The Zohrab Center recommends the inaugural presentation of the newly formed International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists (IAALA): “The Armenian Digital Landscape” by Tigran Zargaryan, to take place by Zoom on January 22, 2022 at 1:00pm ET.
Zohrab/Fordham Postdoc and Director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen’s Fall Public Lecture series at Saint Nersess Armenian Seminary is now available to stream on YouTube. The six sessions cover the major medieval Armenian historians and histories composed between the fifth and tenth centuries. Part II of the series will take place in the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester.
Series Description: The Armenian historical tradition is rich and well developed, with texts written in this genre produced continuously from the first century after the invention of the alphabet up until the modern period. Of all the Armenian literary genres, it is the histories that have received the most attention from modern scholars, thanks to their importance for our knowledge of the Near East and Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the Armenians who wrote their histories did not conceive of history in the same way we do today, nor did they approach their topics with the same preoccupations and concerns of modern historians. In this six-week course, we will seek to approach the Armenian histories on their own terms, attempting to understand the context in which they were produced, the religious and imaginative world of the authors who composed them, and the goals and purposes that motivated both the patrons who sponsored them and the authors who wrote them. Proceeding chronologically, this semester our goal is to cover twelve major Armenian histories from the fifth to tenth centuries (about two per session). At the same time, we will introduce participants to books and online resources where they may acquire the primary texts and gain access to important secondary materials to facilitate deeper study on their own.
The recording for the First Session of the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” is available to stream on the Zohrab Information Center’s YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel to be notified when future videos in the series are posted.
In the first session, Jesse Arlen, Interim Director of ZIC, presented Gregory of Narek’s “Ode for the Ascension” (Տաղ Համբարձման ի Գրիգոր Նարեկացւոյն).
After the presentation, participants engaged in 20–30 minutes of discussion.
The sessions will continue each Wednesday evening through September 1st at 7:00pm ET. Register in advance for the Zoom sessions here. No knowledge of Classical Armenian is required.
Future sessions will be led by Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian, Julia Hintlian, Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, Ani Shahinian, and Dn. Ezras Tellalian.
The Eastern Diocese, under the auspices of Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel, has entered a new agreement with Fordham University, which will reconfigure the director’s position of the Diocese’s Zohrab Information Center into a post-doctoral fellowship.
Under the new arrangement, the directorship of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center has become a rotating position, of two to three years’ duration, where each successive director will simultaneously hold a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University.
The position will now be officially designated the “Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Armenian Christian Studies, and Director at the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.” Applications are currently being solicited from qualified candidates, with a submission deadline of May 15, 2021.
The arrangement with Fordham University was pioneered by Dr. Christopher Sheklian during his tenure as Zohrab Center director (2018-2020), with the active encouragement of Bishop Daniel.
“I want to express my thanks to Dr. Sheklian for proposing this exciting new vision for the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center of the Eastern Diocese,” said the Primate, himself a former director of the center. “I am fully convinced that this exciting plan will breathe new life into the center, bringing it into the Third Millennium—and thereby more effectively realizing the expectations of its founder, the late Mrs. Dolores Zohrab-Liebmann.”
“The plan propels the Zohrab Center to the academic forefront of Armenian Studies globally; draws it more tangibly into Armenian Church Studies, specifically through St. Nersess Seminary; attracts and supports young scholars in Armenian Christianity; and establishes the Zohrab Center more securely into the Diocese’s mission and efforts to Build Up the Body of Christ,” the Primate said.
A Rarity in the Academic World
The Zohrab Center’s collaborator in this new undertaking, Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center, is a rarity in the academic world: a center dedicated to the study of Orthodox Christianity, which is unaffiliated to a seminary. In recent years the two co-founding directors, George Demacopoulous and Aristotle Papanikoloaou, have worked to include the Oriental Orthodox churches in the center’s orbit, and to advocate a broadly ecumenical approach to the study of Christian Orthodoxy.
“By working with the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, the Eastern Diocese, through its unique institution of the Zohrab Information Center, has the possibility to support and even transform the academic study of Armenian Christianity in America,” said Dr. Christopher Sheklian in a description of the vision behind the new agreement.
“At this moment, there are only a handful of academic positions in Armenian Studies in the United States, and other than at St. Nersess Seminary, there is not a single position dedicated specifically to the study of Armenian Christianity,” he said. “Through this joint venture, the Diocese will simultaneously ensure the dynamic future of the Zohrab Information Center while offering crucial support to the study of Armenian Christianity in America.”
As a practical matter, the director will be based at the Zohrab Center itself, which occupies a suite of offices, research library, and presentation facility at the Diocesan Center in New York. As an integral member of the Diocesan staff, the director will be expected to contribute to Diocesan ministries projects, and the cultural and educational life of the community. The agreement makes provision for the director to spend some time in research and teaching at Fordham University (located in uptown Manhattan), and stipulates that one day per week should be spent at St. Nersess Seminary’s Armonk, NY, campus.
The position is open to candidates with a Ph.D. in a field related to Armenian Studies, and command of at least one dialect of Armenian. According to the terms of the agreement between the Diocese and Fordham, the selection committee assessing applicants will include a representative from the Diocesan Council and a member of St. Nersess Seminary’s faculty; additionally the Diocesan Council must approve the committee’s selection before any candidate is sent to Fordham University for its approval.
About the Zohrab Center
The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center was established by the Eastern Diocese three decades ago as a resource, research, and teaching facility to promote Armenian studies, and to assist students, scholars, the Armenian community and general public in deepening their appreciation for Armenian faith, history, civilization, and culture. It was established through the generous gift of Mrs. Dolores Zohrab Liebmann, in memory of her parents: Krikor and Clara Zohrab.
Krikor Zohrab (pictured above) was one of the towering Armenian intellectual leaders in Constantinople, who lost his life in the Genocide of 1915.
His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, presided over the Zohrab Center’s dedication ceremony on November 8, 1987, during the primacy of the late Archbishop Torkom Manoogian.
Since its founding, the Zohrab Center has enjoyed a distinguished lineage of scholars serving as director and assistant director, including Fr. Krikor Maksoudian, Rachel Goshgarian, Aram Arkun, Fr. (now Bishop) Daniel Findikyan, and Christopher Sheklian. At present, its interim director is Jesse Arlen, a scholar in the field of Armenian theology and early Christian studies who is completing his doctorate at UCLA.
Under every administrator, the heart of the center has always been its research library, whose holdings exceed 40,000 books, periodicals, photographs, and assorted resources in all areas of Armenian Studies.
Of special note would be the center’s collection of Armenian periodicals and newspapers from across the world; its vast collection of 19th/20th-century Armenian literature; and a precious treasury of rare books and manuscripts. A number of titles are found in no other library in the western hemisphere.
The following splendid reflection on the Passion of the Lord has been excerpted and translated from the epic poem by Khrimian Hayrig (Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian, 1820-1907) entitled Հրաւիրակ Երկրին Աւետեաց, roughly translated, Invitation to the Land of the Gospel.
The monumental meditation was composed in 1850 while Khrimian was a young deacon on his first pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The epic consists of seven “songs” that were indeed intended to be sung, as Khrimian relates in the introduction to the book. Sitting in his tiny cell facing the Mount of Olives to the East, he writes—
One day while I was busy writing and singing a melody—for without singing it, a song has no spirit—suddenly the assiduous, late Patriarch Hovhannes came and stood at the door of my room. “I heard your voice, Deacon Mkrtich. What are you singing and writing?”
I said ,”Srpazan, I’m writing an Invitation to the Land of the Gospel.”
“Whom are you inviting?,” he asked.
“Young people and all Armenians, my spiritual father,” I answered.
“Write! Write! God bless you! Invite them! Call them!,” the Patriarch called out. “Let the fervent Armenian people make an oath to come to Jerusalem…”
The passage below is taken from the Sixth Song, a profound meditation on Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” known in Armenian as the “Discourse of the Cross” in John 13-17. Faithful to the ancient manner of Biblical exegesis and preaching, the Catholicos sees the passion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as a single, indivisible reality, which is reflected like a prism in other stories and episodes throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The sorrow of Christ’s passion and death is never isolated from the triumphant joy of his resurrection.
The Zohrab Center holds two precious copies of Khrimian Hayrig’s epic in its second edition, published in Jerusalem in 1892. The text is also available online. The subtitles are not part of the original text.
THE VIGILANT ANGEL that gave the great news to the shepherds at your birth,
The same one spoke at dawn, shouting to the watchful women—
It was not the young men who first heard it, but the daughters of Eve:
“He has risen! Why do you seek among the dead the One who lives?
Why do you weep bitterly for him, who wiped away mankind’s tears?”
Let the disconsolate anguish of your hearts turn to joyfulness!
The dew-like streams that fell from your eyes at the Cross will be wiped away.
Mary the bereaved mother, her heart stabbed as if with a sword—
Her piercing wounds were healed by the resurrection of her Son.
He did not allow Mary Magdalene to kiss him. Would he spare his mother’s kiss?
When the scattered flock of sheep was beaten along with the Good Shepherd,
With the Good News to Mary, coming together again as one,
All were filled with joy, their spirits bloated with hope.
She recalled there the Teacher’s earlier discourse—
“Although I have been willingly betrayed into the hands of those odious people,
I will die innocent and they will place me in a tomb.
Yet after three days I will rise, I will stand up alive,
With miraculously renewed youth, I will be newly restored like an eagle.
As the early dawn’s light spreads out, for a moment I will be covered in the lap of the earth.
After three days buried, toward Himself he will gather this shoot.”
And again the radiant Sun rose from the tomb.
A new, exuberant dawn broke over of the universe.
Darkness, a world-engulfing shadow was dispelled and chased away,
Like Jonah, that prophet who fled,
The Lord lived in the heart of the Earth and entered the belly of a sea-dragon,
Its cavernous mouth gaping wide to devour the world, teeth shining like spiked swords,
“Ha!” it said. “I caught him! The Son of Man tumbled into my mouth!”
But it could not hold on to him. Its sharp teeth were crushed.
The One he held in his belly was the swallowed spirit of Adam.
Quickly he spat him out of the deep womb of hell
Because he did not find in the New Adam the sins of old Adam,
In whom he had poured the poison of death, and whose entire progeny he had killed.
Like a fisherman, using his ingenious little virgin bait, the Father
Cast his hook into the sea of death and caught there the great monster.
He slashed its deep chin and pulled out its spirit, alive and well.
By the word of the one who saw it, he swore to himself
One day, alive, to touch this lower realm of our earth.
Behold his most powerful right arm extended, the Word from above
Touched and seized the great dragon, the Slanderer.
He crushed his head and threw him over half-dead.
The spirits of the saints rejoiced. They kissed the Savior’s right hand.
They cried out, “Blessed is the Father. Blessed is the Son. Blessed is your saving arm.
You slew our great adversary, who never ceased to blame us.
He antagonized the righteous and wouldn’t let us be with you.”
Now that we are freed from the darkness, take us to the Father’s luminous home.
For you said, “Where I am, there my servants will also be.”
The lion cub triumphed over Judas’ lineage.
An awesome voice roared. The depths of Hell shuttered.
The Lord has woken as if from sleep. He who slept in the heart of the earth is awake.
Having drunk wine at the Cross, he spilled it from himself like a giant.
In his death he shut his eyes for an instant, as if in sleep.
Will he not henceforth do even more when he rises up? Continue reading “At the Glorious Tomb of the Lord: A Poem for Holy Week by Khrimian Hayrig”→
The Zohrab Information Center and St. Nersess Seminary will co-sponsor a day-long symposium dedicated to the life and vision of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian, a true titan among the Armenian people in modern times.
The symposium is titled, Soldier of the Light: The Aspirations of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.” It marks the 150th anniversary of Hovsepian’s birth and the centennial of the Battle of Sardarabad (in which he fought). It will take place on Saturday, March 24, at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 486 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY.
Speakers include Dr. Abraham Terian, Dr. Roberta Ervine, Dr. Christine Maranci, Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, and Mr. Nubar Kupelian. V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center and Professor at St. Nersess Seminary, will moderate. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside.
A Man of Staggering Accomplishments Abounding in Grace
Before being elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian (1867-1952) served as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America during the turbulent years following the assassination of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian in New York in 1933. Born in Artsakh, Armenia, he earned graduate degrees from the best universities in Europe, encouraged the Armenian troops on the front lines of the Battle of Sardarabad, chaired the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Yerevan State University, led pioneering archaeological expeditions in western Armenia, published learned books on the art of medieval Armenian manuscript illumination, and previously obscure chapters in Armenian history, and inspired countless people through his preaching and teaching. Through it all Hovsepian tirelessly summoned his flock to rise up from pettiness and division, and to embrace the dignity, richness, and eternal values of Christian life as embodied in Armenian art, culture and history and above all, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church.
On this occasion a volume of selected essays and sermons by the Catholicos, translated for the first time into English by Dr. Ervine and Fr. Findikyan, has been published. Those present for the symposium will receive a complimentary copy of Toward Light and Life: Reflections of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.
The March 24 conference starts at 10:30 a.m. (10 a.m. check-in) and concludes at 4 p.m., with a light lunch served at midday. The symposium and lunch are free and open to all interested.
Please contact St. Nersess Seminary at (914) 273-0200 to reserve your seat. SPACE IS LIMITED.
The event has is generously underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. Berge and Vera Setrakian.
Have you always wanted to read Franz Werfel’s 1933 masterpiece, but haven’t had the chance? Were you inspired by the film The Promise to learn more about what happened on a mountain named Musa Dagh in 1915?
On the occasion of the landmark historical novel’s 85th anniversary, you are invited to join the Zohrab Center’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh Book Club on Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.
Aida Zilelian, Elaine Merguerian, Haig Chahinian, Harry Koumrouyan, and Nancy Agabian will recite brief excerpts from the book and explain how the text resonated with them.
Others wishing to share their own responses to the book will be invited to step up to the OPEN MIC. Each participant will be limited to 3 minutes.
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh was written by the Austrian-Bohemian Jewish playwright, novelist and poet Franz Werfel in German in 1933. The historical novel was inspired by Werfel’s travels to Syria in 1930, where he met countless Armenian refugee survivors of the Genocide, most of them living in wretched, hopeless conditions. The acclaimed novel brought world-wide attention to the Armenian Genocide.
Musa Dagh (Mountain of Moses) is located just inside the current border of Turkey and Syria overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In July 1915, six Armenian villages in the region mounted a successful resistance to the attacking Turkish army by converging on the mountain. The Armenians held back the Turks for 53 days until they were evacuated by Allied French warships. The event is depicted at the end of the recent Genocide film, The Promise.
The ZIC’s Forty Days of Musa Dagh Book Club grew out of a group of New York area Armenian writers who came together recently, guided by NYU Gallatin Professor Nancy Agabian and writer Haig Chahinian, to read and discuss The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Energized by the portrayal of their people fighting back during the Genocide, they talked about how Franz Werfel’s novelization touched them individually, and as a whole.
All are encouraged to read or re-read The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and to share their thoughts and reflections on the book on April 12. Those wishing to speak are asked to contact Haig Chahinian at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up and/or to receive tips on reading the work. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow.
Nancy Agabian is the author of Princess Freak, a poetry collection; and Me as her again, a memoir. Her novel The Fear of Large and Small Nations was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially-Engaged Fiction. A past ZIC speaker and friend, Nancy teaches creative writing at NYU and through her Heightening Stories workshops. nancyagabian.com.
Haig Chahinian’s writing on parenting, race, and life as he knows it has appeared in The Washington Post, O The Oprah Magazine, and the New York Times. For clips, see chahinian.com. When he’s not churning out words, he runs a career counseling practice helping people find more fulfillment at work.
Harry Koumrouyan was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, from parents who fled the Ottoman Empire. He started his career as a teacher before joining the administration
first as a school principal and later as the head of HR. He has written two novels in French, where the Armenian theme plays an important role. He has one son, Adrien, age 28.
Elaine Merguerian is Communications Director at Asia Society, where she promotes the organization’s arts and cultural programming. Before settling in New York, she worked in Washington, D.C. for the federal and local governments, and the Armenian Assembly of America. A native of Massachusetts, she earned a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Aida Zilelian is a New York City writer. Her novel The Legacy of Lost Things (Bleeding Heart Publications) was the recipient of the 2014 Tololyan Literary Award. Her stories have been published in over 25 journals and several anthologies. She has been featured on NPR, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Kirkus Reviews. She is also the curator of Boundless Tales, the longest-running reading series in Queens, New York. She recently completed her second novel, The Last Echo Through the Plains.
(NOTE: AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS POST CONTAINED GAVE THE WRONG DATE FOR THIS LECTURE. THE EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE ON THURSDAY, MARCH 1 2018).
Robin Darling Young, Associate Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC will speak at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, March 1 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.
[CLICK HERE to download a full schedule of the Zohrab Center’s Spring 2018 enrichment events]
The specialist in early Christian history and thought will present a lecture entitled, A Righteous King for Armenia: The Early Historians and their Political Theology.
When Armenia became Christian, its leaders — and later, its writers — had to rethink their country’s politics. Professor Darling Young will explore how the earliest Armenian historians adapted biblical interpretation and political ideas to describe and measure their own rulers and imagine the first Christian nation.
An accomplished interpreter and historian of early Christianity, Robin Darling Young has published widely on topics in the history of early Christianity and its thought, including the areas of scriptural interpretation, the history of asceticism and monastic thought, and the Christian cultures of ancient Syria and Armenia.
In 2015 she hosted a symposium at Catholic University entitled, From Victims to Victors: The New Armenian Saints of 1915, which brought together Armenian, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox scholars to discuss the significance and ramifications of the canonization of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. She has also lectured at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.
The lecture is free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for a color brochure. For further information contact the Zohrab Information Center at(212) 686-0710 or email@example.com.
Native Cypriot Tasoula Hadjitofi is a refugee, icon hunter and culture-crime detective who has made it her life’s work to recover the countless icons, frescoes, mosaics and cultural artifacts that from time immemorial have been the coveted booty of art smugglers, war profiteers, and terrorists.
She will present her new memoir, The Icon Hunter: A Refugee’s Quest to Reclaim Her Nation’s Stolen Heritage, at the Zohrab Center on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 7PM.
The Icon Hunter is the story of Hadjitofi’s perilous journey from refugee into the underworld of art trafficking. The riveting story culminates in her orchestration of “The Munich Case,” one of the largest European art trafficking stings since World War II.
Cyprus has had a continuous Armenian community since the 6th century at least. The Armenian Quarter of Nicosia was captured by Turkish-Cypriot extremists in 1963, leading to the loss of medieval Armenian churches there, as well as in Famagusta on the island’s east coast. Later, following the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island, the 11th-century Armenian monastery of St. Macarius of Alexandria [Մակարավանք] in the mountains of northern Cyprus was seized and desecrated.
In her Zohrab Center presentation, the only Armenian engagement in her current national book tour, Ms. Hadjitofi will delve into the Armenian heritage of the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.
Tasoula Hadjitofi was born and raised in Famagusta, Cyprus. In 1974, with her family she was forced to flee their home after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Tasoula eventually settled in The Netherlands and became Honorary Consul to Cyprus. Approached by a notorious art dealer with information about stolen sacred artifacts looted during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, she spent the next ten years convincing the art dealer to inform on his former partner. Tasoula places everything on the line to repatriate her country’s sacred treasures.
“I entered the fight against art smugglers in 1987, and it was then I had to learn the rules of their game,” the intrepid crusader said in a recent interview. ” I was very fortunate to receive the best legal advice owing to the late [Orthodox Church of Cyprus] Archbishop Chrysostomos I, which meant that before every single battle to regain stolen treasures I was appropriately prepared. And let me tell you—in spite of the mentally and physically exhausting effort, there is nothing more rewarding than the smiles of vindication when a relic is repatriated.”
The book presentation is free and open to the public. Copies of The Icon Hunter will be available for sale with all proceeds going to benefit the Walk of Truth NGO, which works to locate sacred artifacts looted from conflict areas and to restore the cultural identity of those countries to their people.
A reception will follow the presentation. The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
Friends of the Zohrab Information Center and art lovers who live in the New York area or who may be visiting during the Christmas season will not want to miss an extraordinary exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan.
Magnificent Gems: Medieval Treasure Bindingspresents one of the world’s finest collections of lustrous, gem-encrusted medieval bindings for ancient handwritten and early printed books. Also included in the exhibition are all three of the Morgan Library’s 17th-century Armenian silver bindings from Kayseri.
Dr. Sylvie L. Merian, Scholar and Reader Services Librarian at the Morgan, and a frequent lecturer and visitor at the ZIC, is one of the world’s leading experts on medieval book bindings, especially those produced in Armenian workshops.
Visitors will also see one of the Zohrab Center’s two precious copies of the first printed Armenian Bible, produced in Amsterdam in 1666.