Armenian Reporter – 12/01/2007 – community section


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December 1, 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. Preserve medieval monuments by not restoring them, a historian says
(by Anoush Ter Taulian)
* Steven Sim is creator of "Virtual Ani"
* Gives two talks in New York

2. At Columbia, Steven Sim reveals the glories and troubles of the
"city of 1001 churches" (by Lori Khrimian)

3. Catholicos finds "soldiers for Armenia" and beautiful voices among
the residents of two elder homes in metro New York (by Florence

4. Top-notch entertainment drew viewers to the Armenia Fund Telethon
on Thanksgiving Day (by Lory Tatoulian)

5. Anush awards handed out in Universal City (by Maral Habeshian)

5a. 9th Annual Armenian Music Award winners:

6. "The archives will speak," historian Hilmar Kaiser promises (by
Aniruddha Maitra)
* Armenian Genocide scholar speaks in Rhode Island

7. Richard Hovannisian recounts his trip to Western Armenia (by Anoush
Ter Taulian)
* Karen Khanlarian delivers a portrait of the Hemshin Armenians

8. Donald Bloxham, a British scholar, is awarded the Institute for the
Study of Genocide’s "Lemkin Award" (by Florence Avakian)

9. Debbie and Chuck Poochigian honored at individual events
* Fundraising for a beloved candidate
* Laurels for the former senator

10. Health Fair reaches out to community while fostering volunteerism
(by Adrineh Gregorian)

11. CSU Fresno is searching for a new Armenian studies department
chair (by Nyrie Karkazian)
* Armenian community invited to be part of the process

12. David Kherdian visits San Francisco’s KZV school — twice

13. Khrimian Hayrig was a leader at a time of oppression (by Lory Tatoulian)
* On the centenary of his death, he is celebrated as a firebrand who
paved the way for national liberation

14. School administrator keeps toiling away (by Alex Dobuzinskis)
* Alice Petrossian has served Glendale Unified for 30 years

15. Father Andon Saroyan and the quest for community excellence
(interview by Boghos Kupelian; translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian)

16. Countdown to the Holidays: Christmas is here, pass me the dolma
* In the first of a four-part series, Adrineh Gregorian ponders what
the holidays mean to Armenians

17. Minx Restaurant — An exciting menu created by an experienced
young chef (by Lucie Davidian)

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1. Preserve medieval monuments by not restoring them, a historian says

* Steven Sim is creator of "Virtual Ani"

* Gives two talks in New York

by Anoush Ter Taulian

NEW YORK — On November 15, Scottish architectural historian Steven
Sim presented a slide show and lecture about the remnants of the
Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey, at the Diocesan Center in New
York. The speech — one of two Mr. Sim gave in New York (see the
sidebar story) — was an adjunct event of the "Armenian Monuments of
the Nakhichevan Region" exhibition, which was concurrently on display
at Harvard University.

Mr. Sim’s presentation showed how one dedicated individual can make
an important contribution to preserving that cultural heritage. His
search for the monuments of historic Armenia has taken him, alone,
into some remote and inhospitable parts of what is now Turkey and

His study of Armenian monuments had been ongoing for nine years
before Mr. Sim ever set foot in present-day Armenia.

Anahit Ter-Stepanian, an adjunct art professor at Sacred Heart
University in Connecticut, who organized the November 15 event in
conjunction with the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information
Center, described "Sim’s first encounter with Armenian buildings…
when he was traveling around Turkey in 1984. He has visited Turkey
every year since 1989, taking over 20,000 photographs, while exploring
and documenting the region’s surviving Armenian monuments. In 1999 he
created a website on Armenian architecture, , which
receives worldwide inquiries."

Ms. Ter-Stepanian continued her introduction by noting that the
Yerevan-based organization, Research on Armenian Architecture,
sponsored Mr. Sim’s 2005 trip to Nakhichevan to document the
conditions of the region’s Armenian churches. Mr. Sim also supplied
testimony in 2006 to Charles Tannock, a member of the European
Parliament, that led to the passing of a European Union resolution
condemning Azerbaijan’s destruction of the khatchkars in Julfa. He was
invited by Switzerland’s Armenia Parliamentary Group to be a part of a
delegation that met with UNESCO to protest the inactivity regarding
the destruction of the Julfa Armenian graveyard.

In his presentation, Mr. Sim first discussed the Turkish government’s
recent restoration of the Church of the Holy Cross at Aghtamar. He
questioned the quality of the reconstruction and showed how it did not
maintain the integrity of the original church. For instance, instead
of using the original type of lime cement, the restorers used ordinary
cement, which is not long lasting and must be replaced in three to ten
years. The Turkish team also made fundamental changes that are
contrary to the ethics of restoration, according to Mr. Sim; he gave
as an example the stripping away of the original earthen roof and
replacing it with a pitched stone roof.

Mr. Sim’s slides of last spring’s Aghtamar re-opening showed scenes
now familiar to many Armenians: the gigantic red Turkish flag draped
on the front of the church; the thousands of Turkish-flag balloons
that were released at the ribbon-cutting; a large sign reading,
"Respect the History, Respect the Culture" — even though the church
was being presented as a museum, and is not allowed to function as an
Armenian church.

Commenting on what he termed a botched restoration, with a low level
of workmanship and lack of understanding of Armenian architecture, Mr.
Sim said: "If you can’t preserve the original aspect of the building
after restoration, then it should not be restored."

He added: "Artifacts [like pottery or carved stone fragments] that
were uncovered during the restoration have just been left lying
around, to be lost or stolen; they should be preserved in a museum."

* Painstaking documentation

According to the last official list of Armenian buildings made by the
Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul in 1911, there were over 1,639
parish churches, 700 monastic churches, and 210 monasteries in the
Ottoman Empire. The Patriarchate’s figures did not include the
hundreds of other Armenian Protestant and Catholic churches throughout
Ottoman Turkey.

Mr. Sim has painstakingly documented the ongoing destruction of many
of these Armenian monuments. On Ktutz Island in Lake Van stands a
14th-century church, St. Hovannes, which has been vandalized by Turks
who have scribbled their names on the walls. Near Ani there used to be
five churches in the 10th-century Khtzkonk monastery, but in the early
1960s soldiers from the local Turkish army base used dynamite to blow
up the churches; only one survives today. Local vandals routinely tear
up church floors searching for gold allegedly buried by the former
Armenian inhabitants.

Ironically, some churches that have been used as barns, mosques,
gymnasia, or storage facilities have been better preserved. Mr. Sim
told how the Church of the Apostles in Kars was used as a warehouse
for petroleum in the 1930s. (It is now used as a mosque.) The
16th-century Phirus Church near Lake Van is now a mosque — even
though Armenian churches typically face east, and mosques in the
region face south.

Mr. Sim has also visited monuments in more remote locations which are
better preserved. Near the village of Terjan stand a pair of
six-meter-tall, 12th-century khatchkars — remarkably still standing.
In Hayots Dzor — the "Valley of the Armenians," home to the fortress
of the legendary Haik — there still stands the 17th-century nunnery
of St. Marina, once a popular pilgrimage site dedicated to a young
woman who lived a clandestine existence as a male monk.

Nevertheless, "It is distressing to return each year and see less and
less," Mr. Sim lamented. "These monuments have no future without
conservation. The seventh-century Church of Mren, the oldest surviving
example of an Armenian domed church, is in a border military zone and
officially people are not allowed to go there. It has a large crack
and is severely damaged, and will collapse completely unless urgent
repairs are done," he said.

* Policies of neglect

"The Turkish government has a policy of neglect," Mr. Sim said, adding
surprisingly, "and Armenian organizations have the same policy of
neglect." He said he considered it "unrealistic" to hope that these
Armenian monuments might be reclaimed by the Armenian Church, and
advised Armenians to give money to the Turks who own these buildings
to encourage their ongoing maintenance.

Equally surprising, Mr. Sim said he thinks the monuments should not
be rebuilt, because the monuments themselves are also "Genocide
survivors" which should be preserved as they are, so as not to destroy
the evidence of the Genocide. (It would also be contrary to current
conservation practices to completely rebuild the buildings, he said.)

"There are still a lot of Armenian village churches, graveyards, and
castles to discover," Mr. Sim said. "It is a race against time. Some
Armenian with financial resources should try to preserve a few
churches to set an example. For $100,000, five or six ancient churches
could be saved. Now there is massive urban development [in Turkey] and
there is little of Armenian origin left; most Turkish cities contain
few buildings that are older than 50 years of age, regardless of how
ancient those cities are. After the founding of the Turkish republic,
Turkey undertook a relentless drive to modernity, and because of this
most people in Turkey do not see any value in preserving old things.
Armenians must act fast, because within 30 years there will be few
monuments left to save."

In a question-and answer-session at the end of the presentation,
members of the Armenian community expressed different views on what
could be done to preserve the monuments.

Rachel Goshgarian, director of the Krikor and Clara Zorab Center,
suggested that the Land and Culture Organization, which had
established building programs in Armenia and Artsakh, could start a
similar project in Turkey. She encouraged every Armenian to contribute
to the upkeep of the monuments.

Mr. Ter-Stepanian noted, "The Armenian community is in a very
difficult psychological and emotional state. Is the need to preserve
the Armenian cultural heritage a part of our values? What kind of
support do we give Armenian scholars and researchers?"

Hrand Markarian, who wrote a book about historical Western Armenia,
Liturgy: Sound of Stones, said the monuments were confiscated under a
Turkish law that declared them abandoned property, in defiance of the
fact that they belonged to the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul; he
said they were never abandoned and should therefore be returned. He
also questioned the decision of the Turkish government not to allow
Armenian architects to work on the restoration of Aghtamar, but added
resignedly: "It is not easy to get through the legal quagmire of
Turkish laws designed to prevent Armenian ownership of Armenian

Mr. Sim replied to this point that an argument about abandonment
versus confiscation has no bearing on how to preserve the monuments;
that most of the surviving disused churches are in private ownership;
and that it was "a fantasy to ever expect them to be returned to the
Armenian Church." He added that the preservation of churches "would be
a threat if the current owners in Turkey believed that there was a
possibility their property would be confiscated and given back to
Armenians." The result would be to accelerate the destruction of such

In a brief post-lecture interview, historian Aram Arkun, a specialist
in the Genocide period, said, "Saving these Armenian monuments is a
complex issue because Armenians don’t have free access to their
buildings, and Armenians who visit them are treated with suspicion.
There are so many of them that the cost of renovation would be very
expensive, especially when the border between Turkey and Armenia is
closed. Certainly, better Turkish-Armenian relations would help. But
UNESCO is not actively helping, and the likelihood is that many of
these monuments will disappear."

He added: "Ultimately, one of the potential components of reparations
demands for the Armenian Genocide — if Armenians are ever in a
position to make them — would be the return and restoration of these

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2. At Columbia, Steven Sim reveals the glories and troubles of the
"city of 1001 churches"

by Lori Khrimian

NEW YORK — A day after his Zohrab Center lecture, on November 16,
Steven Sim delivered a second speech, this time at Columbia
University’s Roone Arledge Cinema. The program, made possible by Dr.
Anahit Ter-Stepanian and jointly organized by the Columbia University
Armenian Center and the university’s Armenian Students Association,
revolved around the history, re-discovery, and current status of
Armenia’s once-glorious capital city, Ani.

A millennium ago, Ani rivaled Byzantium as one of the great cities of
the Christian world, home to Armenia’s kings and its catholicate. By
the beginning of the 11th century, with a population well over
100,000, Ani became known throughout the Near East as the "City of 40
Gates" and the "City of 1001 Churches."

Architectural historian Steven Sim’s presentation at Columbia
centered around a captivating slide presentation, with images culled
>From the nearly 50 trips he has made to Ani in the past two decades.
He was introduced by Aram Arkun, a historian and board member of the
Armenian Center, and by Dr. Ter-Stepanian, who stressed the importance
of Sim’s work in awakening a broad public awareness of Ani’s rapid

Sim began his presentation with a space satellite view of the
Turkish-Armenian border along the Akhurian River, where the outline of
the walls of Ani was clearly visible.

Armenian medieval architecture, with its simple and solid-looking
forms and distinctive appearance, is famous for its superior masonry,
volumetric clarity, and the organic unity of the interiors and
exteriors of the churches, noted Sim. The Cathedral of Ani (989-1001),
with its pointed arches, clustered columns and piers, is among the
masterpieces of medieval architecture: the work of the celebrated
architect Trdat, who was invited to Constantinople to repair the dome
of Hagia Sophia when it was damaged by an earthquake in 989.
Remarkably, the dome built by Trdat still stands after 10 centuries.

After showing the rich variety of the city’s architectural wonders,
Sim said, "Ani’s many churches, palaces, and fortifications were
amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in
the world at that period."

As for the destruction of Ani in recent years, he said that during
the 1980s and 1990s, when the site of Ani was under the control of the
Turkish army, very little damage was done to the remains by treasure
hunters. In 2004 the Turkish Ministry of Defense passed the
responsibility for the day-to-day control of the archaeological site
to the Turkish Ministry of Culture. According to Sim, although it is
now possible to visit Ani without a permit and to take photographs,
the transfer from soldiers to civilian guards has created undesirable

"These guards are engaged by the Ministry of Culture to protect Ani,"
Sim said, "but they use their position of authority to roam the ruins
and dig anywhere they think may contain treasure." He showed several
"before and after" photos, taken this year, documenting the
destruction of graves and monuments caused by treasure hunters.

Major destruction to Ani is facilitated by so-called archeologists,
Sim continued, "who sit in their offices in big cities, while the
laborers remove the earth and everything else from the archaeological
sites without any documentation."

Repeating the counter-intuitive conclusion of his previous day’s
lecture, Sim said that "Neglect, earthquakes, cultural cleansing,
vandalism, quarrying, amateurish restorations and excavations — all
these and more have taken a heavy toll on Ani’s monuments. Yet still
Ani survives." He quoted a French archaeologist who opined in the late
1990s: "The best thing that people can do for Ani right now is to
leave it entirely alone."

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

3. Catholicos finds "soldiers for Armenia" and beautiful voices among
the residents of two elder homes in metro New York

by Florence Avakian

NEW YORK — As in his interactions with the youth, the Catholicos of
All Armenians; special sense of empathy was quite evident as he
visited homes for the elderly in Emerson, N.J., and Flushing, N.Y.

Following his morning and afternoon meeting with more than 500
youngsters at Fair Lawn, N.J.’s St. Leon Church on October 27, the
tireless church leader and his entourage made a stop at the Armenian
Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Emerson, where he was welcomed by
its director Andy Torigian, Board members, and several dozen

"I bring you light from Etchmiadzin," said the pontiff. "Neither the
Turks, or foreign countries or communities can oppress us," he
declared strongly, speaking in Armenian. "We’re independent, and
Karabakh is also free. Its people attend the Armenian Church, Armenian
schools, and look to the future. You helped us win this victory. And
in this country, you have built churches, schools, and your children
are continuing your wonderful work. We all kneel before you for being
good children of our nation. Be healthy, happy and proud because you
have done good work."

After presenting a painting to the Center, the Catholicos first
blessed the wheelchair patients, then slowly circled the room,
blessing each one of the residents. Stopping before Fr. Vahrich
Shirinian, who with his yeretzgin resides at the center, Vehapar
presented him with a lanchakhach, and spent a few minutes quietly
comforting Yeretzgin Shirinian.

Speaking for all, Fr. Shirinian spontaneously expressed gratitude for
the visit. "We feel blessed that you are here. It’s a big honor for
us. Your visit has caused us much happiness. We pray for your health
so you can continue your work," he said with obvious emotion.

* An unforgettable finale in New York

Three days later, the excitement at the New York Armenian Home in
Flushing, N.Y., was palpable as residents and Board of Directors
waited for Vehapar’s October 30 visit. This was to be the last stop of
his New York-New Jersey visit. In attendance were two priests who have
visited the home often, bestowing love and blessings: Fr. Vahan
Hovhanessian, pastor of the Holy Martyrs Church in Bayside, and Fr.
Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral.

Also present was Michael Garabedian, the Board of Directors chair;
Robert Kallem, the home’s chief operating officer; and executive
director Aghavnie Ellian.

As Karekin II and his entourage walked into the warmly decorated
home, the residents dressed in their Sunday best rose to their feet,
applauding and cheering. Eranouhi Azatian, 83, holding onto the
Vehapar’s hand, kissed the cross and passionately voiced a long prayer
before him. Obviously moved, the Supreme Patriarch looked on with awe.

Adriyan Bagciyan, 98, rose and with a strong soprano voice, sang the
much-loved song, "Khundzorin Dzarin Daghuh" ("Under the Apple Tree"),
with the Vehapar and the entourage joining in.

And Arsine Terlemezian, 94, holding onto to her cane, recited a
heartfelt poem she had written for the Catholicos. She then movingly
recited the timeless "Yeghetzin Haygagan" ("The Armenian Church"). As
she briefly faltered, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, who had been
watching this wonderful exchange with an ear-to-ear smile, helped her,
and together they completed the poem.

Throughout, there were expressions of wonderment on the faces of both
the Vehapar, and the members of the entourage that also included
Primate of the Eastern Diocese Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of
Russia Bishop Yezras Nercissian, and the Vicar General of the Eastern
Diocese, Fr. Haigazoun Najarian.

The Catholicos related that during his month-long whirlwind visit to
18 cities of the Eastern Diocese, he had seen vibrant communities,
with churches that are full, with children growing up Armenian, and
attending Armenian and Sunday schools. "You and your parents at one
time made all this possible, and you have done wonderful work. And
your children are continuing this work. Your brothers and sisters in
Armenia love you."

Expressing gratitude to the executive director of the home, Aghavnie
Ellian, and the Board of Directors, he presented a gift of an ornately
sculpted cross, and asked the residents, "Are you happy here? Is the
food good? Are they respectful, and do they make you happy?"

The reply of "Yes" was loud and forceful.

"If they shout at you, let me know, and I’ll come back with my
staff," he said tapping the floor with his staff to loud laughter.

"We wish you a long and healthy life, and a free and independent
Armenia, " a resident called out spontaneously, and all rose to sing
the Armenian national anthem.

* Soldiers for Armenia

"We’re going to take you to Armenia so you can sing on the opera
stage," Vehapar told the residents. "Your very beautiful and warm
remarks show your love for Armenia and the church. Your enthusiasm is

"You can become soldiers for Armenia.," he declared, as he went
around the room, blessing each resident.

Archbishop Aykazian, still smiling broadly, commented that this visit
was the "absolute best, but bittersweet." And for some who had
witnessed this unforgettable event, there were tear-filled eyes.

Just before leaving, Karekin II commented to this writer: "I’m happy
that our elders here are enjoying their life. We witnessed their
enthusiasm, wonderful spirit and positive nature. It is a great
comfort to see how well they are taken care of. It also gives us much
happiness to see their love for Armenia and our church. I will
remember this visit for a long time."

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4. Top-notch entertainment drew viewers to the Armenia Fund Telethon
on Thanksgiving Day

by Lory Tatoulian

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — In order for the Armenia Fund Telethon to be
successful every year and reach its goal of raising millions of
dollars to build infrastructure in Armenia and Karabakh, the program
has to create dynamic programming that will captivate and entertain
audiences. Armenia Fund not only aims to use television as a conduit
to reach out to Armenian donors, but the telethon is also used as a
venue to showcase a pastiche of Armenian talent from across the globe.
Besides reaching its goal of raising money — 15.2 million dollars
this year — the telethon brought together a bevy of musicians and
performers to entertain millions of viewers worldwide.

This year’s entertainment producer Stepan Partamian was the man
behind the scenes who chose the various talents and weaved together
the entertainment segments that appeared in between the pitches from
the hosts, the presentation of super-sized checks, the shots of
volunteers taking phone calls, and the footage of members of Congress
and clergy asking for donations. The entertainment bits helped glue
the telethon together, by gluing the audiences to their TV sets. The
show yielded a plethora of traditional and modern performances that
reflected the various movements that have defined Armenian art for
centuries. Musicians and dancers presented a variety of artistic
styles, ranging from Gor Mkhitarian’s modern folk ballads to the dance
sequences of Hayortats, to the energetic romps of Harout Pamboukjian,
to Anush and Inga Arshakyan’s ancient a cappella renditions of village
songs, to the Hollyscoop Girls, appearing on screen with their
celebrity friends of rap and movie stars.

Mr. Partamian faced the challenge of filling 33 segments throughout
the 12-hour telethon with live entertainment that would appeal to a
vast audience of Armenians with differing preferences.

"The most important part of this telethon is to keep Armenians
happy," Mr. Partamian said. "We have achieved so much throughout these
10 years. This program is not about being sad; it’s a celebration."

Mr. Partamian said that he chose acts that were "true to the Armenian
identity." He did not want this year’s talent to be performers who
simply had an Armenian last name. Instead he chose talent that
embodied the authentic artistic traditions of the Armenian people,
even if performed in a modern style. "This year, the emphasis of the
Armenia Fund Telethon is to present the quality of the Armenian
culture, and I think we achieved this."

Popular Armenian singer Harout Paboukjian has been performing at the
telethon since its inception. He uses his popularity to bolster the
fundraising efforts. "This is one of the most important performances
for me to do," Mr. Pamboukjian said. "When I start singing, the phones
start ringing. It doesn’t matter from what part of the diaspora we
come from; this is our cause and we have to work together to help

Dressed in elaborate Armenian costumes, Inga and Anush Arshakyan, two
sisters from Armenia, shook up the sound stage with their pure and
robust melodic renderings of pre-Christian folk songs. The girls sang
a ritualistic song titled "Jukhtak mome" which means two candles.
"This song dates back to more than 2,000 years ago; it was used in
ancient worship rituals," Anush said.

Inga added, "This song has power and energy, and by using theater and
costume, we try to effectively express the soul and pure sound of
these ancient melodies."

The two sisters added that they do their own version of
anthropological research when finding new songs. Inga and Anush set
out to the remote villages of Armenia and try to excavate the lost
folk songs from the villagers, adapt the songs, and include them in
their repertoire.

Gor Mkhitarian, who is originally from Armenia but now resides in Los
Angeles, spoke about the connection he makes with his music and the
homeland, "I have the responsibility to help the people of Armenia and
in Artsakh in whatever way I can," Gor said. "We musicians use our
music as a way to inspire people."

Not only were Armenian performers infusing traditional components
into their acts, but some entertainers also inspired American
celebrities of pop-culture to parlay a short message about helping the
Armenia Fund. The Hollyscoop Girls, three young Armenian-American
women who have become among Hollywood’s main envoys to charge the
red-carpet scene of movie and music premiers to gather gossip, created
a segment where actors like Charlie Sheen and Victoria’s Secret models
implored Armenians to support the Armenia Fund.

Mr. Partamian noted that the "emphasis was entertainment this year,"
and the Armenia Fund Telethon needed to constantly produce material
that audiences would be able to identify with and most importantly
make emotional connections with. The telethon hosts, Tatevik Ekezian,
Alina Dorian, Salpi Ghazarian, Mark Geragos, Terry Philips, and Paul
Chaderjian also had the enormous task of carrying out the entire live
broadcast for 12 hours. The hosts had to be on their feet for the
entire broadcast, juggling two to three languages, inserting colorful
stories, making insightful connections, and exciting the audience with
the latest number of dollars that had been raised. The entertainment
formula worked, and not only did Armenia Fund accomplish its goal of
raising 15 million dollars, but as Stepan Partamian said, "You need to
boost the entertainment portion. This is a celebration. We don’t want
providing to the Fund to be a nuisance."

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5. Anush awards handed out in Universal City

by Maral Habeshian

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Armenian music celebrities and aspiring
stars alike strolled the red carpet for the 9th annual Armenian Music
Awards at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, California, on
Sunday, November 23. Veteran performers Tata and Andy joined younger
celebrities such as Sirusho, Andre, and Anush and Inga, along with a
slew of hopefuls for an unmatched show that only Hollywood can

The 6,100-capacity Gibson drew an impressive crowd of 4,500 observers
who had come to treat themselves to a bit of Hollywood glitz laced
with Armenian, and topped with a healthy dose of pretense. "I brought
my grandchildren so they could see these young talents in person and
enjoy our Armenian culture," one grandmother said.

Performers, many of whom had traveled from Armenia, included Anna
Grigoryan, BBC award winner Silva Hakobyan, young tenor Hovhannes
Shahbazyan, Inga and Anoush Arshakyan, Jacob Armen on instrumentals,
Andre and others. Tata Simonyan closed out the show with his

This year’s awards featured more than 70 nominees competing in 23
categories. Entrants were judged by a jury of composers, conductors,
writers, artists, producers, musicians, music historians, music
critics and record company executives. Categories such as Best Song of
the Year, Best Duet Song of the Year, and Best Male & Female Artist,
however, were voted on by the public who were able to cast their votes
on online and via cell phones.

Silva Hakobyan’s Gisher took Song of the Year; the Duet Song of the
Year went to Araz and Armine Nahapetyan (Arminka) for Ser u Karot;
2004 and 2005 winnner Andre once again took the Male Singer of the
Year Award; Sirusho, who will be representing Armenia in the 2008
Eurovision Contest, clenched the Female Singer of the Year award.

Composer Edward Mirzoyan was honored with a Lifetime Achievement
Award for his compositions that best represent the post-Khachaturian
generation in combining the spirit of national music with art of
contemporary composing.

The Most Contributing Artist of the Year went to singer Hayko who is
described as the "King of Armenian Romance," for rendition of romantic
Armenian ballads and his "devilish good looks."

The 2007 National Legacy Award went to pop-folk singer Tata Simonyan
who has transcended the various genres of popular Armenian music to
become one of the most popular — if not the most popular Armenian
performer today.

On a more somber note, the awards honored young pop singer Varduhi
Vardanian who died in a car accident in October 2006, renowned singers
Elvina Makaryan and Aram Asatryan and opera legend Gohar Gasparyan who
also recently passed away.

Joining the evening’s hosts Ara Kazaryan, Nazeni Hovhannesyan, Gohar
Gasparyan, Avet Barsegyan, Khoren Levonyan, and Lusine Tovmasyan, were
a long line of presenters and performers, including singers Arame,
Silva Hakobyan, Arsen Safaryan, Hovhannes Shahbazian, Anush and Inga
Arshakyan, Suzy, Shprot, Elon, Sofi Mkheyan, Andy, Arman Hovhanisyan,
Arminka, Emmy, Gor Mkhitarian, Ani Christy, Araks Karapetyan, Sako,
Anna Armenakya; songwriter Arsen Grigorian; performers Lavanda Trio,
Hye Tghek, Apeh Jan; and the talented Jivan Gasparyan, Jr.

The ninth annual Armenian Music Awards was certainly the biggest
production to date of its kind. Perhaps a desire to present a grander
show prompted producers to target the prestigious venue, large-scale
performances, vast production crew, impressive sponsors, and all the
pomp and circumstance that such an event could possibly offer. In the
end, however, the overzealous attempt to outdo past award shows was a
disappointing display of utter chaos, a slow-moving program, and oddly
enough, a failing sound system that left television viewers angry and

This was not the team that brought together the flawless M Club
Armenian Music Video Awards last year at the Kodak Theater. That show
aired on Armenia TV and was produced by Meridian Productions. This
year’s Armenian Music Awards show was produced by a new company that
bought the Anush Awards and the name "Armenian Music Video Awards"
idea from Peter Bahlawanian.


5a. 9th Annual Armenian Music Award winners:

Armen Babakhanian Khachaturian: Solo Piano Works Indy
4 CD set of Aram Khachaturian’s solo piano works performed by Armen

Koharapayl Ensemble Koharapayl

Apeh Jan Soundcheck

Lavanda Trio Lavanda Trio
Sofi Mkheyan Your Life

Gor Mkhitarian Acoustic Folklore

Karen Asatryan & Armenian Spirit Arahet Universal Music

Arevik Ensemble Arevik Mrtsuit-Paraton

Arman Hovanesian Sirelis

The Armenoids Glocal

Sako Live Dance Party 2007

Hayko In One Word

Empyray Empyray

Arsen Grigorian Sern E Khosum
Narek Bell Choir of St. Mary Let there Be Light

Ashot Vardanian Imn Es

Arame Harur Tari

Various Artists Yerevan-Moscow: Transit 4

Silva Hakobyan Gisher

Araz & Armine Nahapetyan Ser U Karot



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

6. "The archives will speak," historian Hilmar Kaiser promises

* Armenian Genocide scholar speaks in Rhode Island

by Aniruddha Maitra

PROVIDENCE — It’s a cold November evening and the day after
Thanksgiving. I am apprehensive that not many people will show up at
the Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence, Rhode Island, to listen to
Ottoman history and genocide scholar Hilmar Kaiser’s lecture. But I
couldn’t be more mistaken.

About 60 people from Rhode Island and neighbouring Massachusetts,
ages 7 to 70, troop in to attend the talk organised by the Providence
Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Armenian National Committee
of Rhode Island.

"You will see what was recorded, not what couldn’t be. We try to come
as close to reality as possible, knowing it can only be an
approximation and that we can never really tell what actually
happened," German-born historian Kaiser warns his Armenian-American
audience before showing genocide photographs and documents that he has
examined over the past 10 years.

The warning isn’t misplaced, given the history of appropriation and
abuse of the some of the evidence and indeed the Turkish government
ban that prevented Kaiser from working in Ottoman archives between
1996 and 2005.

But the photographs that Kaiser is dealing with speak for themselves.
Fully referenced and worked upon using high-resolution scanners, they
unambiguously reveal crime still unacknowledged, and the suffering of
thousands of Armenian deportees left to die on the desert of Der Zor
and in Aleppo in Syria. As Kaiser points out, "Numbers don’t have a
face. It’s easy to reduce individuals to a statistic and forget what

And it’s that amnesic tendency that he sees his research resisting by
unpacking the archives and bringing them to a non-academic audience.
Kaiser, however, is also quick to remind us, "What you can’t sense is
the stench of death in these photographs and the wailing of those who
suffer and mourn."

There may not be pictures catching the perpetrators in flagranto
delicto. But the historian alerts us to a "smoking gun" revealed by
zooming into a photograph taken in Der Zor in 1915: a Turkish officer
in uniform and some Arabs stand, turning their back to three dead
children, including a boy lying naked by the gutter.

What Mr. Kaiser (perhaps a little too hesitantly) shares with his
audience in Providence is part of a work-in-progress that will
culminate in a travelling exhibition of about 30 thoroughly researched
photographs recovered from the European archives. Part of what he
shows us is recognizably from the collection of Armin T. Wegner, the
German lieutenant who was an eyewitness to the Genocide and who was
persecuted by the Nazis during the Second World War. "But there were
others,"says Mr. Kaiser mysteriously, "other Germans who took
photographs of the atrocities and then turned into Nazis to stand
behind Hitler."

Many of these photographs were taken and developed and printed by
these amateur photographers themselves. But Mr. Kaiser is not willing
to name any names just yet, or discuss his analysis in detail, not
until his research is complete and the exhibition opens next year.
Interestingly enough, he is loath to share his work with the Armenian
Genocide Museum and Memorial under development in Washington. He
complains that the museum project has not allocated funds to research.
"I’d rather team up with the ALMA," he says, referring to the Armenian
Library and Museum in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Mr. Kaiser’s teaser trailer clearly enthuses his audience. But I
wonder if it’s a little unfair on them.

Maggie Poochikian, a woman in her fifties, is sitting next to me. As
Mr. Kaiser finishes hedging around the answer to the last question
triggered by the images, Ms. Poochikian tells me she has just
published her grandfather’s memoirs for circulation within her family.
Her grandfather was a survivor and fled Turkey when he was five. "I
know all about the typhus and the lice," she says. Surely she deserves
to be a bit more privy to what Kaiser’s project can do to attack and
hopefully demolish for good, obstinate acts of denial.

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

7. Richard Hovannisian recounts his trip to Western Armenia

* Karen Khanlarian delivers a portrait of the Hemshin Armenians

by Anoush Ter Taulian

NEW YORK — An overflow crowd of over 100 people gathered to hear
Professor Richard G. Hovannisian speak of his recent trip to Western
Armenia. At the same event, researcher Karen Khanlarian discoursed on
the surviving Armenians in Anatolia. The November 9 lecture was
sponsored by the New School’s "Diversity Committee," in conjunction
with the New York chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation.

"The first generation of Armenians in America had no choice but to be
Armenian, but their children and grandchildren select what aspects of
being Armenian they want," Mr. Hovannisian said. When he was growing
up, he said, he didn’t feel comfortable being Armenian, because there
was prejudice against Armenians in Fresno. However, he recalled, the
Fresno Armenians around him showed a fierce pride whenever they heard
the names of Armenian villages — even if they didn’t know where those
villages were.

Mr. Hovannisian said he had always hesitated when asked about
visiting his family’s region of Kharpert; knowing what he would see,
he feared going. When he finally did decide to visit Western Armenia,
Mr. Hovannisian said he felt pain in his knowledge of the exact places
where Armenians had been slaughtered.

During his presentation, Mr. Hovannisian showed slides of Kemahk
Gorge, where thousands of Armenians were marched to their deaths, and
Goljuk Lake near Kharpert, where thousands of Armenians were killed.
Everywhere he went, Mr. Hovannisian recalled, he was followed by
Turkish police, and when they lost him for six hours, he had to sign a
paper saying he was not conspiring with Kurdish rebels.

His trip made him a witness to the destruction of Armenian
civilization, Mr. Hovannisian said. When he visited an Armenian
monastery in Baiburt which was being used as a stable, a Turk who knew
he was Armenian told him, "You will never get it back. I will burn it
down before I give it to you."

In Moush, he found Kurds selling the stones of an Armenian monastery.
In his family’s village of Yereki — where the cabbages grow so big
that people can sit on them — Mr. Hovannisian met a family of
Armenians who told him: "The Turks stole our land, and we had to buy
it back to live on it."

Throughout his trip, Richard Hovannisian said, his driver was a
Hemshin Armenian — a member of a distinctive Anatolian population of
Armenian descent. The driver spoke a little Armenian, and would point
out how the Turkish police switched cars following them.

Everywhere, the Turkish desecration of the landscape was evident. The
site of the historic Armenian Euphrates College is now built up with
condos, noted Mr. Hovannisian, and he lamented the fact that
historical Armenia is now filled with 20 to 30 million Turks and
numerous condo developments.

* Culture preserved in writing

The evening’s second lecturer, Karen Khanlarian, a researcher with the
International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology and a
lecturer at the Islamic Azad University in Iran, presented a report
titled, "The Contemporary Life and Culture of the Armenians of
‘Anatolia.’" An excellent translation of his talk was given by Aris
Sevag, writer and translator (and the former longtime managing editor
of the Armenian Reporter).

In discussing the Armenians of Asia Minor, Mr. Khanlarian divided
them into three groups: The "official," the "Islamicized," and the
"crypto" Armenians. He estimated that outside of Istanbul, there are
only 5,000 "official" Armenians in the region, living mainly in
historical Cilicia.

Mr. Khanlarian cited the creativity of "official" Armenian writers
who have enriched cultural knowledge by their portrayals of Armenian
provincial life in novels and short stories. Megerdich Margossian,
born in Dikranagerd in 1938, wrote In Those Parts of Ours and other
books describing the church services, wedding feasts, and everyday
facets of village life. In the short story "May the Roots of this
Centuries-old Tree Remain Young," Hagop Arslanian, born in Tokat in
1933, described the life of the Armenians of the village of Gemereg in
the 1950s.

In such regions, in the decades following the Genocide, it was hard
for Armenians to open schools and churches. But conditions are slowly
changing, Mr. Khanlarian said, and in 2003 a ceremony dedicated to the
100th anniversary of the birth of Aram Khachaturian was held in the
garden of the newly built church in the village of Vakif, with
numerous Armenian pilgrims present. Despite ongoing severe hardships,
the "official" Armenians have withstood the forces of assimilation to
be a direct link to the region’s indigenous Armenian origins.

According to Mr. Khanlarian, the biggest group of Armenians in
Anatolia are the "Islamicized" Hemshin Armenians, numbering a few
hundred thousand. Their origins can be traced to the eighth century,
when the Armenian princes Haman and Shapuh Amaduni lost their domains
in Artaz to the Arabs, and moved to the Pontic mountains with 12,000
Armenians, into a town whose name evolved to Hemshin. In the 18th
century, they were forcibly converted to Islam, although now there are
both Sunni and Christian Hemshins who have migrated widely.

* Remnants of an older culture

Today there are over 400,000 Hemshins, half of whom are Muslims, Mr.
Khanlarian said.

The northern Hemshin Armenians, who live in Georgia and Russia, speak
the Hemshin Armenian dialect and are Christians, while the eastern
population also speaks the Hemshin Armenian dialect, but are Sunni
Muslims. Nevertheless, they stubbornly maintain aspects of Christian
(and pre-Christian) Armenian custom, such as the observance of
Vartavar. Their culture is filled with jokes and storytelling based on
more ancient Armenian stories and fables.

In his well-prepared presentation, Mr. Khanlarian showed video of
Hemshin boys and girls doing circular dances while holding hands — a
practice not ordinarily found in Sunni Muslim culture.

The ethno-religious transformation in Western Armenia also includes
the "crypto" or "hidden" Armenians. In order to maintain their
physical existence during the Genocide, these were forced to alter
their identities as Armenians. Some continue to uphold Armenian
traditions in secret, and intermarry with each other. Some are waiting
for a time when they can openly state their Armenian roots and convert
back to the Armenian Church.

According to Mr. Khanlarian, presently more than 700,000
crypto-Armenians live in historical Armenia. He told of a
crypto-Armenian family in the village of Govdoon, near Sebastia:
"According to a Lebanese-Armenian tourist, a man living there in the
1950s, whose real name was Mikayel but who was called ‘Kurd Ahmad,’
had an Armenian wife and three daughters, and hadn’t come across any
Armenians in 30 years. Unknown to the Turks and Kurds, he conducted
classes in Armenian language and history with his children at night,
using a few old textbooks, and diligently taught them their mother

Mr. Khanlarian suggested that now more than 37 percent of the
population in Turkey does not consider itself Turkish. Out of an
estimated 1,350,000 ethnic Armenians still living in western Turkey,
he estimated only 700,000 still remember their national origin.

But those who haven’t forgotten their roots do not want to become
lost in turn. Mr. Khanlarian quoted 40-year-old Armen Martirossian, a
resident of Moush, as saying: "Don’t forget us. There are many
Armenians surviving in Moush, Sassoun, Vardo, and other areas….
[They are] Armenians who were afraid until recently to reveal their
identity, but who today are expressing themselves courageously, and
are struggling to remain Armenian."

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

8. Donald Bloxham, a British scholar, is awarded the Institute for the
Study of Genocide’s "Lemkin Award"

by Florence Avakian

NEW YORK — "One million Armenians died, but a law against the murder
of peoples was written with the ink of their blood, and the spirit of
their sufferings."

The words are those of Raphael Lemkin from a 1959 Hairenik article.
Lemkin was the Polish Jew coined the term "genocide" in 1944, based on
his outrage at the planned extermination of the Armenians by the
Ottoman Turks during World War I, and the later extermination of his
own people by the Nazi regime in World War II. He finally did see the
United Nations General Assembly ratify its Genocide Convention on
December 9, 1948.

Lemkin’s unflinching, persistent spirit is the inspiration for the
biennial prize given by New York’s Institute for the Study of
Genocide. The fourth presentation of the "Lemkin Award" went to
Professor Donald Bloxham, a professor of Modern History at Edinburgh
University, and a scholar-in-residence at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum since September 2007. Bloxham received the award on the
strength of his recent book, The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism,
Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians (Oxford
University Press, 2005).

Present for the ceremony at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice
in New York on Friday afternoon, November 9, were genocide scholars
Professor Helen Fein, executive director of the Institute for the
Study of Genocide; Professor Emeritus Roger Smith of William and Mary
College; and Dr. Joyce Apsel of the University of Oslo.

Declaring that genocide is "never inevitable," Professor Smith said,
"It always involves choices." He related that the categories detailed
in Bloxham’s work included the fact that it is "comprehensive,"
exploring the question not of whether the 1915 Genocide occurred, but
rather why it occurred.

Smith added that the book is "non-visceral" — that it does not dwell
on "horror stories"; that it is "integrated," covering the larger
forces of history; that it is "critical" in its use of different
historical approaches; and that it finally "evaluates" how the claims
of responsibility should be assessed.

Before 1915, there were many abuses against the Armenians in the
Ottoman Empire, Professor Smith pointed out. "Did the Turks learn from
the previous genocides against the Armenian in 1895 [and] 1909? Did
they hone their deadly craft by doing it again and again?" he asked.
"And to what extent were Turkish fears one of reality, rather than one
of perception?"

* Genocide is a political action

Donald Bloxham pointed out that his book focuses on the factors that
led to the genocide of the Armenians.

"Genocide is a political action," said Bloxham, who in the book
suggests an explanation for why the Genocide has been ignored or not
recognized for nearly a century. Offering a new interpretation which
places the Genocide firmly in the context of international history, he
said that the old "great powers," Great Britain and Russia, have been
a significant part of the question, and have played a vicious game
against each other. "They bear the second degree of guilt." He called
Germany "a co-conspirator, bearing some responsibility."

"Those who oppose the Congressional resolution recognizing the
Armenian Genocide claim that Russian-Armenians would have invaded the
Ottoman Empire, and that the Ottoman Armenians were in rebellion
against the empire," he said.

"The fact is that there were very few Armenian revolutionaries. The
Turkish nationalists included all Armenians in this category. Most
Armenians acted in self-defense. The 1894-1895 massacres had virtually
destroyed Armenian hopes of rising against the Turks. The Ottoman
leaders exaggerated the Armenian threat. This concept was very far
>From reality," Boxham stated.

For recognition purposes, Armenians want to compare or equate the
Genocide with the Holocaust, he continued. "The two are different," he
said, diverging in this respect from the research of the Genocide
scholar Dr. Vahakn Dadrian. "We should look at all the surrounding
factors of genocide, rather than comparing one to the other," Bloxham

The youngest full professor of history in the United Kingdom, Donald
Bloxham has won several honors for his work, which includes Genocide
on Trial (Oxford University Press, 2001), and The Holocaust: Critical
Approaches (Manchester University Press, 2005) which he co-authored
with Tony Kushner. A forthcoming book is titled, Genocide, the World
Wars, and the Unweaving of Europe.

The Lemkin Award recognizes the best book published in the preceding
two years which focuses on the "explanation of genocide, crimes
against humanity, state mass killings, gross violations of human
rights, and strategies to prevent such crimes and violations."
Previous recipients of the Lemkin Award include Peter Balakian in
2005, Samantha Power in 2003, and Alison Des Forges in 2000.

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

9. Debbie and Chuck Poochigian honored at individual events

November was a busy month for Debbie Poochigian and her husband,
Chuck, of Fresno, California. She was honored with a fundraising
dinner; he received a Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts
of America.

A major figure in California politics since the administration of
Governor George Deukmejian, Chuck Poochigian ran for Attorney General
last year. Debbie Poochigian, a longtime community activist and a
renowned political campaigner, is now a serious contender for the post
of Fresno County Supervisor.

* Fundraising for a beloved candidate

CLOVIS, Calif. — On November 8, several hundred supporters attended a
fundraising dinner in support of Debbie Poochigian’s candidacy for the
post of Fresno County Supervisor. The event was held at the Veterans
Memorial Building in Clovis, a city in the heart of the Fifth District
of Fresno County. The dinner was the second major Fresno-area
fundraiser for Poochigian’s campaign. The guests included many local
civic, business, and political leaders.

Richard Lake, a member of the Clovis Unified School District Board of
Trustees, served as master of ceremonies while local veterans’
advocate Gordon Pickett spoke briefly and led the flag salute.
California State Senator Dave Cogdill described his close friendship
with both Debbie and Chuck Poochigian and said he had no doubt that
Debbie Poochigian would make a hard-working and effective supervisor.

In addition to her volunteer work with numerous charitable
organizations, Debbie Poochigian was closely involved in her husband’s
career. She has since earned a great reputation in political circles
for her leadership as a campaigner and public servant.

"I look forward to a spirited campaign in which there will be
opportunities to debate the issues and lay out my vision for Fresno
County," she remarked during the fundraiser. "I was born and raised in
the county, and I love it here. I hope to bring a mature, common-sense
approach to the many issues that affect our future and the future of
our children and grandchildren."

Poochigian entered the race to compete against a two-term incumbent,
Bob Waterston. While expected to be a tough competitor, Waterston
announced that he would not seek a third term but is now reported to
be reconsidering his decision. Another candidate, former Clovis mayor
and current councilman Nathan Magsig, has also announced his

The Fifth District includes northeastern and parts of southeastern
Fresno County including the City of Clovis, a portion of the City of
Fresno, and a number of Sierra mountain communities. The election for
the Fifth Supervisorial District is scheduled for June 3, 2008. In a
two-person contest, the election would be won by the winner of a
majority in June. If other candidates enter the race, the election
would be extended to a November run-off unless a candidate receives
over 50 percent of the vote.

Poochigian has been endorsed by an impressive roster of leaders and
organizations, among them former Governor George Deukmejian, former
Secretary of State Bill Jones, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
Association, and M.O.V.E. (Memory of Victims Everywhere). Many of the
endorsements have been made in recognition of Poochigian’s longtime
service to a wide range of civic, charitable, and religious causes.
She has served on the boards of several public institutions, and today
she is particularly proud of her association with the Armenian Eye
Care Project.

Poochigian was born and raised in Fresno County, where her
grandparents have settled and farmed since the early 1900s. Her
father, Deran Koligian, was a farmer who himself had a distinguished
career as a Fresno County Supervisor for over 20 years.

* Laurels for the former senator

COALINGA, Calif. — Former California State Senator Chuck Poochigian
was the recipient of a Distinguished Citizen Award at the 18th Annual
Distinguished Citizen Luncheon of the Boy Scouts of America, Sequoia
Council. Headquartered in Central California, the council serves the
Fresno, Madera, Tulare, and Kings Counties.

Organized and supported by agricultural-community leaders and
organizations of the San Joaquin Valley, the luncheon was held at
Harris Ranch Restaurant near Coalinga. Over 125 guests attended the
event to support vital youth programs and recognize the leadership of
Chuck Poochigian during his years of public service in Sacramento as
well as his ongoing community activism.

In his acceptance speech, Poochigian expressed gratitude for the
honor and praised the Boy Scouts’ important work in addressing the
needs of the youth in the area. "During my years in the legislature, I
attended a number of Eagle Scout Courts of Honor," he said. "It was
through that experience that I really got to know what wonderful young
boys were drawn to the Scouts and how scouting influenced their lives
— and, in turn, our society." Poochigian also praised those whose
generosity made involvement in scouting possible — especially by
supporting boys whose families could not otherwise afford to

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Award include former
Secretary of State Bill Jones and Congressman Jim Costa. Poochigian
expressed special pleasure for being the recipient of an award that
was previously given to his own father-in-law, Deran Koligian.

Poochigian was born and raised in southeastern Fresno County. His
family has farmed in the area for three generations. He practiced law
before serving on the senior staffs of governors George Deukmejian and
Pete Wilson, whom Poochigian assisted in judicial- and
executive-branch appointments. He subsequently served in the State
Senate and Assembly from 1994 to 2006, earning accolades as a
consensus builder and policy leader. He ran for Attorney General in

Poochigian and his wife, Debbie, reside in Fresno as do their
children and grandchild: Mark and wife, Jennifer; Kirk; Laura; and
grandson Deran. Chuck Poochigian recently joined the law firm of
Dowling, Aaron, and Keeler in Fresno.

[email protected]

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

10. Health Fair reaches out to community while fostering volunteerism

by Adrineh Gregorian

GLENDALE, Calif. — On October 27, the Armenian American Medical
Society of California (AAMSC) held its 17th annual Health Fair at St.
Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale. The event drew over 300
men, women, and children who obtained free medical screenings and
consultations made available through the collaboration of the AAMSC,
the Armenian American Nurses Association, and the Armenian Dental
Society of California.

"This is the main local project of our organization, and it’s a great
opportunity for us to serve the community: Armenian-Americans and
non-Armenians alike," said Dr. Boris Bagdasarian, President of the

The Health Fair, which was launched in 1992 to promote primary
prevention by providing basic screenings, immunization, and health
awareness, has since grown to comprise secondary prevention, including
cancer screenings and advanced disease detection. Most patients who
receive medical services and referrals at the Health Fair are

"Every year, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of people who
come to the Health Fair," Dr. Bagdasarian added. "The services we’re
able to offer improve each year. We have a growing list of sponsors as
well as volunteer specialists from all medical disciplines."

The Health Fair provides basic screenings for blood pressure, blood
sugar, and cholesterol; mammography and Pap tests; and dental, spinal,
bone-density, lung, heart, eye, and prostate exams.

"Almost all the services that I need are here," said one man, a
50-year-old Glendale resident. "This is the second time I’m coming to
the Health Fair, and it’s been a great help to me."

* Mobile medical services

Over the years, the range of medical services offered by the Health
Fair has steadily expanded thanks to the participation of local
hospitals and clinics. This year’s additions included mobile
mammography, spirometry (for measuring lung capacity), and dexa scan
(for measuring bone density) units. Moreover, private screening rooms
were set up to conduct prostate exams and EKG scans, among other

"It only gets better every year," said Iva Meyers, a nurse
practitioner. At the Health Fair, Meyers headed the staff of the
Hollywood Presbyterian Cancer Center, which provided free Pap smears
and mammograms through the California Cancer Detection Program, an
initiative funded by the State of California. Designed for low-income,
uninsured patients, the program offers free breast-cancer screenings
for women aged 40 and over and cervical-cancer screenings for women
aged 25 and up. "We have to let the people know about these free
services," said Zarmine Naccashian, Chair of the AAMSC’s Healthcare
Committee and a geriatric nurse practitioner.

This year Meyers and her team screened 50 patients, who received
their test results in the mail within two weeks. If necessary,
follow-up appointments are scheduled at Hollywood Presbyterian. Meyers
said that over the years a number of cancers have been detected and
treated through the Health Fair. "Had it not been for the fair, these
cases would probably have not been detected early enough for
treatment," she concluded.

* Bringing state-funded initiatives to the Armenian community

The Health Fair functions as a bridge between the local Armenian
community and the services available to them through state-funded
initiatives, promoting regular medical screenings and follow-ups. Of
the some 300 patients attending last year’s Health Fair, 75% were
uninsured, 15% had MediCal, 7% had MediCare, and only 3% had some form
of insurance.

"Ironically, many of them qualify for Medi-Cal but won’t find out
until they have a serious or emergent health issue," Dr. Bagdasarian
said. "It’s crucial that everyone has the opportunity to receive
medical care, regardless of their financial situation. The idea is to
refer them to county-funded facilities after they’ve been seen by the
physicians and nurses participating in the Health Fair. Our message to
members of the Armenian community is this: to be diligent, and to
follow through with the recommendations of the healthcare
professionals they meet today. Medicine is not just for when you’re
sick or in dire need; prevention is fundamental."

Dr. Bagdasarian explained that test results mailed to patients are
accompanied by bilingual information about locations, particularly
community facilities with county funding, where they can receive
further care.

"First and foremost, we need to encourage patients to contact local
social workers to learn whether they are eligible for health
insurance," Dr. Bagdasarian continued. "We don’t want them to wait
until the last minute, or avoid seeing a doctor, because of their fear
of facing astronomical medical bills. Our doctors and nurses encourage
patients to get the insurance they deserve. Rather than wait long
hours in the emergency room and be deprived of continuous care, it’s
best that they see a physician regularly and receive care within their

Among the clinics participating in the Health Fair was Comprehensive
Community Health Centers. With clinics in Eagle Rock, Highland Park,
Hollywood, and Glendale, the centers offer comprehensive care,
including family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and
dentistry. According to Alicia Basmadjian, a pediatric nurse
practitioner with the Health Centers, the clinics accept all types of
insurance and MediCal, and charge low fees for cash patients.

* Promoting community service

Established in 1985, the AAMSC currently has some 300 members from
around Southern California, representing the entire spectrum of
healthcare specialties. The organization’s community services have
also greatly benefited from its partnerships with a growing number of
public and private healthcare entities, including The
Armenian-American Nurses Association and the Armenian Dental Society
of California.

"It takes a lot of time and effort," Naccashian said. "But working to
help our community is something that’s in my blood. It inspires me."

Naccashian begins to work on the Health Fair as early as May each
year, handling a multitude of logistical matters that range from
confirming the participation of healthcare professionals to securing
the machines required to conduct exams.

"I do it because I have an obligation to humanity, to my people,"
Naccashian continued. "God has given us each a talent, and uses us to
reach out to our people. By doing this, we show our younger generation
the importance of volunteerism."

Indeed, a spirit of volunteerism is at the heart of the AAMSC and its
Health Fair, which is made possible through not only sponsorships and
the pro bono services of healthcare professionals, but the assistance
of a small army of young volunteers. Every year, the event organizers
recruit students from designated local schools, in an effort to foster
altruism and offer youths a glimpse of the healthcare profession. This
year, for instance, students from Glendale High School and AGBU
Manoogian-Demirdjian School assisted with translation and set-up.
Several first-year medical students from the UCLA Geffen School of
Medicine also volunteered.

Naccashian pointed out the dramatic increase in the number of people
living in the United States who don’t have health insurance, currently
estimated at about 47 million. Armenians, including undocumented
residents, are a part of the statistic. "As Armenians, we’re not any
different from the rest of the population in this regard," she
remarked. "So who will take care of our community if we, as Armenian
healthcare professionals, don’t take care of its needs? If we are
leaders, we must be proactive and take charge. We must take
responsibility for our community and make sure that we expand the
number of services we offer each year."

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

11. CSU Fresno is searching for a new Armenian studies department chair

* Armenian community invited to be part of the process

by Nyrie Karkazian

FRESNO, Calif. — The Armenian Studies Department at California State
University, Fresno has put out an international search to find a
candidate to fill the position opening for the Haig and Isabel
Berberian Endowed Chair.

This is the first search ever conducted by the department since the
inception of the chair in 1988. Dr. Dickran Kouymjian who has filled
that position for nearly 20 years is now retiring from the position.

"It’s important that we get someone who is really eager, has a strong
commitment to the development and continues the expansion and growth
of the program," Professor Matthew Jendian, Ph.D. said.

Jendian is one of five professors aboard the official search
committee charged with finding an individual to fill the position.
Each professor on the committee represents a different department in
the college of Arts and Humanities. Jendian, who represents the
sociology department, is joined by professors from the philosophy,
anthropology, English and linguistics departments.

The position will consist of three general areas of activity;
teaching, research and service. The service aspect of the job is a
great responsibility especially in a town like Fresno where there is
an estimated 50,000 people of Armenian descent living in the area.

The chair responsibilities include service to the community, public
speaking and community based projects as well as serving on different
committees on campus. The chair will also be teaching undergraduate
courses in the field of Armenian Studies along with continuing the
great success of the Hye Sharzhoom student newspaper and the Armenian
Students Organization.

"The search is not tied to a certain discipline. Armenian Studies
itself is an interdisciplinary field so the applicant can have an
emphasis in any area, which is the nice thing about the position,"
Jendian said.

Jendian said one of the first hurdles they had to get over was
writing and agreeing on the position description as a committee. Since
there has never been a need to fill the chair, a description of the
position was never established.

"This is a new process for the Armenian Studies department," Jendian said.

Along with this new process will come a different way of conducting
the search for the chair. Unlike any other procedure the University
goes through to hire an individual, the Armenian Studies department
will be obtaining information and feedback from the Armenian

The Dean of the college of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Vida Samiian,
will be assembling a community advisory group, in addition to the
official search committee, made up of Armenian members of the
community who will have some input on the position. They will also be
making recommendations and referring particular candidates to apply.

When a short list of candidates has been composed by the official
committee they will then solicit the public for response. Evaluation
forms will be provided for the community, university members, faculty
and students to gather feedback.

"This is actually a quite unique thing. Typically when a university
hires there is no involvement with the community at all," said
Jendian. "The nature of this position and the fact that the chair was
in large part created because of the financial and moral support of
the Armenian community of Fresno is why we are soliciting their input
and feedback as part of the hiring process."

After gathering all the information needed the search committee will
then rank each top candidate and submit their ranked recommendations
to Dean Samiian for the final decision.

The deadline for all applicants is January 15 and the committee is
hoping to have all applications submitted by then so that they can
have them reviewed and begin inviting top candidates to the University
by March. If all goes well offers will be made sometime in April so
that the chair will be filled by the fall semester of 2008 just in
time for Saroyan’s centennial celebration.

"We’re hoping we have a broad enough net to draw in a good pool from
which to choose," Jendian said.

The position will be opened until filled.

For more information and a complete position description please visit
m.shtml (position

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

1 2. David Kherdian visits San Francisco’s KZV school — twice

SAN FRANCISCO — On November 12, David Kherdian, the sagacious and at
times pugnacious Armenian-American author visited the KZV Armenian
School in San Francisco for a community reading of his new book,
Forgotten Bread.

Standing before a small but attentive assembly, Mr. Kherdian talked
about what motivated him to put together this first ever anthology of
Armenian-American writers. He said, "A culture can only survive
through its stories" and that "the writings of a lot of good Armenian
— American writers would have perished" if it were not for this
timely anthology. According to Mr. Kherdian, Armenian-American texts
can now have a place in the literary canon, alongside the literatures
of other ethnic groups in America.

Together, these writers offer us a unique glimpse into how the
Armenian sensibility (encompassing both "a great passion for living
and also having to deal with great tragedy") plays out in the American
milieu. During the presentation, the author also spoke about his life,
about how he became a writer, and also read some of his poetry from
the anthology.

Growing up in a small Armenian community in Racine, Wisconsin, Mr.
Kherdian struggled mightily with his hyphenated identity as an
Armenian-American. He said he knew at age 12 that if he could not find
the truth of his existence he would never grow up. With writers like
William Saroyan paving the way Mr. Kherdian, at the age of 23,
realized that he too could be an Armenian writer writing in America.
And it was through writing that he eventually found the "truth" he was

After the reading, Mr. Kherdian fielded a few difficult questions
>From those in attendance and he responded to them as directly, if not
as delicately, as he could. When asked why he didn’t show the same
interest in the Armenian culture as William Saroyan, Mr. Kherdian
defended himself by saying that he and Saroyan were different people
>From different generations, who related to their Armenian identity in
their own unique way. He went on to say that he had no interest in
comparing himself to other writers or anyone else for that matter. He
"wrote in order to get to the truth of [his] own existence," and if
his writings "help others to find their way, fine, but everyone has
his own path and [his] is not for everyone to follow." Mr. Kherdian
finally ended the question-answer portion of his talk by saying that
he wished that he "can become good manure for the next generation."

On the morning of November 13, Mr. Kherdian returned to KZV to meet
with some of the representatives of this "next generation" in the form
of KZV students from the middle school. The students saw a softer,
more sanguine side of Mr. Kherdian who was genuinely surprised and
intrigued by the interest level the students showed in his work. The
students had prepared a list of questions about essays in Mr.
Kherdian’s memoir (I Called it Home) dealing with people and events
>From his childhood in Racine, Wisconsin. During the casual but intense
two-hour question and answer session the students showed their
knowledge of the material through their trenchant remarks. Here are
some of their questions and Mr. Kherdian’s responses:

Student: Dear Mr. Kherdian, we began by asking why some people
revisit the past through writing? Someone said, sometimes we have no
choice because the past visits us, haunts us and disrupts our lives.
By revisiting it, talking about it, writing about it, we can
understand the meaning of this past (of our origin) and feel better
about ourselves.

Kherdian: Yes, by understanding how the past affected you, the closer
you get to understanding who you are.

Student: In "The Runaway," you say you felt homeless because nobody
understood you. You were a stranger in your own home or a place you
called home. But even when you would leave your home the feeling of
homelessness stayed inside of you. Did you want to run away because
your "true self" was not understood by others or because you did not
understand your "true self"? Did you start writing in order to
understand the stranger in yourself?

Kherdian: Yes. Once you accept yourself and who you are you can work
with that and develop it. There are potentialities in all of us but we
can’t access it until we accept who we are.

Student: In "The Stranger" you write, "I had to understand my life,
not anyone else’s, but I needed all the other lives, too." Did
understanding your father help you understand yourself?

Kherdian: Yes. Fathers are important for boys because the way your
father goes might be the way you go. So I needed to see how my father
turned out: where he failed and where he succeeded.

Student: In your writing you show that you had a lot of shame in your
culture, shame in being an Armenian? Was this shame related to a lack
of understanding, a lack of meaning, a lack of significance? Are you
communicating with the past to give it new significance? Are you
writing in order to correct your outlook of the past? Will changing
this outlook, change the present? Will it change the way you see
yourself and the people in your past?

Kherdian: Yes. It’s hard to evaluate things when you are young. You
don’t have the tools to understand them. We take on a lot of false
values from society, which stop our growth. We have to find our own
values. When you write, you access a part of your spiritual nature.
Writing about others is really writing about yourself, about what your
experiences meant. Transformation is the most wonderful thing in the
world. You can change things. You can change yourself. All these
transformations are psychological not visible. Society focuses on the

Student: The title of your book is, I Called It Home. Is this because
as you changed the place you called "home" also changed?

Kherdian: Yes!

If Mr. Kherdian’s goal was "to become good manure for the next
generation," his visit to KZV proved that he has already accomplished

Contributors to this article: Richard Gabri (KZV Middle School
English teacher), Vana Andonian (KZV eighth-grade student), and Rosie
Aristakessian (KZV seventh-grade student).

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

13. Khrimian Hayrig was a leader at a time of oppression

* On the centenary of his death, he is celebrated as a firebrand who
paved the way for national liberation

by Lory Tatoulian

Khrimian Hayrig is one of the most celebrated and venerable figures in
Armenian history. He showed so much compassion toward the common
people, and was so revered by all, that he was given the name Hayrig,
which means father in Armenian.

A father figure for all Armenians, Khrimian Hayrig felt the
collective pain of his people and fought to strengthen its collective
will. As Catholicos, he was not only the spiritual leader of the
Armenian Church, but also a political torchbearer who bolstered the
Armenian resolve to fight against the oppressive policies and
persecutions of Ottoman Turkey, Czarist Russia, and Kurdish tribes.

Since Khrimian Hayrig’s death in 1907, many scholars have studied his
dynamic life and works. Archpriest Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian recalls that
50 years ago, when he was parish priest of the Armenian Church in
Ethiopia, he received an encyclical from the late Catholicos of all
Armenians, His Holiness Vasken I, commemorating the 50th year of the
passing of Khrimian Hayrig.

Father Arzoumanian read the pontifical message to his congregation.
"Each Armenian has two fathers: their birth father and Khrimian
Hayrig," the Catholicos had written. Today Father Arzoumanian, along
with many other historians, still regards Khrimian Hayrig as one of
the most pivotal people in the pantheon of Armenian historical
figures. This year, the Armenian Church and nation are commemorating
the 100th anniversary of Khrimian Hayrig’s death.

Khrimian Hayrig (Mgrdich Khrimian) was born in 1820 in Vaspurakan
(historic Van). After being ordained a priest at age 34, he
established a seminary at the monastery of Varak, in Van. Many of the
seminary’s graduates went on to become noted public figures and
artists. The long list of alumni included Bishop Karekin Srvantstyants
and the great novelist Raffi (Hagop Melik Hagopian). Later in his
life, Khrimian Hayrig also became a mentor to Gomidas Vartabed and
played an instrumental role in encouraging him to pursue his musical
aspirations. A lesser-known fact about Khrimian Hayrig is that he
encouraged girls to receive an education — an endeavor that was far
>From being common at that time.

Khrimian Hayrig was a protean man who made major literary, religious,
social, and political contributions to the Armenian nation. As a poet
and prolific writer, he published two newspapers, Ardzvig Darono and
Ardzvig Vaspurakani, both of which fostered the intellectual life of

"Ardzvig in Armenian means eaglet," Fr. Arzoumanian explained.
"Khrimian Hayrig gave the newspapers this name because he wanted
education to spread all over the region of Van, just like the way an
eaglet spreads its wings."

Khrimian Hayrig was ordained a bishop in 1868, in Echmiadzin, and
became the Prelate of Daron. The following year he was elected
Patriarch of Constantinople and served in this position for a number
of years. In 1878, he led an Armenian delegation to the Congress of
Berlin, which was to review the status of ethnic minorities living in
the Ottoman Empire. Khrimian Hayrig, along with Bishop Khoren Narbeh,
Stepan Papazian, and Minas Sheraz, presented papers on the oppressive
treatment of Armenians under Ottoman rule. The congress initially
assigned Article 16 to discussions of the Armenian question, meaning
it would have been taken up as the 16th item on the agenda. However,
Article 16 was reversed to article 61, making it nearly impossible for
the congress to get to that article. This was a underhanded diplomatic
way to divert attention from and reject the appearance of the Armenian
delegation at the congress.

Father Arzoumanian thinks there is an uncanny connection between
Article 61 of the Congress of Berlin and today’s Resolution 106, the
Armenian-Genocide resolution which is currently awaiting a vote on the
House floor of the U.S. Congress.

"Presently, in the U.S. Congress, we are playing with the same
numbers: 1 and 6," Father Arzoumanian pointed out. "But this time we
are dealing with a different congress, more than a hundred years
later, trying once again to bring important Armenian issues to the

When the congressional meetings were over in Berlin, Khrimian Hayrig
and the three other delegates returned to Constantinople with no
answers and no European resolution to the Armenian question. The
Armenian community was anxiously waiting to hear what decisions the
Congress of Berlin had made about Article 61 and its mandate regarding
the Armenian provinces.

Upon his return, Khrimian Hayrig delivered his famous "Paper Ladle"
sermon in Echmiadzin, in no uncertain terms urging the Armenian nation
to rely on itself and no one else, defend its lands, and fight
oppression. That address is still regarded as one of the most powerful
and important speeches ever delivered by an Armenian leader.

"We had great hopes that the Congress would bring peace to the world
and liberation to the small and oppressed nations, among which we
count ourselves," Khrimian Hayrig said in his sermon. "Dear Armenian
people, could I have dipped my paper ladle in the harissa? It would
have become wet and stayed there. There, where guns talk and swords
make noise, what significance do appeals and petitions have? But alas,
all I had was a paper petition, which got wet in the harissa and we
returned empty-handed," Khrimian Hayrig continued. "And so, dear and
blessed Armenians, when you return to the Fatherland, to your
relatives and friends, take weapons, take weapons and again weapons.
People, above all, place the hope of your liberation on yourself. Use
your brain and your fist! Man must work for himself in order to be

In 1892, at the age of 72, Khrimian Hayrig was elected Catholicos.
While he was respected by the entire Armenian nation, he faced
persecution by both the Ottoman Turkish and Tsarist Russian
governments. "One particular event was very troubling for him," Fr.
Arzoumanian said. "The Russian government had decreed that all
Armenian schools in the Caucasus should be closed and the treasury of
the Armenian Church should be confiscated by the Tsarist government."

These decrees were to be carried out by the Viceroy of Tbilisi, who
demanded total acquiescence by the Catholicos. But Khrimian Hayrig
stood firm. "The Tsar can take back all the medals that were given to
me and the Armenian people, but I will not hand over any of the keys
to the treasury, because the treasury does not belong to the
government, or to Echmiadzin, it belongs to the Armenian people," he

The viceroy kept pleading with Khrimian Hayrig and finally appealed
to his conscience. He explained that he had four children and if he
returned to the tsar empty-handed, he and his family would be in great
jeopardy. Khrimian Hayrig replied, "I am the father of 4 million
children. What am I going to tell my children?"

Khrimian Hayrig served not only Armenian communities across the lands
of historic Armenia and the Caucasus, but those abroad. In 1898, he
established the first Armenian Diocese of North America.

Khrimian Hayrig served as Catholicos for 15 years, until his death in
1907. His words and ideas live on today, as an enduring source of
inspiration and spiritual fortitude for millions of Armenians.

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

14. School administrator keeps toiling away

* Alice Petrossian has served Glendale Unified for 30 years

by Alex Dobuzinskis

GLENDALE, Calif. — She has taught school in a rough part of town,
spent summers in Armenia getting school supplies for impoverished
children and won much too many awards to hang them all up at the

But to hear Alice Petrossian speak, one gets the impression that the
Glendale Unified assistant superintendent is just getting started with
her work. And it is work that seems to define her.

She confesses to getting four hours of sleep a night, laying awake as
she jots down ideas for how to better educate children, or better
serve her community.

"I have quite a hangup about work ethic," said Petrossian, 60. "I
believe that work is what makes the difference, whether it’s voluntary
or paid."

She calls herself a workaholic, and she jokes that she wants to start
a workaholics anonymous chapter in Glendale, where everyone could meet
for soda.

But in the meantime, she keeps toiling away.

In her 30 years with the school district, Petrossian’s achievements
include introducing Armenian as an elective language for high school
students and creating a welcome center for immigrant children and
their families.

Most recently, she helped create an Armenian language academy a
couple years ago at a Glendale elementary school, where
Armenian-American students get daily lessons in the language of their

She also worked with a group called the Davidian & Mariamian
Educational Foundation to bring after-school Armenian language
programs to Glendale schools.

In a district where 66 percent of students speak a primary language
other than English, with Armenian being the most common language among
those students, Petrossian is proud of her work helping immigrant
children thrive in their new home.

And she knows what many of those children go through. When she was
nine years old, Petrossian’s family immigrated to the United States
>From Iran. Unable to speak the language, she cried and asked her
parents why they moved.

But she says she understands why her parents, Jake and Mina
Shirvanian, left an unstable Iran in 1956, and she says that from them
she inherited a gift for giving.

She has volunteered for more than a dozen community organizations,
many of them in the Armenian community. They include the Armenian Red
Cross Society, the Armenian Relief Society and Junior Achievement of

Every summer for the past eight years, she has traveled to Armenia
with her husband to build up impoverished schools in the border
regions. The Petrossians do that work through the Armenian Educational

Petrossian has also served as the chair of the No Child Left Behind
Task Force, and has been able to talk about education with aides to
President George W. Bush.

It all fits into a general philosophy Petrossian says she lives by.

"It’s a good world if you give," she said. "It can be a pretty
depressing world if you expect only to receive."

For all her work, both at the school district and as a volunteer, the
Glendale-based Armenian American Chamber of Commerce gave Petrossian
an award for educational work at its inaugural Women in Business
luncheon in October.

"She stated it perfectly; she said that she runs the biggest business
in Glendale and has the most customers, and she was referring to the
schools," said Annette Vartanian, executive director of the chamber.

Petrossian’s career in education started at age 5, when her teacher
left the classroom, only to come back and find a young Alice
Petrossian trying to lead her classmates through lessons.

Her formal career in education began in 1970 as an elementary school
teacher in Eureka, Calif. Soon, she had moved on to a teaching
assignment at a middle school in a rough neighborhood in Hayward,
Calif., a suburb of Oakland.

It was there that the teacher got her own education in how to work
with immigrant communities. Petrossian said a lot of that involved
dialoguing with the Brown Berets, a group that served as the
Mexican-American version of the Black Panther Party.

Glendale’s immigrant communities have nothing near the militancy of
the Brown Berets, but they nevertheless bring a diverse student body
to the city’s school district.

There are 64 different languages spoken by students in the district.
For more than 8,850 students, the primary language is Armenian. More
than 4,400 students primarily speak Spanish, and the district has
sizable numbers of Korean speakers and Tagalog speakers from the

At the welcome center that Petrossian created at district
headquarters, administrators and counselors can speak to students and
parents in almost any language. The goal is to test students in their
native language and assess their skills. But just as important is the
outreach given to parents, and encouraging them to be involved in
their child’s education, and that happens at the center, too.

For years, Petrossian made the same point to immigrant families in
speeches she gave at schools. For parents from socially conservative
countries, those talks sometimes involved reassuring parents worried
about the newfound freedoms their children had — the freedom to be
more materialistic, wear shorts or go on dates.

"What I’ve learned from immigrants is if you help them, and you work
with them and you share with them what they need to know, they want to
do the best for their children," Petrossian said. "They’ve immigrated
because of their children, and they want to do well. It’s just that we
need to provide them with the kind of support that will help them do

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

15. Father Andon Saroyan and the quest for community excellence

interview by Boghos Kupelian

translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian

In 2005, Father Andon Saroyan’s appointment as pastor couldn’t have
been more auspicious for the Armenian Catholic community of Glendale,
California. During the preceding decade, the community had seen many
achievements but was also mired in administrative troubles and
discord. Father Saroyan’s tenure at the Saint Gregory the Illuminator
Church has been notable for restoring harmony in the community, and
instilling a renewed sense of belonging and commitment in the flock.

After receiving his primary education at the Armenian Catholic
Monastery of Zmmar, Lebanon, Saroyan attended the Pontifical Gregorian
University of Rome, and the Kaslik and Saint Joseph pontifical
universities in Lebanon. In 1975, he obtained his doctorate from the
University of Regensburg, Germany, where he was taught by Joseph
Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. The meeting of the doctoral
student and the teacher marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

After being ordained a monk in 1985, Father Saroyan held a number of
academic and administrative posts in Syria and Lebanon before being
appointed pastor of the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church of
Marseilles, France, in 1992. Three years later, Saroyan was appointed
father superior of Rome’s Levonian Seminary, and in 1998 was called to
serve as pastor of the Saint Vartan Church of Detroit. His pastorate
at the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church of Glendale has been
widely praised for ushering in a new era of community cohesion.

Boghos Kupelian: Father, you recently had an audience with Pope
Benedict XVI, at his invitation. What was the reason of your visit to

Father Saroyan: My audience with the Holy Father, which took place at
the Gandolfo Castle, his summer retreat, in September, was merely the
latest of our customary gatherings. In the past 30 years, a unique
relationship has developed between my former university lecturer and
his students. My providential meeting with him at the University of
Regenburg and our subsequent friendship have both sealed and enriched
my pastoral calling. I am also pleased to humbly mention that the Holy
Father is well-acquainted with my family and especially my Armenian
identity. At our most recent audience in Rome, it was moving to see
that, despite his busy schedule, the Pope still creates opportunities
to meet with a "chosen" group of his former students.

BK: What were some of the topics of discussion during the audience?

FS: It’s been a long-held tradition of the Pope to hold annual
meetings with a close circle of alumni to discuss various theological
and ecclesiastical issues. These gatherings are also attended by
various theologians who help shed light on core questions affecting
Christianity in our time. During our latest audience, we discussed the
following subjects: the Christian faith and Islam; creation and
Darwinism; and creation and faith.

BK: Do you think the Pope is sympathetic toward the Armenian people?
What is his stance with regard to the recognition of the Genocide and
Turkey’s possible membership in the European Union?

FS: At our latest meeting, the Pope asked me to convey to our
Armenian faithful his blessings and fatherly love. The Pope has always
held the Armenian nation in the highest regard. He is familiar with
our history and the atrocities committed against us in the past.
Whenever he refers to the Genocide, he uses the Armenian words Mets
Yeghern. By now it is common knowledge that he opposes Turkey’s
admittance into the European Union. He views Turkey as a "foreign
body" thrust into the heart of Europe.

BK: Within the context of ongoing ecumenical councils, what is the
Pope’s opinion regarding a possible union with Orthodox churches, and
the deepening of Rome’s bond with the Armenian Apostolic Church in

FS: As early as in my time as a student, I had noticed in the future
Pope a special respect toward sister orthodox churches, as well as a
wish, based on profound conviction, to see a restoration of unity, in
accordance with Christ’s vision of a sacred, unified church. During
the 2006 synod of Armenian Catholic bishops, the Pope emphatically
expressed his confidence that providence would one day restore
brotherly harmony and complete unity between the Armenian Apostolic
Church and Rome.

BK: What is the Pope’s opinion of the scores of pedophilic priests,
across the United States and elsewhere, whose abhorrent sexual
behavior in recent decades has led to lawsuits and enormous financial
settlements, and this at a time when benevolent church organizations
have difficulty funding urgently needed programs?

FS: Unquestionably, the Holy Father condemns such behavior and is
deeply pained by it. The Pope remains a champion of the highest moral
standards, the intellectual development of priests, and the
strengthening of their spiritual fiber, which together form the best
safeguard against activities unbecoming of the men of the robe.

BK: As for the financial and organizational crises experienced by the
Armenian Catholic Church of Glendale, you recently announced from the
pulpit that they are now largely resolved thanks to the Lord’s help
and the dedication of the executive board. Can you give us details
regarding this development?

FS: As all social structures, the church, too, sometimes faces crises
and goes through economic and organizational hurdles. The Saint
Gregory the Illuminator Church was no exception. Certain ill-guided
decisions taken in the past culminated in a regrettable situation.

Thus the church leadership had the duty to rectify it. We needed time
and the devotion of selfless individuals. My own work involved first
restoring an atmosphere of mutual trust between the church and our
faithful, and then rehabilitate all the human, ecclesiastical,
ceremonial, and regulatory factors that make for a vibrant and
peaceful community atmosphere. At the same time, I tried to find
solutions to our thorny financial problems. Providence and the
self-sacrificing approach of the members of our pastoral and financial
boards helped resolve a number of grave matters.

BK: Can you comment on the false rumors that the Saint Gregory the
Illuminator Church faced foreclosure and being auctioned off?

FS: I am personally unaware of such rumors, but it’s conceivable that
certain entities, being ignorant of the history and fortitude of the
church, would wish for the destruction of our beautiful house of
worship and, furthermore, the disintegration of the Armenian Catholic
community itself. In the long history of our faith, no church
structure has ever gone to the auction block.

BK: Without exception, all church establishments have a tendency to
cover up criminal activities committed by priests. Whereas criminals
in society are subject to prosecution and imprisonment, priests found
committing criminal offenses are routinely forgiven or admonished at
best. How do you explain this double standard? Is it a function of a
decline among priests in terms of their sense of a higher calling? Or
is it due to a more general moral bankruptcy affecting society as a

FS: I completely empathize with you and categorically reject that
double standard. Having said this, I applaud the Catholic correctional
norms whereby various punitive measures and procedures are employed by
bishops to deal with the moral lapses of clergymen fairly and
appropriately, without necessarily allowing such lapses to become

BK: Once, before the Genocide, the Armenian Catholic Church, too,
provided ministration to the people through married pastors. Today I
am fascinated by many of the pastors of the Armenian Apostolic Church,
who, immune to sexual temptation precisely because they’re allowed to
be married and possessing a high degree of spiritual awareness, can
match the best of celibate priests with their devotion and good work.
What is the Armenian Catholic Church’s stance toward marriage for
clergymen, especially considering the dearth of clerical candidates?

FS: Up till the 1911 synod of Bishops, the Armenian Catholic Church
operated in the old system. As we believe that celibacy is first and
foremost a matter of personal conviction and choice, and also
considering the growing shortage of clerical candidates, ten years ago
we once again reinstituted the system of married pastors. Today we
have several married pastors who cater to the spiritual needs of our

BK: The Armenian Apostolic Church entrusts the administration of its
financial matters to laypersons. With regard to the Armenian Catholic
Church, however, anyone so much as suggesting a separation of duties
runs the risk of being ostracized, as evidenced by the reaction of
some of your predecessors. The Armenian public needs to see
transparency and accountability in the administration of the church.
Why doesn’t the Armenian Catholic Church cede some of its powers to
the people, through parish pastoral councils for instance, as decreed
by the Third Vatican Council?

FS: Your question is rather partial and perhaps based on local
experience, which could lead to generalization. Throughout the world,
the Armenian Catholic Church has parishes whose administrative staffs
comprise laypersons. According to our constitution, every parish must
have separate clerical and financial governing bodies, the latter
being comprised of laypersons. We also have various lay associations
and committees that function within the scope of the pastor’s
leadership. Of course there are various mechanisms for improving
collaboration between ecclesiastical and lay bodies. According to the
teachings and constitution of the Armenian Catholic Church, the pastor
is the head of his particular church. Therefore he is entrusted with
the sacredness of the church. He is called to sermonize, guide, and
lead, and ultimate responsibility rests on his shoulders, not those of
a layperson. In this we differ from the Apostolic Church.

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16. Countdown to the Holidays: Christmas is here, pass me the dolma

* In the first of a four-part series, Adrineh Gregorian ponders what
the holidays mean to Armenians

To most Armenian-Americans, the Christmas season is a triple blessing:
they get to celebrate it on December 25, on New Year’s Eve, and again
on January 6 — Armenian Christmas. To the Armenian way of thinking,
the season stands out not only for the opportunity to have yet another
memorable series of gatherings over some hearty dinners, but to do so
with all the trimmings which the holidays call for. It is possibly the
best excuse for extended shopping excursions, the Christmas tree and
decorations, Santa Claus, the exchange of gifts, and the carols that
usher in the New Year.

In many Armenian homes, the Christmas season is also marked by
renewed enthusiasm for expanding the definition of the dinner menu.
The dolma and chicken kabob may still make a legitimate appearance,
but the occasion belongs decidedly to more holiday-specific,
non-Armenian dishes such as honey-roasted ham, turkey, and an evolving
list of comfort foods culled from half a dozen cultures.

For my research into Armenian holiday customs, I didn’t have to look
far. Having grown up in Los Angeles and attended an Armenian school,
I’ve had plenty of exposure to a diversity of compatriots from
Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, Iran, and other countries. Despite sharing a
"ian" or "yan" at the end of their names, their particular customs can
be as multifarious as their countries of origin.

I grew up with a remarkable group of triple-hyphened (e.g.,
Armenian-American-Iranian) girls, who to this day are my closest
friends. Coming from an Armenian-Iranian family, I was a Barskahay
among a sea of Bolsahays, Halebtsis, Baghdadtsis, and Hayastantsis.
Each of us has her own dialect, jargon, cuisine, and methods of
spreading holiday cheer. Some of my friends still find the Barskahay
Christmas cuisine a bit strange. Who can blame them, considering we
swear by a dish called kookoo?

Centuries of migration to the four corners of the globe have allowed
the Armenians to adopt the customs and traditions of host countries.
Hence the Armenian-American phenomenon of celebrating the Christmas
season on three distinct days and eves.

Though most Christians observe Christ’s birth on December 25, the
Armenian Apostolic Church maintains its ancient tradition of
celebrating both the birth (Surb Tznund) and baptism of Christ on
January 6. The day marks the Theophany or Epiphany
(Astvadsahaytnutyun) or the "revelation of God," which remains the
central theme of Armenian Christmas.

On the evening of January 5, many Armenians attend Mass and return
home for a meal with their family. On the sixth the church holds a
special service where parishioners receive communion and the
consecrated bread (nshkhark). This is a far cry from the miles of red
and green ribbon, stuffing, eggnog, lights, stockings, and gingerbread
houses of mainstream American culture.

For Narod Avedian, whose family emigrated from Istanbul, and many
other Armenian-Americans, December 25 is slowly supplanting
traditional Armenian Christmas festivities. "The Armenian tradition is
slowly dying," Avedian says. "And it’s up to us to keep it alive."

Still, an argument can be made for the cross-pollination of
traditions. Today, most Armenian-Americans celebrate Christmas on both
December 25 and January 6, fully honoring the customs associated with
each day. While one preserves our heritage, the other incorporates the
culture of our adopted homeland.

In Armenia, December 25 is just another day. The main events are New
Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (Kaghand), when family and friends get
together, brandy spills over glasses, khash is served copiously, and
resolutions are made (and quickly broken). A most cherished highlight
is the arrival of Kaghand Baba (the Armenian Santa Claus) and the
ensuing singing and exchange of gifts.

As a child, I had no patience to wait an extra week for Kaghand Baba.
Ever since I can remember, Christmas Eve could not come fast enough. I
would poke and pry my way until midnight in hopes of seeing the
elusive Saint Nick. While other kids set aside chocolate-chip cookies
and milk on December 25, I had to make do with gata and chai as I
counted the minutes.

New Year in Armenia is the king of holidays. As such, festivities
begin the week before and extend well into the new year. People
celebrate in the streets, exchange gifts, and homes are open for
guests who flow in and out to spread their merriment.

Arda Jizmejian, whose parents emigrated from Beirut, is familiar with
such customs. Her family would ring in the New Year together and spend
Armenian Christmas visiting with friends and family. In America,
however, it’s become all about the food and testing out new cuisines,
Jizmejian says, though she adds: "Armenians love food, What better
excuse to enjoy food than with family over the holidays?"

My cousin, Adrienne Bradshaw, grew up in Nottingham, England, in a
Catholic family. Her experience combines the rich religious ceremonies
leading up to December 25, New Year’s celebrations, and the typical
Parskahay customs on January 6.

Since she has moved to Los Angeles, the Catholic traditions have
ceded to the Armenian ones. "It used to be all about the food," she
says. "But now January 6 is more heartwarming to me because I
understand the meaning and it’s another opportunity to see the
family." Bradshaw reluctantly adds, "We get two Christmases, but not
twice the gifts."

Though an awareness of the spiritualism of Christmas seems to
increasingly recede from the equation, the holiday season is still a
resounding celebration of the spirit of giving and the pleasures of
receiving. Armenian-Americans, in particular, use the chance to
reflect on their good fortune.

For me, Christmas is all about celebrating good times with great
friends, aunts, uncles, and a plethora of cousins. The presents and my
aunt’s pistachio chocolate-chip cookies aren’t bad either.


17. Minx Restaurant — An exciting menu created by an experienced young chef

by Lucie Davidian

GLENDALE, Calif. — Last year I was cordially invited to the opening
of Minx restaurant in Glendale located in the space formally known as
Rusty Pelican. Walking into the restaurant, I remember I was impressed
by the sleek cool design of the main room and bar, the vivid colors of
fabrics on chairs, as well as the hanging white lights that looked
like they were made out of paper like Japanese origami. I was even
more impressed and excited after carefully inspecting the menu. I
remember thinking finally an impressive menu for a restaurant that is
actually east of the Westside.

Designed by Peg O’Brien who also designed Republic restaurant and
lounge, Minx is the vision of partners Mike Cholakian of Carousel
Restaurant and Ed Minassian owner of E’s Wine Bar in Pasadena. The
menu is the creation of executive chef Joseph Antonishek, who has an
impressive history in many famous kitchens from Manhattan to Los
Angeles; he has worked for many notable chefs such as Wolfgang Puck,
Bobby Flay and Jean George. Chef Antonishek’s menu is a reflection of
the Asian inspired design and is an extension of his experience in
different kinds of world cuisine.

After that first opening night, I returned to Minx a few months later
with a friend for dinner and drinks. It was a Saturday night and the
place was packed. Luckily we had made dinner reservations and were
seated almost immediately.

Our dining experience that night was not as impressive as the first
time; the food didn’t taste as good while the execution of the entrées
fell short. For example, I had ordered the Truffle Fries which in turn
ended up having no hint, essence or even taste of truffles; the Mahi-
Mahi ordered by my friend had been badly overcooked as had the
vegetables accompanying her plate. I left that night disappointed,
more so because I was happy to finally see that Glendale had opened
its doors to good cuisine, however as a chef I also understood that
every kitchen has an off night.

I decided to go back to Minx recently hoping that my experience would
be better than last times and I am happy to say that it definitely
was. This time, I decided that instead of dinner I would go for lunch
which offers a somewhat different menu; I was also happy to meet with
the very charming Chef Antonishek and discuss our experiences in the

After being seated, a bread basket arrived accompanied by a
compartment plate with delicious roasted red bell pepper hummus, olive
oil with balsamic vinegar as well as honey butter. The waiter
immediately greeted me with a lunch and wine menu as he informed me of
specials for that day. The wine menu is extensive, representing a
large variety of different wines and regions. There was a large mix of
wines from California, Australia, and the Burgundy and Bordeaux
regions of France, each ranging between glasses offered at $8-$13 as
well as bottles from $30-$800.

The lunch menu is similar to the dinner menu but on a smaller scale,
offering salads such as an heirloom bean salad with aged sheep’s
cheese and a black pepper vinaigrette; a baby arugula salad with
Japanese pears, walnuts, a mini roquefort grilled cheese sandwich
finished with a yuzu vinaigrette and a variety of other salads. The
menu also includes sandwiches and pastas varying from Kobe beef
burgers, Panko crusted chicken sandwich to vegetarian ravioli or
pumpkin gnocchi.

The entrées include such dishes as a Mexican meatloaf, that is served
with a jalapeno corn bread crumble, refried bean mashed potatoes
topped with spicy red chili sauce. Other items include Australian
Barramundi (fish) with salt roasted mashed potatoes and a horseradish
jus (sauce or gravy). Prices for the salads range from $5-7, the
pastas and sandwiches are between $10-14 while the entrees ranged from

The "Lunch Box," is comprised of your choice of a main dish with the
salad and dessert specials of the day all for reasonably good prices
ranging from $12-17.

Some of the choices included salmon, glazed with a ginger-hoisin
barbecue sauce, baby bok choy and steamed sushi rice; the filet mignon
is crusted with cocoa nibs and hazelnuts, and comes with manchego
(cheese) mashed potatoes and sherry sauce. The Asian influence is
evident with a Sushi Box which comprises of daily sushi inspiration
roll, sashimi with ponzu sauce, a California hand roll as well as a
seaweed salad.

I opted for the proschuitto wrapped Chicken stuffed with truffled
cheese, with olives, spinach and mashed potatoes, I was hoping that
the truffle would come through this time. I chose a Charles Krug
Sauvignon Blanc from Napa ($9 a glass) to accompany my lunch; it had a
nice grassy, herbaceous taste as a lot of Sauvignon Blanc’s do but
without the usual high acidity that the wine is known for.

My plates arrived pretty quickly, and by plates I mean each item was
placed in its own small square plate, four in total with everything
included. The plating was elegant and fun – it reminded me of the
Bento Box used often in Japanese restaurants. Visually it is pleasing
to the eye, each item with its own colors and textures stands out on
its own yet completes one whole plate.

The chicken was a perfect lunch sized portion, it was juicy in the
center thanks to the stuffed cheese, while the crunchy proschiutto
gave it an almost fried chicken like texture. The olives added a nice
touch but unfortunately with my luck again, I missed that truffle
flavor which I so longed for. The red and yellow beet salad looked
like a chess board topped with greens, blue cheese and walnuts; it was
beautifully plated with a rich variety of flavors. The pungent blue
cheese went perfectly with the subtle yet distinct flavor of the beets
while the walnuts and greens gave the salad a wonderful, crunchy
texture. The mashed potatoes were simple and added the starch needed
for the dish without encompassing flavors that would overpower the
salad or chicken. The dessert for the day was a delicious, almost
mousse like orange, chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache at the
bottom topped with orange whip cream and candied orange zest.

My overall experience was a pleasant one, and I was very happy that
Minx’s menu had redeemed itself for me. More so I was happy that it’s
able to showcase the talent of Chef Antonishek, who joined me at my
table at the end of my lunch. He said that his ideas for the menu were
to simply compliment both the theme and décor of the restaurant as
well as incorporating the vast cuisines of the local communities.

When looking at the menu, it is evident that there is an influence of
Asian, Latin and Mediterranean ingredients and flavors. Having worked
at restaurants and hotels mostly on the West Side of Los Angeles, Chef
Antonishek expressed his desire to step over to this side and see what
it can offer him and what he can offer back. I’m glad he did, I hope
Minx is the beginning of young restaurateurs and chefs willing to
bring good cuisine to smaller "un-hip" cities like Glendale.



300 Harvey Drive Glendale, Ca. 91206

818 242-9191

Lunch Monday – Friday 11:30am — 3:30pm
Dinner Monday – Friday 5:30pm — 10:00pm
Friday-Saturday 5:30pm — 11:00pm
Brunch Sunday 10:30am-3:30pm

Price range
Lunch $15-25
Dinner $25-45

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