Armenian Jerusalem
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian

A hundred meters from the Syriac convent of St Mark, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were clandestinely

domiciled for a while, Arakel, the patriarch of the Baghsarian clan, and his younger brother Noubar,

had set up home, sharing the same courtyard and the same facilities.

  Arakel   ran   a   small   shop,   a   stall   rather,   barely   more   than   an   elarged   hole   in   the   wall,   where   he   sold   bread   and   "chaman"   (tangy garlic   infused   paste)   and   "basturmah"   (seasoned   beef   either   as   a   slab   or   sliced).   You   ate   one   spread   of   "chaman"   and   you carried the smell of garlic on you for days.          Noubar   had   worked   as   a   driver   for   the   British   Mandate   army,   but   after   they   withdrew   from   Palestine,   he   tried   his   hands   at various   odd   jobs:   a   proud,   unbent   man   who   never   sought   a   handout   despite   the   dire   economic   difficulties   his   family encountered.          Arakel's   passion   was   football,   and   his   favorite   team,   the   Homentmen   whose   exploits   he   followed   with   fanatical   zeal: whenever   one   of   the   players   scored   a   goal,   he   would   plunge   his   hand   into   his   pocket   and   come   out   with   a   sumptuous   reward   - sometimes as much as 5JD (Jordanian dinars), a princely sum in those days.         And   once,   when   the   Homentmen   won   a   Jerusalem   championship   (this   was   in   1947),   he   invited   the   whole   winning   team   to   a picnic (in Ein Karem, site of the home of John the Baptist).          His   younger   son,   the   photographer Avedis,   recalls   that   when   a   good   player   decided   to   "leave   town   due   to   unemployment,   he   [aid his food and losging so he would stay."          "I   used   to   help   him   carry   sacks   of   oranges   and   cases   of   'gazoz'   (fizzy   dinks)   to   the   football   field   for   halftime   refreshments," Avedis remembers.    "He was a very sensitive, emotional man and cried a lot during Armenian gatherings."    Neighbors would say, with a chuckle, that Arakel's tears would flow even when someone would wish him a "good morning."          "After   all,   I   remember   my   father   as   a   loving   person   who   cared   about   his   entire   clan   -   not   only   just   his   own   family,   but   his   brothers and sister as well.          One   of   his   grand-nieces   will   never   forget   the   New Year   eve   he   bestowed   upon   her   a   whole   JD   when   as   she   bent   to   kiss   his   hand   as   a mark of reverence and respect, as was the custom then. Her father only earned 3JD a month.    "His kindness enveloped strangers as well," Avedis adds. "He was modest in helping others and did not look for compliments."
Baghsarian home entracne