Armenian Jerusalem
“Medz pag”, the St James courtyard
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
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
            It   was   a   great   honor   to   be   part   of the   90th   Anniversary   Celebration   of the   Jerusalem   Armenian   Benevolent Union.    I    spoke    briefly    about    the history     of     the     kaghakatsis,     the Native     Armenian     Community     of Jerusalem.             There   is   no   Christian   History   of Jerusalem   without   the   presence   of Armenians    in    the    Holy    City.    Since the   year   70 AD   with   the   capture   and destruction   of   the   Temple   by   Roman Legions   under   Titus,   the   upper   city   with   Herod's   Palace   was given   to   the   Armenian   Legionnaires.   And   the   main   street   on Mt.   Zion   was   called   after   them   "Ruda   Armeniorum".   Which   is   the   Current   Armenian   Orthodox   Patriarchate   Road   and the   St.   James   Compound   including   the Armenian   Quarter,   which   covers   an   area   of   300   acres   constituting   1/6th   of   the area of the Old City.             Before   and   after   the   conversion   of   the   Armenians   to   Christianity   in   301   AD,   many   Armenian   monks   and   pilgrims came   to   the   Holy   Land   and   established   monasteries   and   shrines   on   the   dominical   sites.   During   the   Arab   conquest   in 636-38 AD   the Armenians   had   70   churches   through-out   the   Holy   Land   and   a   large   community   in   Jerusalem   with   their own   Bishop   (Abraham)   who   had   previously   met   with   the   Prophet   Muhammad   in   Mecca   and   received   a   special protection   and   favors   from   the   Muslims   and   Omar   Ibn   El   Khatab   who   entered   Jerusalem   in   638   AD   and   honored   the promise   of   the   Prophet   and   granted   the Armenians   a   Covenant   (Firman)   as   the   protected   people   under   the   Dhimma and Bishop Abraham became the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem separate from the Greek Patriarchate.             The   Armenian   Community   in   Jerusalem   flourished   during   the   Crusader   Kingdom   from   1099-1187.   Three   Armenian Queens,   the   wives   of   the   Crusader   Kings   in   Jerusalem,   were   pious   benefactors   especially   Queen   Melisende.   She   built several   churches   including   the   famous   St.   Anne   and   the   main   Market   Place   (Souq   El   Attareen)   and   is   buried   in Gethsemane within the Church of St. Mary's Tomb.             According   to   historians   during   the   Crusades   there   were   more   than   one   thousand   Armenian   families   living   in   the Holy   City   and   more   than   500   Armenian   monks   and   priests   constituted   the   St.   James   Brotherhood.   The   civilian Armenians   were   mostly   high   ranking   military   men,   merchants,   builders   and   artisans.   The   present   day   Jerusalemite kaghakatsis (Lay Residents) trace their ancestry to those families.             Through   the   past   centuries,   the   Armenians   of   Jerusalem   have   become   the   guardians   of   the   Holy   places   and protected   the   rights   and   privileges   of   the   Armenian   Church   in   the   Holy   Land.   The   kaghakatsis   had   several   Bishops who   became   Patriarchs   of   Jerusalem,   to   mention   a   couple   of   them, Abraham   of   Jerusalem   from   1180-1191,   Garabed of Jerusalem from 1238-1254. Giragos of Jerusalem from 1846-1850.             The   Armenians   of   Jerusalem   suffered   like   all   the   other   Christian   denominations   during   the   harsh   and   cruel   400 year   rule   of   the   Ottoman   Turks   from   1517-1918.   Bribery   was   rampant   and   the   Sultans   infringed   on   the   rights   and properties    of    the    weaker    Christian    Denominations.    Under    the    heavy    burden    of    taxation    many    churches    were confiscated.   With   the   decline   of   the   Ottomans   many   European   countries   such   as   France,   Britain,   Russia, Austria   and Germany   exerted   pressure   on   the   Turks   and   each   country   started   to   carve   up   lands   and   build   European   style compounds   around   the   city.   It   is   worth   mentioning   that   as   the   Armenian   Patriarch   Gregory   the   Chain   Berar   was touring   the   Armenian   Provinces   and   raising   funds   to   pay   the   debts   and   taxes,   in   1740   a   kaghakatsi   priest,   Hanna Vartabed,   a   capable   administrator   and   politician,      was   able   to   negotiate   with   the   authorities   and   save   many properties of the Armenian Church.             Living   in   Jerusalem   during   the   Ottoman   rule   was   not   easy.   Jerusalem   was   neglected   by   the Turks.   In   1844   the   total population   of   the   city   was   less   than   six   thousand,   of   which   1500   were   Christians,   400   Armenians   and   the   rest   Jews and   Muslims.   Disease   was   rampant   due   to   the   lack   of   fresh   water   and   sanitation.   The   city   gates   closed   at   6:00pm. Those   who   couldn't   get   in   were   left   out   to   the   mercy   of   vagabonds   and   packs   of   vicious   Judean   Hyenas.   Because   of the   Crimean   war   Christian   pilgrimages   were   cut   short   and   poverty   and   despair   fell   on   the   Jerusalemites.   With   the rise   of   the   Arab   Revolt   in   1830's   against   the   Turks   by   Muhammad   Ali   of   Egypt   and   the   Western   powers   intervened   in support   of   the   Sultan   who   obliged   his   Western   friends   by   granting   them   privileges   in   the   Holy   Land.   For   example   in 1859   the   Russian   Emperor   Alexander   the   II   on   18   acres   of   land   outside   the   city   built   the   Russian   compound.   Franz Joseph of Austria built the Hospice on the Via Dolorosa.            The   French,   the   British,   the   Germans   and American   missionaries   built   churches,   hospitals   and   colonies   outside   the walls   of   the   city.   Sir   Moses   Montefiore   in   1860   built   the   windmill   and   the   Jewish   compound   on   the   hill   across   from the   Jaffa   Gate.   This   construction   boom   was   a   blessing   to   the   members   of   the   Armenian   community.   Many   of   the kaghakatsis   were   master   craftsmen,   carpenters,   masons,   blacksmiths,   who   earned   good   money   over   the   years   and saved enough to build homes in the new suburbs and move out of the Old City.             At   the   turn   of   the   20th   century   the   Armenian   community   was   one   of   the   most   dynamic   and   progressive communities    in    Jerusalem.    Kaghakatsis    held    prominent    positions    in    government,    banking,    trade    and    other professions. Here are some examples just to mention a few. Governor's Office: Boghos   Efendi   Zakarian   (Deputy   to   Mutassarrif),   Sahag   Efendi   Nerssessian   (Chief   of   police)   &   Hovaness   Khachadourian (Chief Tax collector). Consular Officers: Hagop   Pascal   (Vice-consul   for   Austria   &   Hungary),   Haroutune   Torossian   (Vice-consul   for   Prussia),   Hagop   Serabyon Mouradian (Consular Agent for the USA) & Simon Frederick Mouradian (Vice-consul for Germany). Banking: Levon   Kevorkian,   Khachadour   Krakerian   (Ottoman   Bank   Managers),   Hagop   Kevorkian,   Apraham   Moukhtarian,   Hovsep Simonian (Banca di Roma), Vahe Zakarian, Hagopos Mergerian & Khachadour Gazmararian (Barclays). Merchants: Megurdich Kaplanian, Garabed Zakarian, Kevork Mergerian, Boghos Mergerian & Hovaness Garabed Gazmararian. Money Changer: Kevork Torossian, Giragos Giragossian & Anton Minassian. Physicians: Vahan Kalbian, Vahan Pascal Mouradian Armenag Khachadourian & Krikor Krikorian (Laboratoire). Pharmacist: Kevork Kaplanian, Hagop Kevorkian & Sarkis Badgerahanian. Photographers: Garabed Kevorkian, Hovaness Krikorian, Yeghia Hagopian, Hovaness Benneian & Sahag Sahagian. Postal Clerks: Artin Torossian (Post Master), Tavit krikorian, Michael Zakarian & Hovhaness Moukhtarian. Artists/Painters: Aram Khachadourian, Hagop Moukhtarian, Hagop Badgerahanian & Khachadour Koukeian (Olive wood carver). Tourist Agencies: Hagop Sarkissian (Cook Travels) & George Garabedian. Carpenters: Kevork    Aghabegian,    Hovaness    Aghajanian,    Hagop    Dickranian,    Apkar    Hovsepian,    Stepan    Negoghossian,    Hagop yeghyaian & Megurdich Minassian. Shoemakers: Boghos Kaplanian, Hagop Krikorian, Tateos Tateossian, Kevork Kaplanian, Hovsep Garabedian & Krikor Mnatzaganian. Tailors: Kapriel   Aghajanian,   Kevork   Terzibashian,   Hagop   and   Apraham   Terzibashian,   Mrs.   Yeghnig   Kankashian,   Miss   Serpouhi Mnatzaganian, Haroutune Babigian & Mrs. Zarouhi Elmezian. Watchmakers: Sarkis Baghdigian Sarkissian & Kevork Sarkissian. Barbers: Minas   Andonian,   Sarkis   Kaplanian,   Hovsep   Kaplanian   (Mazloum),   Artin   Koukeian,   Zakar   Zakarian,   Boghos   Jinivizian, Khachadour Manougian, Soukias Chilingirian, Apraham Sdepanian, Haroutune Benneian & Vart Aghajanian. Blacksmiths: Apraham Aprahamian   (Razouk),   Hagop Aghabegian,   Nigohos   Kevorkian,   Hovaness   Nazigian,   Nazaret   Benneian,   Hagop & Apraham Bedevian. Note:   Certain   identical   names   represent   successive   generations   in   the   same   or   different   professions.   (Regretfully many   more   names   are   left   out)   a   full   list   is   posted   on   the   Armenians   of   Jerusalem   website   [http://armenian- jerusalem.org]. Conclusion:   In   spite   of   the   ongoing   political   crisis   and   turmoil   in   the   Holy   Land,   the   centuries   old   Armenian community   continues   to   hold   on   to   its   traditions   and   contributions   to   the   preservation   of   the   Armenian   Christian Heritage in Jerusalem under the patronage of the Patriarchate of St. James. David Terzibashian (April 29, 2015)
Photo Courtesy
2015 Celebrating  90 years of JABU From strenght to strength From strenght to strength
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