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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.

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From New Julfa to Constantinople to Manchester to Fowler: The Legacy of a Prolific Author and Priest

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Volume 1 of the Armenian Church journal entitled, Yegeghetsee Hayasdanyayts, dated April 1900 and published in Manchester, England. The Zohrab Center’s copy of this precious journal bears the stamp of the “Araratian Armenian Library, Central Falls, Rhode Island.”

Rustling through the countless tattered books that await identification and cataloging in the Zohrab Center’s library, I recently came across an old journal entitled Եկեղեցի Հայաստանեայց. Ամսաթերթ Կրօնական եւ Աստուածաբանական / Yegeghetsee Hayasdanyayts: Amsatert Gronagan yev Asdvadzapanagan  [The Church of the Armenians: A Religious and Theological Journal].

The journal was published in Manchester, England by Toros Der Isahagian, a married priest whose byname Jughayetsi marks him as a native of New Julfa, the Armenian quarter of Isfahan in northwestern Iran, an important Armenian commercial and religious center.

The inaugural volume, designated Number 1 April 1900, opens with a congratulatory letter from His Holiness the Catholicos Mgrdich, better known as Khrimian Hayrig. That and subsequent issues contain short essays on the history and doctrines of the Armenian Church, including short articles on saints, holy days, sacraments and other church services, as well as meaty and well-written sermons and commentaries on Bible passages.

The final issue for the year 1900 contains one of the most remarkable writings I have encountered by an Armenian clergyman in modern times. Spanning 34 single-spaced pages, it carries the title: Pastoral Letter to the True Children of the Apostolic Church of the Armenians who are under the Care of this Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Manchester  [Թուղթ Հովուական առ հարազատ որդիս Հայաստանեայց Առաքելական Եկեղեցւոյ որք ընդ հովանեաւ Ս. Հոգի (sic) Եկեղեցւոյս հայոց ի Մանչեսթր].

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An earlier journal of the same name, produced by Toros Der-Isahagian in Constantinople, 1888.

This extraordinary letter is actually a book-length cross between a genuine Armenian Church catechesis, and a call to spiritual arms for diasporan Armenian Christians in England at the turn of the 20th century. With refreshing originality, Fr. Der Isahagian takes up fundamental components of the Armenian Church’s history, theology, and liturgy and applies this age-old Christian tradition to pressing, practical issues facing the people under his care. Here is an Armenian pastor who is fully rooted in the apostolic, Orthodox eastern tradition of his church, while fully aware of the very modern, very western concerns of his flock.

Not surprisingly for those who know anything about the Armenian Church’s theology, the priest from New Julfa’s exposition is thoroughly and unreservedly Biblical, amounting to a marvelous celebration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, told from the faith experience of the Armenian people. This is a treatise that deserves to be translated into English and other western languages and distributed widely.

The very next day, quite by chance, I discovered another bound collection of journals with the same name, but published in 1888 in Constantinople. I only had to leaf through a few pages to discover the very same editor at work, in this instance, publishing a more concise, weekly paper with content similar to what he would later create in Manchester. The weekly version provided detailed commentaries on the Bible readings appointed in the Armenian Lectionary for each Sunday, along with essays on saints and feast days falling during that week along with thoughtful sermons on the most practical aspects of Christian life.

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Toros Der-Isahagian Jughayetsi’s Commentary on the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church was originally published in Jerusalem in 1891. It was reprinted there in 1959.

It turns out that Toros Der Isahagian was a well-known scholar and theologian long before he was ordained a priest in Holy Etchmiadzin around 1896, when he was called to serve the Armenian community in Manchester as their priest. His tenure there was rocky. As the oldest and most affluent Armenian Church community in Europe at the time, Manchester became a magnet for countless Armenian refugees fleeing the growing persecutions in eastern Turkey. At the same time, the Armenian merchants of Manchester, most of them involved in the cotton industry, were constantly called upon to provide financial assistance to the hordes of widows and orphans finding their way to Constantinople on the eve of the Genocide. Fr. Der Isahagian seems to have been the victim of political in-fighting within the community, whose flames were fanned by darkening clouds in the homeland. He resigned his pastorate in 1902.

The few histories of the Armenian community in Manchester that have been published have little more to say about the prolific Der Hayr from New Julfa.

der-theodorosDeacon Allan Jendian of Fresno, California has provided additional information about our prolific priest, culling references from a variety of commemorative booklets and other materials. After his departure from Manchester, Der Toros spent several decades in the United States. After a brief stint as Pastor of the Armenians in Boston, he went to California, where he served as Pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Fresno (1907), and the first priest of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church of Fowler (1910-1912, 1916-1917). He subsequently served for shorter periods in Los Angeles (1913-1915), San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento. He returned to Isfahan in the 1930’s and died there in 1938. He is buried in the All-Savior’s Armenian Monastery there.

Der Toros is referred to in some publications as Der Teodoros. As editor of the first English translation of the Armenian Badarak (Fresno, 1931) his name appears as Theodoros Isaac.

Der Isahagian was born in Nor Jugha in 1861. He was ordained in October 1895 in Holy Etchmiadzin. He earned his Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Bonn, Germany.

Apart from these scattered references, the literary work he has left behind suggests that he was a true intellectual, a devout servant of God, and a dedicated pastor of the Armenian Church. Several essays and sermons of his are published in the 1896 issues of Ararat, the forerunner of Etchmiadzin, the official organ of the Holy See. He is also the author of a commentary on the Soorp Badarak, the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, which was published in Jerusalem in 1891 with a second edition in 1959.

Here is an excerpt from Der Isahagian’s Foreword to his Armenian Church Journal published in Constantinople:

If, while cultivating our secular mind, we ignore our spiritual development, gradually the spirit will become numb eventually to become completely desensitized and die. Such a person then becomes becomes incapable of grasping spiritual truths because there is no longer any balance between the mind and the spirit.

[Yegeghetsee Hayasdanyayts , March 6, 1888, No. 1, page 2. Translated by Fr. Daniel Findikyan]

Judging by the extent and superior quality of his writings, much of this priest’s time and energy must have been devoted to writing. One can only admire the tenacity and fervor of Der Toros, who was able to produce all he did while raising a family and caring for a large, diasporan church community at the turn of a troubled century for the Armenian people. When we consider the financial resources required to print and distribute periodical journals, especially at a time when the Armenian community of Manchester, England had other pressing obligations to desperate refugees and victims of violence in the homeland. Fr. Der Isahagian’s literary output and spiritual/educational contribution to the Armenian Church becomes even more exceptional.

Rev. Toros Der Isahagian’s two Armenian Church journals are housed in the Zohrab Information Center, along with countless other literary treasures of the Armenian people, many of them waiting to be explored for their wisdom and their insights into the Armenian mind, world and psyche. Read more…

Havresc: An Armenian Christian Village in Northern Iraq Standing Down ISIS

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Sunrise over Havresc in ISIS-controlled northern Iraq. The domes of the Armenian Church are seen in the foreground.

The Zohrab Center will screen the New York premiere of a new documentary on a northern Iraq community of Armenian and Assyrian Christians that is fighting back the Islamic State. Entitled Havresc: Stand on Courage, the film will be introduced and shown by David Ritter, who produced it.

The event will take place on Thursday, December 8 at 7PM in the Vartan Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Standing in the face of hatred, oppression, violence and every adversity, these Armenian and Assyrian Christians are defending themselves from ISIS not only for their survival, but to create a home for all Christians facing persecution.

2016-12-havrescflyer-001Documentarian David Ritter’s work focuses on ethnic groups throughout the world, especially minorities. During the Fall and Winter of 2015 he lived in Iraq, volunteering in support of the Assyrian and Armenian Christian militias and communities. He spent much of his time filming and documenting the experiences of the ancient Christian Armenian and Assyrian communities as they struggle against the violence of the Islamic State. 

Ritter will introduce and then screen the 35-minute documentary. A discussion will follow. The evening will conclude with a reception.

Download a flyer by clicking here.

All are invited to the event. For further information contact the Zohrab Information Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

#Hravresc.

Sometimes Poetry is the Answer

Join us this Thursday evening, November 17 at the Zohrab Center at 7PM for another thoughtful, uplifting and therapeutic Evening of Poetry. 

Three noted American-Armenian poets will read from their works in English and Armenian.

lola_2012LOLA KOUNDAKJIAN enjoys her poetry diplomacy, touring the world to read at poetry festivals, and, promoting Armenian culture through the Armenian Poetry Project. This fall she is reading in three venues around New York City: in September as part of National Translation Month in the Inkwell series at the KGB Bar, a literary institution in the East Village neighborhood of New York City; in October, in the Americas Poetry Festival; and in November at the ZIC. She is the author of The Accidental Observer (2011 USA) and Advice to a Poet (2014 Peru; 2015 USA).

photo-1SHAHÉ MANKERIAN is the principal of St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School in Pasadena and the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project. As an educator, he has been honored with the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation and excellence in arts education. His poems have won Honorable Mentions in 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture. Shahé was a Semi-Finalist for the Knightville Poetry Contest. He was the first place winner of 2012 “Black and White” anthology series from Outrider Press. His poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

dana-walrathDANA WALRATH, a writer, artist and anthropologist, spent 2012-2013 as a Fulbright Scholar in Armenia where she completed her first book, Like Water on Stone a verse novel about the Armenian genocide of 1915, loosely based on the story of her grandmother. Her just released graphic memoir, Aliceheimer’s about life with her mother, Alice, before and during dementia, has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Philadelphia Inquirer

2016-11-poetryevening-001Copies of the poets’ recent books will be available for sale. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

The Evening of Poetry will take place at the Diocese of the Armenian Church, 630 2nd Avenue, New York and begin at 7PM. All are welcome. Admission is $5. Students with ID are free.

A reception and conversation will follow.

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

Jerusalem 1000-1400 Every People Under Heaven. Meet the Curators

img_3470Meet the co-curators of the current landmark exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled, Jerusalem 1000-1400 Every People Under Heaven this Wednesday evening at 7PM in Vartan Hall at the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Drs. Melanie Holcomb and Barbara Drake Boehm, co-curators of the exhibition, will survey the works on display and discuss the importance of this period in the history of Jerusalem and its diverse communities.

The exhibit features several priceless Armenian works, some of which have never before been seen outside the walls of the Holy City.

The continuous presence of Armenian monks, artists, and scholars since as early as the fourth century at least is well known and documented. Their preoccupation with the city, along with that of multiple competitive and complementary religious and cultural traditions gave rise to one of the most creative periods in its history. The Met exhibition is the first to unravel the various cultural traditions and aesthetic strands that enriched and enlivened the medieval city.

2016-11-jerusalemeverypeople-001“Even if the number of Armenian artworks is not many, their quality and beauty are exquisite,” said Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center. “And in any case, the prominent status of Armenians in Jerusalem at this time is evident throughout the exhibit, from the very first object,” he added.

The conversation with the c0-curators is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. Download a full-color flyer here.

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters, is co-curator of the exhibitions Jerusalem in the Middle Ages (2016), The Game of Kings (2011–12),Prague: The Crown of Bohemia (2005), and Enamels of Limoges (1996), and curator ofMedieval Jewish Art in Context (2011–12). She recently contributed to the exhibitions L’Art du Jeu (2012–13) (Musée de Cluny, Paris) and Treasures of Heaven (2010–11) (Cleveland, Baltimore, London). A graduate of Wellesley College, Dr. Boehm directs the Curatorial Studies program, administered with the Institute of Fine Arts, from which she received her PhD.

Melanie Holcomb is a specialist in the luxury arts of the middle ages, from treasure hoards to illuminated manuscripts. She is an alumna of Smith College and earned her PhD from the University of Michigan. Holcomb has a particular interest in travel, trade, and other means of cultural exchange among medieval patrons and artists. Her current research is focused on the art and history of the Holy Land

3 Weeks – 3 Great Zohrab Events

Mark your calendars, friends of the Zohrab Center. The next three weeks will feature a series of three exciting enrichment events.

2016-11-voyagefilm-001THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3 • 7PM

ZIC Goes to the MoviesLe Voyage en Arménie (Journey to Armenia) directed by Robert Guediguian. French with English subtitles. Writer, translator, journalist and filmmaker Christopher Atamian will introduce this award-winning film about a man who flees to his native Armenia after being diagnosed with a serious illness. His daughter sets out after him as he seeks to recover his cherished homeland in a country that has changed dramatically since he left it.

Starring Ariane Ascaride, Gérard Meylan, Serge Avédikian, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, and Jalil Lespert. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

2016-11-jerusalemeverypeople-001WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9 • 7PM

Meet the co-curators of the current exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art: Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven. Over 200 works of art from Jerusalem illustrate how the Holy City played a key role in shaping the art of the period from 1000-1400. The Armenians’ presence and creative activity in Jerusalem since ancient times are on full display from the very first work in the exhibit, which features several priceless Armenian treasures never before seen outside the walls of the Armenian Quarter.

Drs. Melanie Holcomb and Barbara Drake Boehm, co-curators of the exhibition, will survey the works on display and discuss the importance of this period in the history of Jerusalem and its diverse communities. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

2016-11-poetryevening-001THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17 • 7PM

An Evening of Poetry. American-Armenian poets Dana Walrath, Shahé Mankerian and Lola Koundakjian will read from their works in English and Armenian.

DANA WALRATH was a 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Armenia, where she completed her first book, Like Water on Stone, a verse novel about the Armenian Genocide, loosely based on the story her grandmother. LOLA KOUNDAKJIAN reads regularly at the Zohrab Center. She has read her works internationally and published them in several translations. She is the founder of the Armenian Poetry Project. SHAHÉ MANKERIAN is co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project and an award-winning educator. He was the first place winner of the 2012 “Black and White” anthology series from Outsider Press. His poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

Copies of the poets’ recent books will be available for sale. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

All events take place at the Diocese of the Armenian Church, 630 2nd Avenue, New York and begin at 7PM. All are welcome. Admission to the Evening of Poetry is $5. Students with ID are free. All other events are free and open to all. A reception and conversation follows each event.

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

 

How Did I Survive? Book Presentation by Dr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan

2016-10-howsurvivebookjacketDr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan will present the memoirs of his grandfather, the renowned Soviet Armenian philosopher, Professor Artavazd M. Minasyan (1913-1993) in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 7PM.

Entitled, How Did I Survive?, Professor Minasyan’s memoirs were translated into English and edited by Dr. Gevorkyan, who will present the book.

Professor Minasyan was one of the founders of the dialectic school of philosophy. He made immense contributions to the scientific content of philosophy through his numerous research articles, monographs, textbooks, and conference presentations.

The book tells the remarkable story of an intellectual  of the highest caliber, and the challenges, controversies, destruction and injustice posed by life in the Soviet Union. The author unveils intricate details of his time, describing his fight for survival and what inspired and gave him strength to go on from the days of his hungry childhood, Stalin’s purges, facing the enemy one-on-one during World War II, or struggling in peacetime for the right to voice alternative views in science.

2016-10-howsurvivedrevised-001Covering the period of approximately eighty years from the early 1910s to the early 1990s the narrative coincides with the author’s life-journey, touching upon every significant event of the time and the author’s personal involvement in each case. These situations are not told in simple chronological enumeration, but are enriched with complex nuances. They are analyzed through the prism of time and the author’s adherence to dialectical critique. Hence one man’s life becomes the reflection of the life of the entire country.

Dr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan is Assistant Professor of Economics in Department of Economics and Finance of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University in New York City; a Vincentian Research Fellow at the Vincentian Centre for Church and Society, and a Research Fellow at the Center for Global Business Stewardship. Dr. Gevorkyan also serves as Economics Subject Matter Expert for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See To the United Nations in New York. Additionally, Dr. Gevorkyan has worked as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Central Bank of Armenia. Dr. Gevorkyan’s extensive teaching and research experience covers themes in macroeconomic policy, economic development, international financial economics, labor migration, sovereign debt, commodities markets, and post-socialist transition economics. Dr. Gevorkyan is a co-editor (with Otaviano Canuto) of Financial Deepening and Post-Crisis Development in Emerging Markets (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016). He is also the author of Innovative Fiscal Policy and Economic Development in Transition Economies (Routledge, 2013 in paperback; 2011 in hardcover).

The book presentation is open to the public and free of charge. Books will be available for sale during a reception that will follow the presentation.

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