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Armenian, Jewish Communities Unite to Commemorate Holocaust and Armenian Genocide Together

From left, Robert Silvers, senior rabbi, Congregation B’nai Israel; Arsine Kaloustian, chair, Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc.; and Father Paren Galstyan, pastor of St. David Armenian Apostolic Church, gather to discuss plans for an interfaith Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) commemoration taking place on Sunday, April 23 at B’nai Israel which also will commemorate Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. (MICHAEL LAUGHLIN/JEWISH JOURNAL STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

BOCA RATON, FL – As Armenians and Jews around the world will gather this week to commemorate Yom HaShoah and Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which happen to fall on the same day this year, Congregation B’nai Israel and the Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. have organized a joint program of remembrance with a screening of the critically acclaimed film DENIAL at Congregation B’nai Israel, 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 Armenian and Jewish communities have a shared historical pain. Our religions may be different, but our stories are the same. Families broken apart and slaughtered in campaigns of ethnic cleansing that took millions of lives from us, an uprooting of a people and a way of life, our survival and that we have not only survived but thrived, and a vow to remember and never forget,” commented Arsine Kaloustian, Florida Armenians Editor and Chair of Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. “We also share the vigilance against any denial of these atrocities, which makes the theme of the film so relevant for both communities,” she added.

The commemorative event will be featured in this weeks Sun-Sentinel Jewish Journal.

The program will begin with a catered welcome reception, while a multi-panel presentation on prejudice and genocide created by students from Palm Beach Central High School will be on public display. Local Armenian and Jewish community leaders will then deliver brief remarks and discuss the importance of the film. After the film screening, the evening will conclude with an interfaith candlelit prayer service from local religious leaders.

“We human beings, created in the divine image, have a Godly responsibility to speak out and act against the atrocity of the extermination of any people because of their race, religion, or ethnicity. Too often people are complicit in their silence against those who would deny such a holocaust. The lessons of history must be studied and learned so that we might chart a better course for humanity. It does not do justice to our Godly responsibilities to ignore, deny, or reframe human history,” stated Rabbi Robert A. Silvers of Congregation B’nai Israel.

The event is free and open to the public. Members of the media are also invited to participate. Space is limited and RSVP is required. Please register online at: www.rememberthem.eventbrite.com.

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.

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Florida Atlantic University Conducts First Public Teacher Workshop on the Armenian Genocide in South Florida

Workshop is Part of a Series of Events in South Florida Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor

AG Workshop 1

As part of the South Florida commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will conduct a two-part series of events. On January 20th, Dr. Rosanna Gatens, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education (CHHRE) at FAU and Reverend Fr. Paren Galstyan, Pastor of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Florida, held a workshop at the Alex and Marie Manoogian School. The workshop featured lectures, exhibits, and thought-provoking information and dialogue on the Armenian Genocide. Facilitated by Dr. Mary Johnson, Facing History and Ourselves, the workshop explored the role of World War I in the execution of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Fifteen teachers from Broward and Palm Beach County participated in the FAU workshop. “St. David’s Armenian school was the perfect setting for teachers, not only to learn about the Armenian genocide and how to teach it, but also to begin to understand Armenian identity,” stated Dr. Gatens. “All of us were fascinated by the richness of Armenian culture, but even more by the ancientness of Armenian Christianity,” Dr. Gatens said.

FAU AG Workshop C1

During the workshop instructors examined the exhibit “Witness to the Armenian Genocide: Photographs by the Perpetrators’ German and Austro-Hungarian Allies,” produced by the Armenian National Institute (ANI), the Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA), and the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The ten-poster set includes an introductory page, a detailed timeline, a color-coded map geographically matching the photographs with their location, and seven pages displaying 34 captioned historic photographs. The color-coded map in the exhibit is based on the previously-published ANI map of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkish Empire illustrating the three prevailing aspects of the Genocide: the deportations, the massacres, and the concentration camps.

FAU’s second lecture commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will take place on Sunday, April 19, 2015, as part of the Martin and Edith Stein Community Lecture Series. Dr. Tamar Akçam will discuss his book, “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire.” Dr. Akçam is the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Florida Atlantic University Events Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide:

January 20, 2015

Teacher Workshop: The Role of World War I in the Execution of the Armenian Genocide, facilitated by Dr. Mary Johnson, Facing History and Ourselves, FAU, Boca Raton Campus, 8.30-a.m.3.30 p.m. at St. David’s Armenian Church, Boca Raton. Substitute reimbursements available. April 2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This program is part of local commemoration of the first genocide of the Twentieth Century.

April 19, 2015

Martin and Edith Stein Community Lecture Series: Dr. Tamar Akçam will discuss his book, “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire,” Dr. Akçam is Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. This program is part of south Florida’s commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. FAU, Boca Campus, 7-9 p.m., location TBA.

The ‘Blessed’ Armenian Kitchen

By Robyn and Doug Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributors

Fr. Paren Galstyan

We’ve always thought of our kitchen that way, but now it’s official.

We were joined recently by a small group of family and friends as our home was blessed by our Der Hayr, the Rev. Father Paren Galstyan of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Florida.

The house isn’t new to us but Father Paren is. Originally from Armenia, he recently moved to South Florida from Illinois. He is young, energetic, earnest and has a keen sense of humor that he’s eager to share.

He’s even more eager to share his faith and knowledge, which he demonstrated by doing something I’d never experienced through countless home blessings since childhood: He offered to conduct the entire ceremony in English.

I eagerly accepted the offer. He then conducted a question-and-answer session on the meaning of the traditional Armenian house blessing and stressed the significance of each of the three dishes arrayed before him: bread, representing the body of Christ, and to sustain life; salt to preserve; and water to cleanse.

Of course he was much more eloquent and offered both practical and spiritual meanings behind each symbol. Then he sprinkled the blessed water in each corner of the house.

He cautioned us not to discard anything in the now blessed dishes, so we made good use of the water by making a pot of coffee that we all shared. The bread served quite well in a sandwich a bit later that evening.

Father Paren said the church allows such blessings twice a year if the occupants feel it’s necessary. I think he did such a fine job that we’ll be safe from unholy intrusions at least until the blessed salt runs out.

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