Learn Classical Armenian (Krapar, the Language of the Armenian Church) in the New Year!

Let your 2024 New’s Year resolution be to learn classical Armenian (Krapar)!

Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen is offering a 12-week course (Jan. 8 – Mar 29) that will introduce participants to ancient or “classical” Armenian, the literary form of the language from the fifth to the nineteenth century and the liturgical language of the Armenian Orthodox Church today. An Indo-European language, Armenian is distantly related to Greek, Latin, English, and other western languages. It has a vast library of literature comprised of original compositions by literary and theological masters such as St. Gregory of Narek and St. Nersess Shnorhali, as well as important translations from Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Arabic, among other languages, some of which survive only in Armenian translation.

All sessions will take place by Zoom and no prior experience or knowledge is required. Students will learn the Armenian alphabet, basic grammar, and vocabulary, and will read simple prose narratives, while also gaining an appreciation for the culture and tradition of one of the ancient Christian peoples of the East. The course will be of interest to the faithful of the Armenian Church, as well as anyone with an interest in classics, medieval/byzantine/near eastern studies, biblical studies, theology, and liturgy, and will cover the equivalent of a one-semester university class for only $500. Minimum of 5 students required in order to run the course. A continuation class will be offered based on student demand. Email jarlen@fordham.edu to express interest and for scheduling.

Conference on St. Nersess Shnorhali in Rome Available to Stream on YouTube

The international conference “Plenitude of Grace, Plenitude of Humanity: St Nerses Shnorhali at the Juncture of Millennia” is taking place this Thursday and Friday (Nov 30–Dec 1) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. Among the invited speakers are Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, former Diocesan primate Bp. Daniel Findikyan, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Emeritus Professor Dr. Abraham Terian and current St. Nersess Seminary Professor Dr. Roberta R. Ervine, along with an impressive lineup of scholars and clergymen.

The sessions will be broadcast live (and available for later viewing) through the YouTube Channel of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (www.youtube.com/@Orientale).

The conference was organized in conjunction with a series of events that were to take place in Rome and the Vatican, including concerts and an ecumenical prayer service, to honor the 850th year since the death of St. Nerses Shnorhali. Unfortunately, all events apart from the conference have been indefinitely postponed.

A conference flyer and schedule are available to view below:

Watch the Recording of David Hotson on Saint Sarkis Church

If you missed David Hotson’s talk on “Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the Design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church” then you can watch the recording of the talk below (or a previous and similar talk given at an international conference on Eastern Christian architecture and Modernity at Fordham University.

“The Making of Saint Sarkis Church,” Fordham University, June 1, 2023

“Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the Design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church,” Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), November 1, 2023

REMINDER: Architect David Hotson to Speak on “Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church”

Come to Kavookjian Hall at the Diocesan Center this Wednesday, Nov. 1st, to hear architect David Hotson speak on “Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the Design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church,” the award-winning church in Dallas, Texas. A reception will follow the illustrated presentation, which is organized by the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center under the auspices of Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan, primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America (Eastern).

6-part lecture series on St. Nersess Shnorhali available to view on YouTube

The Vemkar 6-part lecture series “Entering the World, Mind, and Soul of St. Nersess Shnorhali” is available to view on YouTube. Organized in commemoration of the 850th anniversary of the saint’s repose and in response to the pontifical encyclical of His Holiness Karekin II issued earlier this year (ARM ENG), the lecture series began on August 22nd and continued on consecutive Tuesday evenings through September 26th.

The six lectures may be viewed below or on the Vemkar YouTube channel.

Lecture One by Dr. Roberta R. Ervine — “Becoming Shnorhali: On the Context of Catholicos Nerses IV Klayets’i

Lecture Two by Dr. Jesse S. Arlen — “The Poetic World of St. Nersess Shnorhali”

Lecture Three by Matthew J. Sarkisian — “Odes of St. Nersess the Graceful”

Lecture Four by Dn. Hovannes Khosdeghian — “Today the Ineffable (Այսօր անճառ): A Reading of St. Nersess Shnorhali’s Good Friday Song”

Lecture Five by Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan – “St. Nersess Shnorhali and the Threefold Way of Theosis”

Lecture Six by Dn. Andrew Kayaian – “St. Nersess’ Ecumenical Relations with the Byzantines”


On Pentecost Sunday, May 28th, St. Vartan Cathedral and the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center will host a book presentation by author David Karamian with a piano performance and poetry recital after Badarak in Kavookjian Hall. All are welcome to attend!

In his book, Armenia – The Lone Stone, David Karamian brings a deeply personal and spiritual perspective to his Armenian heritage through breathtaking color and black-and-white photographs of the most spectacular monasteries and monuments in Armenia and Artsakh, taken over nearly two decades. While The Lone Stone can be experienced merely on a visual level, it has a multi-themed focus and is complimented by Armenia’s rugged and magnificent geography, architectural innovations, and aesthetic achievements in art, poetry, music, and literature, selections from which it contains within its pages. Armenia – The Lone Stone is a passionate love letter to Armenians everywhere, as well as an intelligent and emotionally compelling introduction to this extraordinary country, aimed at Armenians and non-Armenians alike.

David Karamian has worked and consulted for five Fortune 20 companies (United Technologies, Ford, GM, HP, and Microsoft) and has visited over 25 countries on five continents. In the mid-2000s, he was the founder and CEO of two technology firms (Siamanto and PACE). He is a part-time artist and photographer who loves history and architecture, especially in Armenia. His abstract photos have been published in the magazine Black and White Photography, and his book Armenia – The Lone Stone has been featured in Armenian Weekly, the Armenian Museum of Fresno, and the Armenian Museum of Moscow. He is the founder and CEO of NorArtGallery Publishing and is working on the second volume of The Lone Stone, as well as a book of his abstract photographs.

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.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

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.

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 (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.

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.

Vorpouni 1967
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.

What Makes Armenian Art “Armenian”? Lecture by Dr. Helen Evans. Thursday, April 30

Dr. Helen Evans of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art will discuss the unique features of Armenian art at an illustrated lecture at the Zohrab Center.
Dr. Helen Evans of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will discuss the unique features of Armenian art at an illustrated lecture at the Zohrab Center.

The distinguished specialist in Early Christian, Byzantine and Armenian art, Dr. Helen Evans, will give an illustrated lecture entitled, Armenian Art: Voice of a People at the Zohrab Center of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) on Thursday, April 30 at 7PM.

A visual tradition of the Armenian people that spans many centuries and prosperous communities from the Armenian homeland across the globe, Armenian art is at the same a highly specialized and a vast phenomenon. Dr. Evans will explore what makes a work “Armenian” by looking at key works of art of several historical periods. She will consider the role of the Armenian communities producing the works as well as that of the varied peoples with whom Armenians were in contact in attempting to define new and old ways to make Armenian art compelling not only to its people but also to the larger world.

Helen Evans is the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator for Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She earned her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. After joining the curatorial staff of the Museum in 1991, she installed the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Byzantine Art, the first galleries dedicated to Byzantine art in an encyclopedic museum, in 2000 and expanded them in 2008. Dr. Evans has lectured widely in the United States and abroad and has taught at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, Columbia University, Hunter College, the University of Chicago, and Oberlin College. She is a member of the Board of the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Holy Cross College; treasurer and a founding member of the Association of Art Museum Curators; and former chair of the Editorial Board of the Art Bulletin.

2015-04 HelenEvansFlyerCLICK HERE to download a full-color flyer.

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