Armenian Jerusalem
The way to the Armenian compound
                      Katch   Julian Adrian   was   born   on April   28,   1933   in   the Armenian   Quarter   of   the   Old   City   of Jerusalem,   when   I   was   eight.   His   given   name   was   â   ˜Khatchadour”,   which   in   Armenian means   ’cross-given”   or   ’cross-giver,”   but   was   and   is   popularly   called   “Khatcho”:   by   relatives and Armenian   friends.   Our   parents   were Apraham   Kevorkian   and   Elizabeth   Sahakian,   and   our grandparents were Khatchadour Nersessian and Kevork Sahakian respectively.       The   first   time   I   saw   Katch,   as   a   cute   little   baby,   lying   in   a   cot   in   an   alcove,   in   the   living room-bedroom   of   our   parents’   house.   He   was   my   second   brother   since   my   first   brother,   who was given the same name as Katch, died of meningitis at the age of 5. I was then 8.             Much   later,   during   the   Six   Day   1948,   that   room   was   largely   destroyed   by   a   bomb.   When   I went   back   to   Jerusalem   in   the   summer   of   1965   I   found   some   of   his   school   books   together with family photographs, scattered on the ruined room’s floor.             William   Wordsworth’s   famous   line,   ’The   child   is   father   to   the   man,”   well   describes   the personality   he   developed   as   he   was   growing   up   as   a   tall,   handsome   youth;   including   his   easy sociability   and   friendliness;   his   love   of   an   active   life,   including   sports.   Later   in   life   he developed a wry, teasing sense of humor and an amazing rapport even with total strangers.                 Katch    had    his    first    schooling    at    the    St.Tarkmanchats    (’The   Translators”)    parochial elementary   school   founded   by   the   Jerusalem   Armenian   Patriarchate   in   1929.   During   the   six years   of   elementary   school   he   studied   English   and Arabic   in   addition   to   classical   and   modern Armenian,   along   with   the   usual   elementary   classes   in   science,   math   and   history.   As   far   as   I recall, he did quite well in all his classes.             After   graduation   from   elementary   school   Katch   continued   his   studies   at   the   Jerusalem Terra   Sancta   College.   But   before   he   was   able   to   complete   his   secondary   education,   his studies   were   cut   short   by   the   1948 Arab-Israeli   War,   which   first   forced   our   parents   and   him   to take   refuge,   with   the   rest   of   the   Armenian   community   outside   the   monastery   of   St.   James, where they lived for two weeks, sleeping on the altar of the Cathedral of St. James.             Soon   after   that   they   fled   at   night   to Amman,   Jordan.   There   he   continued   his   studies--   but once   again,   one   year   before   graduation,   he   had   to   quit   school,   this   time   due   to   the   family’s financial   straits.   But   he   determinedly   continued   his   studies   on   his   own,   preparing   for   the London University General Entrance Examination (GCE) and remarkably passed it.             In   1951,   a   year   after   my   wife’s   and   my   return   from   a   year’s   teaching   in   Cyprus,   he   and   our parents   came   to   live   with   us   in   Beirut.   He   was   then   eighteen.   From   that   time   until   1956, when   at   the   height   of   the   Suez   Crisis   he   migrated   to   the   United   States   on   a   non-quota Palestinian   refugee   visa,   he   worked   in   the   exchange   section   of   Intra   Bank   of   the   Middle   East. Gradually   he   became   more   introspective,   silently   dreaming   about   his   future,   aspiring   to become a writer.             The   unexciting   work   and   life   in   Beirut   at   the   time   offered   little   to   an   ambitious   young man    like    Katch.    Armed    with    letters    of    recommendation    from    the    bank    President,    he therefore   sought   to   carve   a   future   for   himself   in   the   United   States,   and,   as   I   said,   migrated to   it;   where,   fortuitously,   he   was   hired   by   the   Bank   of   America   in   Manhattan.   Not   satisfied with   his   starter’s   position   in   the   bank,   he   enrolled   in   night   classes   at   Pace   College,   and   after years   of   high   work,   graduated   not   with   one   but   two   Masters’   Degrees:   in   Finance   and   in Banking.   Meanwhile   he   steadily   rose   in   the   ranks   and--   after   some   time   after   returning   from military   service   in   the   US   army   in   Europe,   in   Verdun   Franceâ,he   was   given   the   position   of Assistant Vice President at the Bank.             During   his   army   service,   Katch   likewise   distinguished   himself,   receiving   a   medal   for   his expert   marksmanship,   and,   more   importantly,   by   using   his   professional   skills   to   create   a more   efficient   accounting   system   than   was   in   use   by   the   army   at   the   time,   saving   it   up   to   a hundred   thousand   US   dollars.   In   addition,   he   accompanied   some   of   his   superior   officers   on their   inspection   tours   to   various   army   centers   in   France   and,   I   think,   Germany.   But   most importantly,   he   was   instrumental   in   saving   a   fellow   recruit’s   life   during   military   exercises,   by preventing   a   grenade   from   killing   him.   (In   fact,   his   exceptional   physical   courage   was   evident even   when   he   was   nine   or   ten,   when   he   risked   his   life   trying   to   save   his   brother   from drowning.)             After   some   years   of   serving   as   a   Senior   Vice   President   at   the   Bank   of   America,   he   joined Allied   Banks,   a   consortium   of   sixteen   banks   as   Senior   Vice   President.   Finally,   some   years later   he   moved   to   Bahrain,   Manama,   where   he   built   a   new   bank,   the   Middle   East   Bank   of Bahrain,   from   the   foundations   up.   During   the   ten   years   as   the   bank’s   president,   he   traveled extensively to Europe as a Board Member of a number of major financial institutions.             It   should   be   added   that   during   his   work   in   Bahrain,   he   served   as   the   head   of   the Republican   Party   under   President   Reagan   and   after.   In   recognition   of   his   efforts   a   plaque   in his   name   with   together   with   a   small   American   flag   was   placed   in   the   rotunda   of   the   US Congress building.             To   the   very   end   Katch’s   deep   love   and   caring   for   his   family   and   relatives,   and   his   abiding loyalty   to   his   old   friends,   never   waned.   To   his   many   cousins   he   was   ‘like   a   brother”   as   one cousin   told   me   with   emotion   when   offering   his   condolences   for   Katch’s   passing.   And   Katch’s profound   sadness   and   pain   for   all   the   hardships   and   deprivations   his   parents   suffered   during their lifetime, never left him.                Recently,   during   one   our   phone,   he   said   that   since   our   father   had   died   at   the   age   of seventy   eight,   he   believed   or   thought   that   he   himself   would   not   live   much   longer.   That thought   or   feeling   was   perhaps   due   to   his   poor   physical   condition.   It   may   have   been   a premonition   that   the   end   was   near.   I   tried   to   reassure   him   that   father’s   age   when   he   died had   nothing   to   do   with   the   length   of   his   lifeâ,or   mine,   since   I   already   was   well   past   eighty. But   in   a   way   I   understood   his   worry   or   concern,   particularly   as   he   had   great   admiration   for our   father,   no   doubt   because   he   was   a   self-made   man   who   too   had   triumphed   over   a   hard early   life   and   determinedly,   also   achieved   a   considerable   material   and   social   status.   Indeed, some   of   the   traits   he   inherited   from   our   father   were   quite   evident   in   Katch’s   own   life.   Like father   he   was   physically   and   mentally   tough;   reiterating,   during   the   last   several   difficult months,   that   he   was   a   ‘soldier.”   It   is   not   sheer   coincidence   that   during   the   Great   War   our father too, at a very young age, had also been a soldier.
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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