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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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Sun Sentinel Features Upcoming South Florida Armenian Food Festival

SunSentinel, SDAC Food Festival-2016

This week, Sun Sentinel reporter Marci Shatzman wrote a story about the upcoming Armenian Food Festival at St. David Armenian Church entitled “Kebabs, pastries, music at Armenian food festival.” After many years, the festival has become a staple in the community as the largest Armenian Food Festival in Florida.

The Armenian Food Festival will take place at St. David Armenian Church, 2300 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 on Saturday, March 5th from 10:00am to 10:00 pm, and Sunday, March 6th from 12:00pm to 10:pm.

St. David Armenian Church parishioner Mary Demir told the Sun Sentinel:

“Bourma is like baklava, but the shape is different with more nuts and less dough,” said Demir, of Delray Beach, a church member. “It’s traditional Armenian cooking, and this is how we grew up. Even when we entertain we cook this kind of food.”

None of the food will be frozen, she said, adding “the Easter bread will come right out of the oven and the next day it will be sold.”

Schatzman’s story covered the entire menu and the hard work being done behind the scenes by the festival organizers. The story quotes festival chairwoman Maral Khanjian, parish council chairwoman Marta Batmasian, and Florida Armenians public affairs director Arsine Kaloustian.

The church had more than 3,000 visitors the last time they had a food festival in 2014, Khanjian said.

No doubt, the Florida Armenian community hopes to meet and exceed those numbers by reaching more people than ever. Sharing Armenian culture, history, and food with our neighbors is a great opportunity (and a lot of fun) and we thank Marci for her article.

You can read the entire Sun Sentinel story here, and you can send Marci Shatzman a thank you email here.

Florida Armenians Remember Congressman E. Clay Shaw, Jr.

( Sun Sentinel / File ) U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Fort Lauderdale delegate, 1983 Republican National Convention in an August 29, 1983 official portait. Shaw: 1981-2007 member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 22nd District.

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

Florida Armenians (FLArmenians) mourn the loss of Congressman E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL), who passed away on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 74. A former mayor of Ft. Lauderdale, Shaw began his 26-year tenure in Congress in the 1980 election that saw a wave of Republicans elected to office, most notably President Ronald Reagan. He served in the 22nd District, covering the coastal parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, until 2006 when he lost a tough re-election battle to Democrat Ron Klein.

A friend of Armenia, in the early 1990’s Rep. Shaw was a strong supporter of Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union. He would later cosponsor legislation reaffirming the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide and was a member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, according to the Armenian Assembly of America.

The Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Mann, William E. Gibson and Brittany Wallman echoed Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), who now holds the seat, in their obituary headline rightfully remembering Shaw as ‘a great statesman’ of a bygone era in American politics. “For many years in Congress, Shaw quietly served his constituents behind the scenes and avoided controversy. But as he gained seniority, he became a force on the House Ways and Means Committee and grabbed national attention in 1996 by chairing a subcommittee that drafted a sweeping welfare reform law,” they wrote. I highly recommend reading their column in full, available here.

A memorial service honoring the life of former Congressman E. Clay Shaw, Jr. has been set for Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at 11:30 AM at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, 901 NE Second Street, in Fort Lauderdale.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that a donation in memory of Congressman Shaw be made to the Lung Cancer Alliance, P.O. Box 418372, Boston, MA 02241-8372, or online at www.lungcanceralliance.org.

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