As Armenians and Jews around world will gather on April 24th to commemorate Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and Yom HaShoah, which happen to fall on the same day this year, the local Boca Raton Armenian and Jewish communities are happy to announce a joint program of remembrance with a screening of the film ‘Denial’ at Congregation B’nai Isreal, 2200 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 on Sunday, April 23rd at 6:00pm.
Based on the book Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, DENIAL recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s (Academy Award® winner Rachel Weisz) legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (BAFTA nominee Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, in cases of libel, the burden of proof is on the defendant, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team, led by Richard Rampton (Academy Award® nominee Tom Wilkinson), to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred.
The event is FREE and open to the public. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Brief remarks will be delivered by local Armenian and Jewish community leaders. The evening will conclude with a candlelit prayer service.
Please RSVP in advance by clicking on the image below.
About the organizers:
Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc (AGC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to observe and commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915 when the Ottoman Turkish Empire systematically annihilated 1.5 million Armenians through a campaign of ethnic cleansing, as well as raise public awareness of all genocides. AGC is responsible for planning and executing all Armenian Genocide related activities within Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Founded in 1989, Congregation B’Nai Israel is now considered one of the landmark reform congregations in the country. With nearly 1,000 families, a religious school serving over 600 students, and early childhood programs considered one of the finest in the nation, Congregation B’nai Israel, or CBI, is more than just a synagogue. It is a thriving and connected Jewish community, joyfully inspired by tradition and passionately committed to worship, study and repairing the world.
By Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach, FL
I was invited to a genocide commemoration last week. But this was not a commemoration of the Shoah, this was a commemoration (the very first in the United States) of the 100th Year of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
Most of you who read my column know that I have a passion for dance. So when I heard that the program would include a performance by the Sayat Nova Dance Company …well, how could I stay away? But there was another reason that I needed to be there.
On Shabbat, just before the event, I sang a song during my sermon. The lyrics go something like this:
I am bound for the Promised Land …
Oh Lord, I am bound for the Promised Land …
Oh who will come and go with me …
I am bound for the Promised Land …
Who will come and go with me?
Which is it, are we coming or going? The same question was asked by the Sages in regard to what G-d tells Moses about a trip to pharaoh. You see, the Hebrew word, Bo, can mean, “go” or it can mean, “come.” So was G-d telling Moses to “go” to Pharaoh or was He telling him “come to Pharaoh?” If I asked you to go to the store, I would be asking you to go in my stead. But, if I asked you to come … that is what G-d was saying to Moses, “Come with me … I will be with you every step of the way.”
And that is why I felt I had to come to the Armenian Genocide Commemoration. As a Jew, I have a duty to remember the Holocaust and to see to it that it never happens again. The problem is that, before the Holocaust, there was a genocide perpetrated against the Armenians and there have been others since then in places like Darfur and Rwanda. So how could I not be there to remember the horror that happened to my Armenian brothers and sisters?
The dance program took us all on “A Journey Through Time.” The performers weaved the story of the Armenians from ancient days to the Genocide, to their rebirth. With each step the dancers took on stage, I could feel the connection between the Armenian Culture and the Jewish Community. We each went through an amazing religious transformation; each of us had and have those who would like to see us annihilated; and each of us not only miraculously survived an attempt at extermination, but both cultures have found a way to go on. No, each has found a way to do more than that; each has found a way to live, to laugh and to dance.
As I looked around the audience and saw so many children with parents and grandparents, I realized that the Armenians have the same aspirations that we have … to make our progeny knowledgeable of our past, of our traditions, of our culture and to be proud of being who we are. And, with the help of people like Arsine Kaloustian and the AGC (The Armenian Genocide Commemoration), may we be vigilant to speak out against any and all attempts at the Genocide of any people.
To Arsine and to all my Armenian brothers and sisters, we will not forget!
Shalom my friends.
This article originally appeared in the Observer Newspaper on February 5, 2015, and is reposted with the expressed written consent of the author.
By Mercedes Gechidjian
FLArmenians Miami Contributor
BOCA RATON, FL – What does it mean to be an Armenian? What have the Armenian people been through in 3,000 years? How have we flourished as a people and as a nation? These are some of the questions that Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston’s (SNDC) production A Journey Through Time answered during their powerful performance on Saturday, January 24 at Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton.
The event was held in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were brutally tortured and killed by Turkish nationalists. The show took the audience on a magical and heartfelt journey through Armenian history, in which the adoption of Christianity, the genocide, and the creation of a free and independent Armenia were portrayed.
The program was organized into two parts. Part one, consisted of a travel through time, in which the audience met famed Armenian hero’s Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Khor Virab and Vartan Mamigonian in the Battle of Avarayr, among many others. Yet, the most agonizing encounter was with the twenty brides of Adana in 1909, where the audience saw the gruesome execution of twenty, innocent, young women. Part two, on the other hand, celebrated the many cultural and melodic dances of the Armenian culture, including crowd favorites, Kochari* and Nare Nare.* This part of the production showed that, even amid tragedy, Armenians have always managed to stay connected to their roots and the essence of being Armenian; in addition to finding both peace and courage through the art of music and dancing.
According to the definition by SNDC: Kochari- “Is an ancient national, ritual dance symbolizing movements that express the sense of “fighting the battle of life.” Nare Nare- “[is a] festive dance celebrating the spirit, love, and allegiance of Armenians to their homeland.”
This wonderful event would not have been possible without the Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. (AGC) and their efforts to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide in Florida. Their mission is to educate Armenian and non-Armenians in the local community on a very dark time in world history. “I felt proud, relieved, wired,” stated Arsine Kaloustian, the Public Affairs Director of Florida Armenians and Chairman of AGC. “A lot of people and a lot of work went into bringing Sayat Nova to Florida. There were a lot of moving parts to this and to watch it come together so seamlessly was energizing. To know that it was the first official event in the USA that was commemorating the centennial was very emotional for me,” Kaloustian said.
With over 700 tickets sold, Sayat Nova’s A Journey Through Time was a great success for the Armenian community of Florida, and encouraged all of us to help raise awareness and seek justice towards the atrocities that occurred in 1915. As the Armenian proverb states, “If the village stands, it can break a trunk (strength increases unity).”