Armenian Jerusalem
nheritors of the JABU tradition
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
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Hagop Zakarian, who passed away recently in Miami, Florida, was one of

the most colorful and memorable members of the Kaghakatsi clan in the

Old City of Jerusalem. He was affectionately referred to as "sab' ul leil"

(Arabic for "tiger of the night") for his indomitable courage and loyalty.

               In   a   newsletter   he   distributed   prior   to   his   death,   he   recalls   the   events   that   led   to   the establishment   of   the   Jerusalem   Armenian   Benevolent   Union   (JABU),   which   subsequently became one of the Old City's most dynamic Armenian community clubs.                It   was   in   the   epochal   year   1929   (when   the   Gulbenkian   library   and the   Sts   Tarkmanchats   parochial   school   were   inaugurated)   that   a   group of   kahgakatsi   community   leaders   came   together   to   lay   the   groundwork for JABU.                Some   20   years   later,   before   the   outbreak   of   the   1948   Arab-Israeli war,   JABU   received   another   shot   in   the   arm   when   a   new   committee   of 9   decided   to   resurrect   and   refurbish   it   after   a   period   of   relative somnolence.                     These    were    Hagop    himself    and    Antranig    Bakerjian,    Kevork Kaplanian,   Ghazaros   Pashaian,   Melkon   Babigian,   Krikor   Mnatzaganian, Apraham   Toumayan   and   Mourad   Mouradian,   all   of   whom   lamentably deceased.                The   "transition"   that   took   place   in   1948   was   aimed   at   blending   "the founders   with   the   new   members   in   order   to   follow   through what our founders were doing," Hagop says in his circular.                   "During   the   transition   a   new   committee   of   nine   members was   elected   and   given   the   responsibility   to   remain   identical to the same work the founders were doing," he adds.                The   nine   included   merchants,   businessmen   and   public servants     and     were     leading     "kaghakatsi"s.     Under     their guidance, the JABU club was ushered into a golden.                However,   the   1967   Six   Day   War   and   relentless   attrition among the "kaghakatsi" ranks saw JABU's glory begin to fade.                Hagop,   who   was   is   still   a   spry   89   when   he   penned   his newsletter,   wanted   the   "agoump"   (club)to   "grow   and   remain as strong as it was in the past."                "This   will   make   everyone   of   us   very   proud   of   our   heritage and   hard   work.   I   am   very   confident   that   the   committee   that is   running   the   'agoump'   right   now   is   very   experienced   and   responsible.   I   will   support   them   in every way I can," he adds.                Despite   the   political   vicissitudes   and   the   wars   and   tribulations,   JABU   continues   to function,   albeit   at   a   more   modest   pace.   The   building   has   received   an   uplift,   a   fitness   centre set    up,    and    the    hall    redecorated.    It    is    in    great    demand    for    christening    and    wedding receptions.                On   its   extensive   stage,   ham   JABU   actors   and   aspiring   lecturers,   regaled   a   whole generation   of   Armenians,   some   of   the   plays   performed   there   quite   ambitious   in   their   daring scope.                A   painting   of   three   Disney   characters,   including   Donald   Duck   and   his   mischievous nephews,   orchestrated   by   another   illustrious   kahgakatsi,   Kevork   ("Kawarek")   Koukeyan   nearly 50 years ago, still adorns one wall.