Trafficking Sacred Antiquities and Embezzling Heritage: ZIC Book Presentation on February 2

2018-01 IconHunterBookNative 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.

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This 14th-century Armenian manuscript Gospel, seized and lost during the 1963 expulsion of the Armenian community of Nicosia, was recovered by the efforts of “the Icon Hunter,” Tasoula Hadjitofi.

Hadjitofi’s daring multi-year crusade ended in the arrest of the notorious Turkish art trafficker Aydin Dikmen and the recovery of over $60 million in stolen icons and other antiquities from Cyprus and around the world. The haul included a priceless 14th-century Armenian manuscript Gospel stolen from the Armenian Church of the Mother of God in the northern part of Nicosia in 1963.

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.

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The thousand-year old Armenian Monastery of St. Macarius in northern Cyprus in a photograph dated 1974.

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.Tasoula-Hadjitofi-Octagon

“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 zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

 

“The Embodiment of the Best Attributes of the Armenian People.” Dr. Roberta Ervine to Speak About Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants

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Catholicos Karekin Hovspiants (1838-1945)

The Zohrab Center will devote its last evening enrichment program of the year to one of the greatest leaders of the Armenian people in modern times, Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants, on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Professor Roberta Ervine of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will present a lecture entitled, Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants and the Value of Simple, Timeless Things on Thursday, November 30 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York.

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Hovsepiants must be ranked among the greatest figures in the entire history of the Armenian people.  The sheer range of his abilities and the scope of his achievements is simply astounding. Before rising to the Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia, Hovsepiants had battled the Turks at Sardarabad, earned advanced degrees from Europe’s most prestigious universities, led archaeological expeditions, lectured in philology and history, shepherded the Armenian Diocese of America during its most tumultuous era, and become one of the leading scholars of Armenian art history in the world.

2017-11 ErvineHovsepiants.001During his tenure as Primate in New York (1938-1945), Hovsepiants established the Diocesan publication Հայաստանեայց Եկեղեցի / Hayasdanyaits Yegeghetsy [The Armenian Church], raised funds to liquidate the Diocese’s debts, drafted a vision and plan to build a Cathedral and a Seminary for the American Diocese, and inspired many through his passionate and uplifting preaching.

“Catholicos Karekin was the embodiment of the best attributes of the Armenian people,” wrote the late Archbishop Yeghishé Gizirian in an essay published in 1962 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Catholicos’ passing. He added, “In his diminutive but attractive body was stored tremendous energy, physical, mental and spiritual. Ever active, ever alert with a very keen, retentive memory, quick in perception, and equally quick in formulating his opinions and arriving at a decision.”

2017-11-roberta-e1511383762455.jpegProfessor Ervine will survey the Catholicos’ life and achievements, while she seeks to identify the invisible spirit that fueled them.

“Revered and reviled in his own lifetime, Karekin Hovsepiants became one of the Armenian Church’s most inspired and inspiring figures,” Ervine says.” His life—and even more, his spirit—challenges today’s Armenians to embrace the demands of their faith to the fullest.”

A regular lecturer at the Zohrab Center, Roberta Ervine is Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in Armonk, New York, where she teaches Armenian Church History and Theology, and Modern and Classical Armenian languages. She recently taught a one-week intensive course on the life and writings of St. Nersess Shnorhali.

“Dr. Ervine has the rare ability to breathe life into history in such a way that persons from the past seem to rise up out of the pages of books and speak to the most pressing questions of our time and place,” one of her students said.

The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

 

Being Armenian in Istanbul Today. Lecture by Christopher Sheklian.

2017-11 ConstantinopleAnthropologist and Armenian Deacon Dr. Christopher Sheklian will deliver a lecture at the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, November 7 at 7PM entitled, Sharagans in the City: Being Armenian in Istanbul Today.

Armenians in Istanbul today navigate a city that is undeniably their home, yet often feels exclusionary. People rarely speak Armenian on the street and many of the churches are hidden behind high walls. Yet the Armenians living there do not necessarily feel excluded or discriminated 2017-11 SheklianSharagan.001against. “Bolis” is their home, and they feel a sense of belonging there.

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Dr. Sheklian will discuss the complicated sense of belonging that Armenians feel toward Istanbul and toward Turkey. He suggests that the inheritance of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s liturgy helps many Armenians to navigate the city. Through constant exposure to Armenian sharagans and other hymns, Armenians are able to hear the soundscape of Istanbul as one where they also belong.

Christopher Sheklian, a native of central California, earned his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2017. His dissertation, entitled, Theology and the Community: The Armenian Minority, Tradition, and Secularism in Turkey, was based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork with Armenians in Istanbul. An ordained deacon of the Armenian Church, Dr. Sheklian spent a year as a student and researcher at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New York. He previously attended the University of California, Berkeley where he majored in Anthropology, and he worked as a substitute

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Anthropologist and ordained deacon of the Armenian Church Dr. Christopher Sheklian will speak about how the Armenian Church and especially its sacred music affords a sense of belonging to Armenians of Istanbul.

teacher before earning his MA and PhD at Chicago.

This year, Dr. Sheklian is a Manoogian Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he plans to develop the conceptual apparatus of his dissertation by considering the connections between Christology, semiotics, and hermeneutics and to pursue a second ethnographic project with Armenian refugees from Syria and Iraq living in the greater Detroit area.

The lecture at the Zohrab Center will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York. The event is free and open to the public. As always, a reception and conversation will follow the lecture.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

ZIC Launches Fall Season with a Talk on Orthodox Christian Unity

ChaillotOrthCrossThe words Eastern and Oriental are synonyms. Yet in the 20th century these two words came to be be used to distinguish the two major families of Orthodox churches that were estranged in the fifth century over the dilemma of how properly to understand Jesus’ divinity and his humanity.

ChaillotEthCrossThe Zohrab Center will inaugurate its Fall 2017 season of evening enrichment events on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 with a book presentation by the internationally acclaimed Orthodox ecumenist and author, Christine Chaillot. Madame Chaillot will present a major new book, edited by her, which brings together essays by over 50 renowned ecumenists, theologians, and clergy representing all of the Orthodox Churches. The book represents the most important new 2017-10 Chaillot.001step in the reconciliation of these ancient eastern churches.

CLICK HERE to download a full-color flyer of the event.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches are most prominently represented by the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches, as well as the Romanian, Bulgarian, Georgian, and other churches, including, especially here in North America, the Orthodox Church of America and the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

The so-called Oriental Orthodox Churches comprise the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syrian, and Syrian Malankara Orthodox Churches.

ChaillotBookThe massive new book, entitled, The Dialogue Between the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, includes important essays by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Information Center, and V. Rev. Fr. Shahé Aramian, of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin.

The talk and book presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York, NY beginning at 7PM. All are welcome to the free event, which will conclude with a reception.

Christine Chaillot is Swiss (Geneva) and Eastern Orthodox (Patriarchate of Constantinople). She is internationally known and respected for her ardent advocacy of the full reconciliation of the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Mme. Chaillot is the author of numerous books and articles on the life and spirituality of the churches of the two families and the history and progress of their ecumenical dialogue. A frequent visitor to Armenia, Ethiopia, and all of the lands of historic Orthodoxy, she is not only a friend to hierarchs and theologians of every Orthodox church, but a personal catalyst for deeper relationships and dialogue among them.

“The (im)possibility of Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation, the Toll of Sacrifice and the Tremors of Trauma and Love.” A Lecture by Jennifer Manoukian. Tuesday, June 13.

The Candidate coverJennifer Manoukian will present a lecture entitled Zareh Vorpouni and the Metamorphosis of Western Armenian Literature at the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, June 13 at 7PM. The presentation comes on the heels of Manoukian’s new English translation of the French-Armenian author’s 1967 novel, The Candidate.

Zareh Vorpouni was the least known, but the most prolific in a coterie of young writers who turned Paris of the 1920’s and 1930’s into the epicenter of Western Armenian literature. These writers deliberately broke with their Ottoman Armenian predecessors in theme and form, staging an outright rebellion against them. Their invention of new literary standards and their impulse to represent the new realities of the diaspora challenged the conservatism of the Armenian community and created a fleeting period in which interrogations of nationalism, clericalism and sexuality became the norm in literature.

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Jennifer Manoukian has published works by Zabel Yessayan and Zareh Vorpouni.

Vorpouni spent the second half of the twentieth century at the height of his creativity. “He embodies the new, the experimental, and the transgressive in Western Armenian fiction,” writes Manoukian.

Jennifer Manoukian is a translator of Western Armenian literature. She will begin her doctoral studies at U.C.L.A. in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures in the fall. She received her Master’s degree from the Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University and her Bachelor’s degree in French and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutger’s University. She recently presented her 2014 English translation of Zabel Yessayan’s The Gardens of Silihdar at the Zohrab Center.

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Zareh Vorpouni was one of the most prolific Armenian authors in mid-twentieth century Paris.

Vorpouni’s novel, The Candidate, follows the trials and travails of two Armenian refugees in 1920s Paris. At its core, Manoukian reveals “a commentary on the (im)possibility of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, the toll of sacrifice and the tremors of trauma and love, which mirror the wandering, introspective and hybridized life of its author,” she writes.
Manoukian will speak about The Candidate, which she co-translated with Ishkhan Jinbashian. CLICK HERE to download a flyer.2017-06 ManoukianVorpouni.001
Manoukian’s presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York on Tuesday, June 13 at 7PM. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Candidate will be available for sale. A reception and conversation will follow.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.
 

Susan Barba to Present New Collection of Poems. Thursday, May 11.

BarbaFairSunCoverPoet, translator and editor Susan Barba will present her first collection of poetry entitled Fair Sun at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, May 11 at 7pm in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese.

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The wide-ranging works in the collection include a series of prose poems titled “Andranik.” In these poems, a child is speaking with her grandfather who relates, in answer to her questioning, the details of his survival during the Armenian Genocide: his escape, the murder of his father, the suicide of his sister, the death of his best friend, forced marches, enslavement – all punctuated by memories of an earlier boyhood spent chasing ducks, swimming in the river, sleeping on mats under the stars.

Benjamin Paloff, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan writes, “Few poets are, for me, so rich in gifts and so graceful in the giving.”

Susan Barba web-9101-media squareSusan Barba’s work has been published in Poetry, Boston Review, The Hudson Review, The Yale Review, Antioch Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. She is a co-editor of I Want to Live: Poems of Shushanik Kurghinian (AIWA Press), and she has translated and published poems by Vahan Teryan and Siamanto. She received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University, and an M.F.A. from Boston University. She has taught in the Writing Program at Boston University and is currently a senior editor with New York Review Books. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two children.

The book presentation and reading will take place at the Zohrab Center of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York. It is free and open to the public. All are invited to attend and to enjoy a wine and cheese reception afterwards. Copies of Dr. Barba’s new book will be available for sale.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

Memoirs of an Armenian Soldier in the Ottoman Turkish Army. Book Presentation by Adrienne G. Alexanian

2017-04 ForcedGenocide-page-001Adrienne G. Alexanian will present her newly-edited book, Forced into Genocide: Memoirs of an Armenian Soldier in the Ottoman Turkish Army at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, April 6 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Forced into Genocide is the the riveting memoir of Alexander’s father, Yervant Edward Alexander, an eye-witness to the massacre and dislocation of his family and countrymen in Ottoman Turkey during World War I. Incredibly, Alexanian experienced the Armenian Genocide as a conscript in the Turkish army. His memoir is a one-of-a-kind “insider’s account” documenting the Genocide’s astonishing cruelty—but also its rare, unexpected acts of humanity.

Already widely-acclaimed by such notable figures as Dr. Taner Akçam, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, Eric Bogosian and Andrew Goldberg, this book, with its utterly unique perspective, includes rare documents and photos that the author preserved.

Yervant Alexanian was born in Sivas, Turkey. He survived the Hamidian massacres as an infant to later fight for survival as a conscript in the Ottoman Turkish Army during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. He fled to America in 1920, where he spent his life advocating justice for his people.

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The book features an introduction by Dr. Sergio La Porta, Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies at Fresno State University; and a foreword by the Genocide scholar Israel W. Charny.

Adrienne G. Alexanian, editor of the book, is an educator and is active in charitable, educational, volunteer and cultural endeavors within the Armenian community in New York, where over the years she has served on dozens of committees and boards. She received the Ellis Island Award in 2010. She spent years preparing her father’s manuscripts for publication.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow Ms. Alexanian’s presentation, and books will be available for sale.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

Hrair Hawk Khatcherian to Present New Magnificent Album on Khatchkars on Thursday, March 30.

IMG_3597Acclaimed photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian will present his new, massive album entitled, Khatchkar [Խաչքար] at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, March 30 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Spanning over 500 pages and including well over 1000 exquisite photographs, Khatcherian’s unprecedented photographic compilation comprises easily the most comprehensive photographic documentation of the signature sacred art form of the Armenian people.

Khatchkars are intricately adorned crosses sculpted into stone, which are ubiquitous in the Armenian homeland. Armenians continued to create khatchkars wherever they migrated. As such, beautiful examples of khatchkars—no two of them alike—can be found all over the world, wherever Armenians live or have lived; and they date from the early centuries of Christianity to the present time. They are true markers of Christian Armenian presence.

Khatcherian has photographed khatchkars in Armenia and throughout the world. Some years ago he visited the Zohrab Center to exhibit photographs he had taken from western and historical Armenia.

The publication of the album was subsidized by Mr. and Mrs. Hagop Didizian of London.

2017-03 HawkKacherian.001CLICK HERE to download a full-color flyer.

Born in Lebanon, Khatcherian lives in Canada. There, in 1988 he participated resolutely in the various activities of the Diaspora linked to the Artsakh Movement. In 1993 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In his hospital room where he underwent terrible treatments which alone could kill a man, there was on the wall a cross and photographs of Armenia and Artsakh.

“It was by staring at them fiercely, day by day, with my mortally wounded hawk’s eyes, that I succeeded in tearing myself from the claws of Death, to take flight again, and to rise high again in the sky, in the direction of my true destiny,” he writes. Today, fully and miraculously recovered, with his wife and two teenage children, he “lives only for and by Armenia, the Artsakh, and the fundamental references and benchmarks of the Armenian world.”

The presentation is free and open to the public. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow the event and copies of Khacherian’s book will be available for sale.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

St. Gregory of Narek’s Festal Works. Book Presentation by Dr. Abraham Terian. Monday, March 20.

TerianFestalWorksDr. Abraham Terian, Professor Emeritus of Armenian Patristics and Theology at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will present his new book at the Zohrab Center on Monday, March 20 at 7PM.

The book is entitled, The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies and Encomia. This is the first English translation of these poetic works.

Less known than St. Gregory’s celebrated Book of Prayers (or Book of Lamentations as it is sometimes called), the great tenth-century mystic’s jubilant poems on the life of Christ and the great saints and feasts of the Armenian Church are filled with the joyful exuberance of the Christian message. In penetrating theology, masterful poetry and lavish Biblical imagery, St. Gregory summons the reader into his staggeringly intimate experience of God’s 2017-03 TerianNarek.001goodness and the Church’s holiness.

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DR. ABRAHAM TERIAN is Professor Emeritus of Armenian Theology and Patristics at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. A recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities award and Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, he has extensive publications in the fields of Hellenistic, early Christian, and Armenian religious literature.

2012-09 TerianDr. Terian’s book includes English translations of more than fifty substantial compositions spanning hundreds of pages of text. As beautifully engaging as Terian’s renditions of the texts are his profuse and learned annotations, which accompany each work. The scholar provides Biblical references (the volume’s Scripture index spans 11 pages of triple columns); generous cross-references with other works in the collection, as well as patristic references, and echoes in Armenian theological and devotional literature.

The book presentation is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served and books will be available for sale following Dr. Terian’s opening remarks. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

Thursday, March 2: The Joy of the Gospel in Times of Tragedy: A Lesson from St. Nersess Shnorhali.

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St. Nersess “the Gracious One” Shnorhali (1102-1173AD). A true pillar of the Armenian Church.

V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan will present a little-known work by the great 12th-century Armenian Catholicos St. Nersess Shnorhali at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, March 2 at 7PM. His presentation is entitled, The Joy of the Gospel in Times of Tragedy: A Lesson from St. Nersess Shnorhali.

Fr. Findikyan is Director of the Zohrab Information Center and Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary (Armonk, NY).

Jesus famously promises to lift even our heaviest burdens and to bring relief to all who are weary. But how are we to cope with the most harrowing pains and tragic assaults that can afflict human beings? What can we do for those who are suffering? Can anything good—even joyful—come from tragedy?

St. Nersess Shnorhali’s  little-known Letter of Consolation (Թուղթ մխիթարութեան) is an exquisite poem in which the Catholicos displays his tender compassion for someone who has experienced what is perhaps the most harrowing and inexplicable pain that one can suffer in this life, the death of a child. With great sensitivity, the Gracious One touches the wounds of the grieving father, as he weaves a tapestry of hopeful images and allusions from Sacred Scripture to bring the healing of Jesus Christ to bear.

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Fr. Daniel Findikyan lectures at the Gevorgyan Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia last September.

Fr. Daniel will present his new English translation of the work, highlighting not only its poetic and lyric beauty, but also how “the Gracious One” teaches and personifies the power of Jesus Christ even in the midst of seemingly hopeless heartbreak. 

Fr. Findikyan is a priest and vartabed of the Armenian Church. He received his doctoral degree from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and is the author of several books and dozens of scholarly articles on the worship traditions of the Christian East and especially the Armenian Church. He has lectured nationally and internationally, and is President of the Society of Oriental Liturgy. Hayr Daniel is a founding member of the Fellowship of St. Voski [Նոր Ոսկեանք], a non-profit organization dedicated to transmitting the spiritual and theological heritage of the Armenian Church tradition to Christians today. He is on the editorial board of the quarterly magazine The Treasury [Գանձարան].

The presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York. All are welcome to attend the presentation. Join us at 6PM for a cup of Lenten soup.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710. CLICK HERE to download a flyer.