Armenian Jerusalem
Armenian Quarter where he grew up
                           Jirair   Stepanian,   a   man   of   unquestionable   integrity,   humility   and and generosity, passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 27.                He   was   born   in   the   Armenian   Quarter   of   Jerusalem,   a   hundred yards   from   the   Syriac   church   of   St   Mark,   one-time   depository   of   the Dead   Sea   Scrolls,   in   the   compound      known   as   "Dar   el   'Ajayez,"   Home of the Old Ones.                (Like   all   the   other   "compounds,"   or   collection   of   houses   grouped together   with   a   common   courtyard,   in   the   Armenian   Quarter,   the appellation   was   in   no   way   derogatory,   but   a   descriptive   intimation   of the   contents   of   the   compound,   or   the   character   of   the   reigning family patriarch).                As   little   children,   we   used   to   run   riot   in   the   courtyard,   much   to the   chagrin   of   his   mother,   the   daunting   Christina.   I   remember   one time   when   Jirair   suffered   a   fall   and   lost   some   of   his   teeth.   He refused   to   tell   his   parents   about   the   incident   -   an   inclination at   self-negation   and   modesty   that   he   carried   on   into   adult life.                Jirair   was   generous   to   a   fault.   If   someone   borrowed anything   from   him,   Jirair   would   not   seek   repayment.   He   would wait for that person to come back to him by himself.                We   loved   going   to   the   movies   together.   One   of   the   films   we   saw   was      "The   Last Time   I   saw Paris"   starring   Elizabeth   Taylor.   We   were   sitting   in   Jerusalem's   newly   built   Al   Hamra   movie theatre,   and   he   provided   a   crying   shoulder   for   me   as   I   poured   out   my   adolescent   agony   at having been jilted by a girl.                Another   occasional   favorite   pastime   was   the   night   trip   to   Zeferiadis,   the   Greek   tavern, where we had a drink or two, usually sweet wine.                We   also   spent   many   an   afternoon   lounging   outside   the   Singer   Sewing   shop   in   the   Christian Quarter   where   he   worked.   We   would   lean   against   the   wall   and   watch   the   passing   crowd, with an eye out for the girls. But neither of us had the temerity to accost any of them!               Along   with   my   cousin   David   Kaplanian,   we   formed   a   close-knit   Kaghakatsi   triumvirate.   We were    active    members    of    the    Boy    Scout    movement    and    that    provided    us    with    ample opportunities to participate in thrilling adventures.                Sedate   and   gifted   with   an   enduring   sense   of   humor,   Jirair   never   seemed   to   lose   his temper: all the years I had known him, I never heard him raise his voice.                Jirair   leaves   behind   his   wife   of   45   years,   Shakeh,   daughter   Sonia,   his   son   Raffi,   his grandchildren   Ari,    Tivine    and   Alec,    his    brothers    Torkom,    Kevork    and    Haigaz,    his    sister Arousiag and his nephews and nieces.      All of whom this gentle, kindly man, doted upon.
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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