Taw Mim Simkath
An organization for the support and welfare of Syr. Orth. orphanages and schools, popularly known by the Syriac acronym Taw Mim Simkath (English T.M.S.) which originally referred to Ottoman Turkish Terakkiyât-ı Mekteb-i Süryânî (perhaps influenced by the Ottoman İttihâd ve Terraki Cemiyeti ‘Committee of Union and Progress’), and later Arabic taraqqī al-madāris al-suryāniyya ‘Progress of Syriac Schools’ (much later the somewhat awkward Syriac tdareg madršotho suryoyotho was coined). It was charted under the English name Assyrian National School Association of America, Inc., and sometime between 1949 and 1968 was renamed The Assyrian Orphanage and School Association of America, Inc., its current official name, but it remains popularly known by Taw Mim Simkath. Its inception was on 8 Oct. 1889 when eleven individuals, originally from Diyarbakır (Amid), met in Sterling, New Jersey. They each agreed on an initiation fee of $1 (= $26.78 in 2008) and a weekly pledge of five cents (= $1.34 in 2008), but did not have a specific purpose or name. On 25 March 1900, a meeting was held where new members joined, one of whom was Gabriel Boyajy, a new arrival from Diyarbakır. He suggested a name and purpose: opening a school in Diyarbakır when finances permitted. It was around this time that an initial Constitution and By-laws were drawn up. By 1908, the organization had grown with several branches at College Point (Long Island, New York), Paterson, and Sterling, resulting in a need for an executive Board of Trustees, which then incorporated the organization in the State of New Jersey, with a Constitution drafted by Gabriel Boyajy. In the aftermath of the 1915 Sayfo massacres, the members changed their focus from supporting education just in Diyarbakır to general education support. In 1919, an orphanage was established in Adana, Turkey, in cooperation with the French High Commissioner. There Dolabani taught Syriac to what would become a new generation of modern writers. After a short period of three years, the French High Commissioner withdrew support and planned to move the orphans to Paris. Instead, T.M.S., in cooperation with the community in Beirut Lebanon, moved the children to Beirut in 1923 and then built a small complex in Khandaq al-Ghamīq and transferred the orphanage there in 1926. In 1973, the school was moved to Burj Ḥammūd where it remains. By T.M.S.’s Golden Jubilee in 1949, about 160 students had graduated from the orphanage, some of whom became luminaries in modern Syriac literature including Fawlos Gabriel, Ghaṭṭās Maqdisī Elias, George Danhash, and Ḥanna Salmān. Currently, the school has 312 students and 20 teachers. T.M.S. purchased Syriac metal types in 1921, and a printing press in 1923 to support the publication of the periodical Beth Nahrin. T.M.S. continues to hold an annual event to support the school in Lebanon as well as other schools and orphanages. It is based in Paramus, New Jersey.
- ‘A Brief History of the Assyrian National School Association of America, Inc.’ in Assyrian National School Association of America Golden Jubilee (1949), no pagination.
- The Assyrian National School Association of America Presents the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary… (1948).
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
George A. Kiraz, “Taw Mim Simkath,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Taw-Mim-Simkath.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Kiraz, George A. “Taw Mim Simkath.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Taw-Mim-Simkath.
A TEI-XML record with complete metadata is available at https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Taw-Mim-Simkath/tei.