The following was posted last March on the Ancient Near East discussion group. I had forgotten about it until I ran across it in my files today. 

Jim Davila, assistant professor of religion, Central College, IA

[For more on this subject, see the Mandaean section of the Gnostic Society Library.]

Date: Mon, 21 Mar 94 11:17:22 CST
From: (Charles E. Jones)

The undersigned requested that the following report be posted.


A Report

These years, there are several hundred Iraqi and Iranian Mandaeans in the U.S. and Canada, who have arrived especially during or after the wars since l980. A Mandaean family in La Mesa, California, headed by a poet famous throughout the Arab world, Lamea Abbas Amara, publishes an international newsletter-- mainly in Arabic--for Mandaeans (and others): Mandaee. The family would like to know whether anyone is interested in--and might find the means to make-- Mandaic computer fonts. Two other, larger, concerns that we wish to make known to the scholarly public are:

1. Ms. Amara possesses a number of original Mandaean manuscripts from her (deceased) maternal grandfather, Sheikh Jawda of Amara, Iraq. They are:

2 Ginzas; 1 book of 'nianas; 1 very long scroll containing 5 zraztas; 1 book of masbuta and masiqta prayers, bound together with 1 Book of John; 1 Book of the Zodiac.

All are in beautiful condition, in clear script, written in the present or in the l9th century. As very few Mandaean mss. --certainly none of the "great texts"-- exist in university libraries in the USA, it would be desirable to make these mss. available to scholars and research libraries in microfilm/ microfiche. However, funds are needed for this project. Suggestions and proposals are encouraged for arrangements whereby the original mss. would remain in L. A. Amara's ownership, microfilm/fiches made, and a fee paid to her each time new copies are ordered. For example, a university library or research institution house the first film/fiches, and arrange to have them multiplied under an agreement with L. A. Amara.

2. There is a strong wish to create a Mandaean center and museum on a river in Florida. So far, Mandaeans on this continent are unable to be baptised, married, and, at bodily death, be conveyed to the Lightworld (almad-nhura) in the prescribed manner. Considerable funds are needed to purchase land, build a culthut (mandi), and to support a priest either to live in Florida, or to travel regularly from the Near East to conduct ceremonies here. Other buildings, such as a museum with a library, a small Mandaean restaurant, and gold-and-silversmith shops, are also envisioned. The general public would be able to learn about Mandaean religion, and to watch ceremonials from a respectful, specified distance.

Currently, Australia has an immigration agreement with Iran enabling a Mandaean priest to enter annually to N.S.W. (to the Sydney suburbs) so that he may conduct ceremonials for the Mandaeans there. However, they have no mandi, so the rituals are not really "correct," and the Florida plan for the Mandaeans here would the most satifying arrangement, according to L. A. Amara.

It is our hope to elicit suggestions and proposals in these matters from among the AOS membership. Mandaeans wish to establish memselves on this continent as a religious group, not to be absorbed into the secular cultures, but to nourish and uphold their identity by making a sacred space here. In the strength of Yawar Ziwa and Simat Hiia! May Life be victorious!

Jorunn J. Buckley
P.O.Box 1053
Eastham, MA 02642
Lamea Abbas Amara
5757 Lake Murray Blvd. #50
La Mesa, CA 91942-2212