Armenian Reporter – 11/3/2007 – community section


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November 3, 2007 — From the community section

To see the printed version of the newspaper, complete with photographs
and additional content, visit and download the pdf
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1. Gov. Corzine, Sen. Menendez, Rep. Pallone show support for N.J.
State Senate hopeful Joe Ariyan (by Sylva Boghossian)

2. "Armenian Monuments of Nakhichevan" now on display at Harvard University

3. Louise Simone grants $1.2 million to U. Mich. Armenian Studies
program (by Yvette K. Harpootian)

4. Los Angeles City Council supports Armenian Genocide resolution
* Mayor Villaraigosa speaks out
* Garcetti and Greuel take the lead

4a. Text of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s speech

5. High school students planning a trek to support House Resolution
106 (by Razmig Sarkissian)
* A ten-mile walk-a-thon will take place on November 8

6. Armenian-Americans to rally for the adoption of the Genocide resolution
* Nationwide push calls for Congress to stand firm in the face of
Turkish threats

7. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: A diverse North Carolina
parish shows its unity for Vehapar (by Antranig Dereyan)

8. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: A tree grows in Cleveland,
with Catholicos Karekin’s blessing (by Antranig Dereyan)

9. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: In a 9-hour visit to
Wisconsin, Catholicos Karekin rekindles memories from 47 years ago

10. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: In Minnesota, Karekin II’s
standing as an international leader shines (by Antranig Dereyan)

11. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: In Chicago, Catholicos
Karekin II inspires a sense of solidarity and common mission (by
Antranig Dereyan)

12. Author Shant Kenderian speaks with students at UCLA (by Alene Tchekmedyian)

13. Hamazkayin Music Committee to celebrate its 20th anniversary in
Los Angeles (by Maral Habeshian)

14. Genocide survivor’s memoirs fall on hungry ears (by Shahen Hagobian)

15. Crime Beat: California charges three Armenians with healthcare
fraud (by Jason Kandel)
* Clinic owners claimed to perform rare, specialized procedures repeatedly

16. Church holds group therapy on Armenian-Turkish relations
* Organizer denies the personal is political

17. Armenian neuroscientists to participate in Neuroscience 2007 (by
Maral Habeshian)

18. Kohar orchestra and choir takes San Francisco by storm (by Tania Ketenjian)

19. Armenia Fund Telethon builds on a tradition of dedication (by Lory
* Rafi Ourfalian was the first president

20. Restaurants: Noah’s Ark unveiled (by the Epicurious Armenian)

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1. Gov. Corzine, Sen. Menendez, Rep. Pallone show support for N.J.
State Senate hopeful Joe Ariyan

by Sylva Boghossian

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. — A veritable Who’s Who of the New Jersey Democratic
Party attended a fundraiser at the home of Ani and David Kasparian on
Saturday, October 20, to support Joseph Ariyan in his candidacy to
become the state senator for New Jersey’s 39th legislative district.

Early last year, Mr. Ariyan announced his intention to seek the
Bergen County office in opposition to eight-term Republican incumbent
Gerald Cardinale. (An interview with Mr. Ariyan appeared in the
Reporter’s October 27 edition.) The election to determine the victor
in the closely watched race will take place on Tuesday, November 6.

At the October 20 fundraiser, the man initially responsible for
endorsing Mr. Ariyan and making his nomination a reality, Joseph
Ferriero, chair of the Bergen County Democratic Organization, said New
Jersey is fortunate to have someone like Mr. Ariyan, and enumerated a
series of issues — "stem cell research, a woman’s right to choose,
fighting for education, fighting for seniors, and fighting for what’s
important to working families" — that Ariyan and the party support.

Mr. Ferriero said the present election is so important that the
governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez had
gone out of their way to attend. Mr. Ferriero said that these party
leaders feel that "in order to make New Jersey better, we need to
elect Joseph Ariyan."

Sen. Robert Menendez explained that he had flown up from Washington
just to attend the Ariyan event. He continued: "We appreciate your
financial support for Joe. We ask you to do everything you can in the
last several weeks, but also to pick up the phone and call friends
that live in the 39th district and make a personal appeal. With this
type of election, that kind of personal appeal will make all the
difference in the world."

Addressing his Armenian friends in the audience, Mr. Menendez said
that while the House of Representatives had been the major force
behind the Armenian Genocide resolution, he would not only continue to
be a major sponsor of the bill in the Senate, but had also put out a
press release to "strengthen the spines" of his some of his colleagues
in the House.

Mr. Menendez added: "We can’t give meaning to the words ‘never
again’ if we don’t recognize the past and move forward toward the
future." He concluded by saying he’s "looking forward to two great
victories: Joe’s victory in November, and our victory of bringing
truth to the Armenian Genocide."

* Gov. Corzine’s endorsement

New Jersey’s governor, Jon Corzine, looking very healthy after his
near-fatal car accident several months back, began his remarks by
saying, "Joe Ariyan is going to get elected because he stands up for
children, seniors, families, and what is right." Mr. Corzine made a
point of saying how the incumbent, Mr. Cardinale, had never even once
voted for anything Mr. Corzine had suggested or recommended to the
state legislature.

Rep. Frank Pallone, a longtime advocate for Armenian concerns and a
co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, briefly spoke
on the current situation regarding the Armenian Genocide resolution.
He adamantly stated they he and his colleagues are not giving up. "The
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is determined to bring the
resolution up to a vote, although it might take a couple of months,"
he said. He confidently stated that "first we’re going to win this
race on November 6, and then we’re going to win the resolution vote."

The candidate himself was full of confidence, but spoke to the crowd
in a personal manner, as friends who had shared his nearly year-long
journey to Election Day. He said he was aware that his effort had
initially met skepticism from those who asked, "Can Joe really do it?"
But 10 months later, he said, he had proven himself and won the
support of such high-ranking Democrats as Sen. Menendez, Gov. Corzine,
and Rep. Pallone.

"I believe passionately about doing good and caring," Mr. Ariyan
said. "To have such exceptional public servants all in the same room
is beyond words for me." He thanked Gov. Corzine for the work he has
done for the people of New Jersey, and offiered that if there were
someone he would emulate, it would be Sen. Menendez.

Mr. Ariyan also made a point to thank the senator for all he has
done for the Armenian people.

Mr. Ariyan conveyed his highest praise to Chairman Ferriero, for
having the ability to put teams together and win elections. He
graciously thanked all those who have believed in him during this past
year, but gave special thanks to Mr. Ferriero for his early support.

Mr. Ariyan concluded by saying "I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I
have a great wife. I’m doing what I’m doing for my children: we have a
little boy, and we have another coming in April. I want Bergen County
to be everything that it should be for our children; for the seniors,
so they don’t have to move out; for the kids that are going to grow up
here — so that [the county is] clean, has no pollution, reduced
congestion, and [is] what it should be. This is Bergen County, and
people know Bergen County all over the country. That’s why I’m doing

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2. "Armenian Monuments of Nakhichevan" now on display at Harvard University

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — This week an exhibition on the Armenian monuments
of Nakhichevan opened at Harvard University’s Center for Government
and International Studies. The exhibit, by Argam Ayvazian and Steven
Sim, is on display in the building’s Concourse Gallery, located at
1730 Cambridge Street, in Cambridge, and runs from November 2 through

Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies is
sponsoring the presentation, which gives an overview of the cultural
heritage of Nakhichevan, focusing on the architectural and sculptural
monuments of 10th to 17th centuries. A special feature of the exhibit
is its series of "before and after" photographs, documenting the
demolition of Armenian churches and khatchkars in the Jugha cemetery.

Argam Ayvazian, a researcher on the Armenian cultural heritage of
Nakhichevan, is author of more than 20 monographs, including The
Historical Monuments of Nakhichevan (1990), translated into English by
Fr. Krikor Maksoudian. He currently serves as deputy director of the
Agency on Protection of Historical and Cultural Environment at the
Armenian Ministry of Culture.

Glasgow-based architect and architectural historian Steven Sim has
traveled throughout historic Armenia for the past two decades
documenting thousands of vanishing and at-risk monuments. In 2005 he
visited the Azerbaijan region of Nakhichevan to investigate the
current condition of the Armenian churches that were still standing
during Soviet times, only to find that they have been completely
destroyed. Sim was likely the last non-Armenian witness to observe the
Jugha graveyard before its final destruction in December 2005. In
2006, testimony Sim supplied to Charles Tannock, a member of the
European Parliament, led to the passing of the EU resolution
condemning Azerbaijan’s actions at Jugha. In September 2006 he was
invited by the Switzerland-Armenia Parliamentary Group to be part of
the delegation that met with UNESCO president Koichiro Matsuura in
Paris to protest UNESCO’s sustained inactivity on the issue of the
Jugha graveyard destruction.

Organizing the exhibition and its related events is Dr. Anahit
Ter-Stepanian, and funding is being provided by COPRIM Inc., of
Montreal, Canada.

* Related discussions and lectures

Related discussions in several different locations are scheduled to
coincide with the exhibit. To precede the exhibit, on November 1, the
National Association on Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) hosted a
panel discussion on the Armenian monuments of Nakhichevan chaired by
Dr. James R. Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at
Harvard University. Argam Ayvazian, Steven Sim, and curator Anahit
Ter-Stepanian participated in the panel discussion.

At the Glendale Public Library in California on November 11, at 6:00
p.m., Argam Ayvasian will speak on the history of the Jugha cemetery
khatchkars and the current state of the Armenian cultural heritage in
Nakhichevan. Mashdots College in Glendale, Calif., is coordinating the
event; for information call the college at (818) 548-9345.

At the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in New York
City on November 15, Steven Sim will talk on the problems of
preserving the Armenian cultural heritage. The event is organized with
the support of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information
Center; for information call (212) 686-0710.

* An important month

This month dedicated to examining the Armenian heritage of Nakhichevan
is especially important in the context of the recent developments in
the region. On October 18, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian
urged UNESCO to send a monitoring group to follow up on the factual
reports of the annihilation of the Jugha cemetery. During a press
conference on October 25, Mr. Oskanian stated that UNESCO president
Koichiro Matsuura had promised to do everything possible to ensure the
visit by a delegation, but so far Azerbaijani officials have not
agreed to that visit. An article published by the Azeri Trend news
agency (October 27) quotes "Hajifahraddin Safarli, the director of the
Nakhchivan Department of History, Ethnography and Archeology Institute
and National Academy of Science of Azerbaijan (NASA)," as saying:
"there is no monument belonging to Armenians in the Nakhchivan
Autonomous Republic (NAR) of Azerbaijan."

In the same article Dr. Safarli labeled as groundless the statements
by Armenians concerning the destruction of the Armenian cemetery in
Jugha. As quoted in the article, he said: "There have never been
monuments belonging to Armenians in the territory of Nakhchivan."

For information on the exhibit at Harvard University, call the Davis
Center at (617) 495-4037. The exhibition website is

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3. Louise Simone grants $1.2 million to U. Mich. Armenian Studies program

by Yvette K. Harpootian

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Terrence J. McDonald, dean of the College of
Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan in Ann
Arbor, announced a $1.2 million gift from the internationally-known
benefactor, Louise Manoogian Simone, to expand the Armenian Studies
Program over the next two years.

Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan began with the
introduction of Armenian language courses and has expanded to offer
history, language, literature, and culture. The Manoogian family’s
support of the university began nearly 30 years ago with the first
endowed chair in Armenian History in 1981, the "Alex Manoogian Chair
in Modern Armenian History" in the department of History. In 1987, the
"Marie Manoogian Chair in Armenian Language and Literature" in the
department of Near Eastern Studies, was established.

These gifts of the two endowed chairs by the Alex Manoogian family
have secured the perpetuity of Armenian cultural and historic study at
the university. With two endowed chairs, a lecture series, conferences
and special projects, the Armenian Studies Program at the University
of Michigan is considered one of the best programs in the diaspora.

Currently, the two chair-holders are Professor Gerard J. Libaridian,
the Alex Manoogian Visiting Professor of Modern Armenian History and
Director of the Armenian Studies Program; and Professor Kevork B.
Bardakjian, the Marie Manoogian Professor of Armenian Language and
Literature and the prior Director of the Program.

In addition to these two professors, the core faculty for the
Armenian Program on the Ann Arbor campus includes the highly respected
historian, Ronald Suny, the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair
in Modern Armenian History and founding director of the Armenian
Studies Program. Professor Suny is currently the Charles Tilly
Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University
of Michigan.

* A splendid, magnificent gift

This latest gift from the Manoogian-Simone Foundation "will provide
the resources to move Armenian Studies to a higher level, so that the
program will be positioned to make a major contribution to the
recruitment and preparation of a new generation of scholars in the
field — a goal that is also shared by the Manoogian family and the
faculty of the program," Dean McDonald said. He stressed the
importance of Armenian Studies to the university, and the depth that
the University of Michigan’s centers in Russian and Middle Eastern
resources contribute to the program.

The new director of the program, Prof. Gerard Jirair Libaridian,
feels, "This gift could not have been made at a more opportune moment.
Armenian Studies and the Armenian world are facing major challenges.
The gift will enable us to contribute to the preparation of a new
generation of scholars who will certainly face these challenges." He
explained that it will also "make it possible for us to develop closer
ties and joint efforts in the field with institutions of higher
education in Armenia, especially Yerevan State University."

Prof. Libaridian outlined the usage and purpose of the
Manoogian-Simone Foundation’s gift. It will support five new graduate
fellowships and post doctoral fellowships, including two designated
for candidates from universities in Armenia; a Visiting Scholar
program; an annual international conference; a new graduate workshop;
an expansion of the Summer Institute held in Yerevan; and an outreach
program that will build a video library of lectures and conferences.

The library will also provide live feeds of major conferences held
at University of Michigan which are related to Armenian Studies.

Prof. Bardakjian, who was director of the program for 12 years, says
he is "grateful to Mrs. Simone for the splendid and magnificent gift."
He is also grateful to Dean Terry McDonald: "It was his vision to
expand the Armenian Studies Program; we helped, but he did it."

During Prof. Bardakjian’s term as director, he said he was "dreaming
of getting money to revitalize the program and prepare students to
take over when we retire." This gift will now "re-invigorate the
program as well as train students to be capable to continue after we
retire." The money is earmarked, but we decided what to do with it,"
he explained. "One needs to protect one’s investment … it would be
regrettable if we not thought of the future of this progam."

The announcement of this gift was made at the end of September, at a
reception attended by 50 guests at the university. Guests included
professors, department directors, and supporters of the program and
community members. The Manoogian-Simone Foundation supports Armenian
organizations, including Armenian human services and religious
organizations. Louise Manoogian Simone, daughter of Alex Manoogian is
also a founding member of the ABGU’s Board of Trustees.

*************************************** ************************************

4. Los Angeles City Council supports Armenian Genocide resolution

* Mayor Villaraigosa speaks out

* Garcetti and Greuel take the lead

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to
support the congressional committee resolution reaffirming the United
States record on the Armenian Genocide.

The resolution, authored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Pasadena), was
approved in October by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs over the
objections of President Bush, who said the actions could endanger
relations with Turkey.

Council members Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti led the October 24
Los Angeles City Council in a unanimous 13-0 vote, which put the City
of Los Angeles on record in support of H.Res. 106

* Mayor speaks out

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged the council’s support by
stating, "It’s time to end the tradition of Holocaust denial that has
only deepened the pain of those whose parents and grandparents
suffered the unspeakable horror of ethnic cleansing." Mayor
Villaraigosa also went on to say, "When we don’t speak up, when we are
silent, what we see is a continuation of a cycle of violence." (The
full text of the mayor’s speech appears on page B2.)

* Council president hopes for healed world

On the council floor, Council President Eric Garcetti of District 14
said, "Until we recognize that past, we will never be a healed world
and the 1.5 million lost people will be just that — lost not only in
history, but lost in memory as well.”

The Council president added, "Today we call on Congress to recognize
the Armenian Genocide for what it was — a violation of the human
rights of millions of Armenians," Mr. Garcetti said. "In order for the
wounds of the past to heal, we must recognize this horrific chapter of
world history."

Wendy Greuel, council member for District 2 said, "We have an
opportunity and an obligation to acknowledge the atrocities that the
Armenian people suffered as genocide, both to heal the wounds of the
survivors and the families of victims and to help prevent future
genocides from occurring." She added, "It is simply the right thing to

H.Res. 106 — introduced by Adam Schiff on January 30, passed with a
vote of 27-21 in the United States House of Representatives Committee
on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, October 10, 2007, and is now being
considered for a full House vote.

H.Res. 106, calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign
policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and
sensitivity concerning the issues related to human rights, ethnic
cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record
relating to the Armenian Genocide. The resolution is nonbinding and
will not carry the weight of the law. Rather it will simply place the
House of Representatives on record as labeling the Armenian Genocide
as genocide.

*************************************** ************************************

* Text of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s speech

The following is the text of the mayor’s speech.

In 1896, during one of his last speeches, the legendary William
Gladstone, who served three terms as Prime Minister of England, Said
that a failure to stop Turkish massacres of the Armenian people would
leave Europe "disgraced in the face of the world."A century ago,
crimes against the Armenian people were a widely-known and
acknowledged truth. The genocide against Armenians reached its tragic
zenith between 1915 and 1923, when an estimated 1.5 million Armenians
were brutally killed in their historic homeland by Ottoman Turkey. Not
surprisingly, the name Gladstone came to be reviled in Turkey.

While our relationship with modern Turkey is strategically vital,
our national interest will always be more fundamentally aligned with
the cause of human rights.

As Mayor of the city with the largest Armenian population outside of
Armenia, I say it’s time to end the tradition of holocaust denial that
has only deepened the pain of those whose parents and grandparents
suffered the unspeakable horrors of ethnic cleansing. Before casting
their deciding votes, I hope every member of Congress will keep in
mind one of Mr. Gladstone’s most famous phrases, which was a favorite
of Martin Luther King Jr: "Justice delayed is justice denied."

Some are resisting the call to recognize the Armenian Genocide on
the grounds that it may upset sensitive relations with an ally in the
Middle East and this is "not the right time" to approve such a
resolution. I think we can all get behind the latter sentiment: this
is not the right time to acknowledge the fact of the genocide, because
we should have done so long before now.

The tragic outcome of the world’s silence and inaction in the face
of the Armenian Genocide is one of the darkest chapters of the 20th
Century. With recent mass killings documented in Darfur and Kosovo, it
remains our continuing responsibility as Americans to condemn genocide
whenever and wherever it occurs.

When we turn a blind eye to holocaust, we lend it a legitimacy that
makes us all complicit.

Truth should never be subjugated to prevailing political winds.
Genocide is genocide, torture is torture and truth is truth. When
words to lose their meaning, when the horrors of history are buried
under layers of diplomatic euphemism, we invite future tragedies.

With this resolution we have an opportunity to reclaim America’s
moral leadership in the 21st century.

The whole world is watching. Congress must vote yes on House Bill 106.

******************************************** *******************************

5. High school students planning a trek to support House Resolution 106

* A ten-mile walk-a-thon will take place on November 8

by Razmig Sarkissian

MONTEBELLO, Calif. – With House Resolution 106 pending a vote in the
House of Representatives, , the 11th grade class at Armenian Mesrobian
School has decided to take an initiative.

The students have organized a walk-a-thon to raise funds in support
of the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) efforts to
shore up support for the resolution.

The 11th graders plan to raise at least $1,000 through sponsorships
to donate to the ANCA. They will be walking approximately ten miles
from the Pasadena Armenian Center to the ANCA Western Region office in
Glendale, on the morning of Thursday, November 8.

"Every little bit counts," said the 11th grade homeroom teacher, Tro
Tchekidjian. "This is our small contribution to an organization that
has been at the forefront of our cause for so many years."

* Through their eyes

The 11th graders hope that the money they raise will help secure the
passage of H. Res. 106.

The students have been closely following the events and the
controversy surrounding the resolution.

"The passage of this resolution is extremely crucial, not only to
Armenians but to humanity on a whole," commented 11th grade student
Nanor Harboyan. "There should be no hesitance when it comes to
justice, and upholding basic human rights."

When asked how he would feel if the resolution passed, Gevorg
Iskadjyan answered, "It would be a huge load off our shoulders and a
big step in the right direction, but our work wouldn’t end there.
America’s recognition of the genocide would propel us forward and give
us the momentum we need to get Turkey to finally face their history."

Sophie Avedikian believes that "if an influential nation such as
America recognizes the Armenian Genocide, then it would result in a
chain reaction of recognition and help us achieve a worldwide
consensus condemning Turkey for their crimes and denial."

In light of the surge of media interest in this topic, Palig
Saghdjian is impressed with "how far we’ve come in the last 10 years,"
but believes "there is still room for improvement. The main media
outlets still seem to be biased toward the [Bush] administration’s
stance, but at least it has finally become a topic of discussion."

* Renewed activism

"The success and advancement of H. Res. 106 has definitely helped
increase political activism," commented 11th grade student Nora
Gourdikian. "It has also helped bring the community together and unite
the Armenians under a common cause."

One such example was a rally when Rep. Jane Harman was speaking. Ms.
Harman, a co-sponsor of the resolution, had surreptitiously began
working against its passage. Nora attended this rally and had trouble
holding back her emotions upon seeing a woman she refers to as "that

Back when the resolution was scheduled to be voted on in the Foreign
Affairs Committee, the 11th graders at Mesrobian dedicated an entire
class period to calling up the offices of local representatives and
urging them to vote yes on the resolution.

Member of Congress Linda Sanchez, the representative for Whittier,
was among many who had yet to publicize which way they were going to

A number of the students took turns calling her main office that day.

On the day of the vote, she voted in favor of the resolution.

"What was really fulfilling to me was seeing immediate results
coming from the students’ actions," said Mr. Tchekidjian.

"I partially attribute Sanchez voting yes to the work done by my
students." Also, the students eagerly followed the debate in the
Foreign Affairs Committee, on the day of the vote, via webcast.

"I always hear people comment on how the youth is inactive and
apathetic," said Mr. Tchekidjian. "The students have shown me that we
might have that statement backward. Let these students be an example
to those adults."

Those who want to sponsor the students’ walk-a-thon may contact the school.


(562) 699-2057

* * *

Razmig Sarkissian, 16, is a junior at Armenian Mesrobian School in
Pico Rivera, California

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6. Armenian-Americans to rally for the adoption of the Genocide resolution

* Nationwide push calls for Congress to stand firm in the face of
Turkish threats

LOS ANGELES — The Armenian Youth Federation along with human rights
supporters across the nation will hold several large-scale rallies
this Sunday, November 4, 2007, calling for the passage of the Armenian
Genocide Resolution (H. Res.106).

The mass gatherings, entitled "Rally 106: United Voices for the
Armenian Genocide Resolution" will be held in prominent cities across
the United States including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, San
Francisco, and Washington.

The rally is expected to draw thousands of community members and
human rights advocates who want to mobilize efforts and bring
awareness to this most urgent issue.

"We are encouraged that a broad cross section of Americans will be
on hand for Rally 106," said Ishkhan Boghossian, the director of the
Los Angeles area rally.

"By supporting the passage of the resolution we are supporting human
rights and justice, two fundamental American values," he said. "We are
also going to stand firmly against an attempt by a foreign government,
Turkey, to hijack America’s record on the Armenian Genocide. Clearly,
the Republic of Turkey is funneling millions to Washington in a bid to
strangle America’s commitment to human rights. That is immoral and we
will be gathering to reject Turkey’s foreign interference."

"Rally 106" comes at a time when the government of Turkey is
increasing its efforts to prevent the passage of the Armenian Genocide
Resolution. Turkey has hired public relations and lobbying firms such
as the Livingston Group, Fleishman Hillard, and DLA Piper to lobby
Members of Congress and persuade them to vote against the Armenian
Genocide resolution.

"I assure you that the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution
has nothing to do with the reality that the Turks may move forward
with their threat to cut critical supply routes to our troops in Iraq.
They were the cause of much hardship and strain on our troops at the
start of the war at which time there was no Armenian Genocide
Resolution pending in congress," said Caspar Jivalagian, chair of the
Armenian Youth Federation. "The reason Turkey makes threats against
our country is quite simple; they are an inconsistent ally and surely
not a friend of ours."

Vice-President of the Western Region, Vache Thomasian has been
arduously working to coordinate the communities nationwide. By
visiting churches, schools, human rights organization and by using
basic manpower, Thomassian feels that this is a critical time to be
proactive. "We are sending the message across that this is a piece of
legislation that does not have a wrong time to be talked about,"
Thomassian said. "There is tremendous support for this resolution
among the Armenian-American community and many other human rights
activist groups. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak truth even in the
face of our supposed ally."

Thomassian stressed this message by saying, "We need to make it
clear that this issue is not being swept under the rug, that this it
is still a very live issue both in Washington and our communities."

Thousands are expected to gather at the rallies in support of the
Armenian Genocide Resolution, where various elected officials and
dignitaries will voice their support as well. The Los Angeles area
Rally 106 will be held in the Little Armenia area of Hollywood near
the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and Alexandria on Sunday, November
4, 2007 at 3 p.m.


7. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: A diverse North Carolina
parish shows its unity for Vehapar

by Antranig Dereyan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Catholicos Karekin’s visit to the 12-year-old
Armenian Church community in Charlotte began like most other stops on
the itinerary of the Pontifical tour: with an airport welcoming
ceremony featuring children in traditional costume.

Later, at the city’s Marriott Hotel, the Catholicos had an
opportunity to meet the members of the St. Sarkis Church, who in a
relatively short period have built up a community, erected a church,
and consecrated it. In remarks before the gathering of young and adult
parishioners, Catholicos Karekin expressed his admiration for the
small but active community.

The following day gave some of the young Armenians of this "city of
churches" an opportunity to show their dedication and spirit to their
pontiff. And they wanted to get things just right.

"Asdvadz oknagan, Vehapar Der," repeated 14-year-old Olga Kocharyan,
a member of the Nayiri Armenian Folk Dance Ensemble, as she paced up
and down the sidewalk outside the church. In anticipation of the
Catholicos of All Armenians’ arrival, Olga was practicing the greeting
over and over — much to the consternation of her fellow dancers. It
would be their job to lay flowers at the pontiff’s feet when he
finally drew up to the church.

"I have been practicing this line for 45 minutes. I don’t speak
Armenian, I speak Russian, so this is hard for me," said Olga,
revealing a personal characteristic she shares with many of her fellow
parishioners. "I’m afraid of messing up and having Vehapar think
something bad about me."

Olga was still pacing and practicing when the pontifical limo came
into view. She ran to her position and, when her moment came to speak
and throw her flowers, she uttered the words she had been practicing
all day.

It was perfect.

"I am so glad that when Vehapar finally came I was calm, and said my
line without a break. I didn’t mess up — and I am glad for that,"
Olga said afterward.

* Diverse and strong

As Eastern Diocesan parishes go, the Charlotte community is a very
diverse one, uniting Armenians from various points of origin, with no
single subset holding a majority. Walking among the people entering
St. Sarkis Church, you might be forgiven for imagining you’re at the
United Nations. Here you’ll notice the distinctive sounds of Russian
and Arabic, various Eastern European tongues, as well as Armenian —
both the western and eastern dialects.

"I believe our diversity is what makes us stronger," said Talin
Sarkissian, one of the local committee chairs for the Pontifical
visit. "We have our problems, but we are improving. We are still a
fairly new church: we had our consecration just two years ago, in
2005. We are still coming together; there is still room for
improvement. But we’ve come a long way from where we were two years

The sense of faith and unity at St. Sarkis glowed with special
brightness during a youth event where young people ages 5 to 17
reciting poems and stories for the Catholicos. One girl, Marnie
Kastorian, approached Vehapar to give him a hug, which made the
pontiff smile and turn a slight shade of red.

When it was time for Catholicos Karekin to speak to the kids, he
first spoke in English, and was very engaged with the youth.

"Who knows what the words over the altar mean?" said Vehapar.

"It means God loves us," said one of the youth.

"How much do you love your parents and church?" the Catholicos asked.

"Very much, sometimes," the youth responded.

"Sometimes? Why, it should be always," said Karekin II.

In North Carolina, Vehapar’s face glowed with a renewed sense of
enjoyment after the previous days’ busy schedule of official
appearances. The presence of the young people — representing
Armenians from around the world, united in a single community — was
clearly a special source of cheer for him.

"One day I will come back and see your parents, older and with gray
hair, sitting with your kids," he told the young crowd, "and I will be

* Turning the corner

Faith and unity play an important role in the St. Sarkis Church; but
that doesn’t spare the parish from its share of difficulties.

"We have splits along with the diversity, and we have financial
problems," said Talin Sarkissian. "I hope it won’t take a long time to
get this church established and running, so we don’t continue having
more expenses than revenue."

Others hope that the Pontifical visit will have lasting beneficial
effects on parish life. "I am hoping that Vehapar’s visit will
motivate people to become more active in the church beyond the actual
church itself — whether it would be cleaning up the lawn in the fall,
or cooking for an event," said parishioner Elina Tunyan.

Parishioners who have migrated to Charlotte from places like Baku
are certainly well aware that nothing comes easily in this world. But
people also seem very optimistic about the young parish’s future. The
very existence of an Armenian Church in this southern "city of
churches" is a new and notable achievement — even something of a
miracle. And for all their superficial differences, the parishioners
share an uncommon sense of "belonging" to their church and to their
fellow Armenians. For some of them, it’s a feeling that they were not
permitted to express or explore in their former countries, and so they
cherish it all the more in America.

With all that going for the parish, there’s little doubt that the
next time a catholicos visits these parts, there will be a thriving
community waiting to greet him. And he’ll be overjoyed.

************************************** *************************************

8. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: A tree grows in Cleveland,
with Catholicos Karekin’s blessing

by Antranig Dereyan

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Catholicos Karekin II arrived in Cleveland
on the day after the Indians had lost the American League Championship
to the Boston Red Sox. While the rest of the city consoled itself with
the never-quite-reassuring line, "There’s always next year," the local
Armenian community prepared to greet a figure whose enduring office is
itself an emblem of optimism in the face of loss.

Vehapar’s two-day stopover in Ohio began with a couple of youth
gatherings at the St. Gregory of Narek Church: first with young
children, and later with the teen- and college-age kids of the local
ACYOA Juniors and Seniors organizations. The older youth had the rare
opportunity to engage in a Q-and-A session with the Catholicos of All
Armenians, and the questions posed to their pontiff covered a range of
topics in religion, faith, and identity.

"What does to mean to be Armenian?" one young questioner asked.

"Being Armenian is being faithful," said the Catholicos. "To be
close to your church, the country of Armenia, and the country you are
in, which is the United Sates." He went on to say that being Armenian
meant "being loving … knowing your history."

About 70 young people took part in the youth events on October 22.

That same evening, the church conveyed its official welcome to the
Catholicos in an hrashapar service, where around 200 parishioners and
their deacon-in-charge Dn. Ardak Khachikyan joined with members of
other religious groups in the area.

Among the latter was Rev. Gene McAfee, pastor of the nearby United
Church of Christ parish. "I was invited to this service, and I was
honored to come," he said. "I came here to this service to see the
Catholicos to show my respect. Him being here lifts the Armenian
people’s spirit … and will raise the visibility of the Armenian
Church here in Ohio," said Rev. McAfee.

As part of the service, Mona Karoghlanian, chair of the regional
Pontifical visit committee and a member of the St. Gregory of Narek
parish council, received the "St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal" from the

"I am very shocked and honored that Vehapar gave me this medal. I’m
speechless. It was a big surprise," said Ms. Karoghlanian.

A banquet followed the service. One attendee was Fr. Arakel
Aljalian, of the Watertown, Mass., parish — who suffered no ill will
despite Cleveland’s crushing baseball loss to Boston. To the contrary,
said Mona Karoghlanian in remarks to the crowd, "We knew that Fr.
Arakel was coming, but we didn’t know if it was to congratulate us or
to comfort us. Now we know it is to comfort us."

Dn. Artak Khachikyan told the history of the Ohio parish, relating
that "the last visit to this state by a catholicos was in 1960, by
Vehapar Vasken I, and [at the time] this church wasn’t consecrated
yet. So this is officially the first visit to our church by a
catholicos — and hopefully we won’t have to wait long for another

The following day Karekin II struck a more serious tone as he met
with some community leaders. "Armenia is better than before, but it
still needs work and help," he explained. "We have a good relationship
with the government and the youth have more jobs open to them.
However, more is always welcomed, and with your help we can get
Armenia the help it needs to move forward."

After the breakfast meeting he returned went to the St. Gregory of
Narek Church to bless the site on the church grounds were a new tree
will be planted. The gesture had a symbolic resonance: during the 1960
Pontifical visit, Catholicos Vasken had blessed a tree on the site
that would eventually be occupied by the church building. The 2007
tree-blessing was a symbol of continuity, potentials realized, and
promises kept over the course of 47 years.

About 150 attended the event and the reception that followed, where
longtime parish members mingled with the more recent arrivals from
Armenia and Baku.

St. Gregory of Narek’s parish council chair Arshavir Andonian spoke
for many in attendance. "I cannot find the proper words to express
myself. This is the first time I have had the privilege to be in the
presences of Vehapar, and I am proud and thankful he came," he said.

******************************************* ********************************

9. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: In a 9-hour visit to
Wisconsin, Catholicos Karekin rekindles memories from 47 years ago

RACINE, Wisc. — Joe Gabriellian was only a boy the last time a
Catholicos of All Armenians made it to Racine. But seeing Catholicos
Vasken I back in 1960 left a deep impression on the man who now serves
on the parish council of Racine’s St. Mesrob Church. Those 47-year-old
feelings came flooding back as Gabriellian watched his own 8-year-old
son welcoming another catholicos to the city on October 23.

It was one of the many personal milestones that hundreds of
individuals observed on this Midwestern leg Catholicos Karekin II’s
Pontifical tour of the Eastern Diocese. The Armenians of Wisconsin —
home to three Diocesan parishes, and a venerable and active Armenian
community — were overjoyed to be "back on the map" of a catholicos’s
tour after close to half a century.

The final stopover in the state lasted nine hours, with every minute
devoted to official visits and public events. Following the airport
welcoming ceremony, Karekin II and his entourage went directly to the
St. Francis Seminary, which serves the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of
Milwaukee. Archbishop Timothy Dolan played host.

"I am very glad that His Holiness came here to visit us; this just
shows the unity between members of the Christian faith," Archbishop
Dolan said. "We are all one in our faith to the one God."

After brunch with the Catholic leaders, it was back to the motorcade
and a meeting with representative of the three Wisconsin parishes at
the Sienna Center in Racine.

The meeting took form of a question-and-answer session with the
Catholicos. Vehapar led the gathering in English, and took questions
from all comers. One question that he was especially keen to answer
was, "How can we best help Armenia?"

"Creating more jobs is the best way to help Armenia," Vehapar
replied; but "don’t just send fish, teach fishing." He said that
"financial aid is welcome, but economic aid through creating new jobs
for the citizens to support themselves and their families is the best
way to help Armenia."

A different question became the main topic of discussion for the
session, and it was familiar to those who had listened to him speak in
the other cities on the itinerary: "Why is the badarak not spoken in
English for the Armenians who don’t know the language?"

"If the church puts the badarak in English in America, then the it
will have to be done in French in France, in Russian in Russia — and
we as a nation will lose our face, our identity," came Catholicos
Karekin’s reply. But he added: "Language makes no difference; it is
all about one’s faith. So learn the badarak; it does not change; it
will remain the same from when one is born to when he dies."

An appropriate answer from the head of a church noted for its
endurance over many generations. Still, the point got a mixed reaction
from the parish representatives.

Next the Catholicos went to Racine’s St. Mesrob Church, for the main
religious event of the visit: a hrashapar service with several hundred
people from the Racine, Greenfield and South Milwaukee communities,
along with religious and civic leaders from the area.

Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, himself a product of the Wisconsin community,
spoke about what the visit meant to his parishioners. "I was excited
to see my people inspired by Vehapar, by his mere presence, and so
warmed by his words. We are all excited to have him here. My flock are
so far from Armenia — they are third or fourth-generation
Armenian-Americans. But His Holiness’ presence reconnected them with
their roots. So many mothers told me that their children will remember
this forever."

He went on: "We have not seen a catholicos visit Wisconsin for 47
years. This Catholicos intensified the warm memory of 47 years ago;
this visit has created a new generation of people with a fond
connection with their earthly father. The old were re-instilled, and
the new were brought to precious awe."

"Vehapar has done a great job by being here to visit us," said
Stanley Sheridan, a member of the St. Mesrob Church and ACYOA Central
Council. "I can’t believe he has done this: everything so fast with no
breaks. The Armenian community here in Wisconsin is very appreciative
of Vehapar, and what he has done for us with his visit."

For Joe Gabrielian, who relived his own childhood memory alongside
his son Jacob, the visit "was exciting and something I’ll never
forget, plus something my son will never forget. His Holiness is one
of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It was something I may never get
to see again, so I’ve been trying to soak in everything His Holiness

* * *

The Reporter’s Antranig Dereyan and the Eastern Diocese contributed to
this article.

**************************************** ***********************************

10. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: In Minnesota, Karekin II’s
standing as an international leader shines

by Antranig Dereyan

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Catholicos Karekin’s October 25-26 visit to the
Twin Cities began like most of the other stops on the Pontifical tour,
with a ceremonial airport greeting, and then a hrashapar service at
the local St. Sahag Church — a beautiful, wood-paneled, Gothic
structure that six years ago was re-dedicated as the city’s first
Armenian sanctuary.

The service itself did not diverge from the familiar routine
established for the visit: the entry into the church with parish
"elders" conveying the canopy over Vehapar; the eager faces seeking
the pontiff’s blessing; the Catholicos’s homily touching on the need
to keep the faith, language, and traditions of the Armenian Church
alive; Fr. Ktrij Devejian doing his dutiful job as translator. The
community put on cultural program featuring afterwards, where Vehapar
showed his special rapport with children.

Equally familiar was the distinctive garb of the Greek Orthodox,
Roman Catholic, and other ecumenical leaders among the congregation,
who had come out to greet the visiting Armenian dignitary.

What was out of the ordinary was the several of those ecumenical
figures had come to make an appeal to the Catholicos, to use the
authority of his ancient office to intercede in a matter internal to
their own church.

A three-member delegation from the Eritrean Orthodox Church, based
in Ethiopia, arrived to brief Catholicos Karekin about what they
termed the "unlawful removal of of His Holiness Antonious, the legal
patriarch of Eritrea," from his throne.

Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, the Armenian pastor of the St. Mesrob Church of
Racine, Wisc., who has served as visiting pastor to the Minnesota
Armenian community and is familiar with the Eritrean Church crisis,
explained: "Their situation is one of a grave nature. Their government
has turned to a Marxist government. They have arrested and imprisoned
the rightfully chosen patriarch for two years, and have imposed a
government-selected patriarch upon them. And now the church and the
government are in a battle."

"Hopefully, it can be resolved through the international church,"
said Fr. Kelegian, referring to role Catholicos Karekin and other
church hierarch’s could potentially play in the matter.

"What is happening to us is illegal," said Fr. Yohannes, a member of
the Eritrean delegation. "We do not accept the appointed patriarch as
the rightful patriarch."

After meeting and speaking with the three representatives, Karekin
II pledged to support their efforts, and said that the Armenian Church
would recognize no Eritrean patriarch other than the deposed

"He said he will support us in any action we do," said Fr. Yohannes.

* Honors from and for the Catholicos

For the relatively small Armenian community of Minneapolis-St. Paul,
the episode was a reminder that they are part of a larger community,
with a worldwide reach and international influence. The thought
brought a feeling of solidarity to the parishioners.

"I think it is wonderful that Vehapar has visited us here in
Minnesota and it shows the respect that the church has for our little
community," said parish leader Dr. John Najarian. "I hope that this
visit energizes the church, and inspires people to want to come back
and contribute to the church."

The following day brought yet another acknowledgment of Catholicos
Karekin’s standing in the world, as the city’s University of St.
Thomas, a Roman Catholic institution, conferred an honorary doctoral
degree on the Armenian pontiff.

"I am very honored to receive this degree. It shows the religious
freedom that is expressed in this country of the United States," said
the Catholicos as he received the degree from university president Fr.
Dennis Dease, in the sunlit atrium of the Law School.

"This is the land of the free, and home of the brave. This country
opened its doors and accepted the members of the Armenian community …
it gave the members of the Armenian community a way to start their new
lives after the Genocide, and I am very thankful for that," Vehapar

During the same ceremony Catholicos Karekin had an honor of his own
to bestow: the "St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal" — the highest
honor the Armenian Church confers on a member of the laity — which he
gave to philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian, president of the Cafesjian
Family Foundation, which has collaborated with the University of St.
Thomas on several Armenian-oriented projects both in Armenia and in
the U.S. (The Cafesjian Family Foundation owns this newspaper.)

Citing the recipient’s dedication and contributions to the worldwide
Armenian community, Vehapar pinned on the medal, to the evident
delight of both Gerard Cafesjian and his wife, Cleo Cafesjian. "I
didn’t know I would be receiving this medal. I was completely
surprised," Mr. Cafesjian said.

The trip to Minnesota was the last stop before returning to New York
for the culminating events of the Pontifical tour (a visit to the
large Detroit community is the actual final stop on the tour). Before
he left, the Catholicos reflected: "I am glad to have seen our people
in Minnesota; it is a very vibrant community."

With that, he boarded the plane that would take him and his
entourage to New York.

******************************************* ********************************

11. On the road with Catholicos Karekin II: In Chicago, Catholicos
Karekin II inspires a sense of solidarity and common mission

by Antranig Dereyan

CHICAGO — The visit of Catholicos Karekin to the Windy City
highlighted an important aspect of his overall tour of the Eastern
Diocese: the Pontifical visit is not only meant to connect the
Catholicos with his own flock, but also with the broader Christian and
even inter-religious communities.

That sense of solidarity and common mission was certainly in
evidence during the hrashapar service for the Illinois Armenian
community, which was held at the Greek orthodox Church of Saints Peter
and Paul.

Speaking on behalf of the Chicago’s Greek Orthodox Metropolitan
Iakovos, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos welcomed his brothers and
sisters from the Armenian Church.

"Catholicos Karekin coming to Chicago is a blessing to the entire
orthodox family," he said. "To the church, it is a blessing to embody
both the pains and the joys of both our people. Both our people share
a great history together, and with Vehapar here our people can share
in the pains and joys as one."

The sanctuary was filled predominantly with Armenians from the
states five Diocesan parishes (in Belleville, Chicago, Evanston, Palos
Heights, and Waukegan), in who were ecstatic to be in the presence of
the Catholicos. The last such encounter came in 1996, when the late
Catholicos Karekin I visited the city.

This time, one young man, Daniel Mersesian, was so taken by the
experience that after the service he made his way through the wall of
clergy to ask Karekin II to autograph the official Pontifical visit
magazine that the Eastern Diocese had produced. Vehapar and the
attending clergy gladly obliged.

"This is a pretty big thing, not only for me, but the whole Chicago
Armenian community," Mersesian said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime
thing as well. I wanted the clergy and Vehapar to sign the book
because it gives the book more historic value, and will be something
for me to remember."

* "He’s the main guy"

"It felt great to have Vehapar sign it: he is the main guy, and I felt
fantastic that he and everyone else sign the book for me," added

Many others felt that having the Catholicos among them brought them
closer, not only to the church, but to their faith in general. Several
mentioned that seeing and listening to the Catholicos led them to
think more deeply on what it means to be Armenian, and to dream more
confidently about what they could achieve as a community to the United

"Vehapar coming to Chicago gives us hope," said Larry Farsakian, who
served as the general chair of the Chicago/Milwaukee leg of the tour.
"Since the Armenians living here in America are so far removed from
Armenia, having him come here allows the people to feel closer to him
and Armenia."

Karekin II took time to answer questions from the parish members,
and when the familiar "English in the badarak" inquiry came up, he
stayed on-message.

Farsakian himself voiced mixed feelings on the issue. "I love having
the traditional service; but my son growing up in the United States
does not know Armenian, and it would be good to see some parts of the
badarak done in English."

"I don’t think that having it all in English would make more
Armenians come to church; once the people get complacent it would
deter them from coming, no matter what language the badarak is in.
Really, it is all about one’s faith in church, not so much the
language," Farsakian said.

* Comfort and joy

After the non-stop pace of the prior weeks, the entourage traveling
with the Catholicos was especially grateful for the accommodations the
Chicago community had chosen: rooms in the local Four Seasons Hotel,
with spectacular views of the city all around. A few of the entourage
members did not want to leave the hotel.

But they also knew that they were in Chicago to visit and make
contact with the Armenian community.

"This tour we are on is long, but is worth it to see the Armenians
in the United States," commented the Catholicos’ aid, Fr. Ktrij
Devejian. After visits to a dozen cities, "This might be routine for
us; but for the people we are visiting it is their first time seeing
Vehapar. And Vehapar is happy to see the United States and the
Armenian communities here."

An important inter-religious gathering held in Chicago was a meeting
with the city’s Council of Religious Leaders, where the Greek
Metropolitan of Chicago Iakovos spoke admiringly about what the
Armenian pontiff has done for his flock in Armenia following the
collapse of Communism.

"What he did for his people is very encouraging, because he
indicated that he will not allow Communistic ideology to be readmitted
in the minds of the people. The former Communist [youth] centers [in
Armenia] are now Christian [youth] centers, which is a hopeful sign
that the Armenians can live as an independent nation."

More generally, Iakovos was hopeful that "Vehapar being here with us
today is a big step in the unity of the Christians to get closer
together, and celebrate our faith together, and discuss theological
issues that will someday lead to the unity of all Christian churches."

********************************* ******************************************

12. Author Shant Kenderian speaks with students at UCLA

by Alene Tchekmedyian

WESTWOOD, Calif. — During the first Armenian Literary Series event of
the school year, the Armenian Graduate Student Association (AGSA) at
UCLA hosted Shant Kenderian, author of 1001 Nights in Iraq, to discuss
his experience fighting on the front lines of the Iran-Iraq war.

To an audience of fascinated UCLA students and faculty, Kenderian
gave a detailed account of many struggles he had to face in Iraq. As a
seventeen year old who was on a mission to make peace with his father,
Kenderian ended up spending an appalling ten years in Iraq before
returning to his home in the United States.

Even after undergoing these traumatic experiences, Kenderian is able
to share his story to the world. Kenderian said, "We all have stories,
mine is one of the crazy ones."

In his book, he depicts the struggle to survive without proper
sources of food or shelter. He states, "We would go to bed not knowing
who would wake us up in the morning. We had no shelters to hide in."
The soldiers were also malnourished. Kenderian recalls, "We had no
food. We lived on a bagel sized piece of bread a day and we drank a
lot of water," he jokes. "We ate carbs. They don’t really make you
fat, I lost a lot of weight like that." After the hardships he
endured, and the casualties he witnessed, he is still able to maintain
a sense of humor.

During his time serving in the war, however, he admits he was
falling apart. He said, "I was one of ones who was mentally able, but
even in that mental capacity, I was loosing it.

I didn’t think I would come out of this alive."

An aspect of his experience that film producers and book publishers
were especially interested in was his romantic relationship with a
female American soldier. "I usually don’t talk about this…we knew it
was wrong, but it’s one of those things that the more you try to
resist it, the more attracted you get," he said of the affair. He
laughs, "Not much can happen in a prisoners of war camp."

To this day, Kenderian maintains the unexpected friendships he made
during the war. He states, "I made a lot of friends. I made friends
with the people who blew up my boat. I made friends with the people
who kept me. I made friends with my interrogators. I am still in touch
with these guys today."

The audience was impressed with Kenderian’s ability to view his
experience as having a positive affect on his life. Ara Soghomonian, a
fifth year UCLA graduate student in near eastern languages and
cultures said, "What is amazing is how good natured he is about the
whole experience. It seems like going through the experience actually
enriched his life, and he considers himself blessed today, which is
pretty amazing."

Andrew Behesnilian, a second year UCLA medical school student and
project manager of the event, said the goal was to, "Bring the voice
of Armenians in literature to the UCLA campus and to give students an
opportunity to come into contact with published colleagues."

Raffi Kassabian, a third year UCLA law student and executive officer
of AGSA said, "We want to highlight Armenian American authors, but we
also want to build a forum for graduate students to meet one another."
He hopes to expand the involvement of graduate students with campus

Kenderian ended his lecture with the eye opening statement, "I feel
like Job in the bible; bad luck in the beginning and good luck in the

********************************** *****************************************

13. Hamazkayin Music Committee to celebrate its 20th anniversary in Los Angeles

by Maral Habeshian

GLENDALE, Calif. — Twenty years ago, the Hamazkayin Armenian
Educational and Cultural Society realized a calling to document and
advance Armenian music. To fulfill that mission, a music committee was
formed to work directly with its Western United States Executive

Today, the Hamazkayin Music Committee is poised to mark its
accomplishments of the past twenty years, at a dinner aptly called an
"Evening of Celebration," which will take place on November 9 in Los

The evening will feature a recital by international piano virtuoso
Armen Babakhanian, and the release of the Music Committee’s latest
children’s DVD, along with a comprehensive 2-set CD of Sayat Nova
works performed by the Sayat Nova Ensemble.

In discussing the history of the Music Committee, founding member
Seta Simonian explained the initial need to form the body. "We
recognized a need to professionally pursue and advance a distinguished
quality of Armenian music. At first, we formed two very successful
choral groups that existed until 1994."

Vatche Barsoumian directed those groups, but when he eventually left
to found and direct Lark Musical Society, the Music Committee’s focus
shifted to include sponsorship of classical and traditional recitals
in order to promote a distinct brand of Armenian music. Eventually,
out of necessity, the Committee found its calling.

"We began to focus on recording and publishing works that others
didn’t consider – perhaps because they were not commercially viable.
Nevertheless, they needed to be documented," explains Simonian,
pointing to the Committee’s release of Armenian Romance Songs that
feature pieces such as Yes Siretzi by Alemshah, Bjingo by
Srvantzdiantz, Yes Saren Kougayi by Komitas and many other classics on
the two volume collection. "Now, these songs are documented and also
serve to promote modern-day artists performing them."

Other works published by Hamazkayin Music Commitee include:
Ganatchian Choral Works: An Anthology (1991), Komitas: Rustic Scenes
(1992), Parsegh Ganatchian: Complete Works (3-CD set, 2000), Alexan
Menakian: Children’s Songs (2003), Avedis Nazarian: Children’s Songs
and Operetta (2004), Yetvart Hagopian: Children’s Songs (2004), Sayat
Nova: Piano Arrangements (2005), Komitas: Piano Works (2-CD set,
2006), and Aram Khachaturian: Complete Piano Works (4-CD set, 2007).

Documentary booklets, spanning 30-92 pages, accompany each CD. They
include information about composers, the music, lyrics, and
translations to offer perhaps the most comprehensive and accurate
information on given artists and their works. "These will be around
forever not only for scholars and music experts, but also the public,"
stresses Simonian.

* Sayat Nova and the Yeraz Barig

When the Music Committee realized that there is no comprehensive
recording of Sayat Nova works, they set out to publish their new CD
that features 31 songs recorded by the Sayat Nova Ensemble and Thomas
Boghossian. (Sayat Nova: Complete Collection of Armenian Songs (2-CD

Also ready for release is the children’s DVD Yeraz Barig, a fifty
minute children’s musical performance written by Parsegh Topjian, and
performed in Western Armenian.

Both the DVD and the CD were produced in Armenia and will be
released at the November 9 event.

* Babakhanian

Over the past 10 years, the Music Committee has established a special
bond with Armen Babakhanian who performs the pieces on the CDs
featuring Sayat Nova works arranged for piano as well as Komitas and
Aram Khachaturian piano works. The Committee also organized two
recitals for Babakhanian. Hence, Simonian says: "It was a natural to
invite Armen to perform at our 20th Anniversary celebration. We are
very proud to work with him."

Indeed, Babakhanian has garnered several award in international
piano competitions including the Leeds (Third Prize), the Van Cliburn
(Third Prize), the Guardian Dublin (Second Prize), the William Kappell
(Second Prize), the Gina Bachauer (Second Prize) and most recently the
World Piano Competition (First Prize).

He has performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
under Sir Simon Rattle, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish
National Orchestra, Irish National Symphony, the National Symphony
Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich, Israel Philharmonic and the
Moscow Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev and the Saint Petersburg
Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkanov. Armen has played recitals in major
North American venues including Carnegie Hall in New York, Kennedy
Center in Washington, Jordan Hall in Boston, Ambassador Auditorium in
Pasadena and Place des Arts in Montreal.

* * *

* Evening of celebration

The Music Committee’s Evening of Celebration will take place on
Friday, November 9, 2007, at 7:30 p.m., at the Homenetmen Glendale
"Ararat" Chapter’s Baghdassarian-Shahinian Hall, 3347 N. San Fernando
Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90065. Donation is $50. Tickets are available in
Glendale at Sardarabad Books 818-500-0790 and Abril Books 818-243-4112
or by emailing [email protected]

********************************** *****************************************

14. Genocide survivor’s memoirs fall on hungry ears

by Shahen Hagobian

ENCINO, Calif. — "The written word is never lost; it finds you just
as this book has found me 90 years later," said journalist and writer
Mark Arax during the presentation of the newly published The Fatal
Night last Sunday.

At Ferrahian High School’s Avedissian Hall, the publishers of the
book, Hagop and Knar Manjikian, held a book presentation of The Fatal
Night, written by Mikayel Shamtanchian.

The book was penned by Shamtanchian in 1919, seven years before his
death. The newly published English-language edition was translated by
Ishkhan Jinbashian, and it is now available through Manjikian

The Fatal Night is the second volume in the Genocide Library series
that the Manjikians have created.

While there have been countless memoirs written about the horrific
events that led to the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians,
Shamtanchian’s book is a recounting of how 200 Armenian intellectuals,
who were living in Istanbul at the time, were taken from their homes
and imprisoned and eventually murdered.

The story follows Shamtanchian as he is taken to Istanbul’s central
prison, along with his intellectual peers, only to be separated from
them and his own family over the course of the next three years.

The book tells the story of Shamtanchian’s struggles to survive in a
land of hostility and desperation, while his friends and colleagues
disappear one by one into the voids of the cold, dark and unwelcoming
Turkish landscape.

The writer survives, only to be released back into a devastated and
irreplaceable life.

Among the speakers at the formal book presentation was Aram
Kaloustian, who provided a brief introduction to the book and expanded
on the importance of having Genocide-related literature.

"The remaining survivors will not be with us much longer," said
Kaloustian, "alas, the last direct remaining connections will be the
properly-documented eyewitness accounts such as this book."

Kalousian stressed the importance of being active in a world where
the global superpowers rewrite history as they see fit.

"History is not what occurred, it is what is written," said
Kaloustian. "When considering the detailed information contained in
The Fatal Night, it is impossible for the reader to question the
validity of the Armenian Genocide and the organized diabolic intent of
the perpetrators."

* Arax and his journey

Author and former Los Angeles Times writer Mark Arax provided those
attending a thorough critique on the book, as well as insight into
current issues involving genocide recognition.

"It’s a slim volume, I’ve seen better covers, it does not bear the
name of some big New York publishing company, and it’s an account
that’s 90 years old," said Arax. "It could be easy to dismiss it; yet
when you open up its pages from the first word to the last word, there
is no dismissing this book."

Arax continued his talk with an introduction to his own journey as a
writer, and how he was inspired by his grandfather’s life and times as
a writer.

He related the significance of Shamtanchian’s experience with his
own experience as a writer dealing with the genocide issue.

"In my 20-year career as a Los Angeles Times writer," Arax said, "I
wrote about half a dozen stories on Armenians, simply to avoid being
pigeonholed as an Armenian writer writing about Armenian topics."

Arax then spoke about an assignment he declined to take; the story
was about a group of Armenians, who marched from Southern California
to Sacramento honoring the memory of Genocide victims.

Eventually, Arax said he caved in and wrote the piece, only to see
it swept under the rug by the LA Times.

Months later, he saw an LA Times article, where the word "alleged"
appeared before the word Genocide.

Arax said editors at the newspaper eventually corrected their
understanding of the historical events after many letters to the
editors and complaints from the Armenian community; however, Arax had
to confront the issue again.

Early this year, Arax wrote about genocide awareness and the
divisions within the Jewish community, between those who supported the
Genocide Resolution and those against its passage.

When his story was not published about a week after his submission,
Arax was told that there was a problem.

His managing editor at the time, Douglas Frantz, said, "As an
Armenian, you should not be writing this piece."

Franz had previously been the New York Times Bureau Chief in
Istanbul and he was friends with Turkey’s Consulate General in Los

Franz’s friend, the Consulate General, even told Arax in a meeting
that there had not been any wrongdoing in the early 20 th century and
that all properties taken away from Armenians would be returned if
proofs of ownership were provided.

Much like the events described in The Fatal Night, Arax faced a
deceptive Turkish authority figure only to be slapped in the face with
indecency and insult.

* The book

The Fatal Night is full of moving and powerful images and emotions
that allow readers to understand the psychological landscapes Genocide
victims found themselves in and the harsh realities of their

"Twilights in the outside world often inspire us with visions of new
days," wrote Shamtanchian.

"The prison day, dying without twilight, plummets like a mass of
lead, crushing life’s most delicate flowers, hopes, and passions,"
wrote the author referring to the breaking down of the free mind and
spirit at the hands of the Ittihadist Turks.

Hagop and Knar Manjikian created the Genocide Library with the
mission to bring readers the first-hand stories of Genocide survivors.

"It has been a long time dream of mine to bring the literature of
survivors to the youth of today," said Hagop Manjikian.

"It’s important to get a sense of the apocalyptic nature of the
events," he said. "The victims had no outside help to deal with their
struggles and pains."

The Manjikians have been publishing Genocide literature since 1993
to not only spread awareness of the events, but to also bring to light
individual stories.

Arax stressed the importance of the Manjikians’ books.

"We don’t need congress to help our nation’s cause; we need more of
these," said Arax and held up a copy of The Fatal Night.

"So don’t tell your children to be doctors and lawyers," he said.
"Tell them to be writers."


[email protected]

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15. Crime Beat: California charges three Armenians with healthcare fraud

* Clinic owners claimed to perform rare, specialized procedures repeatedly

by Jason Kandel

The operators of Scott Medical Center in Burbank claimed to have
performed hundreds of invasive and painful-sounding medical exams in

There were the anal and urethral sphincter electromyographies, tests
in which a doctor uses electrodes to check for incontinence. Then
there were the anorectal manometry tests.

There were enough exams for each patient to have one of these every
day of the week.

But they didn’t occur.

California Justice Department agents accuse six people, including
Armenian brothers, an Armenian woman, and two doctors of stealing more
than $1.5 million over two years from the state’s healthcare program
by filing phony documents.

The paperwork claimed the accused administered exams when they
didn’t and delivered medical equipment that wasn’t necessary.

This alleged crime is the latest in a common scheme in Southern
California that reaps millions of dollars from the government

Arrested in connection with the case were Akop Melkonian, 34, of
Chatsworth; his brother Richard Melkonyan, 36, of Glendale; Lilit
Baghdasaryan, 27, of Tujunga; David J. Garrison, 46, of Los Angeles;
Dr. Neil Hollander, 67, of Huntington Beach; and Dr. Rito
Castanon-Hill, 36, of Los Angeles.

In announcing the filing of the charges that include making false
insurance and Medi-Cal claims, grand theft, and money laundering,
California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said the suspects
created a fake healthcare clinic to line their own pockets rather than
help the sick and elderly.

"These arrests send a strong message that this kind of rip-off will
not be tolerated," he said.

Benjamin M. Gluck, an attorney for Ms. Baghdasaryan, said the
investigation began more than four years ago and he looks forward to
providing a vigorous defense. Tracy Green, an attorney for Dr.
Castanon-Hill, declined to comment. Attorneys for the other defendants
did not return calls.

The Melkonyan brothers and Ms. Baghdasaryan were being held at the
Los Angeles County Jail, with bail set at $1.5 million each. Dr.
Castanon-Hill was free on bail. Dr. Hollander was expected to
surrender to authorities, but his status was unknown by press time.
Mr. Garrison was free on $250,000 bail.

The Armenian brothers allegedly hired the doctors to create a front
for Mr. Garrison, a physician’s assistant, who allegedly falsified
records and billed government healthcare programs for nonexistent
procedures, court records show.

The suspects also allegedly hired Vietnamese-speaking people to pick
up patients in the Vietnamese communities of Westminster and Garden
Grove in Orange County, Calif., for $50 a head, to take rides in vans
to the Burbank clinic.

The so-called "recruiters" enticed the patients by offering cases of
the nutritional supplement Ensure, court records show.

Some patients received deliveries of motorized wheelchairs and
semi-electric hospital beds that they didn’t need, courtesy of a
medical supply shop in Canoga Park that was owned by the Melkonyan
brothers, court records show.

Once at the clinic, the patients offered up their healthcare cards,
agreed to take unnecessary exams, and filled out paperwork that
allowed the clinic operators to get reimbursed by the government for
the purported work.

Once they received the money, the defendants converted it to cash,
and paid off their associates and themselves.

Ms. Baghdasaryan also faces tax evasion charges for allegedly filing
false information to the California Franchise Tax Board in an effort
to conceal stolen funds in 2003 and 2004, court records show. Mr.
Garrison is accused of under-reporting and failing to report money he
was allegedly paid by his accomplices, officials said.

In an interview with agents, Dr. Hollander said his job was to visit
the Burbank clinic once a week and review 10 percent of all patient
charts. In return, he’d get 25 percent of the receipts, while the
others would receive 75 percent, court records show.

Dr. Hollander, who said he quit working there in August 2003, told
agents that Mr. Garrison had been ordering unnecessary tests, and that
when he went to try to correct the problem, he was ignored, wrote
Katie Viorel, the state agent overseeing the case, in her declaration
in support of arrest/search warrants.

In an interview with state agents in April 2005, Mr. Melkonyan
admitted to having two drivers who delivered medical equipment to
patients in San Diego and Los Angeles. But when agents pressed him
about the sale of wheelchairs to patients who didn’t appear to need
them, he fell silent and referred further questions to his attorney,
court records show.

The glaring red flags for Scott Medical came when agents began
looking at billing records — hundreds of unusual, complex, and
expensive tests that were billed for between Jan. 6, 2003 and Aug. 11,

Court documents include testimony from Dr. Joseph Scoma, a
colon-rectal surgery specialist, who said he didn’t even perform such
tests, instead referring them to specialists.

"The tests would certainly not be given at a medical clinic," he
said. "Neither a physician assistant, nor general practitioner would
even know what these tests were for."

The doctor said an anorectal manometry would be given to a patient
two times at most, once before and once after surgery. An
electromyography would be given one time, if at all, he said,
according to court documents.

"There is no justification for a patient receiving either of these
tests five times in a period of seven to ten days," he said, according
to court documents. "It is impossible for a patient to need these
tests that many times."

This case is one of several involving Armenians and others that have
occurred in Southern California in recent years.

This summer, Konstantin Grigoryan and his wife Mayya, their
son-in-law, Eduard Gershelis, and two close associates, Aleksandr
Treynker and Haroutyun Gulderyan, pleaded guilty to charges in
connection with operating a network of bogus medical clinics that
gutted $20 million over five years from Medicare, the federal health
care program for the elderly and disabled.

Also this summer, Glendale residents Simon Dulbandzhyan, 39, his
wife, Vardui Rosi, 35, her 33-year-old sister, and a 32-year-old
female accused accomplice were charged in connection with operating an
adult day health care center that allegedly defrauded Medi-Cal by
billing for services on a day their business was closed and employing
unqualified individuals, including a two-time domestic violence

In 2000, Khachik Gezvkarayan, a 34-year-old auto parts salvaging
business manager from Glendale was convicted in a scam in which he
cheated Medi-Cal out of $150,000 in phony prescriptions for
incontinent supplies and equipment that were never delivered between
April 1999 and March 2000.

******************************************* ********************************

16. Church holds group therapy on Armenian-Turkish relations

* Organizer denies the personal is political

GLENDALE, Calif. – Armenians of all ages gathered at the St. Peter
Armenian Church and Youth Ministries Center to hear Ojig Yeretsian
discuss her project "Opening the Mountain" as a part of the "Questions
in Faith" Series.

As part of the event, Yeretsian moderated dialogue between Armenians
and their relationship with all things Turkish. The mission was to
learn about each other and themselves. The evening prompted
discussion, listening, and led to the understanding that we all view
the world through different paradigms but that there is space for

Father Vasken Movsesian began the evening by dedicating the event
"to communications, to facing our challenges and overcoming the
hurdles in front of us." He used the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from 1964 to inspire
the audience: "I still believe that one day mankind will bow before
the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed,
and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the

Ojig Yeretsian, who has a graduate degree in public health, sees
Turkish-Armenian tensions from a health perspective. She grew up in a
tightknit Armenian community in Los Angeles, with its schools,
cultural groups, and bookstores. Her interest in dialogue work grew
out of her commitment to social justice and community health.

Yeretsian believes that in order to build out capacity as a
community, we need to try to break the cycle of hatred by taking an
honest look at ourselves, individually and as a group.

This passion led her to start "Opening the Mountain."

* Began with Facing the Mountain

"Facing the Mountain" was a one day workshop held on March 10, 2007 in
Berkeley, California, facilitated by Armand Volkas, director of
Healing the Wounds of History. The aim of the workshop was to invite
Armenians and Turks to participate in a groundbreaking project to
transform their painful historical legacies into constructive action
through humanizing each other through sharing personal stories and
taking steps towards healing personal and collective wounds using
creative and experimental methods, including, dialogue exercises and
drama therapy.

Drama therapy aims to heal the wounds of history by using drama to
build empathy and compassion. "The work is very personal," says
Yeretsian. "But it has a social and public component."

Volkas has used his techniques to bring together groups in conflict
together, such as Germans and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis, and
Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans to name a few.

* Opening the Mountain

Yeretsian was inspired by work being done with Arabs and Jews and
Palestinians and Israelis. "If they can do it," she said, "we can do

Confident that Berkeley, California was the place to start this
project, "Opening the Mountain" called on Armenians, Turks, and
supportive others to engage in a dialogue, to listen to all
narratives, overcome stereotypes and see each other’s common humanity.

The first meeting for "Opening the Mountain" was held on April 17,
2007, in response to the lack of communication between Armenians and
Turks. It is an ongoing dialogue group for Armenians and Turks that
grew out of "Facing the Mountain."

"At first there was barely any comfort and trust, now they are
committed to the group," said Yeretsian.

Non-Armenian and non-Turkish members of the group, who create a safe
space for sharing personal experiences, facilitate the monthly
meetings. The goal is to raise an understanding of the self and others
through effective communication. The group practices listening and
presenting perspectives about selected discussion topics, ranging from
the importance of history, family stories, invisibility, and cycles of

The group continues to meet once a month.

* In Los Angeles

The evening’s event focused on Armenians constructing dialogue within
their own community. It began first with an introduction then led to
an exercise on dialogue.

The process began by audience members introducing themselves and
explaining their relationship with anything Turkish. Yeretsian posed
questions such as their experience with Turkish people, has it been
challenging and rewarding? Have they been protesting all things
Turkish without questioning it? Did they boycott Turkish products?

Armenians talked about Turks without antagonism, instead approaching
the issue with understanding and removing stigmas to unveil the
emotions that we all share. Yeretsian’s goal is to "build an
understanding based on peace not pain."

Consistent with the nonjudgmental spirit of the event, the
participants were granted anonymity.

Experiences by the participants ranged from positive to not so
positive. Though most Armenian-American’s now encounter Turks later in
life the pain still resonates. They grew up with stereotypes that are
hard to shed.

Some had relationships with Turks that stay fruitful as long as the
Genocide issue is never brought up. Others have tried having
friendships with Turks, but the Genocide issue became a sticking

Some of the younger participants had never had any contact with
Turks. The new generation of Armenians in American first meet Turks in
college or high school, but for some of the older participants, they
came with positive memories of Turkish families who protected their
parents from being perished during the Genocide.

Armenians from Turkey shared a different experience because they
grow up speaking Turkish at home and are familiar with Turkish
products. Other participants don’t purchase products "Made in Turkey"
in order to boycott their economy.

Participants also revealed how they’ve met Turks who have been
sympathetic and helpful. In one case of a Turk cried to an Armenian
and was apologetic when she said, "this history we don’t know."

One woman told her story about a Turkish family friend who was
imprisoned for associating with Armenians. Presently, Article 301 of
the Turkish Penal Code makes it hard for Turkish society to evolve.
Article 301, which criminalizes "insulting Turkishness," has been
invoked repeatedly to investigate and prosecute individuals who
mention the Armenian Genocide. Orhan Pamuk, the winner of the Nobel
Prize in Literature, and Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian editor who
was assassinated earlier this year, were among those persecuted under
this law.

Even though there are sympathetic Turks, one participant reminded
the audience that he still wants Turkey to recognize the Genocide.
"Collectively I cannot accept them and the way they’ve done things,"
said one participant. "They have a lot to account for."

Others that shared this opinion will not engage with Turks unless
the whole nation recognizes the Armenian Genocide.

The goal of this process, however, was not to diminish the issue of
recognition, but rather to listen.

After the audience introductions, Yeretsian asked the participants
to break off in pairs and practice "dialogue." Dialogue is the
willingness to engage with the other person, listen, and come to an
understanding without judgments. This does not mean you have to agree,
but the goal is mutual understanding in an attempt to break the cycle
of resentment and build a future of peace.

Yeretsian posed the question, "How would you like to interact with Turks?"

Ground rules were to listen to each other’s answer without
responding. Participants had to listen to their partner and repeat
what they said, including body gestures. This was an exercise to
measure the extent to which you were listening to what others were
saying and not the judgments you conceive.

"Back and forth discussion is not what dialogue is about," said
Yeretsian. "The dialogue structure is not free. We are training
ourselves to be more spacious with our listening."

The mission is to "replace hostility with peace and come up with new
narrative to break down fences," said Yeretsian.

"It’s liberating to tell someone else how you feel," said one
participant. "There are a lot of feelings in common."

When asked by the audience what Yeretzian wants to accomplish with
this program, she responded by saying it’s "unburdening ourselves from
this trauma and confronting this gapping wound." She hopes to, "engage
with perpetrators that don’t break me down and continue the trauma."

Yeretsian explained how there is validation to talk about an
experience while the target audience is sitting in front of you.

Participant and organizer Suzie Shatarevyan said, "This has nothing
to do with a discussion about politics." She went on to say, "It’s
dealing with the issue on an individual level where you can speak in a
nonthreatening environment without being judged."

As for continuing this work in Los Angeles, Yeretsian faces both
optimism and pessimism. There is diversity among Armenians on this
issue. "There is a lot of work to do within our own community," said
one participant in response to Armenians who refuse to breach dialogue
with Turks unless the Genocide issue is resolved.

The question of Genocide makes it harder to build relations, "but
the goal is not friendship, it is raising consciousness," reminds
Yeretsian who cannot wait for a political conclusion. "I’m trying to
empower myself and make a connection on the ground level."

Some participants offered different perspectives. "If we begin
dialogue now, you will lose concentration," said one participant. He
suggested that we establish the facts and then talk about feelings.

However, Yeretsian is not diluting the issue of recognition. "My
issue is with the state of Turkey, not on a personal level," she said.
Making the distinction that there is still work to be done toward the
government and their policy.

The evening’s exercise was in line with Father Vasken’s "In His
Shoes" initiative to mobilize people to address issues in their own
lives, their own communities, and people who share their plight.

Yeretsian assured the audience that the process is also the outcome
and we cannot settle for just the political answer. The Armenian
community, like other victimized peoples, need to also deal with the
aftermath of recognition so to stop the cycle of antagonism and build
a future between the two nations and within our own communities.


[email protected] om

********************************************** *****************************

17. Armenian neuroscientists to participate in Neuroscience 2007

by Maral Habeshian

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Scientists from around the world will gather Nov.
3–7 in San Diego, California for Neuroscience 2007 to exchange ideas
about cutting-edge research on the brain, spinal cord, and nervous
system. Among them will be UNESCO Chair in Life Sciences Professor
Sinerik Ayrapetyan whose research and countless published works in
biophysics, radiobiology and magnetobiology has placed him at the
forefront of his field.

The San Diego conference is the 37th annual meeting of the Society
for Neuroscience (SfN), and is expected to draw more than 30,000
scientists, including Dr. Arbi Nazarian, an assistant professor at
Western University of Health Sciences. Recognizing that the annual
conference provides the ideal networking opportunity for Armenian
neuroscientists, Dr. Nazarian has organized the second Armenian
Neuroscientist Social. Last year’s gathering in Atlanta, Georgia
brought together 30 Armenian neuroscientists.

"The goal is to create a cohesive community of Armenian
neuroscientists in order to provide grants and scholarships for
Armenian students in the field," says Dr. Nazarian who decided to
organize the event after consistently running into other Armenians
during past conferences.

According to Dr. Nazarian, there are about 80 Armenian
neuroscientists throughout the world. The SfN conference is the
largest conference of its kind, and he is always fascinated by the
Armenian students he meets, as well as very well known scientists in
the field.

"The social gathering allows for scientific agendas to be presented.
Ultimately, my vision is to secure funding so that students in Armenia
would be able to study abroad."

The largest and most thriving neuroscience community is in the
United States . Dr. Nazarian attributes this to the limitless
resources that are available to neuroscientists. Research in Japan and
Europe is also thriving while China and CIS countries are catching up
quickly, he explains.

Through their research, neuroscientists work to describe the human
brain and how it functions normally, determine how the nervous system
develops, matures and maintains itself through life, and find ways to
prevent or cure many devastating neurological and psychiatric

* Armenia 2008

Dr. Sinerik Ayrapetyan is expected to address the social gathering in
San Diego to detail the Congress of All Armenian Life Scientists
(CAALS), scheduled to take place in Yerevan, Armenia and Stepanakert,
Karabakh, November 7–8, 2008.

Dr. Ayrapetyan has been appointed the chairman of CAALS that will
examine the possibility of making Armenia a scientific regional
research and educational center by tapping into the vast potential of
scientists from Armenia and the Diaspora, so as to prepare the next
generation of leaders in the field of life sciences.

The Armenian Neuroscientists social will take place November 5,
6:30–8:30 P.M. in San Diego. Dr. Nazarian may be contacted for
further details at (909) 469-5424, [email protected]

************************** *************************************************

18. Kohar orchestra and choir takes San Francisco by storm

by Tania Ketenjian

SAN FRANCISCO — The crowd in San Francisco was buzzing as revelers,
anticipating a unique orchestral program, chatted in the entrance hall
to the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. Looking over the city
landscape, the Masonic Auditorium hosts some of the best performers
that come to San Francisco. Among them was Kohar, a symphony orchestra
and choir founded in Gyumri, Armenia to "lift the spirits of the
Armenian people and remind them of the beauty of their culture."

Kohar was established by the Khatchadourian brothers who, in 1997,
formed a music school in Armenia for any child that was musically
inclined. They renovated an old factory and offered musical education
for free. By 2000, many of these children started performing in
Armenia and several of them have since toured different parts of the
world — Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Russia and now, 10 years later, the
United States and Canada. They landed in San Francisco this past
weekend and they played to what they felt was their most enthusiastic
crowd yet.

The conductor of Kohar, Sebouh Abcarian, is a vibrant and boisterous
man whose presence on stage is accentuated by his flock of white hair
and his gestural movements towards his orchestra. There were moments
in the performance where the audience would catch him dancing to the
music whilst conducting his performers.

Kohar arrived from Los Angeles, home to the largest community of
Armenians outside of Armenia, where over 5,000 people had attended
their concert. In contrast to that, in San Francisco 1,500 people
attended the performance.But Mr. Abcarian had interesting thoughts
about it: "It is true that the community in San Francisco is small but
because it is the weekend and the venue here is a bit more intimate,
people were really able to let go." And that is precisely what
happened. Without encouragement, audience members clapped their hands,
sang along, got up and danced and seemed to drink in every moment of
this concert.

The crowd was quite mixed in age. Families had brought their
children, young men and women had brought their dates and there were
even a few Americans in the crowd.

One of these was a woman who had met her husband on the airplane. He
was from Yerevan and she was from the southern part of America. She
doesn’t speak Armenian but, according to her, "You don’t need to know
the language; this music speaks to your soul, regardless of where you
are from." There was also a mother who had brought her young children
to the concert. She reflected that, "I grew up with this music and I
am bringing the children so that they too can know these songs and
maybe one day teach them to their own children." Finally, a group of
young men were huddled around the bar, during intermission. They were
UC Berkeley students originally from Armenia. "I feel like I am coming
home when I hear this music. In America, everyone talks about getting
back to your roots. Well this is my way of getting back to my roots."

In that vein, Mr. Abcarian spoke about the responsibility of being
the bearer of tradition. "This new generation is living in the 21st
Century and it is important for us to bring modern work to them and
impress upon their souls that Armenians have the aptitude towards
making the traditional tangible." With every single song, Mr. Abcarian
would personally introduce the performer to the audience, showing
reverence for their talent. It represented a support and a familiarity
that allowed audience members to immediately feel a bond with the

The vibrancy and excitement with which the orchestra played
reverberated through the audience. Female soloists emerged with long,
flowing dresses full of color and life; the male soloists sang from
their soul and all the musicians seemed joyful as they were
participating in something which for many of them was a dream come
true. For many of these men and women, opportunity in Armenia is
scarce yet by being part of Kohar, they are paid a salary that
supports their entire family. The Khatchadourian brothers believe in
providing prosperity for the talented members of the orchestra and
they don’t relinquish those intentions in any way. For instance,
during their tour across North America and Canada, the entire
orchestra and crew will be staying in beautiful hotels, eating
delicious food and even going sightseeing.

Yet, even with the best intentions, unexpected situations arise.
Tamar Kevonian is the production coordinator for Kohar and has been
instrumental in making this tour a possibility. "We seemed to have
thought of everything – the passports, the tickets, the accommodations
and food. But right before we were about to set off, we realized we
hadn’t thought of a very basic aspect of day to day living, laundry.
How will we be able to deal with laundry for 180 people." Tamar had to
be creative and managed to find a way to make it work. But there is
always something that comes up and Tamar manages to squeeze six days
of work into a few hours. Is it worth it? "I love the scope of the
project; every time I see the show, I enjoy it. There is no other
group that is doing updated traditional music, they are community
based and very avant-garde and no one is taking popular songs and
nationalistic songs in this way. The production crew is just
extraordinary, this is simply the best of what is out there."

Lucy Der-Tawitian is the media spokesperson for Kohar and she has
felt extraordinarily inspired by working with this group. "They laugh
so much; they are just so happy and regardless of the fact that they
are in the U.S., they present themselves as they are, not needing to
conform to our ways here. They are just happy with who they are." Ms.
Der-Tawitian is originally from Lebanon and understands the struggles
Armenians have had to face. "We have so much going on as Armenians.
Every time you say that you’re an Armenian, there is so much tragedy
around that identity and it is so refreshing to experience an Armenian
event that inspires joy. I can’t think of too many of these occasions
– one that makes us celebrate who we are. I am so honored to be part
of this and re-discovering the profoundly joyful part of being


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19. Armenia Fund Telethon builds on a tradition of dedication

* Rafi Ourfalian was the first president

by Lory Tatoulian

LOS ANGELES — Before the Armenia Fund emerged into a fundraising
powerhouse, it began with the single mission — to serve the immediate
needs of the newly formed Republic of Armenia. Because of its initial
successes, it has now mushroomed into a network of 19 affiliates
worldwide and has implemented over $120 million of infrastructure
development in Armenia.

The West Coast office of the Armenia Fund is one of the leading
affiliates that has proven its dedication to the Armenia Fund by
taking on the herculean task of producing the annual Thanksgiving
Telethon, which has become a staple in the life of the global Armenian

The large-scale success of the Armenia Fund is due to a number of
dedicated individuals and visionaries who worked hard to make the
organization an effective philanthropic institution. For the 10 years
the West Coast affiliate has been operating, it has benefitted from a
host of insightful and talented leaders.

The presidents who have served in the West Coast office have
included, Berge Boyajian, Rafi Ourfalian, Zaven Khanjyan, Tomig
Alexanian, and its current president, Maria Mehranian. All five
individuals expressed their deep concern for the prosperity of their
homeland by selflessly devoting their time and energy to fulfill the
mission of state building.

Since the organization’s inception, prominent Los Angeles attorney
Rafi Ourfalian has been heavily involved with the West Coast office of
the Armenia Fund. In 1991, Mr. Ourfalian became the executive director
of the Western Regional office, and remembers the numerous individuals
who were instrumental in making the Armenia Fund into what it is

"Going through the history of everyone one who helped organize the
Armenia Fund is endless," Mr. Ourfalian said. "This was a worldwide,
pan-Armenian project that was nonpartisan and involved in every major
Armenia organization."

Zaven Khanjian served as Armenia Fund’s West Coast executive in 1999
and 2000. He came on board during a time when Armenia was experiencing
political turmoil. Because of the volatile political climate, the 1998
Armenia Fund telethon was dormant for a year.

"Even with the political distress of the time and the idle year of
not having broadcast a telethon, we decided to go forward and do our
best to put on a successful telethon," Mr. Khanjian said. Mr. Khanjian
is proud to say that with that particular comeback year in 1999, the
telethon witnessed the highest number of individual donors on the West
Coast throughout its history.

"I think the compassion and the overall emotion that was created as
a result of the instability in Armenia helped bolster efforts in the
diaspora," Mr. Khanjian said.

Tomig Alexanian served as executive director of the western office
in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Mr. Alexanian’s involvement with the Armenia
Fund began during the very start of the telethon, while Rafi Ourfalian
was launching the very first program. Mr. Alexanian joined the
telethon because of his expertise in technical engineering. For the
broadcast, Mr. Alexanian was responsible for all of the technical
aspects of the programming including wiring the computers, hooking up
the phone lines, and running the databases. For 27 years, Mr.
Alexanian has been the president of David, Peter, Flower, Edward Data
Processing and Field Engineering Corp. in Los Angeles. Mr. Alexanian
extended his expertise in the field of telecommunications and donated
his industriousness to the progress of the Armenia Fund.

"I am indebted to Rafi Ourfalian for paving the way for us," Mr.
Alexanian remarked. "It made our job much easier to follow in his

Tomig Alexanian assumed the position of executive director at a time
when the United States was dealing with the tragedies of September 11.
The Executive Board at the time decided not to air a telethon, but
instead conduct a phone-a-thon. "We decided to do a phone-a-thon, and
to our surprise it was just as successful as a telethon," Mr.
Alexanian noted.

The next year, in 2002, the Armenia Fund was able to rejuvenate the
organization and celebrate its 10 anniversary with a major gala
celebration at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas .

"There was such a positive and energetic pulse for the anniversary
banquet, you could feel everybody’s excitement," Mr. Alexanian said.

The concept to create a pan-Armenian philanthropic organization was
led in 1992 by Gagik Harutiunian, who occupied the now-eliminated post
of vice president of Armenia. The first executive director was
Manushak Petrossian, a close ally of Levon Ter-Petrossian, who was
then the president of Armenia.

The nonprofit organization seeks to unite Armenians all over the
world and help the young democracy establish sustainable development
in Armenia and Artsakh.

The Armenia Fund began as a response to the difficulties Armenia was
undergoing during its transition from a socialist state to a
free-market economy. As the fledgling country was working to recreate
itself in the midst of the Karabakh war, economic blockades, and
repercussions of the earthquake, the Armenia Fund was founded by a
presidential decree to handle these critical socioeconomic travails.

The very first project initiated by the Armenia Fund was the Winter
Humanitarian Project in 1992. With upwards of $30 million raised, the
humanitarian project helped build homes in the earthquake-ravaged
region of Spitak. Other early initiatives included providing financial
assistance to families and soldiers who were victims of the Artsakh
conflict and also assisted in alleviating the energy crisis gripping
the country at the time.

The second project the Armenia Fund undertook was the
Goris-Stepanakert Highway that served as the lifeline that connects
Armenia and Karabakh. "The North-South Highway enabled Karabakh to
survive and flourish," Mr. Ourfalian said. "These two projects are
very symbolic of the nature and purpose of the Armenia Fund."

Armenia Fund’s approach to fundraising was a little different than
traditional fundraising. The initial idea was to encourage Armenians
from all over the world to pay a voluntary yearly contribution or
"national tax" to the Armenia Fund, which would then use the proceeds
to fund the Winter Humanitarian Project and the highway.

"The idea of a telethon was born from these two initiatives,
emphasizing participation which would then translate into investments,
making people into shareholders or feel morally culpable to the
development of their motherland," Mr. Ourfalian said.

As the internal structure of the organization shifted and expanded,
the focus of Armenia Fund concentrated on gaining its main support
from the telethon rather than a voluntary tax system. The first
telethon took place in 1996. Over 30 Armenian organizations were
involved and many people from various walks of life joined in the
grassroots efforts to launch the first telethon.

The Armenia Fund relayed the message by visiting churches, Armenian
schools, community centers, and using these shared spaces as
recruiting grounds to spread the message and make people aware of
Armenia Fund’s purpose. "Armenia Fund volunteers even went to the
extent of walking into public parks to get the old men who play tavloo
there involved with the Armenia Fund," Mr. Ourfalian said. "We wanted
every Armenian to be a part of the project."

Since its infancy, coteries of talented artists were called upon to
produce, direct, and conceptualize a progressive format for the
telethon. For over nine years, Ara Madzounian had been involved in the
production aspects of the broadcast. With his expertise in film
production, Mr. Madzounian brought a fresh and progressive edge to the
telethon. He wanted the format to be emotionally provocative and
visually entertaining. He opted to veer away from banal programming
that generated pedantic information; instead he wished to engage the
viewers and allow them to make emotional connections to Armenia while
still gaining essential information.

"Once they turn on the TV, my job was to keep them watching as long
as possible," Mr. Madzounian said. "The more you watch, the more you
are going to be emotionally involved and make a pledge. As producer,
my approach was to put on a very high quality television show," Mr.
Madzounian noted.

The television producer continued to explain that he shied away from
using the telethon as a soapbox, but instead used the program to
broadcast to visceral subject matter. "Thanksgiving Day is a TV day in
this country and people are with their families and they want to be
entertained," Mr. Madzounian explained.

"The telethon is not only a fundraiser, but it’s a day to unite
Armenians around the world under one umbrella to help rebuild the
homeland," Mr. Madzounian said.

Madzounian always made sure to bring along professional colleagues
to work on the telethon with him. Narbeh Nazarian, who is a successful
film and television designer in Hollywood, helped design the sets,
while a crew of 60 people assisted in assuring the technical
coordination of programming was seamless.

Also on the crew was production whiz Kerop Manoukian, who devoted
countless hours in postproduction by editing segments from Armenia,
creating graphic motion, mixing audio, and assembling 12 hours of
broadcast. Mr. Manoukian also handled editing the segments that were
being produced in Armenia by Dickran Pakhvejyan and Ara Shirimian.

"I always wanted the Armenians watching to feel proud that they are
watching quality programming," Mr. Madzounian said. "We all believed
in the cause."

Mr. Ourfalian notes that for the first year of the telethon, over
16,000 people called and made a contribution, resulting in raising an
"unprecedented" $15 million dollars. Kirk Krekorian’s Lincy Foundation
boosted efforts by matching every pledge dollar for dollar. Since
then, the Armenia Fund telethon has become the second largest telethon
in the United States, second only to the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

Now the West Coast affiliate and the telethon continue in the
tradition of the original movers and shakers whose altruism and
efficacious efforts were critical in laying the foundation of this
network. These pioneers and visionaries set forth to literally alter
the landscape of Armenia by building new schools, hospitals, homes and
roadways, simply because they had the dream of transforming their
homeland into a progressive and stable nation.

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20. Restaurants: Noah’s Ark unveiled

by the Epicurious Armenian

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — Embedded in the San Fernando Valley lies a
hidden relic – Noah’s Ark Mediterranean Restaurant. They say nothing
can compare to homemade food. The special spices, the personalized
touches, and most importantly, love are the ingredients in homemade
food that keep you coming back for more. Such is the dining experience
at the new and improved Noah’s Ark, which embarked on its voyage only
three months ago.

Don’t let its location fool you. Though it is situated at an
intersection in a very suburban community, its neighbors are as
diverse as the hallways at the United Nations. There is an Italian
Pizzeria, a British restaurant and an Irish pub. It only makes sense
to add Armenian food to this eclectic mix.

Customary to the Ark itself, the entrance to the restaurant
showcases a wood covered wall that compliments the interior of rich
hardwood floors and traditional Armenian accents. The most striking
thing you notice when you first walk in is the larger than life mural
on the wall depicting Hovhannes Ayvazovski’s "Descent of Noah from
Mount Ararat." As a wooden contraption with ancient décor, one can’t
help feeling like they’ve walked into the original Ark.

The menu options range from Russian, Georgian, Arabic and of course,
Armenian. Noah’s Ark is a reflection of the diverse Armenian diasporan
communities, with options like hommus, lula kebob, tejvejik (mixture
of animal parts better left unspecified) and kinkale (Georgian

Armenian cuisine is as ancient as its history. Each dish is an
example of the influences that have shaped its culture. Recipes
include a wonderful combination of fresh, healthy ingredients in mild
combinations that allow the ingredients to speak for themselves.

In the tradition of Noah and his Ark, I was obliged to order pairs:
two appetizers, two salads, two dinner entrées and two soups. I
started off with the Combination Appetizers Plate, which includes
hommus, moutabal, and kashke (yogurt with walnuts and a touch of
garlic), and Sarma (vegetarian stuffed grape leaves). Portions were
enough to fulfill any vegetarian’s cravings as a complete meal.

I continued with the Armenian salad and Fatoush salad. The only
difference between the two was the dry pita chips on the Fatoush. The
Armenian salad was tasty but banal, I would opt for the Fatoush salad,
made with romaine lettuce and a tangy mixture of lemon-lime dressing.

Time for the main course! To gage the range of the complex menu, I
opted for fish and meat entrées. The BBQ fish was absolutely
delicious. Side dishes unique to Noah’s Ark, such as their potato
salad, sets it apart from other fish entrées at Mediterranean
restaurants. The Keru Sus, their specialty of thinly sliced meat
paired with potato and grilled vegetables, was new to me but no doubt
will become a future favorite. The friendly staff informed me that the
predominantly non-Armenian clientele prefer the chicken kebab as the
most popular dish.

Finally, I made room for the traditional soups rarely found in
restaurants in Southern California. Aveluk (greens boiled and mixed
with lentils) makes a nice vegetarian option. Khash, a specialty
served when the weather cools down, is not on the menu, but is always
available. As for Piti and Khrchik, I’ll let you decide.

Overall, Noah’s Ark is a great place for couples and families. The
atmosphere is conducive for special events up to 100-120 people. The
restaurant offers nightly entertainment that ranges from Armenian
music to a live saxophone player.

The restaurant is owned and operated by the Karapetyan family.
Having owned a restaurant in Armenia, they are continuing the
tradition in Southern California.

Noah’s Ark is located off of Woodman Avenue and Burbank Boulevard at
13641 Burbank Boulevard, Valley Glenn, California 91401. Lunch prices
ranger from $7 and dinner starts at $10. For take out, call

Whether you come for lunch or dinner, Noah’s Ark is a great option
for persons migrating outside of Glendale and Hollywood to find
healthy and affordable traditional Armenian food.

* * *

Do you have a favorite Armenian or Middle Eastern restaurant you want
to the world to know about? Do you know Armenian chefs or
Armenian-owned or operated restaurants that warrant a visit by our
Epicurious Armenian? Send your tips to [email protected]"

************************** *************************************************

Please send your news to [email protected] and your letters to
[email protected]

(c) 2007 Armenian Reporter LLC. All Rights Reserved

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS