To all the members of our Syrian Orthodox Church in the United States.

May the blessings, peace and grace of our Lord be with you.

As you may know, the U.S. Government is conducting census this year. As of next March, the Census Bureau will start sending out the Census-2000 forms to every household in the USA. This process takes place once every ten years, and based on its results, the Census bureau studies the demographics of the population shift in the USA, and accordingly it assigns certain federal financial help to each community based on its size. This federal help could contribute towards education programs such as teaching of our language and culture, as well as other community related services. There are two forms involved--form D-61B (the long form) and D-61A (the short form). A sample of the sections related to ethnic origin and race is attached for reference. It shows the location where the SYRIAC name is to be entered.

We urge each and every member of our community to register as "SYRIAC", the specific category that has been assigned for our people. Please, do not register under the name of any country of origin (i.e. the country from which you originally immigrated from, such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, etc.), because if you register under the name of any country of origin, the federal help would go to the nationals of that country. It is very important to register as "SYRIAC" with a "C" and NOT with an "N", because to the U.S. Government the word "Syrian" means Syrian Arab and not Syriac (Suryoyo).

Our Syriac speaking community owns one of the oldest cultures in the world, and it always strived to preserve its language and culture throughout its long history. It is vital, therefore, for us to continue to work towards preserving our language, the language of our Lord, and our culture.

The "Syriac for Census-2000 Committee" was formed to encourage and request all Syriac speaking communities in the US to register as "SYRIAC" under the combined category of "Syriac Speaking People" (Syriac/Chaldean/Assyrian), so that we can meet the minimum required size of an ethnic minority to be qualified for federal assistance.

Assuring you of our fatherly love and benediction, we remain,

Clemis E. Kaplan, Archbishop
Patriarchal Vicar of the Western US.

Cyril Aphrem Karim, Archbishop
Patriarchal Vicar of the Eastern US.

P.S. If you need any further information or help in filling the Census forms, contact your Archdiocese office or the Syriacs for Census 2000 Committee (SCC) at: (818) 888-4768.