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
         There   was   nothing   on   earth   to   compare   with   the   ineluctable   moment,   of   silence,   of tranquility among the sands of the wilderness. Not a single sound. Not even a heartbeat.       Never   in   his   life   had   the   stranger   from   a   distant   land   felt   such   euphoria.   Never   had   he experienced such a thrill.       In   the   elemental   silence   of   the   parched   hills   around   Jericho,   the   young   artist   from   Russia, Alexei Shtraimishev, was having communion with his own soul.       Suddenly,   without   any   warning,   the   hard-nosed   theatrical   director   from   the   former   Soviet Union   was   engulfed   in   a   maelstrom   of   delectable   strains   of   angelic   music,   cascading   upon   him in   waves,   drowning   him.   There   was   an   instantaneous   uplifting   of   the   soul   as   it   danced   to   the echo    of    the    music.    And then   the   brief   glimpse   into   the   mystery   of   eternity   was over.       Life   would   never   be   the   same   again   for   Alexei,   for having   heard   the   music   of   the   angels,   he   experienced a   dramatic   turnaround   that   he   describe   as   akin   to Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus.       As   he   recalls   his   revelation   among   the   seared, forbidding   Biblical   hills,   the   wiry   new   immigrant's eyes    shine    with    a    gentle    glow.    There    is    no escaping   the   nagging   suspicion   that   this   fellow is     no     more     than     just     another     of     the inestimable   number   of   crackpots   that   infest the   Holy   Land.   But   as   you   listen   to   him   expound his theory, and then put it into practice, your doubts are resolved.       Alexei   is   a   Jew,   but   he   has   had   the   benefit   of   an   early   exposure   to   Armenians,   in   Tbilsi, Georgia   where   he   had   stayed   for   some   time   with   an   Armenian   family.   The   fact   that   his   wife Angela's   father   is   Armenian   (his   name   is   Robert   Karabedian),   has   enhanced   Alexei's   Armenian connection.       Haunted   by   the   memory   of   his   Jericho   experience,   Alexei   decided   to   embark   on   a   spiritual journey   that   would   take   him   to   the   spiritual   wellsprings   of   the   Far   East,   particularly   India, Ceylon and Japan and that would deepen and reinforce the new direction his life had taken.       He   could   not   shake   off   the   conviction   that   he   had   been   given   a   message.   But   for   two   years, its content eluded him - until he returned to Jerusalem, with his wife, to settle down here.       Six   months   after   his   arrival,   he   knew.   And   the   stupendous   discovery   he   had   made   was unveiled   to   a   few   close   supporters,   like   the   fellow   Russian   Jew,   Avraham   Shifrin,   a   leading scholar   and   writer   on   mysticism   and   esoteric   religions,   and   the   Christian   pastor,   Ruth   Heflin. At their prodding, he decided to go public and share his secret with the world.       The   discovery   was   as   simple   as   it   was   earth-shattering:   the   Bible   can   be   read   not   only   as prose but also as a musical score. Alexei's   insight   into   this   revelation   did   not   come   easily.   Frantically,   he   had   set   about   trying   to relive   the   experience,   to   recapture   the   music   he   head   heard,   but   it   was   an   almost   impossible task   since   he   could   not   read   a   musical   score,   nor   had   he   ever   written   or   played   a   note   before. But   driven   by   his   desperate   zeal,   he   finally   decoded   the   mystery   of   the   music   buried   in   the original Hebrew words of the Bible.       He   has   arrived   at   his   discovery   using   a   simple   computation   that   assigns   each   of   the   22   letters of   the   Hebrew   alphabet   its   own   musical   equivalent,   based   an   a   chromatic   scale   of   12-notes which encompasses not only the regular 7-note octave but also 5 other half-notes.       This   week,   Alexei   gave   a   selected   audience   his   alternative   glimpse   into   the   mystery   of creation,   at   the   Dormition Abbey,   the   imposing   Benedictine   cathedral   that   is   the   traditional   site of   the   Virgin's   transition.   The   Abbot,   Father   Nikolaus   Egender,   is   known   in    religious   circles   as one   of   the   most   enlightened   Christian   clerics   in   the   land,   with   a   yen   for   ecumenism.   And   this evening would riot have been possible without his active support.       With   Shifrin's   wife   acting   as   interpreter Alexei   explained   how   he   had   arrived   at   his   discovery, in an effort to make his hearers realize that the "'word'" that was "'in the beginning,"' that is, the
Isaiah Scroll