Upcoming Events: Medieval Armenian Poetry; Launch of New Reading Series; Seminarian Life in Istanbul

The Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the following upcoming events:

  • ZIC director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen will deliver part 2 of a two-semester public lecture series offered through St. Nersess Armenian Seminary on Medieval Armenian Poetry, with six lectures scheduled for the following Thursday evenings: February 2, 9, 16 and 23, March 2 and 9. All sessions are offered on Zoom from 7 PM – 8 PM. To learn more about the series and for Zoom registration, click here. To watch part 1 of this series on YouTube, click here.
  • Literary Lights,” a reading series featuring new works by Armenian authors organized by the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA), the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), and the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, launches Tuesday, February 8 at 8 PM ET by Zoom with Taleen Voskuni, author of Sorry, Bro. Click here to register. Audience members are invited to read along with the series, which you can become familiar with here.
  • ZIC and St. Leon’s Armenian Church, along with Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (C.A.R.S.), Esayan-Getronagan Alumni Inc., Gomidas Choir, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and Tibrevank Alumni Inc. are pleased to sponsor an Armenian-language lecture, entitled “Կ. Պոլսոյ Պատրիարքութեան Վանական-Դպրեվանականը Կեանքը” (“Monastic and Seminarian Life within the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople”) by Fr. Harutyun Vartabed Damadyan, with Prof. Roberta Ervine, Dr. Jesse Arlen, and Arthur Ipek, in-person and by Zoom on Friday, February 17 at 7:30pm at St. Leon Armenian Church (12-61 Saddle River Rd, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410). All proceedings will take place in Armenian. Registration requested for in-person and Zoom attendance at: https://bit.ly/Saint-Leon-Monastic-Life-Bolis. To watch on YouTube, click on https://bit.ly/StLeonEvents at the beginning of the program.
  • The reading series “Literary Lights” continues in-person at the Eastern Diocese on Wednesday, March 29th at 7 PM with A Book, Untitled, with author Shushan Avagyan and translator Deanna Cachoian-Schanz, joined by Harvard preceptor on Armenian language and culture Lisa Gulesserian.
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Dr. Jesse Arlen’s Medieval Armenian Poetry Lecture Series on YouTube

Zohrab postdoctoral fellow and director Dr. Jesse Arlen’s medieval Armenian poetry lectures, offered through the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Fall public lecture series, are available to stream on YouTube.

Part 1 consisted of six lectures, and included material on sharagans (hymns), taghs (odes), and other genres of sacred liturgical song, biblical epic, penitential poetry, and laments over the capture of cities.

A bibliography accompanying the series is available here.

The videos are available below:

Lecture 1 – The Lay of the Land
Lecture 2: The Sharakan and the Origin of Sacred Poetry
Lecture 3 – Sacred Song at Narek Monastery: Gandz, Tagh, and Meghedi
Lecture 4 – Penitential Poetry: Narek and its Heirs
Lecture 5 – Biblical Epic: Grigor Magistros, Nersēs Shnorhali, and Aṛakʿel of Siwnik
Lecture 6 – Laments for the Fall of Cities and Other Calamities

Part 2 of this lecture series will continue as part of the St. Nersess Spring Public Lecture series.

Check their website for upcoming dates, details, and a Zoom link: https://stnersess.edu/global-classroom/live-presentations/

First Volume in a New Publication Series: An Early-Eighteenth-Century Hmayil (Armenian Prayer Scroll)

The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the release of the first volume in a new publication series, entitled Sources from the Armenian Christian Tradition, which provides the Krapar text and English translation of Armenian Christian sources in an attractive digital e-book format.

The inaugural volume in this series is: An Early-Eighteenth-Century Hmayil (Armenian Prayer Scroll): Introduction, Facsimile, Transcription and Annotated Translation by Matthew J. Sarkisian, edited and with a foreword by Jesse S. Arlen (New York, NY: Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, 2022).

Over a year and a half in the making, this volume brings to life a fascinating artifact from the early modern period: a talismanic prayer scroll known as a hmayil, which was a popular and widespread medium in use among Armenians from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries.

This new e-book offers the reader the opportunity to digitally “unroll” this mesmerizing prayer scroll from beginning to end, thereby discovering a rich panoply of prayers, Scriptural passages, incantations, and illuminations.

Tolle lege! Ա՛ռ ընթերցի՛ր։

Sources from the Armenian Christian Tradition

NEW DATE! St. Gregory of Narek roundtable moved to Monday, Sept. 12th

The roundtable discussion around Prof. Abraham Terian’s new translation of St. Gregory of Narek’s Prayer Book has been moved to Monday, September 12th.

Please see the updated information below:

RSVP at the following link: https://bit.ly/depth-of-the-heart

To watch on YouTube, click on https://bit.ly/StLeonEvents at the beginning of the program

A Roundtable Discussion on St. Gregory of Narek’s Prayer Book with Dr. Abraham Terian, Bp. Daniel Findikyan, and Dr. Jesse Arlen

The Zohrab Information Center, St. Leon Armenian Church, and St. Nersess Armenian Seminary are proud co-sponsors of a roundtable discussion around St. Gregory of Narek’s Prayer Book, with Dr. Abraham Terian, His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan, and Dr. Jesse Arlen, that will take place on Monday, September 12th at 7:00pm at St. Leon Armenian Church (Abajian Hall), 12-61 Saddle River Road, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410.

Join scholars of Armenian Christianity to explore St. Gregory of Narek’s magnum opus and celebrate its recent translation into English by Abraham Terian: From the Depths of the Heart: Annotated Translation of the Prayers of St. Gregory of Narek (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press Academic, 2021).

RSVP at the following link: https://bit.ly/depth-of-the-heart

To watch on YouTube, click on https://bit.ly/StLeonEvents at the beginning of the program

Sonia Tashjian’s personal library finds a home at the Zohrab Information Center

Sonia Tashjian (née Ekizian) was born in Jounieh, Lebanon in 1929 to parents Hampartzoum and Haigouhi (née Karagosian) Ekizian who hailed from Chomachlou and Yozgat, Turkey, respectively.  Her father had emigrated to New York prior to World War I to earn money for his family.  Her mother survived the Armenian Genocide by walking in constant peril through the Syrian desert before reaching a refugee camp in Aleppo, Syria, where Hampartzoum had rescued his two surviving children, Garabed and Turvandah.  He married Haigouhi and together they had four children, Margaret, Youghaper, Sonia, and Hagop.  

Sonia Tashjian (middle back) with her father, mother, and three siblings

Sonia emigrated to New York in 1937 at the age of eight with her parents and siblings.  She graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, NY.  She married Martin Sonny Tashjian, in 1951, shortly before Sonny was deployed to Korea.  They had four sons: Douglas, Glenn, Craig, and Roger.  Sonny died in 1981 from Leukemia.  With her well known strong will and determination, Sonia re-entered the workforce and still managed to send her two youngest sons to Lehigh University.  

Sonia Tashjian in 1950

Sonny and Sonia were among the founding families of St. Thomas Armenian Church in Tenafly, NJ.  She later became an active member of St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, where she was a member of the women’s guild for 30 years.  Sonia’s faith in God and never-give-up spirit got her through several illnesses, including her final battle with COVID-19 and its aftermath.  She died peacefully on the morning of July 29th, 2020.   

Sonia Tashjian later in life

Sonia was an exceptional bibliophile, as evidenced by her collection of over a hundred Armenian-related books that were donated by her son Douglas to the Zohrab Information Center in 2021.  Several titles were original contributions to the Center’s library, e.g., The Adventures of Wesley Jackson by William Saroyan, and Source Records of the Great War, Volume III (an anthology of official documents for the year 1915, with a chapter dedicated to the Armenian Genocide).  

Title page of The Adventures of Wesley Jackson by William Saroyan, from the Sonia Tashjian Collection

Many other titles were in better condition than the Center’s copies, such as George M. Mardikian’s autobiography, Song of America, which also included the original 1956 dust jacket.  

Front cover of Song of America by George Mardikian, from the Sonia Tashjian Collection

Others were earlier editions than books in the Center’s collection, such as the two-volume travelogue Armenia: Travels and Studies by H. F. B. Lynch. Sonia had the first edition from 1901, while the Center had previously only held later editions.  

Front cover of Armenia: Travels and Studies, vol. 1 by H. F. B. Lynch from the Sonia Tashjian Collection
Title page of Armenia: Travels and Studies, vol. 2 by H. F. B. Lynch from the Sonia Tashjian Collection

One of the most intriguing dimensions of Sonia’s collection was the compilation of book-related ephemera: book catalogues of bygone decades, correspondence, and order receipts with Armenian book dealers spanning from 1961-1982, notably seller Mark Armen Kalustian in Arlington, Massachusetts, with whom Sonia exchanged extensive correspondence and was a loyal customer of many years.  

Sonia Tashjian correspondence with bookseller Mark Kalustian
Sonia Tashjian correspondence with bookseller Mark Kalustian
Bookseller Mark Kalustian order form and correspondence with Sonia Tashjian
Bookseller Mark Kalustian order form and correspondence with Sonia Tashjian

Sonia’s collection, both the books and the ephemera, are a magnificent testament not only to the strength of life pulsating through the 20th century Armenian-American community, but also to the love and care of one extraordinary woman toward that community and its literary heritage. Her personal library of Armenian books, collected over a lifetime, has now found a permanent home in the Zohrab Information Center’s research library. 

“Artsakh: Angel of Peace” – A Photography Exhibit by Dr. Marina Mchitarian on May 26th at 7:00pm (ET)

On May 26th, 2022, at 7:00pm a photography exhibit entitled “Artsakh: Angel of Peace” will debut at Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, organized by the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, with a wine and cheese reception. Featuring photographs taken before and after the war and highlighting Armenian cultural heritage now under Azerbaijani control, Dr. Mchitarian’s photographs nevertheless offer an inspiring message of hope.

Dr. Marina Mchitarian is an independent researcher and the founding president of “Action for Peace,” an Armenian NGO. After completing her Ph.D. at the crossroad of mathematics and mathematical modeling, she pursued postdoctoral studies in archaeology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and conducted research in archaeometallurgy at Ghent University (Belgium). 

Fluent in four languages (Armenian, Greek, Russian, and English), she worked for fifteen years for the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. By curating a personal documentary of photographs from three Genocides (Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian), she was drawn into the work of safeguarding cultural heritage. She worked for three years for the Dutch NGO ‘’Walk of Truth’’ (The Hague, The Netherlands), whose mission is to protect cultural legacy in zones of conflict. 

Her documentary photography project “Peace and Photography” featured Artsakh and Turkish-occupied Cyprus, which had exhibit-presentations in New York, London, Thessaloniki, Yerevan, and Shushi (Artsakh). 

Since February 2020, she has worked as an independent researcher investigating religious freedom, religious diplomacy, ecumenism, peace and reconciliation, and the endangered Christians of the Middle East. In August 2020, she registered the NGO ‘’Action for Peace’’ (Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid and Peace-building) in Armenia. Through her NGO, she has conducted documentary photography and oral history projects in Artsakh: “Women of Artsakh: War, Identity and Peace” in September 2020 and “Nostos: The Aftermath of the War” in January 2021. She also collaborates with NYC-based Save Armenian Monuments, which operates under the auspices of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

Some of Dr. Mchitarian’s previous work may be viewed here:

Memory in Action. From Mush to Artsakh, from the Desert Generations to the Independence Generations

Can Memory Trigger a Genocide Prevention? (Documentary photography project)

Peace and Photography (Documentary photography project)

Hellenes of Armenia (Documentary photography project)