Longest US Arab Marriage; Images & Perceptions with Keegan-Michael Key
(News briefs, celebrity gossip, and quick reports)
Joe & Ann Betar named as longest married couple in America; Syrian Arabs from Connecticut
The mainstream American news media put the spotlight on an American Arab couple that was named named on Valentine’s Day by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as preparing to celebrate their 81st wedding anniversary on November 25. Worldwide Marriage Encounter named John Betar, 101, and his wife Ann Shawah Betar, 97 as their 2013′s “longest married couple” in America.
The couple from Fairfield, Connecticut eloped on Nov. 25, 1932 so that Ann Shawah could avoid being forced to marry a man who was 20 years her senior that her father had picked for her to marry. Shawah lived in Bridgevport, Connecticut which has a large Syrian American community. They fled to Harrison, New York, to avoid Ann’s father’s plans to marry her off to a man 20 years older.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter selects the longest married couple in the United States based on the nominations that are submitted. The honors came last year but the media spotlight showered the 80-year couple with national coverage. Elf Mabruk to John and Ann Betar on their 81st Wedding Anniversary.
(None of the newspapers would permit us to reprint their stories and we reached out to one of the Betar’s relatives.)
Images & Perception Conference hosts 2nd Annual Workshop in Chicago
Siham Awada Jaafar has been hosting the Images & Perception Conference for 10 years in Detroit and last year she brought the conference to Chicago where it was held at theAlhambra Palace restaurant in the West Loop in Chicago. But this year, at the last minute, Alhambra cancelled the booking and forced Siham to scramble to find a new location for the workshop which draws huge crowds. She settled on the luxury banquet facility The Carlisle in Lombard, which is just a few minutes from Chicago off the expressway and nearly 300 people attended to learn more about diversity and how American Arabs fit in with the rest of the world.
The keynote speaker was Keegan-Michael Key, who has produced and starred in so many Comedy Central programs and also in shows like the hilarious Reno 911 and starred on FOX TV’s hit series MADtv. The day-long program included many great speakers including Dr. John E. Woods, Professor of Iranian and Central Asian History in the Departments of History & of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, who discussed stereotypes and misconceptions about “Arabs.” Dionna Griffin-Irons, a Chicago based performer, writer, and speaker whose roots in improv and sketch comedy started with the legendary Second City theatre, led the audience of social workers and educators through exercises employed by Second City to help students be more aware of how they relate to others.
Maaria Mozaffar, the founder and CEO of the Skinless Project Company, discussed how “The SkinLess Project” fills a much needed void she saw in the diverse communities she worked in. Aymen Abdel Halim, communications director at the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and DePaul professor, also spoke about challenges facing Muslims and Arabs. Journalist and communicator Ray Hanania provided standup comedy entertainment.
The event was covered by many mainstream media including NPR and the Daily Herald. Click here for the Daily Herald story, and Click here for the column by Daily Herald Columnist Burt Constable, who was the 2010 recipient of an ADC Excellence in Journalism Award. Also by American Arab media including Mansour Tadros and al Mustaqbal Newspaper and the popular Radio Islam and host Imran Husain who interviewed Key, Hanania and several of the workshop presenters. Click here to check for Radio Islam’s podcasts. Also,Yahala Voice Radio interviewed several of the presenters prior to the conference.
The event was recognized by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, and officials from the offices of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
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