August 31, 2017
The nation’s newscasters were at a loss for words—“epic,” “deluge,” “biblical,” “torrent”--nothing seemed to adequately describe the disaster named Hurricane Harvey that was relentlessly pounding parts of Texas for days. More than one hundred thousand homes have been destroyed. The number of deaths is mounting as the full scope of the storm’s effect is coming to light. Without doubt, the recovery will be slow and costly.
By the directive of Archbishop Oshagan, on the next two Sundays (September 3 and September 10) Prelacy parishes will collect donations to help the survivors of the storm. His Eminence has asked that the sermons on those two Sundays make note of the disaster and offer prayers for those who perished, as well as for the thousands who lost their homes and livelihoods and face a long period of unsettled recovery.
The Prelacy will forward all donations received from parishes to a designated agency that is providing immediate relief. Donations may also be sent directly to the Eastern Prelacy, 138 East 39 th Street, New York, New York 10016. Checks should be payable to Armenian Apostolic Church of America, with “Hurricane Harvey” noted in the memo area. Please be as charitable as possible.
Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where on Sunday, September 3 he will deliver the opening prayer and remarks at the 84 th Annual Olympic Games of the Armenian Youth Federation. During his twenty-year tenure as Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, His Eminence has opened the Olympics and addressed the youth every Labor Day weekend. Looking back even further, during the years when he was attending Princeton Theological Seminary for advanced degrees, he served as a counselor at Camp Haiastan. He often speaks fondly of his experiences at the AYF camp and the opportunity it gave him to know, appreciate and understand the community’s younger generations.

At the luncheon, left to right, Sandra Vartanian, Armenian Relief Society; Archbishop Oshagan; Rupen Janbazian, Editor of Armenian Weekly; Charles Aznavour; Zaven Torigian, editor of Hairenik; Taline Daghlian, Armenian Relief Society.
Archbishop Oshagan attended a luncheon at the Carnegie Corporation of New York on Monday, August 28, in honor of Charles Aznavour in celebration of the recent unveiling of a star honoring the legendary French-Armenian singer, musician, and philanthropist on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Mr. Aznavour has received many honor and accolades including Entertainer of the Century, National Order of the Legion of Honor, and National Hero of Armenia, to mention a few.

Bishop Anoushavan delivered the sermon last Sunday at Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
Bishop Anoushavan with Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, pastor of Soorp Khatch Church, Rev. Fr. Sarkis and Yn. Christine Sarkissian from Lebanon; and choir members.
Bible readings for Sunday, September 3, Third Sunday after the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, are: Isaiah 10:12-19; 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:3; Mark 6:30-44.
When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 2:12-13:3)
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. (Mark 6:30-44)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here .
Today, August 31, the Armenian Church commemorates St. John the Forerunner and Job the Righteous. St. John the Forerunner , also known as John the Baptist ( Hovhaness Mkrtich ), is an important figure in the Gospels. He is recognized as the “forerunner” ( Karapet ) to the Messiah. He lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea. At the age of 30 he began to preach against the evils of the times and called for penance and baptism because “the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.”
Job is a good and righteous person who experiences and endures catastrophe after catastrophe. The phrase “the patience of Job” has entered the English lexicon as a popular cliché. The Book of Job is one of the five books classified as the “poetical books” of the Bible. The central theme is the mystery of suffering. Ultimately, Job is rewarded because “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,” and “After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.” (Job, Chapter 42).
Also remembered this week are the following:
The Holy Apostles James and Simon, Saturday, September 2.
Sts. Andrew the Commander and his soldiers, Monday, September 4.
Sts. Abraham and Khoren, Thursday, September 7.

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings  Click Here.

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, presented the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom. Referring to the properties seized from the religious minorities by the Turkish government in previous decades, the report noted that the country failed to return them to the owners. In particular, the report noted that the Armenian Apostolic Church’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia made a second application for expedited review of a lawsuit filed with the Constitutional Court in April 2015 to recover the centuries-old headquarters of the Catholicosate of Sis in the Kozan District of Adana Province. The report noted that according to the lawsuit, the headquarters, now controlled by the Turkish government, was once a center of Armenian Christian life and was wrongly seized in 1915 and should be returned. In June the Constitutional Court rejected the application on procedural grounds. In December the Catholicosate applied to the European Court of Human Rights for the return of the property.

Last week His Holiness Aram I visited the Summer Bible Camp for Youth, which took place in the village of Anjar during August. This new initiative was organized by the Christian Education Department of the Armenian Church of the Holy See of Cilicia. Upon his arrival, His Holiness was received by the youth and welcomed by the head of the department, Bishop Meghrig Parikian, who thanked the Catholicos for encouraging the establishment of the camp. In his message, His Holiness described the retreat as a process of immersion into the rich spiritual tradition of the Armenian Church. He thanked the Mayor of Anjar, the parents, the volunteers, as well as the members of the Armenian Relief Cross for offering the use of their campsite. After reciting psalms and singing hymns they had learned at the camp, the youth planted eight trees; the first seven to honor the seven deceased Catholicoi of the Holy See of Cilicia since the genocide, and the eighth to thank His Holiness Aram I for his pastoral care and spiritual leadership in the Armenian Diaspora.


The crisis in Syria requires our financial assistance.
Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks.





Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
(Memo: Syrian Armenian Relief)

Thank you for your help.
The Istanbul Pogrom (September 6-7, 1955)

Nazi Germany had its state-sponsored Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night”) against its Jewish citizens in 1938, and the Turkish government repeated the feat against its Greek, Armenian, and Jewish citizens less than two decades later, on September 6-7, 1955. The riots were orchestrated by an array of Turkish security organizations, both official and clandestine, with the active participation of extreme nationalist groups shepherded by the governing Democratic Party (1950-1960) and government-controlled trade unions.
The process of Turkification that started at the turn of the twentieth century had entered the economic field after genocide and ethnic cleansing had been executed in 1915-1922, during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. The forcible population exchange between Turkey and Greece (1924) exempted the Greek population of Istanbul. In the Republican period, discriminatory policies against non-Muslim citizens included laws excluding non-Muslims from certain professions, campaigns to impose the Turkish language, the anti-Jewish pogrom in Eastern Thrace (1934), the Wealth Tax of 1942, and the recruitment of army work battalions during World War II. In a report on minorities, the Republican People’s Party (which ruled from 1923-1950) stated in 1946 that its goal was to leave no Greek in Istanbul by the 500 th anniversary of its conquest (1953).‎

Turkish-Greek relations soured after 1953, when Greek Cypriots began their armed struggle for Enosis , the annexation of Cyprus—under British mandate—by Greece. Greece appealed to the United Nations to demand self-determination for Cyprus in 1954, while Great Britain wanted to solve the dispute without taking it to the U.N. Security Council, and leaned on Turkey to counter Greek claims.

An anti-Greek propaganda campaign started in 1955, with the main Turkish newspapers agitating public opinion along nationalist organizations. The British convened a tripartite conference in London with Turkey and Greece (August 29-September 6, 1955), which fell apart when news broke of the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Salonica (Greece), adjacent to the house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born.

The bombing was organized by the Turkish consulate with the ‎knowledge of the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry.‎ Oktay Engin, a university student in Salonica, carried out the explosion. He was arrested on September 18, but after his alibi the initial charge of executing the attack was dropped to incitement. After spending nine months in detention, he escaped to Turkey in September 1956, before the Greek courts sentenced him to three and a half years in prison. He would be later promoted by the Turkish Interior Ministry.‎

News reports of the bombing were first announced by radio in Istanbul in the early afternoon of September 6, and the daily İstanbul Ekspres , associated with the Democratic Party and the National Security Service, repeated them in print. The insinuations that the Greeks were behind the bombing became the trigger for a protest rally on the night of September 6 as cover to gather the rioters, most of who had been trucked into Istanbul in advance. The homes and workplaces of Greeks and other non-Muslim communities had been identified beforehand. Owners of Turkish shops had been told the day before to put Turkish flags on their windows; the shops without flags were destroyed or damaged. According to witnesses, the mob was furnished with a list of ‎addresses. ‎

The riots started in Taksim Square by 5 pm, and rippled out through Beyoğlu (Pera) during the evening, with smashing and looting of non-Muslim property. A correspondent for the French daily France-Soir wrote: “Everything happened as if the agitators had divided one by one the neighborhoods of the minorities, even the streets. I followed the arsonists for hours. When they arrived in front of a store, they asked for the owner. When the latter appeared, they asked: ‘Where’s your passport?’ If the owner of the passport was Greek, or even Armenian or Jewish, the looting started. Through the whole night, I heard from this frenzied mob a word that seemed to have been forgotten for a long time, giaour ” ( giaour “infidel”).

The police was ordered to hold a passive stance and leave the mob to roam the streets freely. The function of the Turkish militia and police was not to protect the lives and properties of the victims, but to preserve adjacent Turkish properties, except in a few cases where police officers prevented criminal activity. The fire brigade, whenever it reached a fire, claimed that it was unable to deal with it. According to a cable to the U.S. Department of State by the American consul general, “the destruction was ‎completely out of hand with no evidence of police or military attempts to control it. I ‎personally witnessed the looting of many shops while the police stood idly by or cheered on ‎the mob.”‎ The riot died down by midnight with the intervention of the army and the declaration of martial law.

On the morning of September 7, a mob overran the İzmir National Park, where an international exhibition was taking place, and burned the Greek pavilion. Next, it completely destroyed the church of Saint Fotini. The homes of the few Greek families and officers were then looted.

After the events, a total of 5,000 people were arrested, some nationalist leaders were taken to court, but nobody was convicted. There was an attempt to implicate Turkish Communists in the riots, which fired back. Attempt by Greece to bring the issue to the U.N. and NATO fizzled due to the lenient attitude of Great Britain and the United States towards Turkey within the context of the Cold War.

Estimations of victims are varied, with a number of 30 to 37 Greeks as most likely. Moreover, 32 Greeks were severely wounded. The mobs beat and injured many people, destroyed and vandalized cemeteries, dragging the dead in the streets. Some 200 Greek women were raped. It was also reported that Greek boys were raped and that a priest was burned alive. Many Greek men, including at least one priest, were ‎exposed to forced circumcision. ‎

The material damage was considerable, including 5,317 properties (4,214 homes, 1,004 businesses, 73 churches, 2 monasteries, 1 synagogue, and 26 schools). According to the Istanbul police, 3,836 Greek (2,572), Armenian (741), and Jewish (523) businesses were destroyed. The American consulate estimated that 88% of the businesses were non-Muslim (59% Greek, 17% Armenian, and 12% Jewish), as well as 92% of the homes (80% Greek, 9% Armenian, and 3% Jewish). ‎

Estimates of the economic cost of the damage varied from the Turkish government's estimate of 69.5 million Turkish liras (equivalent to 24.8 million dollars) to the Greek government's estimate of 500 million dollars. The Turkish government paid 60 million Turkish lira of restitution to those who registered their losses.

The pogrom greatly accelerated the emigration of Greeks and Armenians from Turkey. The Greek population of Istanbul decreased from 65,108 to 49,081 between 1955 and 1960. Overall, the Greek population of Turkey declined from 119,822 persons in 1927 to about 7,000 in 1978, and some 2,500 according to current estimates. 

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web page ( ).

For our readers in the Syracuse, New York area: The Near East Foundation and Syracuse University’s Newhouse Center for Global Engagement and Middle Eastern Studies Program are presenting an exclusive screening of They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief , next Friday, September 8. The screening is in Hergenhan Auditorium, 5:30 to 7:30 pm and is free but registration is required. The documentary, produced by NEF Board Member Shant Mardirossian and award-winning director George Billard, details the unprecedented humanitarian efforts of thousands of Americans who saved a generation of orphans and refugees as a response to the Armenian Genocide. The film teaches us the amazing role ordinary citizens can play in responding to humanitarian crises. A panel discussion will follow. For information: or 315-428-8670.

For our readers in the Washington, DC area: The Near East Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress is presenting the 21 st annual Vardanants Day Armenian Lecture, delivered this year by bestselling author Chris Bohjalian, titled “Echoes of Anatolia: An Armenian American Novelist Discovers his Literary DNA at Mid-life.” The lecture will take place tomorrow, Friday, September 1, 12 noon to 2 pm at The Northeast Pavilion, Room 220 Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, SE, Washington, DC. Free and open to the public. Allow time to clear security. For information: 202-707-5680.

Monday, September 4 is Labor Day, celebrated in the United States and Canada. Always the first Monday in September, Labor Day weekend was created by the labor movement more than a century ago—it became an official federal holiday in 1894. It is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. Through the years it has become known as the unofficial end of summer, just as Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer. It has also become a big shopping weekend, especially for back-to-school sales.

September 9 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, opening of Nareg Armenian School.

September 10 —St. Sarkis Church Annual Picnic, 38-65 234 th Street, Douglaston, New York. Armenian BBQ and desserts; Live Music; Kids Zone and Family Fun. Starts at 1 pm until evening. Information: 718-224-2275.

September 10 —Church Picnic, St. Stephen’s Church of Hartford-New Britain, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain, Connecticut, in church hall and outside lawn. Enjoy good food, music and fellowship. Music by DJ Ara Stepanian . Roast Chicken, Lu-Le Kebab, Hot Dogs, Pilaf, Salad, Dessert Table .

September 10 —St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, Picnic-Festival on the church grounds, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, 12 noon to 5:30 pm. Featuring Armenian music by Leon Janikian (clarinet); John Berberian (Oud); Jason Naroian (dumbeg, vocals); John Arzigian (accordion, vocals). Shish, Losh, Chicken Kebab dinners, pilaf, salad, pita bread. Vegetarian dinners, Armenian pastries. Games and activities for all. Free parking. For information : 978-685-5038.

September 14 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 15th Annual Golf Classic.

September 17 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, opening of Sunday School.

September 23 —Celebratory Concert dedicated to the 26 th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia. Shnorhali Chorus and Hamazkayin Arekag Chorus with special guest appearance by SIBIL, At Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 7:30 pm. Sponsored by ARF Dro Gomideh, AYF Arsen Chapter; ARS Agnouni, Bergen County, Shake, and Spitak chapters of New Jersey, and Hamazkayin and Homenetmen of New Jersey. Admission: $35 and $45. Proceeds will benefit Sts. Vartanantz Church. For tickets: or 201-470-4780.

October 2-6 —Clergy Conference for Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies will take place in Montreal, hosted by the Prelacy of Canada.

October 7 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey presents “The Battle of the Bands.” Dance all night with two bands featuring Onnig Dinkjian and Kevork Artinian. Mezza and Dessert tables. For information and reservations contact: Bea Movsesian 201-445-6867; Lynn Mahlebjian 201-739-6217; Silva Kouyoumdjian 201-779-6744.

October 7-8 —50th Anniversary Weekend, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Saturday evening: “Golden Evening Kef Celebration,” featuring the Vosbikian Band. Sunday, Golden Anniversary Banquet, following the Divine Liturgy. 

October 14 —Armenian Friends of America, Inc., present “Hye Kef 5,” a five hour dance featuring Onnik Dinkjian with John Berberian (Oud); Mal Barsamian (Clarinet); Ara Dinkjian (keyboard); Ron Tutunjian (Dumbeg), at DoubleTree by Hilton, 123 Old River Road, Andover, Massachusetts. Tickets: $55 (before September 1); $65 (after September 1); $50 for students 21 and under. Continuous buffet 7:30 to 9:30 pm; coffee and dessert will follow. Advance tickets only. Proceeds will benefit five Armenian churches. For information: Sharke Der Apkarian 978-808-0598.

October 29—CHANGE OF DATE / SAVE THE DATE . Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, under the auspices and presence of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 10 am. Followed by reception and dinner at The New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York City.

November 3 & 4 —St. Stephen's Church (Watertown, MA) 61st Annual Church Bazaar will take place Friday-Saturday, November 3-4 at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center (47 Nichols Ave, Watertown). Come by with family and friends for delicious chicken, beef, and losh kebab, kufteh and kheyma dinners, mouth watering pastries, and specialty gourmet items. We'll showcase our hand made arts and crafts, the treasure-finding White Elephant table. This is an annual event not to miss. Come reconnect with parishioners, friends and support the future of our Church. Visit our website for information on menus, pastry and gourmet items, and gift shoppe. items!  

November 11 and 12 —Armenian Fest 2017, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Food Festival at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston. Featuring chicken, losh and shish kebabs and kufta dinners. Armenian delicacies, dancing to live music, arts and crafts, flea market, gift baskets, children’s corner, country store, jewelry, hourly raffles. Armenian Dance Group will perform on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. Armenian food and pastry available all day. Saturday from noon to 9 pm; Sunday noon to 7 pm. Free admission and parking. Valet parking available. For information: or 401-831-6399 .

December 5-8 —World General Assembly of the Great House of Cilicia, at the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon.
The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email:

Visit the Catholicosate webpage at