October 11, 2018

For some time we have been contemplating launching a Crossroads edition in Armenian. There were pros and cons as to whether both languages should be included in one edition or have separate English and Armenian editions (with the same basic content). We decided to plunge ahead with our experiment this week, because Saturday is the Feast of the Holy Translators. Armenian has been in existence much longer than many European languages, and while many of its contemporary ancient languages have long since died, Armenian continues to function as a vital medium of national expression wherever Armenians are found on the face of the earth.

This week you will be receiving the regular English edition of Crossroads and an Armenian edition. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

Continuing his schedule of visits to the parishes within the Eastern Prelacy, His Grace Bishop Anoushavan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts this Sunday, October 14.

Bishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Bedros Shetilian with parishioners of St. Gregory Church.
Last Sunday Bishop Anoushavan celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at St. Gregory Church of Springfield and Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. 

Bishop Anoushavan will deliver the invocation at the 12 th Annual Gala & Awards Program of the Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region, this Saturday, October 13, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. Recipients of the ANCA Freedom Award are Dr. Eric Esrailian, the Producer of “The Promise,” and Terry George, the screenwriter and director of “The Promise.” Ken Sarajian, a leader and activist in the Armenian American community will be honored with the Vahan Cardashian Award.

On Sunday, December 2, the recent election of Bishop Anoushavan as Prelate will be celebrated. The Religious and Executive Councils of the Prelacy are pleased to invite the faithful to attend the morning Liturgy and the afternoon banquet.

His Grace will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City, on Sunday, December 2. The Liturgy will begin at 10 am. The banquet will take place at the Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows, New York. The reception will begin at 2:30 pm, followed by dinner and program at 3:30 pm.

For reservation or information contact the Prelacy by email ( email@armenianprelacy.org ) or by telephone (212-689-7810).

Last Sunday an ordination took place in Lebanon’s Sts. Vartanantz Church that has significance for the Eastern Prelacy. His Grace Bishop Meghrig Parikian ordained Deacon Sarkis Ajemian into the ranks of the married clergy, re-naming him Der Samuel. The ceremony of calling took place the day before.
Der Samuel has now started the required forty-day retreat of prayer and meditation. At the conclusion of this period, Der Hayr will celebrate his first Holy Liturgy and then will serve within the Diocese of Lebanon for a short period of time. Thereafter Der Samuel will travel to the United States to serve the Eastern Prelacy. Godspeed Der Samuel.
Yesterday, October 10, Bishop Anoushavan visited Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Mher Margaryan. The Ambassador had recently visited the Prelacy office to offer congratulations to Bishop Anoushavan on his election. Also present was an advisor to the Ambassador, Mikayel Saroukhanyan. They discussed questions relevant to Armenia and the Diaspora.

One of the important publications on contemporary Armenian issues this year is Secret Nation: The Hidden Armenians of Turkey , by Avedis Hadjian, released by I. B. Tauris a few months ago. The widely reviewed book, characterized in the Times Literary Supplement as “intrepid, eccentric and grimly fascinating,” is the result of a painstaking investigation that took the author, a freelance journalist, to seek the traces of Islamized Armenians throughout towns and villages of Anatolia and Western Armenia, record stories of survival and discovery, and condense his findings into an absorbing account.

Avedis Hadjian will present Secret Nation at the Armenian Prelacy on October 31, at 7:00 pm. The author is a name familiar to New York Armenians, as he lived here a few years ago before relocating to Venice (Italy), and was also active in the community. He has worked for CNN and Bloomberg News, among others, and his writing in English and Spanish has appeared in major international news outlets. His work as a correspondent has taken him to Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, the Caucasus, Turkey, and Latin America.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. For more information and to RSVP for the event, please call 212-689-7810 or write to email@armenianprelacy.org. 

Bible readings for Sunday, October 15, Fifth Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross are, Isaiah 19:1-11; Galatians 2:1-10; Mark 12:35-44.

While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’

David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:35-44)


Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us—we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do. (Galatians 2:1-10)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

This Saturday, October 13, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Holy Translators, one of the most beloved feasts. There are, in fact, two such commemorations in our liturgical calendar. One is on the Thursday following the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, which can occur in June or July; the other is on the second Saturday of October.

The October commemoration focuses on the creation of the Armenian alphabet (406) and on the accomplishments of the Holy Translators. Mesrob Mashdots, the founder of the alphabet, and Catholicos Sahag, together with some of their students, translated the Bible. Schools were opened and the works of world-renowned scholars were translated. Their work gave the Armenian Church a distinct national identity.
In modern times the entire month of October has been designated as a “Month of Culture,” thanks to His Holiness Karekin I Hovsepian, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia from 1943 to 1952. Armenians throughout the Diaspora and Armenia mark this with cultural events not only in remembrance of the past, but in celebration of modern-day scholars, theologians, writers, and translators.

Specifically remembered this Saturday along with Mesrob and Sahag , are: Yeghishe, a renowned student of Sahag and Mesrob, who served as secretary to Vartan Mamigonian and who wrote the great history of the Vartanantz wars; Movses of Khoren , another student of Sahag and Mesrob, who is revered as the father of Armenian history; David the Invincible , a student of Movses, who received most of his education in Athens, where he was given the title “Invincible” because of his brilliance in philosophy; Gregory of Narek , who is considered the greatest poet of the Armenian nation and its first and greatest mystic; and Nerses Shnorhali , a great writer, musician, theologian, and ecumenist.

With the creation of the Armenian alphabet and the translations that followed, this group of scholars transformed the course of Armenian history forever. It is an affirmation of the popular aphorism, “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword.”

The holy translators, like stewards, were interpreters of the divine Scriptures by inventing letters by means of which are preserved on earth as living words for the shepherd flock of the New Israel, praise God with a sweet sounding hymn. They looked on the greatness of earthly glory as on darkness and having put their hope in the immortal bridegroom they were made worthy of the kingdom of heaven; praise God with a sweet-sounding song. By the power of the Father’s wisdom the uncreated existing One by means of their translation they made firm the throne of Saint Gregory, praise God with a sweet-sounding song. Saint Sahag having dressed in the new word, the holy scriptures, adorned the Armenian churches, praise God with a sweet-sounding song.

(Canon to the Holy Translators, from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

“After translating the book of Proverbs, Mesrop and his students began the translation of the New Testament. Translating the bible into any language is an enormous amount of work. It is especially daunting given the absence of any Armenian literature prior to the Bible. Contrast this with the translation of the Bible into English. The most famous English translation is the King James Version, completed in 1611. The earliest English Bible was produced by John Wycliffe in 1382. But even before Wycliffe, there was a tradition of writing in English from which Wycliffe and subsequent translators could draw familiar expressions and phrases. The Armenian Bible, however, is the first work of Armenian literature. In translating the Bible, Sahak and Mesrop and their disciples did more than just a translation. They in essence created a new written language that would be a source and inspiration for all of the Armenian literature that would follow.”

( Light from Light: An Introduction to the History and Theology of the Armenian Church ,” by Michael B. Papazian)

Also remembered this week:
October 15: Saints Tatool, Varos, Thomas, Anthony, Kronites the hermits and the seven Khodajarags.
October 16: The Holy Apostles Ananias, Matthias, Barnabas, Philip, John, Silac, and Silvanus.
October 18: Saint Dionysius the Areopagite and Holy Apostles Timothy and Titus.

Sunday school students prepared notes offering congratulations to Bishop Anoushavan.
St. Illuminator Cathedral’s Sunday school students last Sunday wrote cards in Armenian and English to congratulate Bishop Anoushavan on his election as Prelate. The students presented the cards to His Grace in a keepsake box with a khatch needlepoint on the cover. The students prayed for peace, success, and good health for Bishop Anoushavan.

Twelve couples attended “Enriching Your Marriage” workshop which began this past Monday evening at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York. Presented by Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, the course was designed to provide clinical and spiritual guidance for a successful marriage as well as the dynamics of an emotionally intelligent relationship. The couples spanned a broad range, from newlyweds to those who have been married for 50 years.
Der Nareg presented a list of 17 insightful questions for the couples to take home and discuss with their partner to help foster open, real dialogue. Some of the questions focused on life changes, support and roles in a marriage. Der Nareg encouraged the attendees to learn about their partner through real conversations. Special emphasis was put on the importance of being each other’s best friend. This was the first of five sessions which will take place over five consecutive Monday nights at the church. Week one began by looking at the relationship with each other. Subsequent weeks will focus on connecting, compatibility, communication, and commitment. Following the presentation, guests participated in a question-answer session, and then took part in fellowship. (Reported by Mrs. Lara Milian)

Death of Avetik Isahakian 
(October 17, 1957)
Avetik Isahakian was and remains a popular name in Armenian literature, particularly for the folkloric style of his poetry. Many of his poems have become songs.

He was born in Alexandropol (nowadays Gumri) on October 30, 1875. He spent his childhood and adolescence in the surrounding village of Ghazarapat, now called Isahakian after him. He studied at the Kevorkian Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin, and from 1893-1895 he was an auditor at the University of Lepzig, in Germany.

He started writing in his youth years, while he also delved into political activities. He returned to Alexandropol in 1895 and became a member of the local committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. He was arrested by the Russian police in 1896 and spent a year imprisoned in the fortress of Yerevan.

He left the country after coming out of prison. In 1897 he went to the University of Zurich as auditor of history of literature and philosophy. A year later, he published his first book of poetry, Songs and Wounds. In 1902 he came back to the homeland and then settled in Tiflis. He published a second book of poetry, Poems, in 1903, followed by an enlarged edition of Songs and Wounds in 1908.

In 1908 the Russian government launched a repressive campaign against the revolutionary movements throughout the empire. Isahakian was among the 158 intellectuals arrested in the “A.R.F. case” and, after remaining for half year in the prison of Metekh, in Tiflis, he was liberated with a huge bail. The atmosphere was irrespirable and perhaps was one of the reasons besides the writing of the long poem Abu-Lala Mahari from 1909-1910. In 1910 the poet married Sofia Kocharian in the ruins of Ani. They moved first to Constantinople, where he published the poem in 1911, and then to Europe with their newly-born son, Vigen.

They settled in Berlin, where Isahakian would become one of the founders of the German-Armenian Society in 1914 together with a group of Armenian and German intellectuals. In 1916 the Isahakians moved to Geneva. The poet would actively follow the Armenian cause and reflect it in his writing, journal notes, and articles. He started writing a novel, Usta Garo, where he intended to present Armenian political life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which remained unfinished despite working on it for many years. He published two collections of poems in 1920 and 1922, as well as the first version of his poem Mher of Sassoon, based on the final cycle of the Armenian epic.

Isahakian moved to Paris in 1924 and, after fifteen years in exile, he visited Soviet Armenia in 1926 and remained there for four years. He returned to Europe in 1930 and lived in the French capital for the next six years, where he was an activist on behalf of Soviet Armenia until 1936. In this year, he returned definitively to the homeland with his family.

In Armenia, where he was familiarly known as varpet (“master”), a title that he only shared with painter Martiros Sarian, Isahakian was the dean of Armenian literature in the hard times of Stalinist repression. He continued writing and publishing. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia in 1943. He earned the State Prize of the USSR in 1946, and in this same year he was appointed president of the Writers Union of Armenia, a position he held until his death on October 17, 1957 in Yerevan.

Avetik Isahakian was buried in the “Komitas” Pantheon of Yerevan. His house-museum in Yerevan was opened in 1963 and another was later opened in Gumri. There are statues of him in both cities, as well as schools, streets, and libraries carrying his name in different towns of Armenia.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s website ( www.armenianprelacy.org ).

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The Mysteries of the Eggplant

We are all familiar with eggplants, but not so much with the fact that their name actually has something to do with eggs. The word “eggplant” was born in the eighteenth century from the association with goose eggs.

However, that’s American English. In British English, the word “aubergine” is used, which, of course, sounds French. The exact same French word ( aubergine ) actually came from Catalan, which designates the eggplant with the word albergínia. As a matter of fact, most Spanish and Catalan cultural words starting with al-, like Spanish alcohol, algodón (cotton), almohada (pillow) , or albaricoque (apricot), show their Arabic origin (the al particle being the English “the”). Not to be surprised then, that albergínia comes from Arabic al-barangan, one of the many variants of the standard form al-badinjan.

As it happened with many Near Eastern or Eastern Asian cultural items, Arabs happened to be their carriers from East to West. This is how the word al-badinjan , together with the eggplant, was derived from Farsi badenjân- էն, which at its turn came from Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language.

Now, if you are a standard Western Armenian speaker, especially, but not only from the Middle East, you will find yourself in familiar territory. You will say that the Arabic and the “Armenian” words for eggplant are the same: պատընճան ( badunjan ). Unfortunately, this is only a fact in your imagination. That’s why “Armenian” appears in quotation marks. The fact that the abovementioned word is used in colloquial language does not make it more Armenian that the Turkish word daha, also commonly used in oral language instead of the Armenian word տակաւին ( dagaveen “still”).

The renowned linguist Hrachia Ajarian noted in his Armenian etymological dictionary that the word for eggplant should have a foreign origin like the plant. One may assume that, like in the Spanish case, Arabs also introduced eggplants to Armenia, perhaps even before.  

Now, the Armenian designation for eggplant is սմբուկ ( sumpoog ). Ajarian’s hypothesis was that its source was the Classical Arabic word anab, which means “eggplant.” The word may have entered Armenian as amboog. Later, an unknown copyist of a manuscript confused the ա ( a ) with a ս ( s ), and a word was born: sumpoog.

In the end, if you still doubt about adopting the actual Armenian word, perhaps you will be convinced by the law of less effort: badunjan has three syllables, while sumpoog has two.

Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s website ( www.armenianprelacy.org ).
SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org 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.

October 13 —Annual Armenian Bazaar by St. Gregory Church, 135 Goodwin Street, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, 11 am to 6 pm. Visitors are invited to enjoy many favorite Armenian dinners including shish kebab and rice pilaf. Both traditional Armenian and American baked goods, such as paklava and spinach-cheese pie. Take out will be available by calling ahead (413-543-4763). Admission and parking are free. For more information contact the church office (413-543-4763).

October 20 —Armenian Friends America, Inc., Sixth Annual HYE KEF 5, featuring Onnik Dinkjian, John Berberian, Ara Dinkjian, Mal Barsamian, and Jason Naroian. Double Tree Hotel, Andover, Massachusetts. For information: www.ArmenianFriendsofAmerica.org .

October 25 through December 13 (Thursdays) —Seven-part Bible Study on The Book of Revelation, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City, presented by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Director of Christian Education (Eastern Prelacy). For information please contact the church office by email ( office@stilluminators.org or telephone  (212) 689-5880.

October 28 —80 th anniversary of St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin; Episcopal Divine Liturgy at 10 am, celebrated by His Grace Bishop Anoushavan, Prelate; assisted by Archpriest Daron Stepanian. Reception and Gala Banquet at 1 pm (following Badarak); cocktails at 1:30 pm; Dinner at Meadowbrook Country Club, 2149 North Green Bay Road, Racine. Adults $30; children under 10, $15.

October 31 —Book presentation at the Prelacy. “Secret Nation: The Hidden Armenians of Turkey,” by Avedis Hadjian, 7 pm at the Prelacy office, 138 East 39 th Street, New York City. The author will present the book. Copies will be available for purchase. RSVP at email@armenianprelacy.org or telephone 212-689-7810.

November 2 and 3 —Annual Bazaar and Food Festival, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Delicious dinners to eat-in or take-out, an array of Armenian delicacies and pastries, vendors, music/entertainment Saturday evening.

November 2 and 3 —St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachussetts, presents the 62 nd installment of its annual bazaar at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center (ACEC) in Watertown. Come by with family and friends for delicious chicken, beef, and losh kebab, kufteh and kheyma dinners, delicious pastries, and specialty gourmet items. Also featuring, handmade arts and crafts, the treasure-finding White Elephant table, and popular auction items. All welcome.

November 4 —The Anthropology/Armenian Museum partnering with the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) will present the films “The Promise” at 2 pm, and “Intent to Destroy” at 5 pm. Joe Berlinger, Director of “Intent to Destroy” will be the speaker at the Q&A. Tickets to view both films are $15 per person. Access to visit the exhibits at MOMI is included. To order tickets call 718-428-5650.

November 10 —Exploring the Nicene Creed ( Havadamk ), a 3-hour seminar at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. Speaker: Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Director of Christian Education (Eastern Prelacy). For information, contact the church office by email ( stgregorymass@yahoo.com or by telephone (413) 543-4763.

November 10 and 11 —Armenian Fest 2018, Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Food Festival at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston, Rhode Island. 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. Hamazkayin Artsakh Dance Group will perform on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. Armenian food and delicious Armenian pastries available all day. Saturday from noon to 9 pm; Sunday noon to 7 pm. Free admission and parking. Valet parking available. For information: www.armenianfestri/food.com or 401-831-6399.

December 2 —Banquet in honor of His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, newly-elected Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy at Terrace on the Park. SAVE THE DATE.

December 9 —“What’s in a Name? The Etymology of Armenian Surnames,” a lecture by writer and editor C. K. Garabed, 1 pm in Pashalian Hall at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City, sponsored by Hamazkayin Armenian Educational & Cultural Society—Regional Executive and St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. Light refreshments; free admission.

May 2, 2019 —60 th anniversary of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey. SAVE THE DATE.

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