August 21, 2014
Last Sunday Armenian churches around the world celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God and the Blessing of the Grapes, an old and beautiful tradition in the Armenian Church that expresses thanks for a bountiful harvest and sharing with the needy. The grapes are preeminent because grapes are the source of wine that is used in the Divine Liturgy, Holy Communion, and Holy Matrimony.
In Lebanon His Holiness Aram I presided over the Divine Liturgy and the Blessing of Grapes at the Monastery of the Holy Mother of God (Sourp Asdvadzadzin) in Bikfaya, the summer retreat of the Catholicosate as well as the home of the Cilician Theological Seminary. Thousands of pilgrims from the area come to Bikfaya to participate in the services, which were televised worldwide.
Prelacy parishes were filled with parishioners on this adored holiday—one of the five major feast days in the Armenian liturgical calendar. Many of our parishes schedule their annual picnics on this day and conduct the Blessing of Grapes ceremony outdoors, as well as after the Liturgy in church.
St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City
His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan presided over the Divine Liturgy and the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City.
St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts
Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts, blesses the grapes with the assistance of deacons John Saryan (left) and Avedis Garavanian.
All Saints Church, Glenview, Illinois
Archpriest Fr. Zareh Sahakian conducts the Blessing of Grapes at All Saints Church, Glenview, Illinois, assisted by Rev. Fr. Hovhan Khoja Eynatyan, pastor of St. Hagop Church in Evanston, Illinois (left) and Deacon Thomas Ohanian.
St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan
More than 450 people attended the Family Fun Picnic organized by St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, last Sunday which including the traditional Blessing of the Grapes ceremony that took place under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian and the parish’s deacons and choir members. Parishioners and friends enjoyed great food, magic shows, Hamazkayin dance performance, and many games and activities.
Der Hrant officiates over the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony during St. Sarkis Church’s annual picnic.
New York Armenian Home for the Aged, Flushing, New York
Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York, is a regular visitor at the New York Armenian Home. On Tuesday, together with some Cathedral parishioners, he went to the Home to perform the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony. He blessed each resident individually and distributed the bags of grapes that were blessed to the residents and staff members. Der Hayr also presented the Home with a donation of $500 from the Cathedral in appreciation of their dedicated care of the elderly. In this photo Der Hayr is surrounded by some residents and staff members.
Der Hayr with Ovsanna Tatarian, a long-time member of the Cathedral and the Prelacy Ladies Guild who is now a resident at the Home.
Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Emerson, New Jersey
Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey visits the Emerson Home regularly. This week he conducted the Blessing of Grapes ceremony for the residents and distributed the blessed grapes to everyone.
The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) will sponsor a teachers’ seminar this Saturday, August 23, at the Prelacy headquarters in New York, from 10 am-4 pm. All schools and teachers are invited to participate. The program will have the following lectures: Sossi Essajanian: “Supporting the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development, Best Practices, and the Armenian Language Teacher”; Anahid Garmiryan: “To Be or Not to Be a Teacher: the Challenges of Bilingualism”

The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), jointly sponsored by the Prelacy and the Armenian Relief Society, sponsored for many years the Siamanto Academy for young adults. After a recent hiatus, the Academy is ready to resume its activities. The Academy offers courses on Armenian history, culture, and contemporary issues. Classes will take place on a monthly basis, every second Saturday, beginning in September at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church (Ridgefield, New Jersey), from 2 pm-5 pm. For additional information, please contact ANEC at
Bible readings for Sunday, August 24, First Sunday after the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, are, Proverbs 11:30-12:4; Zechariah 2:10-13; 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1; Luke 1:39-56.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.  (Luke 1:39-56)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
On Tuesday, August 26, the Armenian Church commemorates Saints Joachim and Anna, parents of Mary, the mother of Christ. Joachim, son of Barpathir, was a descendant of David, to whom God had revealed that the Savior of the world would be born through his descendants. Anna was a descendant of the tribe of Levi through her father, and the tribe of Judah through her mother. Joachim and Anna were childless through years of marriage and were reproached for their barrenness. Joachim fasted for forty days in the desert and both of them prayed for a child, ultimately placing their trust in God’s will, whatever it may be. An angel appeared to each of them telling them they would be the parents of a daughter, in spite of their advanced age. That child was Mary, the blessed mother of Christ.
On the same day the Church remembers the oil-bearing women (Myrophores). These are the eight women who are identified as the oil- or myrrh-bearers in the four Gospels who had different roles during Christ’s ministry, at the Cross, and the tomb on Easter morning. The eight women are: Mary Magdalene, Mary (Theotokos), Joanna, Salome, Mary (wife of Cleopas), Susanna, Mary of Bethany, and Martha of Bethany.
O God, by wise foreknowledge you established the mystery of the holy church, having laid down the assembly of the righteous as its deep and firm foundation; through their prayers, have mercy on us. The blessing given by you to husband and wife, the pair created by God, buds forth today in Joachim and Anna like a splendid flower; through their prayers, have mercy on us. Today you manifested from Anna the promise given to Abraham, our patriarch according to the Spirit, in the union of staffs both priestly and kingly; through their prayers, have mercy on us. O God, without beginning, unspeakable, boundless might, from the beginning of the ages you have cared for the sons of Adam, today by grace from above, you have designated by her birth the mother of your chosen and only-begotten Son. Through her prayers, have mercy on us.
(Canon to Saints Joachim and Anna from the liturgical canons of the Armenian Church)

Next Thursday, August 28, the Armenian Church remembers Jeremiah, one of the major prophets of the Old Testament. His writings are collected in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, I and II Kings, and the Book of Lamentations. God appointed Jeremiah to confront Judah and Jerusalem for the worship of idols and other violations of the covenant (described in the Book of Deuteronomy). Jeremiah had the task of explaining the reason for the impending disaster—the destruction by the Babylonian army and captivity: “And when your people say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours.’”
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
Armenian Declaration of Independence (August 23, 1990)
The Constitution of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1977, established in article 71 that “Each Union Republic shall retain the right freely to secede from the USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics].” In the late eighties, within the scope of Mikhail Gorbachev’s newly proclaimed policy of restructuration (perestroika) and transparency (glasnost), the political tension in the country would reach the point of explosion and, in the end, the secession and collapse of the Soviet Union would be completed between 1990 and 1991.
The Karabagh Movement started in February 1988, called “the test of perestroika” at the time, had its ebbs and flows, and the rise of the people became the inspiration for similar movements in other Soviet republics, such as the Baltic States, where the “popular fronts” made their appearance in the middle of the year. In Armenia, four days after the earthquake of December 7, 1988, the eleven members of the Karabagh Committee that led the movement were arrested and imprisoned in Moscow. A wide movement of international solidarity, as well as internal developments caused their release in May 1989.
The reformist tide in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the revolutions of 1989 that ended the Communist rule in Eastern Europe, including the fall of the Berlin wall that became the symbol of the reunification of Germany, were echoed in Armenia by the formation of the Armenian National Movement (ANM) as an alternative, democratic choice against party monopoly.
In February 1990 the Communist Party yielded its 70-year-long monopoly of power. The immediate result was the loss of four republics to the democratic opposition in parliamentary elections held in February and March (Lithuania, Moldova, Estonia, and Latvia). The three Baltic States, headed by Lithuania, declared the beginning of a process to reestablish themselves as independent states between March and May. In Armenia, the elections of May 1990 saw the victory of the ANM over the Communist Party.
In June a power struggle started between the Russian Federation, represented by Boris Yeltsin, newly elected chairman of the Presidium of its Supreme Soviet, and the Soviet Union, represented by Mikhail Gorbachev, first secretary of the Communist Party. It was followed in July by the resignation of Yeltsin from the Communist Party.
After run-off elections in June and July to complete the seats of the Supreme Soviet of Armenia, the democratic wave saw the victory of Levon Ter Petrossian, one of the leaders of the Karabagh Committee and the Armenian National Movement, over Vladimir Movsisian, the candidate of the Communist Party, in the election for president of the Supreme Council (Parliament), held on August 4.
Less than three weeks later, on August 23, Ter Petrossian, president of the Soviet Council, and Ara Sahakian, secretary, signed the proclamation of independence, which established that the Supreme Council declared “the beginning of the process of establishing of independent statehood positioning the question of the creation of a democratic society based on the rule of law” on the basis of the November 1, 1989 joint decision of the Armenian SSR Supreme Soviet and the Artsakh National Council on the reunification of Armenia and Upper Karabagh, “developing the democratic traditions of the independent Republic of Armenia established on May 28, 1918.”
The proclamation had twelve points: 1) The Armenian SSR was renamed Republic of Armenia, which would have its own  flag, coat of arms, and anthem; 2) The Republic of Armenia became a self-governing state, where only its constitution and laws were valid; 3) The people were the bearer of Armenian statehood and exerted its authority through its representatives; the right to speak on behalf of the people belonged exclusively to the Supreme Council; 4) Citizens living on Armenian territory were granted citizenship, and Diasporan Armenians had the right of citizenship of Armenia; 5) The new republic created its own armed forces and organs of public security; 6) The republic led an independent foreign policy; 7) National wealth was property of their people, regulated by laws of the republic, which had the right to its share of the USSR national wealth; 8) The republic created the principles of its economic system and created its own money and financial system; 9) The republic guaranteed freedom of speech, press, and conscience; separation of powers; and a multi-party system; 10) The republic guaranteed the use of Armenian as the official language; 11) The republic stood in support of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Finally, point 12 declared that the proclamation would be the basis for the future Armenian Constitution and, meanwhile, was the basis for the introduction of amendments to the current constitution and for the government of the country.
There was no date set to end the process of establishment of an independent statehood. The events would take a dramatic pace in 1991 and, thirteen months after the proclamation, Armenia held a referendum to declare its second independence in the twentieth century.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (
The Prelacy Bookstore has an extensive collection of books (in Armenian and English) about the Genocide including histories, historical novels, memoirs, eye witness testimonies, essays, and poetry. From now through next April we will feature one or two books each week from the Bookstore’s collection.
PRO ARMENIA: Jewish Responses to the Armenian Genocide
Compiled by Vartkes Yeghiayan
Vartkes Yeghiayan presents the work of Jewish diplomats who witnessed the Armenian Genocide. The collection is divided into four parts: the first part includes the writings of diplomats Henry Morgenthau, Lewis Einstein, and Andre Mandelstam. The second part includes the works of Jewish intelligence operatives; the third part is a report by Rafael Lempkin, the great human rights activist, and the fourth part is an essay about the Balfour Declaration by British-Armenian financier, James Arootun Malcom, who was the representative for the Armenian National Delegation in London after the war.
Softcover, $20.00 plus shipping & handling
Վկայարան Հայկական Ցեղասպանութեան
Յարութիւն Իսկահատեան (կազմող)
գիրք Ա., Պէյրութ, Կարպիս Լ. Նազարեան հիմնադրամ, 2010

Այս բազմահատոր ժողովածուն կը ներկայացնէ այն յուշագրութիւնները, որոնք կը վերաբերին 1894-1923 թուականներուն։ Իւրաքանչիւր գլուխ ամփոփ կերպով կը նկարագրէ հատոր մը, երբեմն՝ հեղինակի մասին տեղեկութիւններով։ «Այս ժողովածուն պարզապէս փորձ մըն է ներկայացնելու Հայկական Եղեռնապատումի գրաւոր արձագանգներուն համապատկերը, սակայն առանց մերձենալու նեղ մասնագիտական սեղմումներու», կը գրէ կազմողը առաջին հատորի յառաջաբանին մէջ։
Գին (լաթակազմ)՝ 15 տոլար (գիրք Ա.)
To order these or other books contact the Prelacy Bookstore by phone (212-689-7810) or by email (
An article in yesterday’s New York Times, written by Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, asked this question: “Who will stand up for the Christians?” Mr. Lauder condemns the silence of the world “while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa.” Read the article here.
High officials of the ancient Christian churches in the Near and Middle East that included His Holiness Aram I, issued a statement denouncing the “emergence of armed extremist groups who murder, shatter and violate the sacred nature of the churches and other suffering communities in the Middle East. The church leaders called upon the international community, by action of the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice, to restore the rights and homes of civilian populations and guarantee a return to land that has been taken from them.”  Read the statement here.
The Ecumenical Patriarch His All-Holiness Bartholomew issued a statement last week denouncing “the targeting of tens of thousands of Christians…. We appeal to every responsible organization and every person of good will—beyond any support through perpetual and persistent prayer—to assist with material and humanitarian resources so that these innocent victims may no longer endure hunger, suffering, and death.” Read the Ecumenical Patriarch’s statement here.
The crises in Syria, including the recent upheaval in Kessab, require our financial assistance. Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks.
Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief
Thank you for your help
August 23—Teachers’ seminar sponsored by the Armenian Education Committee (ANEC), at the Prelacy offices in New York, 10 am to 4 pm. All schools and teachers are invited to participate. Lecturers: Sossi Essajanian, “Supporting the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development, Best Practices, and the Armenian Language Teacher” and Anahid Garmiryan, “To Be or Not to be a Teacher: The Challenges of Bilingualism.” For information: or 212-689-7810.
August 30—Concert, “Baroque & Before,” featuring Lucine Musaelian and Joyce Chen, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 E. 27th Street, New York City, at 5 pm.
September 7—Picnic Festival, St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, featuring musicians Leon Janikian, Jason Naroian, Johnny Berberian, and John Arzigian; presentation by Siroun Dance Ensemble of Central Massachusetts. 12:30 to 5:30 pm, church grounds. Shish, losh, and chicken kebab dinners, veggie plates, Armenian pastries, family games and activities.
September 7—St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, Annual Church Picnic after Sunday services will take place at The Quartette Club, 225 Wooster Street, New Britain. Armenian music, dancing, and food.
September 7—Holy Cross Church, Troy, New York, Annual Armenian Picnic, 12pm to 4 pm. Shish Kebob dinner, Lahmajoun for sale, Armenian pastries, live music. For info:
September 7—Lecture “Mkhitar Heratsi,” by Dr. Gregory Kazanjian, at 1 pm, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. Organized by Cathedral and Hamazkayin of New York.
September 12—St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin, 2nd Annual “Taste of the Mediterranean” Wine Tasting Fundraiser, 4 to 6 pm at Uncork in downtown Racine. Event will again feature 6 wines for tasting, a “mezze” table, silent auction items, and 50/50 raffle. Cost of the event is $20 per person or $35 per couple. Last year’s even was a sell-out, so get your tickets early. For tickets and/or information contact Mary M. Olson by email (
September 14—St. Sarkis Church, 38-65 234th Street, Douglaston, New York, Annual Picnic on the church grounds following church services. Admission is free. Enjoy excellent kebabs and salads. Terrific entertainment for everyone and special activities for children in the “KidZone.” Music, food, and friends…a wonderful afternoon. For information 718-224-2275.
September 18, 19, 20—2014 Fall Food Festival, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
September 18—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 12th Annual Golf Classic, River Vale Country Club, River Vale, New Jersey. Rain or Shine. 11 am registration and Grilled Lunch Buffet; 1 pm Tee Off. Format: Shotgun Scramble (All player levels welcome). Golf Outing Reservation: $195; limited to first 128 paid golf reservations. Reservation includes: Grilled lunch buffet, dinner banquet, golf, cart, and range balls. Contests and Prizes. Sponsorships available. For information: 201-943-2950.
September 19—All Saints Church, Glenview, Illinois, 10th Annual Golf Outing, Fox Run Golf Link, 333 Plum Grove Road, Elk Grove Village. For information: Hagop Soulakian 847-858-7685 or
September 20—Charles Aznavour “Farewell Concert” at The Theater, Madison Square Garden. Only area appearance. Tickets: THEATERATMSG.COM or 866-858-0008.
September 21—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, will host a Tea party at noon in the church hall, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain, Connecticut. Brought back by popular demand. Guest speaker from the Bigelow Tea Company. Goodie bags for all. Raffle prize is being provided by Armeny Custom Jewelry Design.
September 21—St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, “Designer Bag Bingo” luncheon in Founders’ Hall at 2 pm. Fifteen lucky winners of designer bags, including top labels, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Laboutin, Judith Leiber, Chanel, and others. Join us for a fun game of Bingo, Chinese auction, and enjoy the lavish Chanel inspired theme and décor, along with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. Ticket sales limited. For reservations and information: Cissy DerHagopian 856-313-6848; Donna Walter 484-354-0388.
October 3—St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Douglaston, New York, Saturday School Dinner Dance Gala.
October 4—Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacon Diran Khosrofian and Deacon Harold Nazarian, at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan.
October 11—Armenian Friends of America presents Kef 5, 7:30-12:30, Michael’s Function Hall, 12 Alpha Street, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Tickets $50; students 21 and under, $40. Proceeds will benefit Armenian churches of Merrimack Valley. Individually served mezza platters and pastries; musicians, Mal Barsamian (clarinet), John Berberian (oud), Bob Raphaelian (violin), Bruce Jigarjian (guitar), Jason Naroian (dumbeg & vocals). Advance ticket sales only. John Arzigian, 603-560-3826; Lucy Sirmaian, 978-683-9121; Peter Gulezian, 978-375-1616, Sandy Boroyan, 978-251-8687.
October 12-15—Prelacy Clergy Gathering for Reflection and Renewal at St. Mary of Providence Retreat Center, Elverson, Pennsylvania.
October 19—St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan will ordain sub-deacon Ara Stepanian during the Divine Liturgy and preside over the parish’s 57th Annual Banquet.
November 7 & 8—St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 58th Armenian Bazaar, 10 am to 9:30 pm at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, Massachusetts. Meals served from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (take out is available). Enjoy delicious meals, Armenian pastries, gourmet items, arts and crafts, books, raffles, attic treasures. For information: 617-924-7562.
November 21, 22, 23—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual Bazaar, Food Festival, and Hantes. Mezze and Kebab dinners (chicken, shish, luleh); dessert table and trays of home-made delicacies; Boutique Booths; Chinese Auction; Supervised Game Room for children; Pre-packaged Monte, Sou Buereg, Kufteh, and Lehmejun; Take-out available; Live Music for dancing and listening. Traditional Kavourma dinner on Sunday served immediately after church service. For information: 201-943-2950.
December 6—Armenian Winter Dessert Festival, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
December 7—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, will host a Wine Tasting Party at noon in the church hall, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain. A wine talk and tasting will be provided by Taylor Brooke Winery, Woodstock, Connecticut, owned by Linda Varjabedian Auger.
February 9-11, 2015—Ghevontiantz gathering of clergy serving the Eastern Prelacy.
October 5-9, 2015—Clergy gathering of Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
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