Armenian Assembly Co-Chairs Meet with Religious Leaders in Jerusalem

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WASHINGTON — Armenian Assembly of America Co-Chair and Massachusetts Council of Churches President Anthony Barsamian travelled to Jerusalem this month, where he met with religious leaders, including the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Nourhan Manougian.

“It was an honor meeting with the Armenian Patriarch and Armenians in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and holding vibrant discussions with the Armenian community in the Holy Land. The Patriarch made a point to welcome us and encourage Armenian Americans to visit the Armenian Quarter and meet with members of this important Armenian community. His Eminence made sure we had the opportunity to pray with our Christian brothers and sisters at Saints James Cathedral and participate in Divine Liturgy at the tomb of Christ, also known to Armenians as the Holy Resurrection Church and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, while having an opportunity to visit the numerous Armenian shops and enjoy Western Armenian culture which continues to exist since the 4th Century,” Barsamian stated.

The participants visited Srpots Tarkmanchatz (Holy Translators) Armenian School within the Armenian Quarter. They were led by Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and Fr. Krikor Sabounjian, a member of the Eastern Diocese Council and pastor of Holy Translators Church in Framingham, Mass. They met the Gulbenkian Library Director and principal of the Tarkmanchatz Armenian School, Very Rev. Norayr Kazazian, who reported the number of students at the school has increased from 90 to 180 in recent years.

“This trip to the Holy Land was inspirational and eye-opening. Jerusalem is one of the important centers for us and we should all make an effort to visit the Holy Land and experience the richness of Armenian life unbroken throughout the centuries,” Barsamian added.

During his visit, Barsamian also met with Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and joined him in prayer at the West Wall, where they both reflected upon the need for peace and justice following the protests in Charlottesville.

AJC Chief Executive Officer David Harris wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, and stated: “What we witnessed in Charlottesville on Friday and Saturday was nothing short of horrifying. It was sickening enough to see people drawn together by the siren songs of white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazism. But however repugnant their views may be, so long as they conducted themselves peacefully, their freedom of speech is protected in our blessed land. But it was abundantly clear that at least some of these racists, anti-Semites, and homophobes came to Charlottesville looking for trouble.”

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The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, recently held high-level meetings with the Israeli Government as relations continue to expand. During his discussion with the Minister of Regional Cooperation of Israel, Tzachi Hanegbi, Nalbandian highlighted the deep historical roots between Armenian and Jewish people, “which create a good basis for the development of inter-state cooperation.” They also discussed holding consultations between the foreign ministries, enhancing their collaboration within international organizations, and increasing inter-parliamentary exchanges, as well as developing mutually beneficial cooperation in culture, science, and education.

“I welcome these encouraging trends in Armenia-Israel relations and extend my appreciation to our friends in the American Jewish community who support this development,” Barsamian said.

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