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
Clarion 1
Jerusalem, 2007
               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.   
The Bible as music: like nothing on earth
               The   men   and   women   who   make   up the      community      of     Armenians      in Jerusalem   are   among   the   most   colorful anywhere in the world.                Though   the   years   have   taken   their remorseless   toll   of   the   greater   part   of the    Armenian    presence,    the    impact these     touchingly     endearing     people have   left   upon   their   progeny   remains vibrantly alive.                A   background   and   history   of   a sizeable    number    of    the    members    of this   cast   of   characters   is   shrouded   in   mystery,   at   least   for   us,   who   only   hold   the memories of their later years.    
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.
The colorful cosmos of Jerusalem’s Armenians
Family tree at 3,400 names
            We   have   now   reached   a   turning   point   in   our   efforts   to   preserve the culture and history of our kaghakatsi entity.        Our   database   currently   boasts   over   3,400   "names",   a   far   cry   from only   300   we   had   when   we   started.   The   number   is   impressive   but   not all   inclusive.   There   are   still   some   families   or   members   of   families missing from the overall mosaic.        In   order   for   our   project   to   really   forge   ahead,   we   need   to   fill   in the   gaps. A   special   expanded   form   (in   2   parts)   has   now   been   created and posted online, to help in refreshing your memory.
            For    the   Armenians    of    Jerusalem,    descendants    of    a    race    of mountainous   warriors,   but   imbued   as   they   have   become   with   the Middle    Eastern    ethic    of    sentimentality,    a    child    is    their    literal treasure on earth.                We   believe   that   our   children   are   the   most   important   component of our existence: we live only for them.       We don't live for ourselves. The children always come first.
The children always come first
The   creators   of   the   website   originally   aimed   at   preserving   the   history, culture   and   traditions   of   a   selected   segment   of   the Armenians   of   Jerusalem,   the "kaghakatsis", are revamping the site.                   Registered   under   the   URL   when   first   launched   a few years ago, the site has now been renamed                   The   change   of   name   reflects   the   decision   of   the   project   administrators   to expand   its   scope   and   enhance   its   content,   a   move   designed   to   encompass   the whole of the Armenians of Jerusalem, and not just the "kaghakatsi" Armenians.
Revamping the website
           The   tiny   community   of   genocide   survivors   and   their   descendants   living   in   the Armenian   Quarter   of   the Old   City   of   Jerusalem,   has   taken   a   bold   and   determined   step   toward   ensuring   that   their   unique   place   in the history of this immortal city, is not irretrievably lost.                With   the   perennially   relentless   threat   of   assimilation   and   attrition   dogging   their   footsteps,   the “kaghakatsis”   –   literally,   city   or   native   dwellers   –   are   caught   up   in   a   brain   drain   that   could,   they   fear, make their decreasing number dwindle even further.      Community leaders voice their fears more bluntly.
Preserving the heritage of Armenian Jerusalem
         The   Dead   Sea   Scrolls:   what   do   they   mean   to   us,   Armenians?   What   is   our   connection   to   the stupendous discovery of these marvels?          Although   the   Armenian   community   had   no   direct   role   in   the   discovery   or   propagation   of   the   Dead Sea   Scrolls,   they   were   a   heartbeat   away   from   the   action   a   lot   of   which   transpired   on   or   very   close   to their   turf.   The   St   Mark   Syriac   onastery   where   the   Scrolls   were   domiciled   for   a   short   time,   is   situated at the periphery of the Armenian Quarter, and abuts homes of residents of the Quarter. Six   decades   ago,   an   illiterate   Arab   Bedouin,   his   thick,   black   moustaches'   bristling   with   excitement, stumbled   upon   a   treasure   trove   in   the   parched   wilderness   of   the   Holy   Land   —   and   helped   inscribe   a new page in the history of religion. Mohammed   el   Dheeb   (the   Wolf)   was   out   chasing   a   stray   goat,   back   in   1944,   but   the   priceless scrolls   he   uncovered,   in   the   limestone   caves   of   Qumran,   near   the   shores   of   the   Dead   Sea,   marked   a turning point in his life-style.
The Armenian connection to the Dead Sea Scrolls
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