January 15, 2015

Today the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Forerunner (John the Baptist). The elderly couple Zechariah and Elizabeth welcomed with great joy the birth of their son who they named John just as the angel Garbriel had instructed. Neighbors and relatives, who had gathered to celebrate the birth of this special child, pondered about his future asking “What then will this child become?” Having regained his voice after months of silence, Zechariah said: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79)

This year Armenians worldwide are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide that many believed to be the death-knell of the Armenian people. The narrative of the resilience of the Armenian people, the strength of the survivors through their faithfulness to their Lord is truly a miraculous story.

Special events are scheduled in Washington, D.C., May 7 to 9, 2015, that include an ecumenical prayer service, a Pontifical Divine Liturgy, memorial concert, and a banquet that will honor organizations and individuals who came to the aid of Armenian survivors. The Catholicoi, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, will be present to preside over the events. Armenians from all over the United States are expected to participate in solidarity and unity. In New York, commemorative events organized by the joint committee will take place on April 24, 25, and 26, including the annual gathering at Times Square.

The following letter was issued by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee (Eastern Region) this week to be distributed by all of the participating organizations. Please read and make your donation to further the work of the Centennial Committee.
The Centennial is almost upon us...

Though over 1.5 million lives were lost to history 100 years ago, we as a people will never forget each and every man, woman and child who perished in the Armenian Genocide of 1915.  We are launching an ambitious campaign to honor the history of those who came before us and register their existence and suffering in the world’s collective memory.  Please help us on this historic anniversary by considering a donation to help restore history.

You can make an online donation in any amount at https://www.crowdrise.com/AGCCAER

Your contributions will fuel a campaign spanning public relations, digital, print and broadcast media relations in addition to rapid response countering anti-Armenian press. The digital media plan will unite us all in a collective memorial to those whose identities were washed away by history. It will be composed of millions of river stones that take the shape of the Euphrates River – each stone will be engraved with one name – one for each and every one of us who takes a pledge to never forget the forgotten genocide.

We will implement an online movement to get as many people as possible to take this pledge. Massive city billboards will show famous Armenian-Americans “missing” until the genocide is universally recognized and other non-Armenian celebrities lending their name to stop genocides wherever they occur.  We will push the media to tell the truth about the Armenian Genocide and its consequences, enlisting our supporters in the human rights and religious communities to stand with us on this Centennial.

Our message? When one genocide is denied, so is every genocide.

This is our chance to raise awareness of our people on a scale never before attempted. Our community is truly united behind this singular effort.  In an unprecedented measure our entire United States Armenian community has come together to have our voice heard once and for all.

The campaign is big and ambitious.  We are confident it will succeed.  But only with your help.

If you prefer to donate by check, please make the check payable to any of the following institutions:
•Diocese of the Armenian Church
•Prelacy of the Armenian Church

Please note “East Coast Centennial Committee” in the check memo and mail to:

Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America, Eastern Region
c/o AGBU
55 East 59th Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10022

Together we can tell the world our story and ensure it’s never forgotten.

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
Prelacy of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
Armenian Catholic Eparchy of United States & Canada
Armenian Evangelical Union of North America
Armenian Missionary Association of America
Armenia Fund USA, Inc.
Armenian Assembly of America
Armenian Democratic Liberal Party
Armenian General Benevolent Union
Armenian National Committee of America
Armenian Relief Society
Armenian Revolutionary Federation
Knights & Daughters of Vartan
Social Democratic Hunchakian Party
Armenian Bar Association
Armenian Network of America, Inc.
Armenian Youth Federation, Eastern Region
AGBU Young Professionals
Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
Armenian Students Association

A Pilgrimage to experience the Blessing of the Holy Oil (Muronorhnek) in Antelias, Lebanon, is being organized with two options: Option A, to Lebanon only (July 12-21); Option B, to Lebanon, Armenia and Artsakh (July 12-28). Space is limited; reservations must be made by February 12. Check details below:

Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General, attended the opening of an art exhibit at the United Nations in New York featuring the work of Syrian Armenian artist Hagop Vanesian on  January 8.
Bishop Anoushavan with the artist (fourth from left), and UN Ambassador from the Republic of Syria, Dr. Bashar Jaafari (fifth from left), and members of the metro area Armenian community at the opening of the exhibit.

St. Gregory Church of Philadelphia celebrated Christmas Eve services (Jrakalouys) with the readings of the Books and a full liturgical service. Following the service, two hundred parishioners gathered in Founders Hall for the traditional Khutoum dinner to break their fast with the community meal.

On Christmas day, in spite of snow and frigid temperatures, a large number of the faithful filled the sanctuary to celebrate the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord and the Blessing of the Water service. Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian, pastor and the celebrant of the services, was assisted by a full complement of altar servers and chorister. 
After Christmas Eve services the faithful enjoyed dinner. In this photo Der Hayr blesses a plate of food before dinner.
Der Nerses and altar servers during the Blessing of the Water service on Christmas.

Bible readings for Sunday, January 18, First Sunday after Nativity: Isaiah 54:1-13; 1 Timothy 1:1-11; John 2:1-11.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith: Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:1-11)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

On Saturday, January 17, the Armenian Church remembers four early Christians, the Hermits Anthony, Tryphon, Barsauma, and Onouphrius. Of the four, Anthony is the best known. He lived during the time of our Lord and he heard the words spoken by Jesus to a wealthy young man advising, “If you will be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor and come follow me.” Anthony did exactly that, lived as a hermit, preached the teachings of Jesus and encouraged others to follow his example. The place he selected to live became the site of the first monastery; and he is therefore recognized as the father of monasticism.

Ambassador David Hale, the ambassador of the United States to Lebanon, visited His Holiness Aram I on the occasion of the New Year. They discussed the situation in the region and the presidential elections in Lebanon. His Holiness informed the ambassador about the commemorative activities for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.


Archbishops Paul Sayah and Samir Mazloum, the Vicars General of the Maronite Church, met with His Holiness Aram I last Friday. They conveyed Patriarch Rai’s greetings for the New Year and expressed his concern regarding the situation in the region. Discussions led them to an overview of the situation. The Vicars informed His Holiness of a meeting to take place in the Vatican in February to discuss Christians in the Middle East.


In a letter of condolence to President Francois Hollande, His Holiness Aram I, condemned the recent terrorist acts in Paris. His Holiness wrote, “The Armenian Church strongly believes in mutual understanding, respect, and tolerance between religions, is committed to justice, and to the peaceful resolution of conflict rooted in the principles of human rights.” The Catholicos asked the French President to express his condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France.


His Holiness Catholicos Aram, accompanied by members of the Cilician Brotherhood, visited the Azounieh Sanatorium Hospital in the Chouf Mountain and the Home for the Elderly in Bourj Hammoud on the occasion of the New Year and Christmas. In each instance, His Holiness met with the leadership of the institutions thanking them for their service to the community. With the help of the clergy, gifts were distributed, amidst the singing of Christmas hymns and prayers.


The Armenian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Pity in Aleppo was bombed in the early morning hours of January 9.  The church sustained extensive damage with part of the dome collapsed, however there were no injuries. Had it occurred two hours later, many worshippers would have been in the cathedral because a special mass was scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Four months ago the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Church of Deir Zor was destroyed.
 Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Assassination of Hrant Dink (January 19, 2007)

Eight years ago, the assassination of journalist Hrant Dink became a crucial moment in the last decade of Turkish public life and a symbol of intolerance against freedom of speech.
Dink was born in Malatia on September 15, 1954. At the age of five, his family moved to Istanbul. Due to the separation of their parents, he and his two brothers were sent to the kindergarten of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedigpaşa as boarders. The three brothers continued their education at the elementary school of the same church in Incirdibi and went to its summer camp in Tuzla. Hrant went to the Bezjian School in junior high and to the Surp Khach Tbrevank in high school, and graduated as a senior from the public school of Şişli.

At summer camp, he met Rakel Yagbasan, five years his junior, who was born in Silopi and came from the Varto clan. In 1972 he entered university and engaged in the Turkish leftist movement, which he left four years later, when he got married. Hrant and Rakel Dink had three children. He completed his degree in zoology, but could not finish his second bachelor degree in philosophy.

In 1979 he opened a bookstore with his brothers, which they ran successfully. From 1979-1984, he and his wife also ran the Tuzla summer camp, until the Turkish government seized it after a five year legal battle.

In the 1990s Dink was a contributor to Marmara newspaper, reviewing Turkish books about Armenians with the pen name “Chutak” (Violin). On April 5, 1996, he launched the first bilingual (Turkish and Armenian) weekly in the history of Turkey, Agos, which he edited until his death. Agos spoke loudly against any unfair treatment of the Armenian community in Turkey, covered human rights violations and problems of democratization in Turkey, carried news of developments in the Republic of Armenia, with special emphasis on Turkey-Armenia relations, published articles and serials on the Armenian cultural heritage and its contributions to the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, and criticized malfunctions and lack of transparency in Armenian institutions.

Dink was also a commentator for Turkish periodicals. He wrote about the establishment of good neighborhood relations between Turkey and Armenia, the opening of the borders, support of Turkish democratic processes, and the Armenian genocide. He also lectured in many countries about Armenian identity and Turkish-Armenian relations.
His views and his outspokenness started to discomfort many people. He was prosecuted three times for denigrating Turkishness, pursuant to article 301 of the Turkish Penal Court.  He was taken to court for statements during a lecture in Urfa (2002), but acquitted in 2006. A second trumped-up charge, stemming from the purposeful misunderstanding of a statement, resulted in a six-month suspended sentence (2005) that Dink, after ending all avenues in the Turkish judicial system, had appealed to the European Court of Human Rights at the time of his death. The ECHR concluded in 2010 that Turkish authorities had violated his freedom of speech. A third trial came in 2006 after he declared to Reuters that what happened in 1915 was genocide. The latter was dropped after his death, but Agos general director Arat Dink (his son) and publisher Sarkis Seropyan were sentenced to one year of prison.

The actual witch hunt had started in February 2004, after the mainstream Hurriyet daily reprinted a news piece from Agos, published in September 2003, claiming that Sabiha Gökçen, one of the adoptive daughters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was actually an Armenian orphan of the genocide. The press release from the office of the Chief of General Staff stated on February 22, 2004: “Whatever the reason, opening up such a symbol to public debate is a crime against national unity and social peace.”. Dink was called to the governor’s office in Istanbul and given a warning by two people whose identities remained undisclosed. Afterwards, a virulent campaign started in the press that continued until his death. The well-known journalist Mehmet Ali Birand wrote, “We are the real murderers of Hrant. We have brought up our murderers in an atmosphere and mentality created by Article 301.”

On January 19, 2007, Hrant Dink was killed outside the offices of Agos by seventeen-year-old Ogün Samast. His burial ceremony became a demonstration of more than one hundred thousand people protesting the killing and claiming, “We are all Armenians. We are all Hrant Dink.” His assassin was condemned to 22 years and 10 months in prison in 2011, while another suspect, Yasin Hayal, convicted of ordering the murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, it has become clear that justice has not been served yet. The Turkish top court ruled in July 2014 that the investigation of the killing was flawed, and recent arrests of policemen for “negligence” in the inquiry of the murder have shown that there is still a long way before closing the books on the assassination of the brave Armenian journalist.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org).
The crisis in Syria requires 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
 Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
There Are Many Ways to “Kick the Bucket”

If you open a thesaurus of the English language (or the thesaurus of your computer) you will find more than a dozen ways to say “to die,” including the slang expression of the title. Every language has its own variety and Armenian is not an exception.

However, the abundance of synonyms does not mean that you can use them interchangeably. The same is true in Armenian. There are different ways for various circumstances and subjects.

The Armenian word for death is mah (մահ). However, the verb mahanal (մահանալ) does not exactly mean “to die,” but includes the concept of slowness. Therefore, we use it to refer to the gradual death of any social phenomenon, like a tribe, a dialect, or a custom.

If you want to refer to the death of a common mortal, you simply say: “Martu merav” (Մարդը մեռաւ, “The man died”). However, if that common mortal gave up his or her life on a battlefield, e.g. sacrificed it, you say “Zinvoru zohvetsav” (Զինուորը զոհուեցաւ) and not “Zinvore merav.”

Now, if a priest (or any other ecclesiastic) passes away, we have a more nuanced and particular way to say it, which has no exact equivalent in English: “Kahanan vakhjanetsav” (Քահանան վախճանեցաւ). The verb vakhjanil comes from vakhjan (վախճան “end”), and thus, an approximate translation would be something like “the priest met his end.” It is not polite to say “Kahanan merav.

There is also a particular way for an animal, whether it is a pet or a wild beast: “Gadoon sadgetsav” (Կատուն սատկեցաւ). The verb sadgil comes from sadag, which denotes the dead body of an animal. Your beloved pet may have been as human-like as you want, but in the same way you do not say “The cat passed away,” you should not say “Gadoon merav.

Of course, if you hold a grudge with someone, you can say sadgetsav instead of merav to express your dismissal. However, it is hard to think that you interacted with a person who was at the level of your furry friend. When you dehumanize someone, doesn’t it say something about your own humanity?

This Monday, January 19, is a federal holiday in the United States honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929, and was the leader of the civil rights movement based on Christian ideals and techniques of non-violence taken from Gandhi. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.


January 17 to 25 is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme of the week of prayer for 2015, “Give me a drink,” comes from the gospel of John from the story about Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:1-43).
January 18—“The Near East Relief Historical Society—Remembering the Past, Investing in the Future,” a presentation by Molly Sullivan, Esq., Director & Curator, Near East Relief Historical Society—Near East Foundation, 1 pm at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York. For more information: anahide@aol.com.

January 21—Middle Eastern and Middle Eastern American Center presents lecture by Vahe Tachjian, “Building the ‘Model Ottoman Citizen;’ Life and Death in the Region of Harput-Mamuretulaziz (1908-1915),” at the Segal Theater, the Graduate Center of CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York City, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Co-sponsored by The Hagop Kevorkian  Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

January 23—A Centennial Commemoration: Book presentation, “The Martyred Armenian Writers 1915-1922, by Herand M. Markarian, sponsored by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Hamazkayin of New York, under auspices of Archbishop Oshagan. Participants include: Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Dr. George Dermksian, Iris Chekenian, and Shant Mardirossian. Master of Ceremonies: Zarmine Boghosian. Readings by Veh-Harach Bezdikian, Natalie Gabrielian, Yeraz Markarian Meschian, Aida Zilelian-Silak. The Armenian Center, 69-23 47th Avenue, Woodside, New York at 8:05 pm.

January 25—45th anniversary of St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts, Divine Liturgy and celebration presided by Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian. Contact Sossy Jeknavorian (sossyj@comcast.net) for tickets to anniversary celebration; $40 adults; $10 children. Advance reservations required.

February 5—Avak luncheon, sponsored by St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Speaker: Ruth Thomasian, executive director Project SAVE Archives, “Preserving Your Precious Photographs.” Guests may bring photos for discussion on persons, places, and situations.

February 7—Armenian Relief Society, NJ Shakeh Chapter presents “The Sound of Music” (in Armenian), performed by the Bedros Atamian Theatrical Group of Hamazkayin Sanahin Chapter, Montreal, Canada. Director and playwright, Lena Khacherian, at Fort Lee High School, 3000 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee, New Jersey. Tickets: $50, $35, $25. Contact: Ani Keshishian 201-417-0204; Anik Kechichian 201-394-4408; Lena Tarakjian 201-592-7991.

February 9-11—Ghevontiantz gathering of clergy serving the Eastern Prelacy.

February 28-March 1—Armenian Relief Society Youth Connect Program, at New York University, “Looking Beyond the Centennial.” Featuring: Khatchig Mouradian, ARS Youth Connect Program Director; Speakers, Scout Tufankjian, Photojournalist and Eric Nazarian, Filmmaker. For Armenian college students, 18-25 years old. Deadline for registration (required) January 30. Space is limited. $25 registration fee includes meals and the evening dinner. Overnight accommodation available for out-of-town students. For more information: arseastus@gmail.com or 617-926-3801.

March 1—One Nation, One Culture: A Cultural Evening of Song & Dance dedicated to the Armenian Genocide 100th Anniversary, Felician College, 262 South Main Street, Lodi, New Jersey at 4 pm. Organized by the New Jersey chapter of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, with co-sponsorship of AGBU Ararat NY, Homenetmen Regional Executive, Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, and Tekeyan Cultural Association of Greater New York.

March 5—Official opening of Exhibit on Armenian textiles, “Stitching to Survive: Handwork of Armenian Women,” 6-8 pm, at the United Nations, New York. Reception to follow. Organized by the Armenian Relief Society, Inc., and the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the UN.

March 6—Conference, “Rebuilding a Nation: The Armenian Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment,” 10 am-4 pm, at Salvation Army Auditorium, 221 East 52nd Street, New York City. Organized by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of the Armenian Relief Society, Inc.

March 7—Cultural program in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, under auspices of Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate. At 7 pm at Waterside Restaurant & Catering, 7800 River Road, North Bergen, New Jersey. Donation: $100. For information: Knar Kiledjian 201-233-1566; Lena Orangian 516-724-3005 or by email to zavag@aol.com.

March 13-15—“Responsibility 2015,” International conference for Armenian Genocide’s centennial at Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York, featuring prominent historians, policymakers, authors, and artists. Organized by the ARF Eastern US Centennial Committee, under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America, Eastern Region. www.responsibility2015.com for information.

March 20—Musical Armenia, presented by Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies Guild, Weill Recital Hall, 8 pm, Carnegie Hall, New York City. Featured artists Patil Harboyan, piano and Heather Tuach, cello, will present a program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide that will include works of Armenian composers Atamian, Babajanian, Gomidas, Khatchaturian, Saradjian, Stepanian, and Talalyan. Tickets are $25 and will be on sale after December 20th at the box office and the Prelacy, 212-689-7810.

March 13-15—International conference, “Responsibility 2015” marking the Armenian Genocide’s centennial, at Marriott Marquis Hotel, New York City. Organized by the ARF Eastern United States Centennial Committee, under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America, Eastern Region. For information visit the web site (www.responsibility2015.com).

April 25—Connecticut Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day at the Connecticut State Capitol. Keynote speaker: Noted author Chris Bohjalian.

April 26—Centennial commemoration of Genocide. Joint united Divine Liturgy in New York City (site to be announced), presided by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. To be followed by Times Square gathering “100 Years to Remember.”

May 7, 8, 9—National Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration in Washington, DC, organized under the patronage of the Diocese and the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Presided by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia. May 7, Ecumenical Service at the National Cathedral, 7 pm; May 8, A Journey Through Armenian Music at the Music Center at Strathmore, 7:30 pm; May 8 & 9, Exhibits, Films, and Events at various venues; May 9, Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 10 am; May 9, A Time to Give Thanks, banquet, 6 pm (location to be announced).

May 10 to June 4—Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Aram I to the Eastern Prelacy.

July 18—Blessing of the Holy Muron (Oil) by His Holiness Aram I, at the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. For details click here.

October 5-9—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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Items in Crossroads can be reproduced without permission. Please credit Crossroads as the source.

Parishes of the Eastern Prelacy are invited to send information about their major events to be included in the calendar. Send to: info@armenianprelacy.org
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