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Film Screening of “Motherland” and Q&A with the Directors on 5/7

The Zohrab Information Center is thrilled to invite you to an online film screening of the documentary Motherland on Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 7 PM EDT. We will meet via Zoom and the film will be screened by the Director of the Zohrab Information Center. Following the screening of the film, which has a runtime of about 20 minutes, we will be joined by the directors of the film, Emily Mkrtichian and Jesse Soursouian for a Question and Answer session.

To participate, you will need to download Zoom (zoom.us). Then, to join the event itself, you will need to enter the Meeting ID and password. To receive the Meeting ID and password, please email the Director at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org. Please note that if you attended a previous online Enrichment Evening we will use the same Meeting ID and password. If you participated before, unless you have lost the information, you don’t need to email to RSVP. Simply join us using the Meeting ID and password at 7 PM EDT on May 7th. New participants should email the Director at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org.

Motherland follows two women who work full-time as mine clearance officers in Nagorno-Karabakh. They put themselves at great risk in order to save the lives of countless people who use these lands to farm, collect wood, attend school, and rebuild after war. Despite their courageous work, they still face the stigma of independent, working women in a country where they are often the property and responsibility of men. In following their stories, we explore not only their dangerous work, but their lives as they wrestle with the pain of their pasts, their dreams for the future of their children and their country, and the immense joy and bonds they share.

This film is made possible in part thanks to the generous support of the Armenian General Benevolent Union and HALO Trust Nagorno Karabakh.

Motherland Screening ZIC Presentation 5.7.20 .001

The film screening has been given support by Wesleyan University and members of the University community are invited to join the Zohrab Information Center for the event. Though we are disappointed the film will not be shown on campus at Wesleyan this semester, we are thrilled to present the film to a wide audience!

We are also excited that both directors of the film will be joining us for a Q&A session after the film.

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 9.55.34 AMEmily Mkrtichian is an Armenian-American filmmaker and writer. Her films touch on themes of Memory, Place and Identity, exploring creative and collaborative ways to tell stories from marginalized communities around the globe. Her work includes the immersive, multimedia installation Luys i Luso, an exploration of music’s effect on spaces that were lost to a genocide a century before. The installation has traveled to Munich (Unterfahrt), Armenia, NYC (BRIC Arts), LA (Arts Activation fund recipient for public art), and Istanbul (DEPO Gallery). Emily also directed the viral web documentary Levon: a Wondrous Life, about 60-year-old rollerblader living exuberantly in the post-Soviet landscape of Yerevan, Armenia; and she just completed the short documentary Motherland, about the women who shake tradition and risk their lives to rid their country of landmines leftover from an ethnic war.

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 9.55.47 AMJesse Soursourian is an Armenian-American writer and director based in New York City. He wrote the script for the short film Hugh the Hunter, directed by Oscar nominee Zachary Heinzerling, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival as well as other festivals around the world. His feature screenplays have gained recognition from numerous festivals and contests including Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope, in which he was a quarterfinalist. As a director, Jesse’s short documentary, They Were Afraid of Us, screened at multiple festivals at home and abroad.

 

You can learn more about the film at https://motherlandfilm.org/

 

Nora Lessersohn to Present “Ottoman in New York” via Zoom on 4/23 at 7 PM EDT

It is with great pleasure that the Zohrab Information Center announces its next Enrichment Evening using the Video Conferencing platform Zoom. Due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Zohrab Information Center is currently closed and all in-person activities have been suspended while we all do our part to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. With that in mind, we have moved our Enrichment Evenings online. We are thrilled that Nora Lessersohn, PhD Student in U.S. History at University College London, will give the Enrichment Evening presentation on Thursday, April 23 at 7 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) online via Zoom. Her talk is entitled “Ottoman in New York: How America’s First Armenian Celebrity Brought Constantinople to Manhattan (1834-1895).”

To participate, you will need to download Zoom (zoom.us). Then, to join the event itself, you will need to enter the Meeting ID and password. To receive the Meeting ID and password, please email the Director at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org. Please note that if you attended the previous online Enrichment Evening we will use the same Meeting ID and password. If you participated last time, unless you have lost the information, you don’t need to email to RSVP. Simply join us using the Meeting ID and password at 7 PM on April 23rd. New participants should email the Director at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org.

The event will also be Livestreamed to the Zohrab Information Center’s Facebook page.

“Ottoman in New York: How America’s First Armenian Celebrity Brought Constantinople to Manhattan (1834-1895)” will explore the life and work of America’s first Armenian New Yorker, Christopher Oscanyan. Born in 1818 in Constantinople, Oscanyan spent over half his life in New York City. During that time, he served as a writer, entrepreneur, lecturer, diplomat, and translator, and became friends with American luminaries including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Abraham Lincoln.Lessersohn April 2020 ZIC.001

Over the course of 60 years, Oscanyan dedicated himself to promoting good relations between the Ottoman Empire and the United States. Between 1853 and 1863, alone, he curated and managed an Oriental and Turkish Museum in London (1854); opened a short-lived Turkish Coffee House on Broadway (1855); authored a book, The Sultan and His People (1857); gave lectures throughout the United States on topics such as “Turkish Manners and Customs,” and “The Women of the East;” and published, right in the middle of the Civil War, an album of photographs depicting himself and others wearing traditional Ottoman attire (1863). In 1868, he was appointed the first- ever Ottoman Consul General in New York. And, as late as 1893, he even wrote the libretto for a comic opera titled “The Sultana.”

This talk will focus mostly on his work in New York City: an attempt to evoke the landscape of Oscanyan’s Ottoman Armenian Manhattan.

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Nora Lessersohn is a PhD student in U.S. History at University College London, supported by a Calouste Gulbenkian Armenian Studies Scholarship. She earned her A.M. in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University (2015) and her A.B. in the Study of Religion at Harvard College (2009). She is writing a dissertation on the life of Christopher Oscanyan and Ottoman-American relations in the 19th century.

“The Rest of Fasting” with Dr. Roberta Ervine via Zoom (4/8 at 7 PM EDT)

It is with great pleasure that the Zohrab Information Center announces the continuation of its Winter/Spring 2020 Series on the Environment using the Video Conferencing platform Zoom. Due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Zohrab Information Center is currently closed and all in-person activities have been suspended while we all do our part to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. With that in mind, we are thrilled that Dr. Roberta Ervine will give the Enrichment Evening presentation next Wednesday, April 8 at 7 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) online via Zoom. Her talk is entitled “The Rest of Fasting,” and continues the thematic lecture series on the environment. To participate, you will need to download Zoom (zoom.us). Then, to join the event itself, you will need to enter the Meeting ID. To receive the Meeting ID, please email the Director at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org.

Ervine April 2020 ZIC.001

 

In recent years, the idea of environmental theology or “eco-theology” has been developed by many of the major Christian denominations. Perhaps most notably, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, subtitled, “on care for our common home” presented a Christian vision of “stewardship” over God’s creation. The Armenian Apostolic Church, with its unique method of interpreting Scripture, highly developed ideas about the transformative effect of Christ’s Incarnation, and beautiful liturgical services including blessings of fields and water, surely has something to offer this ecumenical conversation about environmental theology. To that end, the Winter/Spring 2020 Series on the Environment hopes to propel the possibility of Armenian environmental theology forward. Dr. Roberta Ervine’s talk “The Rest of Fasting” is the next presentation in this series.

2017-11 RobertaAfter informal lessons in Armenian language from the late Rev. Fr. Levon Arakelian at Holy Ascension parish in Trumbull, CT, Roberta Ervine enrolled in the newly-reopened Armenian Studies Program at Columbia University, where she studied with Profs. Nina Garsoïan, James Russell, and Very Rev. Fr. Krikor Maksoudian. She holds her PhD from Columbia University. Dissertation research led her to Jerusalem, where she lived in the Armenian Monastery of St. James as a disciple of His Grace Abp. Norayr Bogharian, curator of manuscripts. For sixteen of her twenty-one years in the Holy City, Prof. Ervine taught for the Holy Translators Academy; she also lectured for several other Jerusalem institutions, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2001 she returned to the United States to teach at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, where she lectures on topics related to the history of Armenian Christianity and Armenian Christian thought. Prof. Ervine pursues topics related to the history of Armenians in Jerusalem and the intellectual tradition of the Armenian middle ages (particularly the thinking of Vanakan Vardapet, Vardan the Great and Hovhannēs of Erznka). She is also interested in medieval Armenian grammatical texts.

Zohrab Information Center Temporarily Closed Due to Coronavirus

Dear Friends of the Zohrab Information Center:

As you are all surely aware, the rapid spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 is now a global pandemic, with many cases in the United States and New York City. Following the advice of the CDC, health experts, the broad restrictions on public gatherings by city and state officials, and the directive of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Zohrab Information Center events will be cancelled at least until April 12. Additionally, as the Diocese building is currently closed, the Zohrab Information Center, located within the building, will also be closed. At this time, the Diocese is closed for the current week. In light of the rapidly changing situation, Diocesan administration will regularly evaluate this decision.

The Zohrab Information Center will be closed until the Diocese itself reopens. We will inform you when this is the case. In the meantime, you can contact the Director of the Zohrab Information Center by email at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org. We apologize for the inconvenience and pray that we will be able to open again soon. Until then, we encourage you to follow the Zohrab Information Center on Instagram, to “like” us on Facebook, and to visit our website zohrabcenter.org where we will be posting content related to the Armenian cultural and spiritual heritage and the rich collection of the Zohrab Information Center’s library.

If you have not yet, please read the ADVISORY ON UPCOMING LITURGICAL AND OTHER CHURCH FUNCTIONS from Bishop Daniel Findikyan. It includes this beautiful prayer for healing:

“Lord our God, enthroned among the angels, as you gaze here below from your holy heights, look down on all of us, your servants, who are suffering through the fear, uncertainty, pain and death surrounding the current pandemic. Take away every sickness and pain, and restore health and hope to all those who are ailing. Glory, lordship and honor to you, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

Christopher Sheklian
Director

Armenian Christian Approaches to Creation: Being or Doing? a Presentation by Dn. Alexander Calikyan

Next Thursday, March 5th at 7 PM in the Guild Hall at the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the Zohrab Information Center will hold its next event in the Winter/Spring 2020 Series on the Environment: Dn. Alex Calikyan, a recent graduate of the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will present a talk, Armenian Christian Approaches to Creation: Being or Doing?

The talk is the second presentation in the series on the environment. In recent years, the idea of environmental theology or “eco-theology” has been developed by many of the major Christian denominations. Though the Armenian Apostolic Church, with its unique method of interpreting Scripture, highly developed ideas about the transformative effect of Christ’s Incarnation, and beautiful liturgical services including blessings of fields and water, surely has something to offer this ecumenical conversation about environmental theology, this line of thinking has not yet been fully explored in the Armenian Apostolic Church. To that end, the Winter/Spring 2020 Series on the Environment hopes to propel the possibility of Armenian environmental theology forward.

Dn. Alex Calikyan, who attended the Halki Summit III in Istanbul, a conference on “Theological Formation and Ecological Awareness: A Conversation on Education and the Enviornment” organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, will explore the practical application of an Armenian environmental theology. How should Armenian Christianity approach God’s creation, practically speaking? What do we do with an environmental theology? These practical questions of education, application, and lived spiritual experience are at the heart of Dn. Calikyan’s presentation.

Calikyan March 2020 ZIC .001

Alex Halki Picture

Alexander Calikyan is an ordained deacon of the Armenian Church and a lifelongservant of the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs in Queens, New York. He recently completed his studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and received a Master of Divinity Degree in Spring 2019. He attended the Halki Summit III in Istanbul last year, convened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to address the topic, “Theological Formation and Ecological Awareness: A Conversation on Education and the Environment.” He currently working at the VA as a Chaplain Resident.

St. John Chrysostom in the Work of Ghevont Alishan, a Presentation by Timothy Aznavourian on 2/27

The Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the next Enrichment Evening of 2020. We are excited to have the opportunity to welcome one of the graduating seminarians of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary to speak about his work and research. On Thursday, February 27 at 7 PM in the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America at 630 Second Ave. in New York, Dn. Timothy Aznavourian will discuss, ‘He Belongs Most of All to the Armenians’: St. John Chrysostom in the work of Ghevont Alishan. Alishan, a Mkhitarist father, was one of the great Armenian thinkers of the nineteenth century. In his talk, Dn. Timothy will explore what Alishan thought about St. John Chrysostom, and by extension, what he thought about what it means to “be Armenian.”

In the diaspora, we tend to think of those saints who are “ethnically Armenian” as more uniquely expressing the faith of the Armenian Church than those saints who are not ethnically Armenian. However, this understanding of what it means to be “Armenian” is not reflective oft he Church’s earlier understanding of Armenianness. No one understood this more than the 19th century priest-theologian Ghevont Alishan. In his work, Alishan describes the non-Armenian St. John Chrysostom as belonging “most of all to the Armenians.” This talk aims to understand why and how this is applicable to our Church’s context today.

Aznavourian February 2020 ZIC.001

Dn Tim

Timothy Aznavourian is a deacon of the Armenian Church and current seminarian of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, from which he will graduate in May 2020. Prior to becoming a seminarian, he received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Rhode Island College. In addition, he has studied at both Yerevan State University and Gevorkian Theological Seminary in Holy Etchmiadzin.

A reception will follow the talk. All are welcome! Please direct any inquiries to zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org.

Christopher Sheklian to Present on Armenian Environmental Theology on 2/6

The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the environment as the topic of the Winter/Spring 2020 Enrichment Evening Lecture Series. In recent years, the idea of environmental theology or “eco-theology” has been developed by many of the major Christian denominations. Perhaps most notably, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, subtitled, “on care for our common home” presented a Christian vision of “stewardship” over God’s creation. Though the emergence of this eco-theology could feel like a trendy response to the current moment, both Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (known as the “Green Patriarch” for his environmental initiatives) have argued for the deep roots of “creation care” in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions. Indeed, the Book of Genesis not only describes the perfect communion of God and humanity as taking place in the lush Garden of Eden, but offers a vision of Adam and Eve in harmony and humble stewardship with the rest of God’s creation. The Armenian Apostolic Church, with its unique method of interpreting Scripture, highly developed ideas about the transformative effect of Christ’s Incarnation, and beautiful liturgical services including blessings of fields and water, surely has something to offer this ecumenical conversation about environmental theology.

To that end, the Winter/Spring 2020 Series on the Environment hopes to propel the possibility of Armenian environmental theology forward. Several speakers will develop insights from the Armenian theological tradition, including re-reading foundational texts with an eye to the concern with the care for God’s creation. Additionally, speakers from adjacent religious traditions, especially Eastern Orthodoxy, which has a more developed eco-theology, will present on the insights and challenges of the existing conversation. The season of Lent, when Armenians traditionally abstain from animal products, offers the chance to suggest not only speculative theology but the potential of a lived, practical Christian care for God’s creation with an Armenian twist. We hope that you will join us for this journey as we strive to develop an Armenian approach to ecology and the environment. The full schedule for this series will be posted soon.

Dr. Christopher Sheklian, the Director of the Zohrab Information Center, will give the first lecture in this series. Dr. Sheklian will introduce the idea of environmental or eco-theology, presenting some of the insights of adjacent Christian traditions. He will then offer several interventions drawn from Armenian liturgical services and theological texts. With this, he will sketch what a robust “Environmental Theology of the Armenian Church” might look like, offering potential routes for future work on the topic. The Enrichment Evening will take place on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at 7 PM in the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America at 630 2nd Ave. in New York.  As always, all are welcome. A reception will follow.

Environmental Theology Sheklian ZIC Presentation 2.6.20.001

Dr. Christopher Sheklian is the Director of the Kirkor and Clara Zohrab Information DSC_5397Center at the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) and Adjunct Professor at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Previously, he was a Manoogian Post-Doctoral Fellow in Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan. He specializes in the study of religious minority rights, with a dissertation focused on the Armenians of Turkey. In addition to his ethnographic projects with Armenians in Turkey and a new project with displaced Armenians who have immigrated to established Armenian diasporan communities, he is pursuing research that puts Armenian theology in conversation with contemporary philsophical debates and language, materiality, and the environment. An active scholar, he continues to present at academic conferences and publish his research.