Join the ZIC Book Club on the 85th Anniversary of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

2018-4 MusaDagh.001Have 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.

Werfel
Franz Werfel  author of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

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 2018-4 MusaDagh.001the recent Genocide film, The Promise.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

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 haig@post.com to sign up and/or to receive tips on reading the work. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow.

nancy11
Nancy Agabian

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

Chahinian-Haig
Haig Chahinian

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.

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.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

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.

Genocide and Immortality? Dr. Roberta Ervine to Open ZIC Autumn Enrichment Series

The Zohrab Center’s Autumn Enrichment Series will begin on Tuesday, September 27 with a presentation by Dr. Roberta Ervine entitled, In the Harsh Light of Genocide: Armenian Thoughts on Immortality.

2016-09-ervineanmahutiwn-001Dr. Ervine is Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. She is a regular lecturer at the Zohrab Center.

The Genocide forced Armenians to reconsider their human experience in the light of mass death and dislocation. In an insecure and threatening world, what can one depend on? Is there a life after death, and if so, who is in charge of it? Where does it happen? What is it like? What qualities make a person, a community, or an ethnic group immortal? Does immortality have anything to do with faith? How does immortality relate to traditional Armenian religious teaching, if at all?

Prof. Roberta ErvineOn an almost week-by-week basis, Armenian periodical literature from the 1920’s and 1930’s records the process by which these questions worked themselves out in the minds of survivors and Diaspora Armenians alike.

Rereading this long forgotten body of writings, Dr. Ervine will explore the new, post-Genocide thinking on the topic of immortality, and look at where Armenians turned to find inspiration and consolation in the uncertain decades immediately following the Genocide.

Since 2001 Professor Roberta Ervine has taught courses on
Classical and Modern Armenian Language, Church History, and Armenian Theology and Spirituality at St. Nersess Seminary in Armonk, New York. She earned her PhD in classical Armenian Studies from Columbia University and has done extensive research on topics related to medieval Armenian studies. She pursues topics related to the history of Armenians in Jerusalem and the intellectual tradition of the Armenian Middle Ages.

2016-09-ervineimmortality-001During the Spring  she was the Henry K. Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies at California State University, Fresno.

Dr. Ervine’s presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York on Tuesday, Septmeber 27, 2016. All are invited to the event, which is free of charge. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

Komitas Vartabed and the Survival of Armenian Music. June 9

0205KomitasThis season’s final Zohrab Center enrichment evening will be devoted to the legacy of the celebrated and beloved Armenian priest-musician-composer, Komitas Vartabed.

Ashley Bozian-Murtha will present a talk entitled, Komitas Vartabed and the Survival of Armenian Music at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, June 9 at 7PM.

Komitas is a central figure in the history of Armenian music, particularly the sacred music of the Armenian Church. His contributions span liturgical, folk, and even concert music. Surprisingly, despite his universal admiration today, during his lifetime his work earned him the ire of church officials and his fellow clergymen, who frequently denounced him as a musicological firebrand and moral deviant.

KomitasVartabedPerhaps more significant than his work inside Armenia, however, is his legacy to the global Armenian diaspora. While controversial during his lifetime, Komitas was uniquely positioned to preserve Armenian music from the oblivion of genocide. Were it not for his oft-condemned inclination to transcribe and transform the music of Armenia, that vast tradition may well have perished in the attempted destruction of the Armenian people.

Much research exists on the life of Komitas, and on Armenian music as a separate entity, but there remains a relative paucity of work to place the two in context with one another. Ms. Bozian-Murtha will survey and sort through the biographical, musicological, and historical research on the composer and his impact on Armenian music. Analyzing the composer’s original compositions and transcriptions along with secondary biographical sources and historical data, she asserts that the very survival of Armenian music in the aftermath of the Genocide is a direct result of Komitas’s labors. 

2016-05 MaranciVigilantPowersFlyer.001.jpeg.001CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

Ashley Bozian-Murtha is a PhD candidate in History at St. John’s University (New York). She holds a B.A. in History and Music and an M.Ed. from Manhattanville College (New York). Following her undergraduate work, she earned an MA in Music History from Hunter College, where she wrote her master’s thesis on the life and work of Komitas Vartabed. 

The program will be held in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York. All are welcome to attend the free event, which will be followed by a reception.

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

The Survivor: The Lesser-Known Armenian Genocide of 1918. Book Presentation on June 2

2015-05 SurvivorCohenBefore the dust of the great Armenian Genocide of 1915 had settled, Armenians suffered yet another mass murder, this one farther east. In 1918 Turkish Ottoman soldiers occupied the city of Khoy (in Armenian, Her) in extreme northwest Iran and massacred the Armenians that had lived there for centuries.

Noted author and journalist Rosemary Hartounian Cohen’s memoir, The Survivor, tells the true story of her grandmother Arousiak, who witnessed and survived the carnage of that second Genocide. The author will present her book at the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, June 2 at 7PM.

Arousiak was an 18-year old, recently married to an affluent and devoted Armenian man. Her blissful life in Khoy was shattered by the events of 1918. Her poignant story captures the drama and pathos of a young Armenian family’s struggle to survive against persecution and hate. Ultimately, it is a tale of the vindication of love, family and a glorious past.

Rosemary Hartounian Cohen is an award-winning author, journalist and accomplished artist. In addition to The Survivor, she is the author of several historical novels: Korban: The Life of Liana, Terrorists or Martyrs, The Mother of Jerusalem is Crying, and Anoush: The Daughter of King Shen. Dr. Cohen received her doctorate in sociology from the Sorbonne in Paris and is the founder and director of the Liana Cohen Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes music and art to support grieving families and survivors of all forms of violence and tragedy including victims of drunk-driving, and addiction.

The book presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York, on Tuesday, June 2 at 7PM. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Survivor and others books by Dr. Cohen will be available for sale. A reception will follow the presentation.

2015-05 SurvivorCohenTo download a color flyer CLICK HERE.

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

Public Symposium on the Meaning of the New Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide Next Week

2015-05 GenocideIconThumbnailA one-day public symposium titled, From Victims to Victors: The New Armenian Saints of 1915 will take place at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC next Wednesday, May 6.

The event is being held in conjunction with the national observance of the Armenian Genocide centennial and the recent canonization of the martyrs of 1915. It is being co-sponsored by the School of Theology and Religious Studies of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and the Zohrab Information Center.

Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian speakers will consider the meaning of new Genocide martyrs in the context of the wider Christian practice of the canonization and veneration of saints and martyrs, with special attention to their practical impact on the faith and lives of Armenian-Americans today.

The day’s program will begin with welcoming remarks by the Provost of Catholic University, Rev. Dr. Mark Morozowich; Rev. Dr. Paul McPartlan, Dean of School of Theology, and V. Rev. Dr. Daniel Findikyan of the Zohrab Information Center.

Dr. Stefanos Alexopoulos is a Greek Orthodox priest and Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America.
Dr. Stefanos Alexopoulos is a Greek Orthodox priest and Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America. He will be among the speakers at a public symposium on the newly-canonized martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.

Dr. Robin Darling Young (Associate Professor of Theology, Catholic University of America) will open the day’s deliberations with a talk entitled, Armenian Chroniclers, Early Martyrs, and Communal Intercession, from Agat’angelos to Yeghishe.

Christopher Sheklian, an ordained deacon of the Armenian Church and doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Chicago, will reflect on the tension between the secular-national significance of the Genocide martyrs and their Christian-theological meaning. His talk is entitled, Witnessing, Sacrifice, and Suffering: Martyrdom and the Relationship Between Ethnic and Religious Identities.

Greek Orthodox priest, Rev. Dr. Stefanos Alexopoulos (Assistant Professor of Liturgics and Sacramental Theology at Catholic University) will next speak on the topic, The Armenian Martyrs of 1915 and the Greek Martyrs of 1922: Pastoral and Practical Applications for Armenian and Greek Orthodox Christians in America Today.

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion among all the speakers, moderated by Rev. Dr. Ronald Roberson of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The symposium is free and open to the public. It will take place in Caldwell Auditorium of the Catholic University of America (620 Michigan Ave. N.E., Washington, DC). The program will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. For information, contact the Zohrab Information Center at (212) 686-0710.

The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud: A Book Presentation

NOTE: THIS LECTURE HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2015 at 7PM.

On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Zohrab Information Center and the Department of Armenian Studies of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern), in collaboration with the A.G.B.U. Ararat Magazine, will present a new photographic exposé of a vibrant Armenian community that rose from the ashes of that calamity. #bourjhammoud

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne will present her new book, Portraits of Survival: The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud. The author-photographer will speak about her work and exhibit many of her vivid photographs, as she tells poignant stories of survival and success.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 5 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York.

2015-03 PortraitsBourjBourj Hammoud in northeast Beirut, Lebanon, is home to a close-knit, vibrant Armenian community of shopkeepers, craftspeople and artists, young and old, a thriving combination of modern commerce and traditional trades. In less than a century the area has transformed itself from a tent city of refugees — the Armenians who fled Turkey in 1915 and began flocking here in the 1920s — to a bustling urban economic center.

It is here that Delacampagne, a photographer of Armenian descent, chose to focus her lens. She spent years among the remarkable people working and living here: the tailors and cobblers, embroiderers and clockmakers, jewelers and gem cutters, and the families. The result is an unforgettable portrait of the spirit and courage, the enterprise and heritage, which forms the soul of Bourj Hammoud.

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne is a noted photographer born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her latest work is a photographic exposé of the vibrant Armenian community of Bourj Hammoud, born from the ashes of the Genocide 100 years ago.
Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne is a noted photographer born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her latest work is a photographic exposé of the vibrant Armenian community of Bourj Hammoud, born from the ashes of the Genocide 100 years ago.

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne was born in Beirut, Lebanon. She has a master’s in political science from the American University of Beirut and studied photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. She currently lives and works in New York.

The evening 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.

2012-03 BourjHammoudCLICK HERE to download a color flyer. #bourjhammoud

Portraits d’une survie: les Arméniens de Bourj Hammoud / Portraits of Survival: the Armenians of Bourj Hammoud (Somogy éditions d’art, 2014) represents Delacampagne’s most intensive project to date.  Continue reading “The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud: A Book Presentation”

Code Name “Haiko” Discovering the Last Unknown Participant in Talaat Pasha’s Liquidation. Lecture by Dr. Vartan Matiossian

Grand Vizir Talaat Pasha was murdered on March 15, 1921 in Berlin by Soghomon Tehlirian as vengeance for his role in the Armenian Genocide.
Grand Vizir Talaat Pasha was assassinated on March 15, 1921 in Berlin by Soghomon Tehlirian as vengeance for his role in the Armenian Genocide.

The Zohrab Center inaugurates its Spring Armenian enrichment series on Thursday, February 5 with a real-life detective story by Dr. Vartan Matiossian.

In 1921 the mastermind of the Armenian Genocide, Talaat Pasha, was killed in a Berlin street by a young avenger, Soghomon Tehlirian. This was the final act of Operation Nemesis, planned and partially carried out between 1919 and 1922 to fulfill the justice to the Armenian people that many believed had been denied them by tribunals.

Soghomon Tehlirian was acquitted by a  German court in the assassination of Talaat Pasha.
Soghomon Tehlirian was acquitted by a German court in the assassination of Talaat Pasha.

In his memoirs, published in Armenian in 1953, Tehlirian unveiled many of the details of his action. For security reasons, he identified his immediate on-the-ground collaborators with pseudonyms: Hazor, Vaza, and a certain Haiko. Three decades later, the identity of the first two were revealed or inferred but the third operative, “Haiko,” has remained unidentified.

While waiting for the day that archival material will yield more information about him, a lucky hunch and a painstaking examination of data from the Armenian press and secondary literature has allowed Dr. Vartan Matiossian to identify by name and to outline the life and activities of “Haiko.”

Dr. Vartan Matiossian has published extensively in the areas of Armenian history and literature.
Dr. Vartan Matiossian has published extensively in the areas of Armenian history and literature.

Dr. Vartan Matiossian was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and lived in Buenos Aires until 2000, when he moved to the United States. He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires and has a Ph.D. in history from the Academy of Sciences, Armenia, having studied the Armenian community in Argentina from its beginnings until 1950.

A frequent visitor to the Zohrab Center, Dr. Matiossian currently serves as Executive Director of the Armenian National Education Committee of the Armenian Prelacy in New York. He has published extensively in the areas of Armenian history and literature in Armenian, Spanish and English, including 5 books and countless scholarly articles, essays and book reviews. He has also translated 15 Armenian books into Spanish and English.

2015-02 Matiossian.001Dr. Matiossian’s presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd. Avenue, New York on Thursday, February 5 at 7PM. The event, which will be followed by a reception, is free of charge and all are welcome.

CLICK HERE to download a color flyer.

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

ZICVID. Prof. Maxwell Johnson Speaks on Martyrdom in the Early Churches and the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide

On Thursday, October 9, Prof. Maxwell Johnson of the University of Notre Dame spoke at the Zohrab Center about the phenomenon of Christian martyrdom in the early church in light of the anticipated canonization by the Armenian Church of the countless martyrs of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 who surrendered their lives for the name of Jesus Christ.

From the ZIC Photograph Archives. Do You Recognize These Faces?

One of the treasures of the Zohrab Center is its rich collection of historical photographs, some of them from 19th century Armenian communities in western Armenia and the Middle East, many of them documenting the early history of the Armenian community in the United States.

The collection, numbering hundreds of photographs, has grown gradually thanks to the donations of American Armenians going back to the establishment of the Diocese of the Armenian Church over a century ago.

One person working with the ZIC collection is Dr. Joseph Malikian, an expert in 19th and early 20th century Armenian photography and photographers, who has his own vast and precious personal collection of historical photographs, and who published the recent album, The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: An Anthology and a Photo History (Antelias, Lebanon, 2011). (Read about a recent exhibit from his personal collection of Ottoman-era photographs).

Dr. Malikian recently brought to our attention one of the rare photographs that contains identifying information.

IMG_1346The print, measuring approximately 5 x 7 inches, depicts 8 well-dressed young men standing behind two distinguished gentlemen and an Armenian clergyman, all seated. On the reverse we read the following caption:

Ագ-Շէհիրի դպրոցի բարձրագոյն կարգի աշակերտները իրենց տնօրէնը Լեւոն Աղապապեան, Գարեգին Սրբազանը՝ ներկայիս Պօլսոյ պատրիարք Խաչատուրեանը, Արմենակ Օրմանեան։ 1913-1955.

The students of the senior class of the Ak-Shehir school [with] their principal, Levon Aghababian, Bishop Karekin Khachadourian—currently the Patriarch of Constantinople, [and] Armenak Ormanian. 1913-1955.

Relatively few of the ZIC photographs include identifying captions such as this one.
Relatively few of the ZIC photographs include identifying captions such as this one.

The fascinating photo and caption provide a glimpse into a long-forgotten page in the story of the Armenian people. Ak-Shehir is a city in west-central Turkey that had a small, but vibrant Armenian community far from the larger pre-Genocide Armenian centers hundreds of miles farther east.

Patriarch Karekin Khachadourian, a native of Trabizon, served as Patriarch of Constantinople from 1951-1961. The years “1913-1955” that conclude the caption probably indicate the date of the photograph (1913) and the date that the caption was written (1955).

But who is Levon Aghababian, the principal? And who is Armenak Ormanian? Is the latter a relative of Maghakia Ormanian, the great intellectual and prolific scholar who converted from the Armenian Catholic Church eventually to become Patriarch of Constantinople in 1896?

If you can provide any additional information about these individuals, the photograph, or the Armenian community of Ak-Shehir, please post a note on this blog.

Continue reading “From the ZIC Photograph Archives. Do You Recognize These Faces?”