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History of the Druze in America 1998

American Druze Society 52nd Annual Convention
June 30, 1998 through July 5, 1998  were the dates of the 52nd Annual American Druze Society Convention at the Omni Rosen Hotel in the heart of Orlando, Florida.  There were six fun-filled days from early morning to the wee hours of the following day. As well as the Convention activities, there was a beautiful swimming pool in the Hotel and number of other hotel activities for the guests.
3:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Second Floor Registration Desk 1
Tuesday, the first day of the Convention, the Conventioneers registered at the Registration Desk at the Second Floor Registration Desk 1 at the Omni Rosen Hotel in Orlando, Florida  from 3:00 in the afternoon until 8:00 in the evening,.  As the guests registered, many of them were overjoyed to meet with dear friends they had met in conventions past.  Many of the guests had not seen some of their friends since they had left Lebanon, Syria, Jordan or wherever they came from.  The young Conventioneers met each other and, as is the case at ADS Conventions, they began life-long friendships.  These youngsters enjoyed each other so much that they were inseparable from the beginning to the end of the Convention.
The people who attended this event developed friendships among those whom they had not before met.  They were all delighted to see their old friends many of whom they had met before at past conventions.
Orphans’ Fund Committee
Second Floor Registration Desk 1
The National Office extends its sincere thanks to  Mrs. Afifi Masri who is  the Chairman of the Orphans’ Fund Committee representing the Druze Orphanage Home in Abbey.  Mrs. Afifi Masri is known  for her life-long dedication to this cause.  Her sister, Mrs. Anisseh Assaf has worked along side her, and she is known as the Grandmother of the Orphans in the Druze Orphanage Home in Abbey.  She was at the Registration Desk throughout the Convention accepting donations for the Orphanage in Abey, Lebanon  and in Sweida, Syria.
Board of Directors Meeting
2:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Signature 2

The Board of Directors of the National Office met under the Chairmanship of President  Julia Makarem.  The National Office consists of:
            President                 Julia Mullin Makarem       
            Vice President         Sara Aboulhosn
            National Treasurer   Sahar Muakassa
            Board Members:      Youssef Abdul-Samad                                                                                              Ziad Alameddine
                                              Ali Assaf                                     
                                              Hani Chtay
                                              Teo Elmasri                           
                                              Abdul-Magid Ghreizi
                                              Joe Sefa
Council of Presidents: Fouad Sleem     
As the ADS Officers, Board Members, Convention Committees, and Other Committees met throughout the day, the guests attended all-day programs.   
Convention Committee Meeting
3:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Signature 2
 Convention Chairman, Mr. Atef Hatoum
The  Chapter Convention organizers met with the Convention Chairman, Mr. Atef Hatoum,  in order to start off the 52nd Anniversary Convention which was beginning that day. From the Central Florida Chapter,  who organized and facilitated the entire convention,  were a few great people.  We thank Ms. Debra Aboulhosn, and Ms. Charlene Beaman for their outstanding drive  and participation in this magnanimous event.   Ms.  Lamia Mosrie  ran the children’s activities;  Mr. Allam Hatoum was at the Registration Desk each day and Mrs. Charlene Beaman and Suad Abulhosn were  in the Hospitality Suite.     Mr. Allam Hatoum from Orlando, Florida, and Ms. Sahar Muakassa, the ADS National Treasurer, handled the Registration Desk almost single handedly.  A HUGE task was accomplished by these few wonderful people.                                         

Convention Chairman  -  Mr. Atef Hatoum

The Omni Rosen Hotel  in Orlando, Florida,  1998  

Convention Committee - 1998    

Marwan Mosrie, Omar Mazry, Ibrahim Mazry, Allam Hatoum, Hind Hatoum, Charlene Beaman, Marwan Naime, Liliana Naime, Issam Hatoum, Lamia Mosrie, Sally Ayash, Amanda Masry, Debra Aboulhosn, Ghassan Elchaar, Raja Ackley, Hikmat Nasr, Ziad Aboulhosn, Mona Shaheen, Amer Elmazry, Lydia Nasr, Jennifer Nasr, Hanna Baz, Mona Masri, Ramzi Mosrie, Suad Aboulhosn, Maher Baz, Imad Mazry, Bedry Hatoum, Davis Hamd, Adel Hatoum, Rowayda Elchaar, Doha Mosrie, Raymond Hamed, Farida Radwan, Aida Masri, Nada Hatoum, Asma Hatoum, Batina Hatoum, Rinda Shehayeb, John Sawah, Asis Elmasri, Samer Silman, and the Central Florida Chapter.

ADS National Committee Chairpersons

National Membership                Ms.  Sara Aboulhosn
Information                                Mr. Fadi Zuhayri
Finance                                    Mr. Ziad Alamaddine
Education and Fine Arts        Dr. Naji Jurdi
Youth of the ADS                     Mr. Teo Elmasri
Tuition Program                       Ms. Lama Makarem

Elections and Nominations      Dr. Rabih Aridi
Druze Orphans’ Fund              Ms. Afifi Masri
Ladies Auxiliary                        Ms. Souhaila El-Banna
C.O.R.A.                                    Mr.  Adel Hatoum
C.O.C.A.                                    Ms. Julia Makarem
C.O.E.                                      Dr. Abdallah Najjar
1998 Convention  Chairman    Mr. Atef Hatoum

Chapters and Presidents
Boston                                    Mr. Ayman Rajeh
Connecticut                            Dr. Nabil Zahreddine
Central Florida                        Mr. Issam Hatoum
Central Texas                         Mr. Ramsey Ghreizi
Georgia                                   Mr. Sleiman Hamadeh
Houston, Texas                      Mr. Karam Bou-Hamdan
Illinois                                      Mr. Adnan Korkomaz
North California                       Dr. Faouzi El-Barouki
North Carolina                         Mr. Mazen Aboushakra
Ohio                                         Mr. Farris Alameh
Richmond, Virginia                  Mr. Nadim Andary
Seattle                                     Ms. Hyatt Aboulhosn
Southern California                  Mr. Fouad Barakat
Southern Florida                       Mr.  Rifaat Alghawi
Tri-State                                   Mr.  Sami Salha
Washington, D.C.                    Mr. Fouad Sleem 
Ohio                                         Mr. Farris  Alameh                               

Welcome Reception

8:30 P.M.
Grand Ballroom A
The guests gathered to meet each other, and they were served with Western and Eastern Sweets, along with other delicious Arabic food. A whole lamb was served with all the trimmings.   There was music and dancing to a DJ.
Evening Entertainment
    9:00 P.M. - 1:00 A.M.  
Signature 2

The guests danced to the music of DJ . The music included western, as well as, Arabic.  We had  a really successful DJ, and the dancers and guests had a wonderful time the entire evening

Central Florida Chapter  Hospitality Suite
1:00 P.M.
Signature 1

The National Office extends its very most heartfelt thank you to the Central Florida Chapter. Our sincere gratitude to the ADS members who so willingly gave of their time and support at the Hospitality Suite.
WEDNESDAY, July 1, 1998


12:30 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Registration Desk 1

Registration continued for those guests who  were late arrivals.
Welcome Breakfast
8:30 A.M. - 10:00 P.M.
Signature 2  

Convention Chairman Mr. Atef Hatoum welcomed the guests to the Convention and announced that the Convention was officially started for 1998.  Mr. Sami Merhi opened the official start-off with a prayer.  Then, the guests began eating breakfast which was a delightful display of breakfast food, rolls, desserts, juice, coffee and tea, and fruit. When the Breakfast was finished, the Annual Business Meeting began.
Annual Business Meeting
Chaired by President  Julia Makarem
                                                      10:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.                                                                                                  Salon 2

President Report for the Annual Business Meeting  (June 25, 1998)
Wednesday, 10:00 A.M.  July 1, 1998
President Julie Makarem gave the following report to the Board.
1. Dr. David Najjar, the Chairman of the Constitutional Committee, will be here to assist me in keeping order and moving ahead with the Agenda.
2. My program began with a ‘Fund Raising Dinner,’”Man of Year Award” for Casey Kasem.” This event was held at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn Michigan on November 1, 1997.  The profit for this event was $$27,418.30. The Druze Cultural Center in Los Angeles received 50% to be paid on the principal for the mortgage on the building; the Michigan Chapter received 25% to go toward the Building Fund, and the other 25% was given to the National Office.
3. At the first Board Meeting that was held in New Jersey, I appointed the Committee Chairpersons, and they were approved by the Board of Directors.  I would like to thank each of those persons for the excellent performance of each job.

4. The year began in a state of disarray, and this required my making reforms, as well as attending to problems which arose in the Chapters and the Standing Committees. In my President’s Speech, which you can find on page 7 in the 1997 YEARBOOK, I promised to uphold the Constitution and the Bylaws of the ADS.  I said that I would strengthen the Society and keep it strong from within in order to maintain its longevity.  The reforms that I imposed were the  following:
5. Chapters throughout the United States have been holding elections at various times of the year for a new president to take office rather than in the month of May so that the Chapter President’s two-year term coincides with the term of the National President.
[For all chapters to coincide with the National Elections, please refer to Article 9.03 under Policies:]
Every chapter shall agree to act in conformity with such rules, regulations, and policies as the Society may from time to time prescribe.
[I requested from the Chapters to follow Article 3.12 of the Bylaws under Elections]:
Annual National elections shall be held in May of each year ...
I understand that the Chapters elect all officers (President, Vice President, and Board Directors) at the same time, so they are only required to have one election every two years, and this election is to be at the time the National Office holds election for the National President. Therefore, in May 1999, there will be Chapters whose Presidents have not served the full 24 months, as well as, Presidents who may have served over the 24 month period.  However, there must be a correction, and I request that this correction be made in May 1999 so that every new Chapter President begins his or her term of office in June 1999 at the same time the National President Elect begins his or her term of office.
6. I have appointed Teo Elmasri to head a “Task Force” to clear the debt on the California Cultural Center mortgage.  Teo will give you his report at this meeting. I also have a number of proposals for this year to help in clearing this debt.  In the future, a Management Force will handle the programs at the Cultural Center, based on the solutions regarding payment of the debt.
7. The responsibility of the Society is to detect irregularities and protect the right of the paid members, as well as the honesty of Chapter elections. It is also necessary to conform to the Bylaws in a certain way, and not for each Chapter and Board Member to interpret the Bylaws as he or she wishes, i.e., according to his or her benefits.
8. I solved the problem of elections in the Washington, D.C. Chapter. Early in the year, the Chapter President asked the National Treasurer to remove names of certain paid members from the 1996 Membership List.  The Washington Chapter had paid the dues of these members to the National Office before receiving the dues in the Chapter. The Chapter had paid 70% of their dues to the National Office; therefore, they were considered members in good standing and were sent letters honoring their paid dues for the 1996 year.
9. Another correction that must be made will be in May 1998 for the office of Director of the Council of Presidents. As in the case of the Chapter Presidents’ term coinciding with the term of the National President, so must the term of the  Director of the Council of Presidents.
In 1995, Mr. Hani Chtay was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Office. He had just finished one year of his two-year term as Director of the Council of Presidents. Mr. Fouad Sleem was elected by the Chapter Presidents to complete Hani Chtay’s two-year term as Director of the Council of Presidents. The Board of Directors chose to interpret this Bylaw as they wished, and in favor of Mr. Sleem. After careful review and to keep harmony in the Society, I accepted to keep Fouad Sleem an additional year ending with the 1998 Annual Convention. This, as you can see, disturbed the balance of the elections for Director of the Council of Presidents. The Board of Directors then made an exception to the Bylaws to accommodate Mr. Sleem. Therefore, after June 1998, I will take necessary action for the appointment for a one year term of a new Director of the Council of Presidents.’  This ‘one year’  term will end in May 1999.  Then, prior to the 1999 Annual Convention at the end of June, there must be an election of the Chapter Presidents for the new  Director of the Council of Presidents so that his or her term will begin at the same time the National President Elect begins his or her term of office as National President.  Therefore, because of this situation, and the other problems I faced, I appointed Dr. David Najjar to head a committee to revise the Bylaws of the Society alleviating all ambiguities.
10. I want to interject, at this point, a personal opinion.  I found this Board extremely difficult to work with.  There was little semblance of Parliamentary Procedure, continuously speaking in Arabic, and shouting breaking out throughout the meetings.  I would like to think that all of this was not due to my being a female.  I want to add here that through the good works of the Chairman of the Council of Elders, Dr. Abdallah Najjar, and the other elders on his Committee, the Board and I found that we could have a working relationship.  I thank you Dr. Najjar.
11. I have not only had to face many problems, and I have been under pressure from Lebanon and from certain Chapter Presidents, as well as, Board Members to keep Fouad Sleem as Chairman of the Orphans’ Committee.  The National President of the ADS is given the right to choose Standing Committee Chairmen, and I did so. However, I was perturbed at the outside influence in the ADS affairs, especially from abroad. I received telephone calls from Lebanon, and there were letters interfering in the running of the affairs of the Society because I did not appoint Mr. Sleem.  This one incident was a real ‘eye opener’ for me, especially, when our Bylaws clearly state that there is to be no politics from overseas allowed in our Society. It is pertinent to note here that the overseas influence in the affairs of the Society is definitely a threat to the Society, and presently, due to the Fouad Sleem incident, the influence is rampant.
12. This raises another conflict in the Society which is presently under the review of legal experts.  This is concerning donations made to foreign countries.
13. It was necessary for me to take certain measures with the National Treasurer and close the Orphans’ Fund Account in Washington, D.C. after the Past Chairman, Mr. Fouad Sleem, had refused to close the Account himself.  There was an unauthorized withdrawal in the amount of $8,205.00 which we were able to get the Bank to credit to our account. At the present time, the necessary action is being initiated against the person who did it.
14. This year, I found that there were infractions of the Bylaws by the Southern California Chapter. It has been the practice as ordered in the Bylaws for checks to be signed by two persons on all bank accounts pertaining to the affairs of the Society.  The Southern California Chapter President and the  Treasurer disregarded this rule, and to the present day, continue to issue checks with one signature.  They have disregarded instructions to discontinue this practice of signing checks with one signature for both the Chapter Affairs, as well as the Cultural Center.
15. Other infractions of the By laws by the Southern California Chapter should be noted in my report.  The Southern California Chapter took it upon themselves to solicit funds for the debt on the Cultural Center by writing to each Chapter President.  On November 5, 1997, the President of the Southern California Chapter wrote to each Chapter president requesting his or her support in making the “Life Membership Funds” available to them to put on the debt for the California Cultural Center.  The President did not get the approval of the National Board before writing the letter. He had only discussed taking this action with a few National Board members in an unofficial capacity.  I had previously informed the Vice President of the Southern California Chapter and Ms. Sara Abul Hosn, the National Vice President,  that the “Task Force” would soon be formed, and this Force would solicit a solution for paying off the debt on the Cultural Center.  As you can well imagine,  this letter by Mr. Fouad Barakat  created a furor among some of the Chapter Presidents,  and rightly so. The “Lifetime Membership Funds” are not up for grabs whenever there is a problem in the Society.   
16. “The Chairman of the Election Committee, Dr. Rabih Aridi, informed me as follows: for the position of President Elect, he said, “There were five candidates for the position of National President.. Four of those candidates withdrew their candidacy; therefore, the remaining candidate, Dr. Naji Jurdi, is declared elected and unopposed.” For the position of member to the National Board of Directors, “There were nine candidates for the position of National Board Director. Seven of those candidates withdrew their candidacy; therefore, the remaining two candidates, Mr. Fadi Zuhayri and Attorney Nabil Kassem, are declared elected and unopposed.”                 
17. I have asked the Chapters to bid for the Convention in May for the following year, as well as for the year after that.  In the future, the Society should always be two years ahead for planning purposes.
18. There are three youth groups operating under the umbrella of the National Youth Committee.  There are: the Young Druze Professionals (YDP), the SHADAWI Club, and the American Druze Youth (ADY).  We are proud of the advanced strides of these young people.
19. I asked Vice President Sara Abul Hosn to set up the guidelines for the “Person of the Year.”
20. The CALIFORNIA CULTURAL CENTER in Los Angeles, with a loan of around a half a million dollars, is definitely a problem, and we have paid heavily to learn that lesson. Presently, the Chapters who are planning to have a Cultural Center in the near future are arranging to have their Centers paid for in the beginning of their acquisitions so that they do not have the burden of the mortgage loan that the members in their jurisdiction are unable to pay off.  In fact, there are several other Chapters, who are likely to announce shortly, the building of their Cultural Centers, and they are Michigan and Richmond, Virginia. They are still receiving pledges to cover the cost of the Centers.  We plan to treat all Cultural Centers of each Chapter at par.
21. There was still another request by our assertive President of the Southern California Chapter that I would like to answer.  Regarding sending the minutes of all the National Board Meetings from 1990 to the present time to California, the President may, at any time, avail himself to the minutes which are on file in the National Office in New York, 247 West 38th Street, Suite 201.
22. To get on a lighter note, Ms. Sara Abul Hosn, the National Vice President, has written a letter to the Abul Hosn family members in the United States. She has requested from them to renew their membership in the ADS.
23. My goals for next year are to carry on the work that I set out to do at the beginning of my tenure.  I would like to visit the Chapters; encourage them to solicit members and to have more activities.  I am dedicated to paying off the mortgage debt on the California Cultural Center. I know that by pulling ourselves together; acknowledging our problems; and getting to work and going on a war-time footing, we can easily retain our strong cultural traditions and ties.
My program includes:
*Funding the Druze Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California by having two more projects in my tenure;
Lobbying for Federal Aid and assistance and development of Druze minorities;
*Funding Druze Cultural Centers throughout the United States;
*Funding “Druze Gardens” for burial plots throughout the United States;
*Equal treatment of all Druze charities outside of North America;
*Recognize Druzes settled anywhere in the world regardless of political, social, or economic circumstances;
*Maintain American Druze locality to the United States which is final and unquestionable;
*Motivate and Equip Druze youth through YDP, SHADAWI, and ADY with the tools to become a strong force of the Society;
*Form a committee under the Chairmanship of COCA to send congratulation to members for special occasions, i.e., marriages, births, graduation, etc.  This will be added to COCA responsibilities, as well as that of the Chapter Presidents  must inform the National Office of the events.
*Solicit advertisements for Our Heritage and the Yearbook.  I sent a form letter to each Chapter President to use, and requested from him /her to obtain at least one advertisement for the impending issue of Our Heritage and the Yearbook. This year, I sent out 47 letters soliciting advertisements; however, it was so late after I had received the names that I did not have any positive responses.  I am asking the Chapters to work on this immediately when the Chapters are back in session.
*Provide religious lectures and/or video tapes of lectures to the Chapters. Dr. Wahbah Sayegh was supposed to have made the video tapes of his lectures at the Conventions during his chairmanship of CORA. We should follow up on this task and get video tapes as soon as possible to the Chapters.
*During this Convention, I will establish a Society of World Druze Ladies. Mrs, Nazek Abed, Dr. Insaf Hassan, and Ms. May Abu Hamdan from Lebanon are here to join me in this endeavor. This Society will have guidelines, a mission, and a format that Druze ladies all over the world will find conducive to their joining.
24. My goal as President of the American Druze Society is to honor and enforce the Constitutions and Bylaws; strengthen the Society, and implement projects to enrich and anchor the Society in North America as a permanent, meaningful, and constructive tool for the Druzes of the world.  I am firm believer in discipline which breeds unity, and unity, in turn, brings about dignity.  I would like to add here, that the President-Elect, Dr. Naji Jurdi, and I will be working closely this year in order to have a smooth transition for his tenure. We are working on a program that meets the needs and is best for the Society. Each of us is dedicated to having a Society that runs in a timely and orderly manner, and at the same time, doing the deeds that the Society has been doing for the past 52 years.

25. Last, I must inform you that we have received threats from the Southern California Chapter, that it has been encouraged to disrupt certain events at this Convention.   The Southern California Chapter was counseled to interrupt Mr. Samah Helal’s lectures  during this Convention with the advice of Sheikh Mercel Nasr, the head of the highest Druze Court in Lebanon If you noticed, we took precautions, and there will be security guards in attendance at all the lectures.  The Convention Chairman, Mr. Atef Hatoum will be available for any mishap during the sessions.
Further , I warn  you that we will not tolerate any interference in the working of the American Druze Society from outside political forces and influences. This is clearly stated in our Bylaws as forbidden.  We all know that there are persons outside of the United States sitting on the sidelines and attempting to disrupt the harmony among the Druzes in the Druze community in the United States. The word that I have coming back to me from anyone I have met with recently from Lebanon is, “The ADS is in a big mess.”  These people are rumor mongoring, and they hope to incite troubles. I will not tolerate their actions, and we warn them to stop interceding with those Druzes in the United States who are willing to aide by these outside influences.  This can be grounds for removal from the Society.
Finally, my next topic is clearly an important item for each of us.
Only the Druze Faith views men and women as equals; subsequently, the derogatory remarks flying around the United States with respect to the President, as well as, the Vice President of the American Druze Society being females shows that there is a flaw in the message and the messengers. Are we not to believe and practice what is written in our Books?  This pains me that our Faith cannot be trusted, however, the Council of elders of the Society have stood firm on the occasion and they have supported me throughout my presidency with 100% devotion and allegiance. For this, I thank them.
May I end with an absolutely wonderful expression?  Thank you Uncle Jack and Aunt Lily for being with us. We all love you.

Treasurer’s Report

The National Treasurer, Ms. Sahar Muakassa,  presented the Treasurer’s Report.  It was approved unanimously.  The Report  includes The Audited Financial Statement as of December 31, 1997 and audited statement of Operations for the year ended December 31, 1997.


At the Annual Meeting, nominations for new Officers and Board Members weremade.  For the Vice Presidency,  Mrs. Romana Alley, and Mr. Riad Awar  were nominated. Nominations for Board Members included, Mr. Ali Assaf from Jacksonville Florida,  
Fadia Merhi from  Los Angeles,  Shakeeb Jaber from New York  ,  Hicham Arbid from Illinois  , and Fouad Barakat from Los Angeles.
Committee Chairpersons and Chapter  Reports
The Committee Chairmen and the Chapter Presidents who were present gave their Annual Reports.  Other Chapter members present gave the Chapter Report in the absence of the Chapter President.
Children’s Program                           
10:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.  
Salon 11
Salon 11 became the quarters for the children.  It became known as the Children’s Room, and it was fully supplied with toys and games, and crafts for a variety of ages. The children were supervised by a team of full-time child care workers, who in turn, were kept in check by the Children’s Committee.  Mrs. Lamia Mosrie was on full time duty devoting the almost entire Convention to the care and enjoyment of the children.  

The Faith Dimension
Mr. Samah HeLal
1:30 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Salon 1

Mr. Samah Helal  presented his lecture ‘The Faith Dimension’  to the Conventioneers.  He made a presentation of the “Modern” and the “Traditional Principles/Commandments Chart, and he gave the criteria for each.  It was an informative lecture on a subject that has been eagerly awaited by all. 
Mr. Samah HeLal  has worked on or participated in collating and translating the five books of the Tawhid Faith, Stories, Lessons, and Prayers. These books are excellent reading for young Druze, as well as for the adults.  The books, one through five, are available through the National Office in New York.   Mr. Samah HeLal has been a speaker on “The Druze Faith”  for many years at the Annual Conventions. Mr. Samah Helal is a member of C.O.R.A., and he believes that the very nature of the Committee on Religious Affairs (C.O.R.A.) must be the heart of the conscience of American Druzes, and the head of the leadership which preserves the uniqueness of the Druzes.  The full text of his lecture will be published in the next issue of Our Heritage., Winter 1999
Youth of the ADS - Group Discussion
Chaired by Mr. Fadi Zuhayri
2:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Salon 2
The culmination of this event was the important discussion that tried to bring out pressing issues posing challenges to young adults.  The discussions were frank and informative.  They focussed mostly on cultural and social issues.  Common concerns were: growing in the two cultures, the American and the Arab/Druze, as well as,  communication between children and parents; relationship between the sexes, and development and progress in the American Druze community.   Planned discussions were moderated and many important concerns were shared.  Of interest were responses to the  question: What does it mean to you to be a Druze?
This “Young Adult Group Discussion” event was restricted to the youth, so the discussions among them were candid and proved helpful among the youth.  It was attended by almost every one of the youth who attended the Convention, and therefore, it was highly successful. Finally, all the youth agreed that there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful and optimistic about a prosperous future for our young adult Druze community.  However, the extent of success and prosperity is dependent on the level of involvement of our youth, who are our future.  Let us be involved!  Let us make the difference!  Each member of the group agreed that it was important enough for each one of them  to be involved in the ADS - in the local chapters, as well as, in the National Convention.
Children’s Program
2:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Salon 11

The children enjoyed a full day of activates in the Children’s Room.  Lamia Mosrie made the arrangements for all the exciting children’s games.
Panel Discussion: Al-Muwahhidum; Where Are We Heading To !
Mr. Adel Hatoum, CORA Chairman
Dr. Nadim Kassem
Dr. Anis Obeid
Evening Entertainment
8:00  P.M. - 1:00 A.M.
American and Arabic Music
Live DJ
Grand A & B
There was entertainment with American and Arabic music for the guests to enjoy.  There were also special dancers who did belly dancing.  Refreshments were served throughout the evening.
Hospitality Suite
10:00 P.M.
Signature 1
The festivities continued in the Hospitality Suite where the guests enjoyed the Arabic dancing and the music, as well as the wonderful Arabic food.
THURSDAY July 2, 1998

                         9:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M.                         
Registration Desk 1

Registration continued for guests as they arrived. Many of the local community registered to attend the picnic.
 Turkey Lake Park  
9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Busses leave at 9:00 A.M. sharp.
Please meet at the main Lobby

The Conventioneers met at the Main Lobby where they were picked up by buses for those who were not driving to the picnic site. It was held at Turkey Lake  on the outskirts of Orlando.  After the picnic feast, which included Middles Eastern and Western food, there were activities all day long.  There was paddle boating, swimming, volley ball, soft ball, and even fishing for almost five hundred guests who came to the picnic..  The private area where the ADS met was covered to protect the guests from rain and the hot sun.   It was a weary bunch of Conventioneers that headed back to the hotel at 4:00 P.M.    
C.O.R.A. Devotional
 6:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.
Mr. Adel Hatoum,  C.O.R.A. Chairman
Salon 1
Many of the Conventioneers gathered for the annual Devotional which was led by  Mr. Adel Hatoum.  Mr. Hatoum opened the Devotional with a prayer.  Then, the readings from the Druze Scriptures began. Each reading was first given in Arabic; and then, the reading was followed by the English version.
The Readings in Arabic were given by:  Mr. Adel Hatoum and Mrs. Nazek Abed. 
The Readings in English were given by  Dr. Anis Obeid.
This event has so much endearment to the ADS members, and each year, it has become more and more  a favorite event to many of the conventioneers.

Young Singles “Night On The Town”
8:00 P.M.
Arabic Restaurant 
Register at the Registration Desk on the Second Floor
(Limited Seating)
Please meet at the Main Lobby
The report from the  Young Single Druze who attended the Singles Night-Out was that the trip was fantastic and everyone really had a wonderful time.  The attenders were given rides to and from  the restaurant. The number of participants exceeded all expectations, and definitely the number of reservations which numbered about two-hundred.  The food at the restaurant in the heart of Orlando was superb, and the group stayed out on the town until the wee hours of the morning.  The evening started with a Middle Eastern styled dinner with choice of drinks.  The party goers danced to the tunes of Arabic and western music till the early hours of the morning. This event is the main attraction for the young adults to meet, build new friendships, and strengthen old ones.  The “Young  Singles  Night On The Town” has been one of the most attractive events at the Conventions since it began a number of years ago. 
Evening  Entertainment
9:00 P.M. - 1:00 A.M.
American and Arabic Music with Live DJ
Grand A & B               
There was entertainment with American and Arabic music for the guests to enjoy.  There were also special dancers as well as, a wonderful singer  who sang beautiful Arabic songs.  There was singing and dancing to the wonderful  music, as well as,  the entertainment which went on all night.  The music, which was in Arabic, as well as, in English was superb. There were refreshments for all the guests throughout the evening.
Hospitality Suite
10:30 P.M.
             Signature 1                 

Following the Evening Entertainment, the festivities continued in the Hospitality Suite where the guests enjoyed the Arabic dancing and the music. The Conventioneers again had gathered in the Hospitality Suite and remained there until the early hours of the morning.  Along with the Arabic dancing, of course, there was food which was fantastic. Everyone just had a good time being with each other.
FRIDAY, July 3, 1998


10:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Registration Desk 1
Druze Anecdotes
Mrs. Nazek Abed
10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.
Salon 1

Mrs. Nazek Abed is well versed in the Druze Faith, and she talked of some of the prominent Druze personalities who have left their mark in the annals of Druze history. In English, she read the biography of three venerated and respected people who are famous among Druze personalities. There were three more that she had prepared; however,  she did not have time to read them.  The six lectures are on:, El Sheik Ali Fares,  Al Amir Es Sayyed Jamaleiddinne Abdallah Tanukhie, Sitt Sarah, Sitt Shawnee and Al Sheikh Abou Hassan Al Hijri.
Mrs. Nazek Abed is from Mukhtara, Lebanon, and she is the Director and Principal of West Hill College in Baakaline, Lebanon.  As well as highly knowledgeable in the Druze Faith, she is a scholar in her own right.  She is a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.  She has enlightened the Conventioneers each time she graces our Annual Conventions, and the guests are always delighted to hear her lectures.
The text of her speech on   Sitt Saada Salim Taki ElDeen is included in this issue.  The other personalities she spoke about   will be included in the next  issue of Our Heritage, Winter 1999. They are: El Sheik Ali Fares,  Al Amir Es Sayyed Jamaleiddinne Abdallah Tanukhie, Sitt Sarah, Sitt Shawnee and Al Sheikh Abou Hassan Al Hijri.


The Social Image of Druze Women
Dr. Insaff Hasan
Salon 2

Dr. Insaf Hasan, a pharmacist and a scholar, is from Bathloun, Lebanon. She has held numerous position in the Lebanese Ministry, and she has her own pharmacy in Bathloun, Lebanon.  She is an activist in Women’s Rights, and she has been sincerely concerned to give honor and credit to the many Druze women who are creditable and praiseworthy in our Faith.  A summary of her lecture is included in this issue.  The lecture, in its entirety,  will appear in the next issue of Our Heritage, Winter 1999..
                                          Children’s Program                                                                                                                               10:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.                                                                                                   Salon 5

The children enjoyed meeting each other, and they had a wonderful time with the toys and the games.  They had as much fun at the Convention as did the adults. Under the constant supervision of Mrs. Madeleine Al Awar, the children were in perfect hands. The parents were free to enjoy themselves throughout the convention. The children played games, listened to poetry, and they were entertained, as well.

Working Together for the Future
Young Druze Professionals (YDP)
Chaired by Mr. Nabil Kassem, Attorney at Law
Salon 2

The youth who attended this meeting made plans for the year in order to further communication among all who became members.
President Makarem told the youth of our American Druze community, “I will actively assist you in your endeavors.  The entire Druze community and I will work to employ your energy and resources in capturing opportunities and solving problems that concern you. With the help and support of the American Druze Society, and the Druze community at large, there is no limit to your reaching your goals. We realize that investing in our youth is investing in our future.  Help me,  and nothing can stop us from building this future.” 
World Druze Ladies
12:30 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.
Moderator:  Mrs. Julia Makarem
Lecture  by Mrs. May Abu Hamdan, Gareify, Lebanon
The formation of the “World Druze Ladies” began at this Annual Convention.  Guest speaker, Mrs. May Abu Hamdan,  gave an informative speech regarding the situation concerning Druze Ladies in the Middle East.  Her speech appears in Arabic in this issue.
President Julia Makarem was the moderator and she said to the ladies of our Druze community,  “I want to give you a special ‘thank you!’  You all stood beside me in this endeavor.  We have been blessed by being Druze, and since equality has always been part of our heritage, we can do many things together as ‘Druze women.’  We know the story of our venerated Sarah,  almost one-thousand years ago, and her work in the Divine Call.  Since the inception of our Faith, Druze women  have always made their presence known and their lights shine before man and God. For this, we should have the support of our husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons.   As an American Druze woman, as well as a Druze mother, I understand the frustration and the futility our children feel, and I know the  dilemma in which they are thrown by trying to live up to the Druze social values. I thoroughly understand the need for a solution to our families’ problems regarding our faith here in these United States.  I am very proud that our faith was the first to grant equal rights to women, so we, as women, must have a plan to work with.   I will especially need your input into the Society, and together, we can make a difference in our families, especially, in the lives of our children. “      
The speech of Mrs. May Abu Hamdan appears in this issue of Our Heritage.. Winter 1999 in the Arabic section.
Life.  What’s Beyond
Dr. Naji Jurdi
Salons 1 and 2

Dr. Naji Jurdi’s speech appears in its entirety in this issue in the English section.
Children’s Dinner and Entertainment
3:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.
Salon 5

All the children thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful dinner and the lively entertainment throughout the evening.   There was a juggler/comedian, games, and a video for the children to watch.
President’s Night Dinner
7:00 P.M. - 1:00 A.M.
Grand A & B
7:00  P.M.  Reception
8:00 P.M.  Dinner
Master of Ceremony, Mr. Sami Merhi
Welcome Address - Central Florida Chapter
Mr. Issam Hatoum, Chapter President

ADS Cultural Center Presentation

Mr. Teo Elmasri, Fund Raising Committee Chairman
Guest Speakers
Ms. Nazek Abed
Dr. Insaf Hasan

Mrs. Nazek Abed and  Dr. Insaf’s Hassan’s speeches will be included in the next issue of Our Heritage, Winter 1999.


Performed by the youth of the Central Florida Chapter

Live Entertainment

Arabic and English Bands                       
The Conventioneers were entertained by the wonderful music of  an Arabic Band and Singer.  There was Western music, as well.

Hospitality Suite
11:00 P.M.
Signature 1

After a late evening of singing and dancing to Arabic and Western music,  the guests again gathered and remained in the Hospitality Suite, and many of them until daybreak.  They were just happy to be together.


10:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Registration Desk 1

Tickets were on sale for the evening banquet. There were many guests from the outlying areas of Orlando and nearby cities.  Guests from South Florida Chapter also attended the Annual Banquet.
American Druze Foundation
Board of Trustees Meeting
Chaired by Mr. Ghassan Saab
8:30 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Salon 11
The Board of Trustees of the American Druze Foundation met this year and reiterated its commitment to conduct its affairs in a professional manner, away from political and potentially divisive issues.  The sole purpose of the American Druze Foundation is to serve the Druze community and to see it flourish and prosper. The members believe that the Foundation will provide its fair share to the great cultural mosaic in the United States.
The Foundation seeks to establish more cultural centers like the one in California.  These centers will serve as a repository of documents, publications, and other items related to the Druze community and its distinctive history. Eventually they will provide a valuable resource to future scholars and historians.  The Foundation also aims to encourage and support the publication and dissemination of scholarly research on the characteristic features of the Druze Faith and the Druze people.The primary purpose of the American Druze Foundation, therefore, is to provide financial support for individuals and institutions that work in these endeavors, as well as, to raise funds for additional Druze cultural centers.
The Druze Faith
Mr. Adel Hatoum, CORA Chairman
Salon 1

The members of CORA, under the lead of Mr. Adel Hatoum, participated with the youth in overwhelming numbers at this event. There were many questions and answers, and the youth were thrilled to be a part of the seminar. There were various examples, scattered throughout the academic event  that suggested that consensual validation of purely believed phenomena can be quite good and heart warming.

Children’s Program
10:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
Salon 5

The children played games and were entertained throughout the morning.
Druze Council of North America
Chaired by Sheikh  Sami Merhi
Salon 2

Each of the representatives of the Mashaykhat al-Akl in North America discussed the services they provide to the Druze community. 
American Druze Foundation Symposium
2:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Dr. Naji Jurdi
Salon 1 and 2

Dr. Naji Jurdi’s speech, in its entirety will appear in the next issue of Our Heritage
Children’s Banquet and Entertainment
6:00 -9:00 P.M.
Signature 1

This evening was a ‘Grand Banquet’ for the children, and each was adorned in lovely, lovely dresses and handsome suits.  They were definitely being groomed for Conventions ‘down the road.’  The girls, in their beautiful dresses, were like little princesses and the boys, their princes.  After the children finished a wonderful dinner, there were games and entertainment. Each went to bed exhausted, but they were very happy children.
Grand Banquet
7:00 P.M. - 1:00 A.M.
Signature 1
7:00 P.M.
8:00 P.M.
National Anthem
Jamie Helal, Julie Kasem, Kerry Kasem
The guests enjoyed an excellent dinner while being entertained by Latin American singers strolling around the dining room.  
Convention Chairman’s Address
Mr. Atef Hatoum
President’s Address
Mrs. Julia Makarem

President Julia Makarem was escorted to the podium by Dr. Anis Makarem and Dr. Ali Alley.  She greeted the guests; then, she gave her President’s Speech.  After her speech, she began with the presentation of awards.

Presentation of Awards

Chapter of the Year Award to Central Florida Chapter
Jewel Award - Mr. Jack Hamady
Excellence Award - Mrs. Salimi Azzam
Excellence Award  - Mrs. Romana Alley
Excellence Award - Ms. Sara Aboul Hosn
Excellence Award- Mr. Teo Elmasrie
Excellence Award - Mr. Rifhat Alghawi
Excellence Award - Attorney Nabil Kassem
President’s Award from the President of the Republic of Lebanon, President Elias Hawri

Honoring the Druze Treasures Ceremony

President Julia Makarem
This grand event was the highlight of the Banquet celebration.  Unbeknownst to the recipients, they were presented with bronze plaques.  There were nine members who received the awards. The article “Living Treasures” is included in this issue. 

“Photo Exhibition, 1996”

The Photo Exhibition was inaugurated in 1996 on the 50th Anniversary of the Annual Conventions. It was on display throughout the day in The Banquet Room.
Raffle Drawing

The apex of the raffle was the winning of a lap top computer.  .
The Master of Ceremony for the  Banquet was Mr. Sami Merhi.  Mr. Sami Merhi introduced  President Julia Makarem for the Presidential Ceremony.  After that,  the Master of Ceremony introduced and presented :

Swearing In Ceremony

President -Elect    -  Dr. Naji Jurdi
Board of Directors -  Mr. Fadi Zuhayri
Board of Directors -  Attorney Nabil Kassem
Dr Naji Jurdi, President-Elect who was sworn in by President Julia Makarem. This was followed by a presentation of the newly elected Board of Directors members.  They are Mr. Fadi Zuhayri,  and Attorney  Nabil Kassem.   Each person was sworn in by President Julia Makarem.

Live Entertainment

Following the dinner and Grand Banquet ceremony, the guests began dancing and listening to the Arabic and American music of live entertainers. The singer was wonderful as he sang to the music of the Arabic band.  The dancers danced until 1:00 A. M. and then went to the Hospitality Suite to join those who were already there.
Hospitality Suite
Signature 1
11:30 P.M.

The guests went to the Hospitality Suite when it opened, and they were still there at 2:00 A.M. when the entertainment in the  Ballroom ended.  Many of the people stayed up all night dancing, singing, and of course, eating.  The food just never stopped coming.  The Hospitality Suite was presented to the ADS through the generosity of the Central Florida Chapter who supplied all the food for the evening. There was a wide array  of Arabic cuisine and Arabic delights.   In fact, there was Arabic food of every kind!   The Michigan Chapter and the National Office extend their sincere gratitude to the Central Florida Chapter  for their kindness and benevolence. Fifty-two years of togetherness - and as the Conventioneers left the Hospitality Suite, each vowed that he and she would attend the 53rd Convention in New York and make the second half of the millennium as successful as the first half has been! 

SUNDAY, July 5, 1998
10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.   

Board of Directors Meeting

The meeting of the Board of Directors was chaired by  President  Julia  Makarem.  President Julia Makarem greeted the Board of Directors and introduced and welcomed the President-Elect,  Dr. Naji Jurdi  and the new Board members: Mr. Fadi Zuhayri and Attorney  Nabil Kassem  to the Board.  Plans for the 53rd Annual Convention of  the American Druze Society  convention in  New York  were given to the Board by the Convention Chairman,  Mr. Sami Merhi.  President Julia Makarem announced that the Convention would be held in a fashionable hotel that would be appealing to the ADS members. 
President Julia Makarem  extended her heartfelt thanks, on behalf of the American Druze Society National Office,  to the Druze Community in  Orlando and other cities in Florida  where Druze lived; all had worked together in complete harmony to make the  Orlando 1998  Convention a tremendous success.  The people who attended this Annual Convention developed friendships among those whom they had not before met.  They were all delighted to see their old friends many of whom they had met before at past conventions.
The National Office extends its very most heartfelt thank you to the Central Florida Chapter. Our sincere gratitude to the ADS members who so willingly gave of their time and support at the Hospitality Suite.
The Meeting was adjourned by President Julie Makarem.

On June 29, 1999  at the Business Meeting of the 53rd Annual Convention in Rutherford, New Jersey,  Mrs. Julia Makarem, National President of the American Druze Society, was physically removed from the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel as National President by the Board of Directors, by the President Elect, Dr. Naji Jurdi and the Convention Chairperson, Mr. Sami Merhi. 
Due to irreconcilable differences with the Board of Directors interpretation of the Constitution and By Laws, and the non-permissible actions by the Board of Directors, as well as  the non-permissible actions  by  Mr. Fuad Sleem, Chairman of the Charitable Affairs Committee and the non-permissible actions by Past President Faouzi Mokarem in 1996, Mrs. Julie Makarem filed a law suit. The non-permissible actions by all the named above were Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  and Internal Naturalization Service (INS) involvement in violation of the ADS By Laws. The present Board of Directors compliance with said illegal IRS and INS actions were the reason for the Law Suit.
[1]( See IRS Case, MY COLLECTION at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor), 
With the approval of the Committee of Elders (COE), Mr. Rafic Rasamney, Mr. Bahij Abul Hosn, Dr. Abdallah Najjar and Mr. Jack Hamady, Mrs.Julie Makarem filed a law suit against the President Elect, Mr. Naji Jurdi and the present Board of Directors.  When taking the “Oath of Office” as National President, Julie Makarem swore that in maintaining her position as National President, she would perform her responsibility which is to keep the American Druze Society free from any unlawful actions, thus, preserving the Society’s integrity and character as a “Charitable” organization in the United States   [2](See By Laws MY COLLECTION at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor).
Julia Makarem’s removal from the Presidency was just another incidence of the many “infractions of the BY-Laws,” by the said Board of Directors.  The By Laws, which state that a two-third majority of the membership is required to remove an officer of the Society, were again violated with this illegal action by the Board of Directors. [3](See By Laws MY COLLECTION at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor).
The “bully” tactics of the Convention Chairman, Mr. Sami Merhi, and Board Members:  Mr. Ali Yousuf Assaf[4], Leader of the illegal actions of the Board of Directors, Mr. Nabil Kasem[5], leader of removing Julie Makarem as President, 
Mr. Joseph Sefa, Mr.Teo Elmasri, Mr. Majid Ghreizi, Mr. Fadi Zuhayri and President Elect Mr. Naji Jurdi, as well as Mr. Ajaj Andari  were threatening; therefore, Mrs. Julie Makarem was not allowed to impose the By Laws of the American Druze Society, therefore, President Julie Makarem was physically forced to leave her room in the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel in Rutherford, New Jersey immediately on June 29, 1999; thus, she was not able to preside and fullfil her duties as National President of the American Druze Society to the end of her tenure, Saturday, July 3, 1999..
Ms. Sahar Muakassa, Secretary Treasurer gave her resignation from the National Board immediately following the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999.  She was not present for the Annual Business Meeting on July 30, 1999. She attended the Convention.
Ms. Sara Aboul Hosn, Vice President, did not attend the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, nor did she attend the Convention. She did not answer the conference call for the vote to impeach President Julie Makarem on June 29, 1999.
Dr. David Najjar, Constitution Committee Chairman was not present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, nor did he attend the Convention. He retired from the position Constitution Committee Chairman.
Mr. Nabil Kassem, Board Member, , was present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, and he attended the Convention. He led the vote to impeach President Julie Makarem in the Board Meeting on July 29, 1999.
Mr. Majid Ghreizi, Board Member, was not present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, nor did he attend the Convention. He did not vote to impeach President Julie Makarem in the conference call on July 29, 1999; he was in Lebanon.
Mr. Teo Mosrie, Board Member, was not present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, nor did he attend the Convention. He voted to impeach President Julie Makarem in the conference call on July 29, 1999.
Mr. Joe Sefa, Board Member, was present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, and he attended the Convention. He voted to impeach President Julie Makarem in the Board Meeting on July 29, 1999.
Mr. Fadi Zuhary,  Board Member, was present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, and he attended the Convention. He voted to impeach President Julie Makarem in the Board Meeting on July 29, 1999.
Mr. Ali Assaf, Board Member, was present at the Business Meeting on June 29, 1999, and he attended the Convention. He voted to impeach President Julie Makarem in the Board Meeting on July 29, 1999.
[1]  The report of the “Law Suit” for the IRS Case, as well as the infractions of the BY Laws by the Charitable Affairs Committee Chairman, Mr. Fuad Sleem, Convention Chairman, Mr. Sami Merhi, President Elect, Mr. Naji Jurdi, and Past President Mr. Faouzi Mokarem, as well as the Board of Directors is available in  “MY COLLECTION” at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
[2] The American Druze Society By Laws are available in “MY COLLECTION” at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
[3] The American Druze Society By Laws are available in “MY COLLECTION” at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
[4] Mr. Ali Yousuf Assaf was Leader of the illegal actions;  Mr. Ali Yousuf Assaf correspondences to President Julie Makarem are available in “MY COLLECTION” at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
[5] Mr. Nabil Kasem arranged for the conference call to absent Board Members and led the vote at the Board Meeting on July 29 to impeach President Julie Makarem.  He also conducted the Annual Business Meeting, along with Mr. Sami Merhi and Mr. Naji Jurdi on June 30, 1999, and they created a situation of chaos when President Julie Makarem tried to speak from the floor; they exhibited total disrespect to President Julie Makarem in front of the entire ADS body attending the Convention.
++“World Druze Ladies Society,” an organization set up by Julie Makarem in 1998 (See 1998 ORLANDO, FLORIDA)  had three representatives from abroad: Lebanon, Canada,  and Venezuela. The meeting did not materialize; subsequently, nor did the World Druze Ladies Society due to Julie Makarem’s absence from the Convention.
++During the 1998 Convention, I established a Society of World Druze Ladies. Dr, Nazek Abed, Dr. Insaf Hassan, and Ms. May Abu Hamdan from Lebanon are here to join me in this endeavor. This Society will have guidelines, a mission, and a format that Druze ladies all over the world will find conducive to their joining.
1998 Annual Convention     Annual Business Meeting
Chaired by President  Julia Makarem
10:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.  Salon 2

President Report for the Annual Business Meeting  (June 25, 1998)
Wednesday, 10:00 A.M.  July 1, 1998
President Julie Makarem gave the following report to the Board.
++(See Report above 1998 Annual Convention     Annual Business Meeting).