First Christian Syrian Born Mayor in the U.S.  


Montvale, NJ — population 7,844, 36 miles from New York City’s Manhattan - was incorporated as a borough on August 31, 1894. When he was sworn-in as a mayor on January 4th, 2016, Michael Ghassali made history as the first Christian-born Syrian to become a mayor in the Eastern United States. His mother from Harput, Elazığ in Armenian descent and his father was born in Mardin, a city in southeastern Turkey. He was working as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the nonprofit Feed the Children, one of the leading anti-hunger organizations. First, he ran for the city council, later ran for mayor. In the 2016 election, he got 70 percent of the votes and for his second term no one challenged him. He ran for Congress in 2020 election but after COVID he pulled off from the race. Now his Republican party colloquies encourages him to run for as Bergen County Executive. Michael Ghassali answered our questions:  

Build Your Residential or Commercial Project Without Having Construction Dispute    


Mehmet Yeşilbaş has worked as an engineering project manager in countless projects from Libya to the United States, from billion-dollar hospital projects to university constructions. He worked as a senior manager in commercial, residential, warehouse and office and educational building projects, including İzmir City Hospital, University of Acıbadem Mehmet Ali Aydınlar, Libya Tripoli Airport, palace projects, Hovanian Enterprises condominium projects in New Jersey. Having signed construction projects of different sizes in the USA, Yeşilbaş provided Project Management and Contractor services to large companies such as Merco LLC, Hovanian Enterprises, Lehman Brothers, Pella, Andersen.  

Bye Bye Jewelry Business Welcome Commercial Real Estate Business 


Ceylan family from Türkiye arrived in New Jersey on Sunday, July 4, 1993. The shop was closed on Monday. On Tuesday, he and his brother stopped by Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. They made their way to his brother's shop at the Woodbridge Jewelry Exchange, the region’s largest selection of jewelry, with more than 100,000 items in one location in Woodbridge, NJ. "I’ve been working ever since," says Yusuf (Joseph) Ceylan. The Ceylan family, originally from the village of Gülgöze in the Midyat district of Mardin, sought to go abroad when economic conditions in Türkiye became difficult after the Gulf War. Ceylan graduated from high school in İstanbul. His brother and uncle had come to the United States before them. They came to the U.S. with a green card. 

Importers Import Containers from Worldwide, PortX Delivers Nationwide

PORTX, Inc. began operations 2012 delivering containers to exporters and importers in New York & New Jersey area. Since then, PortX is making a difference helping new merchants get on their feet with efficient container drayage Eyüp (Peter) Ulu, founder with a million miles under his belt, began with a positive attitude and can-do spirit that established the fastest growing company in container transportation industry. The company utilizes owner operators, owned assets, dedicated leased units, and a preferred network of outside carriers to provide deliveries. PORTX Trucks also work in New York City as well. The company serves all ports nationwide and have an impact nationwide.   

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Political Activist Became Serial Entrepreneur, Mustafa Tuncer  

Starting a business in the midst of impossibilities, growing, taking risks, going bankrupt but not being discouraged are all present in Mustafa Tuncer's life in turn. If he had stayed in Türkiye, there was a strong possibility that he would have served a political sentence. He was an active student in the 1990s, especially on Feb. 28, 1997 post-modern era which the military-dominated National Security Council threatened action if Necmettin Erbakan, Prime Minister did not back down. He resigned four months later. Tuncer spent his days wandering from city to city in protest demonstrations against bans. In his own words, he was not a very hard-working student. He graduated from religious vocational high school in Sakarya, a province in Türkiye, located on the coast of Black Sea. He wasn't very hopeful that he would pass the university exam. He was against the capitalist system fueling consumption. But he chose a department that educates student to create a positive public image for capitalist companies. He graduated from İstanbul University, Faculty of Communication, Department of Public Relations and Publicity.

Selling Carpet Across the U.S.


Sellers in the carpet shops in the Grand Bazaar, İstanbul are known in the world for their unique sales techniques. The sales adventure ends with the customer who enters the shop saying "I will definitely not buy a carpet" and receives thousands of dollars’ worth of carpet to his home. Carpets sold in Istanbul Grand Bazaar are delivered directly to Germany, France, Belgium, the United States and all over the world. They swallowed the dust of the Grand Bazaar together at an early age, carried carpets, served tea to tourists, swept the floor, tried to learn English together, and got scolded by the boss. The story of the friendship and brotherhood of two apprentices of the same shop for nearly 35 years, stretching from Istanbul to America. 

Lieutenant Yakup Zoklu, First Police Officer of Syriac Community  


Lieutenant Yakup Zoklu, has been working for Cliffside Park Police Department since 2003. He was born in İstanbul and came to the U.S. when he was 7 years old. He is the first Syriac Turkish police officer in New Jersey. He got his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Saint Peter’s University, Jersey City, NJ and had a master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He taught at both schools as adjunct professors when he went to Fairleigh Dickinson for his masters. He had Public Safety Administration certification, global leadership, human resource, and administrative science. Lieutenant Zoklu answered our questions.  

A Reality Show Star, A Cosmetic Surgeon, and A Happy Home: Jennifer & Bill Aydın

By Cemil Ozyurt - When the reality show Real Housewives of New Jersey started on Bravo TV on May 12th, 2009, Jennifer Aydın, a housewife then living in River Edge, New Jersey, was one of the devoted followers of the show. She sent an e-mail to the production company a couple of times to be on the show. The production team reviewed her application. They visited her house but found it too small for the show. But Jennifer didn’t give up. She had a new house, with 9 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, built on a vacant land in Paramus, one of the neighborhoods near River Edge. The house she had built also had basketball court in the basement, a pool and a huge yard around it. When the production team saw this new house, they changed their mind and invited Jennifer to The Real Housewives of New Jersey show. Jennifer started being on the show in 2017, during its 9th season. Jennifer has been watched closely for four seasons on the The Real Housewives of New Jersey TV Show, which has been broadcasted on Bravo TV for 12 seasons and viewed by an audience of 1,1 million. She is a savvy, witty, and sincere person who thinks and responds quickly, reflecting on her real thoughts and, at times, appearing somewhat arrogant. She gives much effort to make her family and everybody else around her happy. She is sometimes a bridge between her mother and father when they’re in conflict; an angel watching after her siblings; and mother who has taken over the role of discipling her children. By February of 2023, with the start of the new episode on Bravo TV, Jennifer will begin her fifth episode on the show. Every single detail about her life is reflected on tv screen.

From A Sultan’s Pen, Prisoners in the Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus  



By Cemil Özyurt - Murad V, (1840-1904), Ottoman sultan from May to August 1876, whose liberal disposition brought him to the throne after the deposition of his uncle Abdülaziz. Abdülaziz’ deposition by a group of ministers led by Midhat Paşa, the great advocate of constitutional government, Murad was brought to the throne. The new sultan was determined to introduce constitutional reforms, but, under the impact of Abdülaziz’ suicide and the murder of some of his key ministers, Murad suffered mental collapse. After declaration by Turkish and foreign doctors that his illness was incurable, Murad was deposed by the same men who had brought him to the throne. During the reign (1876–1909) of his brother Abdülhamid II, several attempts to restore him to the throne failed, and he spent the remaining years of his life confined in the Çırağan Palace. Languishing behind the high walls and heavily-guarded gates of the Çırağan Palace are the former Sultan Murad V and his family. This palace on the shores of the Bosphorus has been their ‘gilded cage’ for nearly thirty years: ever since Murad’s deposition in 1876, they have been held in strict confinement on the orders of his younger brother, the autocratic ruler Sultan Abdülhamid II.  

It’s not a common writing a story, novel or diary for members of Ottoman family. Not more members of the Imperial family put pen to paper in order to record their unique memories and fascinating stories. To honour the memory of her great-great-great-grandfather, Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu wrote a novel, “The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus” and she decided to make the book available to purchase on 7th July 2020 – in honour of his father’s 80th Birthday. She says: “In memory of all who once lived as prisoners in the Çırağan Palace, especially His Imperial Majesty Sultan Murad V. You will never be forgotten ghosts and shadows – instead your memory lives on in the hearts and souls of your descendants…” Osmanoğlu answered TURKOFAMERICA’s questions.

Syriac Therapists of American Jewelry Buyers


In New Jersey and around it, regardless of which ‘Jewelry Exchange’ branch you go to, you would definitely encounter a jewelry salesperson with Syriac background. Jewelry Exchange on 47th Street in New York and in Wayne, Totowa and Paramus in New Jersey are some of them. And, the one in Woodbridge, NJ is one of the earliest jewelry exchange shops where the Syrian migrants in the USA started operating in the sector. The building in Woodbridge has 36 booths and 90 of the businesses there are ran by Syriacs. 

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