Students from two different cultures came together Wednesday in Bloomfield Hills.  More than 200 Jewish and Chaldean students sat down to discuss some of the cultural perceptions and realities facing both communities, and to just get to know each other better.

Marli Siegel, a senior at Andover High School, said the talk made her realize she had some preconceived notions.

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“You know, that Chaldeans are extremely family oriented and are in business, in one specific business is party stores.  And, like, that they own Ed Hardy [fashions],” Siegel said.

“I would be completely wrong to say that I’d never thought that. And the fact that I really had to look at the way I view others and how others view me has washed away a lot of those thoughts,” she said.

Angelic Gasso is a Chaldean senior at Lahser High School.

“Everyone stereotypes each other. But Chaldeans, especially, stereotype the Jews and the Jews especially stereotype the Chaldeans because we go to school together,” Gasso said.

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Gasso said the day’s discussion helped her change her mind.

“I definitely learned that we’re a lot similar than we ever thought we were — especially religion-wise. I didn’t know that we believe in a lot of the same things,” she said.

The panel discussion was put together by the Jewish News and the Chaldean News. 

Metro Detroit is home to the largest Chaldean population outside Iraq, with more than  121,000 Chaldeans in the area. The area’s 72,000 Jewish population is one of the most influential in the United States.

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