December 20, 2018


“I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me
 should not remain in the darkness.” (John 12:46)

Read His Holiness’ Christmas message (in Armenian) here .
This Tuesday is December 25—Christmas for most of the Christian world. Originally all of Christendom celebrated Epiphany on January 6. (Epiphany was a combined celebration of the birth, the baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, the First Miracle at the Wedding of Cana, and the visit of the Magi). The gradual change to December 25 began in Rome in the 4 th century to coincide with a pre-Christian holiday. December 25 was officially adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451—a Council the Armenians did not attend and never accepted. To this day the Armenian Church has remained faithful to the original date of January 6. Of course, the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown and both traditions are centuries old. What is important is the spirit and meaning of the celebration. 
Continuing his visit to each church community, Archbishop Anoushavan will travel to Watertown, Massachusetts this weekend where on Sunday, December 23 he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon. The parish will also celebrate the feast day of its namesake, St. Stephen. Morning services will begin at 9:30 am; the Divine Liturgy at 10 am; St. Stephen Pre-Festal Service at noon. A special reception will take place after the services where parishioners can greet and meet His Eminence.

Tomorrow His Eminence will visit the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School and on Saturday he will visit the St. Stephen Saturday Armenian School.

Archbishop Anoushavan with COAF founder, Garo Armen
Archbishop Anoushavan and Vartan Gregorian during the dinner.
His Eminence accompanied by His Excellency Mher Margaryan and community members of the St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Douglaston.
Last Saturday evening Archbishop Anoushavan attended the 15 th annual Holiday Gala of the Children of the Armenia Fund (COAF) that brought together hundreds of people in a sold-out event. COAF is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2003 by Garo Armen, PhD. Its humanitarian work is concentrated in the rural areas of Armenia. The 2018 COAF Humanitarian Award was presented to Vartan Gregorian and his late wife, Claire. The Legacy Award was posthumously awarded to Charles Aznavour.

Archbishop Anoushavan with Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, altar servers, choir members and parishioners of Holy Cross Church.

The Prelate with the Board of Trustees.

The Prelate with Der Gomidas and two new stolebearers, Avo Eleyjian (left) and Garo Minassian.
Continuing his visit to each church community, Archbishop Anoushavan traveled to Troy, New York last weekend where on Sunday he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at Holy Cross Church. His Eminence praised the advances and improvements the parish has accomplished and urged them to continue to work with the same spirit and dedication.
Bible readings for Sunday, December 23, Fifth Sunday of Advent are: Isaiah 40:18-31; Hebrews 4:16-5:10; Luke 18:9-14.

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

About this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 4:16-5:10)


He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”  (Luke 18:9-14)

This Monday (December 24) the Armenian Church commemorates David the Prophet King and the Holy Apostle James the Brother of the Lord.

David was the youngest of eight brothers and was brought up to be a shepherd where he learned courage, tenderness, and caring. David became the second King of Israel. In the Bible, the name David belongs solely to him, which indicates the unique place he had as an ancestor and forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament there are more than 50 references to David, including the title given to Jesus—Son of David. David was a poet and the author of some of the Psalms.

James the Apostle, called “Brother of the Lord,” probably because of his close relationship with Jesus, was granted a special appearance of the Lord after the Resurrection. He is believed to have been a first cousin of the Lord, or as some biblical scholars have suggested, a son of Joseph. After the Resurrection and the Ascension, while the other apostles scattered all over the world, James remained in Jerusalem where he served as the Bishop and became a leading spokesman of the early church.
On Tuesday (December 25) the Armenian Church commemorates St. Stephen, the first deacon and proto-martyr. After Christ’s ascension, the apostles went about spreading the Word. It soon became apparent that more people were needed to serve the growing church community. Seven worthy individuals were called upon to serve the Holy Altar and called “deacons” ( sarkavag ). The most noteworthy of the seven was Stephen, described as a “man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). The Feast of St. Stephen is a popular and important commemoration in the Armenian Church; it is a day to honor all deacons of the church. Stephen became the first martyr of the Church and is therefore called the “proto-martyr.” The only information about his life and death is in the Book of Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6:8 and 8:2).
The Christian Education Department of the Catholicosate of Cilicia is continuing a program of Christmas giving for more than 100 needy families in Lebanon that it started several years ago. A recent letter from Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian, Director of the Christian Education Department, is requesting gifts from the faithful of the Eastern Prelacy to help fund this year’s initiative. Archbishop Anoushavan has assured Hayr Sourp of the Eastern Prelacy’s full support. Many of you will remember that Hayr Zareh served the Prelacy during the time he was pursuing higher education. A $100 donation will provide provisions for a family, as well as New Year gifts for young children, or you may make a donation in any amount you wish. Excerpts from Hayr Zareh’s letter to the Prelacy follows:
             “I greet each of you with Christian love, as the holy apostle wishes us to do. Traditionally, the Christmas season has served as a time for us to share our joy with others through the giving of gifts. With that in mind, the Christian Education Department of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia, during the past years has worked very hard to reach the underprivileged.

               “I wanted to take this opportunity to wish the Armenian Prelacy of the Eastern United States a blessed new year filled with great accomplishments, service, happiness, and all of the Lord’s bountiful blessings. It was with sentiments of deep thankfulness that I received your promise for sponsoring this year’s Christmas project that extends help to more than 100 Armenian families in Lebanon. I am writing to you to express my deep gratitude for your generosity, which will benefit the meaningful work being undertaken by our department... I pray that the blessed light of our Lord’s countenance and the gift of the Holy Spirit fill your hearts and souls always. Thanking you beforehand for your holiday generosity, and wishing you the best during this holy time.” 

Donations for this very worthy project during this Christmas season are very appropriate and will be appreciated. As noted above a $100 donation will provide provisions for a family, or you may donate any amount you wish. Please send your donations to the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39 th Street, New York, NY 10016. Checks should be payable to “Armenian Apostolic Church of America,” with notation in the memo area “Gift for the Needy.” Your donation is tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
Volunteers box food staples for needy families. Volunteers administer this program so all donations are used for the distribution of food and goods.
A seven-part Bible Study on the Book of Revelation concluded last week at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City, a total of about ten and a half hours of class time, The program, cosponsored by the Cathedral and the Eastern Prelacy, was conducted by Archdeacon Shant Kazanjian, the Prelacy’s Director of Christian Education. Over twenty-five people attended each session. Before each class, the participants were treated to a light Armenian style dinner.

At the conclusion of the final session, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of the Cathedral, thanked Deacon Shant for leading the study, everyone for their participation, and Professor Nicholas and Janine Economides for sponsoring the event, and wished everyone a blessed Christmas season.

Barret Glass and Giselle Krikorian, students at the Saturday Armenian School at St. Gregory Church, Granite City, Illinois, recited Moushegh Ishkhan’s poem “Hye Lezoun Dounn eh Hayoun,” (the Armenian language is the home of the Armenian) during the parish’s 64 th anniversary celebration that took place on December 9.

Der Nerses with students, board members and volunteers at the Breakfast with Santa event that raised money for the Haigazian Armenian School.
Breakfast with Santa Claus, an annual Haigazian Armenian School tradition and fundraising event, took place successfully at St. Gregory Church in Philadelphia. The students welcomed Santa with Armenian Christmas songs and dances, as well as recitations of their individual poems. The event raised $1,130, all of which will be used for the School. Der Nerses Manoogian, pastor of St. Gregory Church, and board members of the Haigazian School, thank all who attended, volunteered, donated, and coordinated the event. They also expressed special thanks to the Armenian Relief Society (Artemis and Ani Chapters) for their ongoing support.
The students present the Christmas story and sing traditional Christmas carols.
Providence’s Sts. Vartanantz Church Sunday School had a very special Christmas mission on Sunday, December 9. The afternoon began with a lovely luncheon and pastries. Following lunch, this year, instead of a Christmas Pageant, the Sunday School children, along with their families and the Sunday School staff, decided to share the Christmas message of love and hope in Jesus with the more than 60 residents at Cedar Crest Nursing Home in Cranston, Rhode Island. The students touched the hearts of the residents as they sang traditional Christmas carols and told the story of the birth of Jesus in this special Christmas Mission project. Many of the residents sang along with the children.

After the presentation, the students met every resident and presented each one with a beautiful wrapped necklace depicting the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms. It was heartwarming for the adults to see the young children bring such joy to all the residents. As one person noted, “Not only was this a very touching experience for all of the residents, but for each and every child as well.”
The children present gifts to the residents.
Birth of Yousuf Karsh 
(December 23, 1908)
One of the greatest portrait photographers of the twentieth century, Yousuf Karsh rose from his status of Armenian Genocide survivor to photograph “anyone who was anyone.”

He was born on December 23, 1908, in Mardin, in the province of Diarbekir, to the family of Massih Karsh, a merchant, and Bahai Nakash. The Armenian population of Mardin was mostly Arabic-speaking, and their names were Arabic-looking (Yousuf was the Arabic variant of his Armenian name Hovsep.) In its obituary, The Economist noted that Karsh “thought of himself as an Armenian.”  

After the genocide, Karsh and the surviving family members managed to escape to a refugee camp in Aleppo (1922). He migrated to Canada in 1925: “For the moment, it was enough to find myself safe, the massacres, torture, and heartbreak of Armenia behind me,” he wrote in his last years. He went to live and work in Sherbrooke (Quebec) with his maternal uncle George Nakashian (Nakash), a portrait photographer, who taught photography to him. For three years, from 1928 to 1931, Karsh apprenticed in Boston for John H. Garo, the most prominent Armenian photographer in America at the time.

Back to Canada, Karsh opened his first studio in Ottawa in 1932, where he remained for the next forty years. He married French-born actress Solange Gathier (1902−1961) in 1939. After losing his wife to cancer in 1961, Karsh remarried to Estrellita Maria Nachbar, a medical writer, in 1962.

Karsh specialized in photographing almost exclusively famous people. Asked about this, he replied: “I am working with the world's most remarkable cross-section of people. I do believe it's the minority who make the world go around, not the majority.” His initial success came after capturing the attention of Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who helped him arrange photography sessions with visiting dignitaries.

Such an arrangement in 1941 derived in his iconic photo of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It was taken after a speech on World War II to the Canadian Parliament members. The British politician is particularly noted for his posture and facial expression, which have been compared to the wartime feelings of persistence that prevailed in Great Britain in the face of an all-conquering enemy. The photo, characterized by The Economist as the “most reproduced portrait in the history of photography,” now hangs on the wall of the chamber of the Speaker of the House of Commons in the Canadian Parliament, where it was taken.

During World War II, Karsh photographed political and military leaders, and in the post-war period he began capturing photos of writers, actors, artists, musicians, scientists, and celebrities. Some of his notable portraits included George Bernard Shaw (1943), Dwight Eisenhower (1946), Georgia O’Keeffe (1956), Ernest Hemingway (1957), and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushshev (1963).

Karsh was a visiting professor at Ohio University and at Emerson College in Boston. He earned numerous honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, Ohio University, Tufts University, Syracuse University, Ohio State University, and others. He was awarded the Canada Council Medal in 1965 and the titles of Officer (1967) and Companion (1990) of the Order of Canada. He published around twenty collections of his photographs. The National Archives of Canada acquired his complete collection in 1987, which currently has his 150,000 negatives and a total of 355,000 items.

More than twenty of his photos had been published on the cover of Life magazine by the time he closed his second studio in 1992. He moved to Boston in 1997 with his wife and passed away on July 13, 2002. He was buried in Ottawa.

A bust of Karsh by Canadian-Armenian sculptor Megerditch Tarakdjian was unveiled before Château Laurier, Ottawa, his second studio, on June 9, 2017. It depicts Karsh with his famous camera and was a gift to Canada from Armenia on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 150 th anniversary of Canada. The City of Ottawa awards biannually the Karsh Award, dedicated to Yousuf and his brother Malak Karsh to an established professional artist for outstanding artistic work in a photo-based medium.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s website ( ).
The fighting and bombs have stopped. Now the difficult process of rebuilding has started.
Please continue to keep the Armenian community in Syria in your prayers and pocket books.


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

Thank you for your help.
Everything Started with a Birth
The word “Christmas,” indeed, has Christ in its root. It is actually a shortened form of “Christ’s mass,” which was recorded in its Old ( Crīstesmæsse ) and Middle English ( Cristemasse) forms during the Middle Ages.

Interestingly, the feast was sometimes called by Anglo-Saxons Nātiuiteð, which originated the modern word “Nativity” and had its roots in Latin nātīvitās (“birth”).

Like in Latin, the Armenian word for Christmas is Ծնունդ ( Dzunoond ), meaning “birth”   ( dzenoont ). Etymologically, the words for both languages are related. Nātīvitās combines the word nātīvus (“native”) with the suffix – tas , and nātīvus derives from nāscor (“I am born”), which comes from an earlier form gnāscor . This original form has its roots, indeed, in the Proto-Indo-European language (the mother language for both Armenian and Latin), where we find the root *ǵenh (“to give birth”). This is a very prolific root: it originated the Greek word γεννάω ( gennáō , “to beget,” from which came the English word genealogy) and several words in Latin, like genus (“offspring,” from which came the English genuine) and natio (“nation”), among others.

Also, believe it or not, the same root produced the Armenian word ծին ( dzin ), from which we have the verb ծնիլ ( dzunil “to give birth”) in Modern Armenian and, also, the noun dzunoont. How is that? This is because the Proto-Indo-European becomes ծ ( dz ) in Armenian.

Incidentally, the same word dzenoont is, logically, on the basis of the first biblical book. The title of the Book of Genesis was translated into Classical Armenian as Գիրք Ծննդոց ( Kirk Dzununtots ), because it gave the genealogy ( ծննդաբանութիւն / dzununtapanutiun ) of mankind.

As we see, the root dzin is a prolific one. It was not unexpected that in most recent times it would become a noun: it currently designates the word gene in Armenian.

From the birth of Jesus Christ to the study of genes in the third millennium, the Armenian language finds its way to keep pace with the times.
Previous entries in "Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s website ( ).
The winter solstice arrives tomorrow at 5:23pm (in the Northern Hemisphere), ushering in the official start of winter. This year the solstice coincides with the December full moon. So, if the weather is clear (right now rain is predicted in the New York area) take a look at the moon because the next full moon to peak on the winter solstice won’t be until 2094! Cheer up, spring is only nine weeks away!
The touted “twelve days of Christmas” begins on December 25 and ends on the evening of January 5, known as “Epiphany Eve” and “Twelfth Night.” This period of time is a good time to spread the true meaning of Christmas--love, peace, hope, and goodwill. These are the finest gifts we can give to those close to us and especially for those who are elderly, ill, alone, or mourning the recent loss of a loved one. Our telephone calls or visits will mean more to that person than the most expensive gift from the fanciest store. Merry Christmas.
We would love to know your thoughts about and suggestions for our weekly Crossroads electronic publication, and we have set up a special e-mail address for your comments. Write to us at .
SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

Now through January 13, 2019 —“Armenia!” a large exhibition dedicated to the medieval period of Armenian history and culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The exhibit is the first at the Met dedicated solely to Armenia. Curated by Dr. Helen C. Evans.

December 23 —St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Christmas Sing-Along in the Sanctuary.

December 23 —Annual Ladies Guild Christmas Bake Sale at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Granite City, Illinois.

December 31 —New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance (BYOB) sponsored by Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey to welcome year 2019. Celebration begins at 8 pm, with Champagne celebration at midnight. Entertainment by Jaq Hagopian, Vicken Makoushian and Paul Maksoud. Adults $85; Children 7-15, $35; under 7 free. For more information and reservations contact church office: 201-943-2950. (SOLD OUT)

January 5 —St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, 5 pm, Armenian Christmas Eve Service in Sanctuary; 6 pm, Christmas Eve Family Night in the Hall. RSVP by January 3.

January 6 —St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Ladies Guild Annual Christmas Luncheon after church services. Food, fellowship, and entertainment. RSVP by December 27.

January 16 —St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, dinner 6 pm; Adult Bible Study 6:45 pm.

January 26 —Screening of the Armenian movie, “The Line,” about the Artsakh War, Community Center of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois.

March 17 —Annual Musical Armenia concert sponsored by Eastern Prelacy, 2 pm, at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Watch for details.

May 5 —60 th anniversary of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey. SAVE THE DATE.

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