The Very Reverend Father Aren Jebejian of St. John Armenian Church and Congressional Rep. Brenda Lawrence

Jewish and Armenian Artifacts on Display Jointly at Manoogian Museum

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By Alice Nigoghosian

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum. In honor of this anniversary, as well as 2016 being the year when initial appointments were made to the Michigan Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education to provide guidance in developing an appropriate curriculum to be taught in Michigan schools, the museum embarked on a special exhibit featuring Jewish and Armenian artifacts from the collection of James and Ana Melikian of Scottsdale, Ariz.

More than 200 people from both communities attended a preview of the collection at the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum, hosted by the museum and Chairman Richard Manoogian of the Armenian Apostolic Society.

Mistress of Ceremonies Elizabeth Brazilian (of Child Safe Michigan) introduced Manoogian, who thanked everyone for coming and remembered his parents by stating “how proud they would be of this moment as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Manoogian Museum….” and also recognized “the collaborative efforts of the Jewish and Armenian communities to incorporate the histories of the Genocide and Holocaust in the State of Michigan’s education curriculum.”

Brazilian introduced Keith Pomeroy, chairman of Pomeroy Financial Services and Pomeroy Investment Company, and also a founding member of MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit), to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. Pomeroy thanked Manoogian “for hosting this special event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Museum, and for featuring both Jewish and Armenian artifacts and for including the Jewish community in this celebration.” He also expressed his appreciation to James Melikian for preserving such artifacts.

The Very Rev. Aren Jebejian of St. John Armenian Church, said Brazilian, provided a “warm welcome to our cultural home — or to the ‘Holy Land’ using the words of the late Dyana Kezelian, Lower School Principal of the Manoogian School. With the Church, the Cultural Hall, the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School, the Veterans Building, the Mardigian Library, and the Manoogian Museum all in one complex, it truly is an Armenian ‘Holy Land.'”

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Brazilian introduced Edmond Azadian, a member of the Governor’s Council (also senior adviser to the Manoogian Museum; executive editor of A Legacy of Armenian Treasures and formerly executive assistant to Alex Manoogian). Azadian acknowledged those who were instrumental in the adoption of “Michigan House Bill 4493 – which was adopted by the Michigan legislature and signed into law on June 14, 2016 by Governor Rick Snyder. The bill requiring teaching of the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, and other genocides in Michigan high schools, was spearheaded by State Rep. Klint Kesto.”

He added, “A 15-member council from the Jewish and Armenian communities was appointed by the Governor to research and implement a unified curriculum for educators in the state of Michigan. The Council is headed by Chairperson Lori Talsky who is present today with her husband Alan Zekelman. Corrine Khederian serves as vice chair of the Council.”

 

 

 

Speakers on stage (Left to Right): Richard Manoogian, Keith Pomeroy, the Very Reverend Father Aren Jebejian of St. John Armenian Church, Edmond Azadian, Sylvie Merian, James Melikian
Robert Taubman and Doreen Hermelin

Azadian also mentioned that within the cultural complex, “there is an important resource center for Genocide and Holocaust Studies — it is the Edward and Helen Mardigian Library — built and maintained by the Mardigian family.”

Azadian concluded by stating that “As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Manoogian Museum with an outstanding exhibition featuring Jewish and Armenian artifacts, we also bring together two peoples who have experienced the same historic trauma. Jews and Armenians, as survivors, have come together, working and struggling for a world without genocides.”

Sylvie Merian, a librarian at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (also Editorial Coordinator of A Legacy of Armenian Treasures) was then introduced by Brazilian. Merian read from a “modern colophon — written in the spirit and style of a medieval Armenian colophon….” that she had written especially for this special exhibition catalog: “For the 25th Anniversary of the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum, the museum was renewed and refreshed, and a special exhibition was prepared, through many trials and tribulations. New signs were made, and labels, and a website, and so much more. . . . and from distant Arizona beautiful objects were borrowed for the exhibition and brought to the city of Southfield. . . . During the many months it took to update the museum and prepare the exhibition, many wars took place . . . countless people died . . . all because of greed and ignorance. . . . We also suffered through horrendous natural disasters, such as three dreadful hurricanes innocently named Harvey, Irma, and Maria….Also, oh readers and listeners and visitors, please remember in your heavenward prayers the noble Alex and Marie Manoogian, both of blessed memory, who founded this splendid museum….”

The final speaker was James Melikian, whose family has been long-time friends of Brazilian. Melikian “recalled my visit to the Manoogian Museum several years ago, when I met Richard Manoogian — who is an inspiration in the world of collecting.” Melikian expressed his “appreciation to Richard Manoogian and to all involved in making this exhibition happen, especially Elizabeth Brazilian and Museum Director Lucy Ardash.”

Melikian mentioned that he and his wife, Ana, “have collected over 4,000 artifacts from the world’s major religions — including Armenian, Jewish, Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Zoroastrian — to promote understanding and peace. On display is the First Armenian New Testament printed in Amsterdam, 1668; and a Silver Mounted Torah Case, probably Jerusalem,1923, from the collection of the late Shlomo Moussaieff. And, yes, I continue to collect — whenever there is extra money — thanks to my wife’s financial management, I immediately look for a new artifact to acquire.”

Melikian also collects other sports memorabilia – which includes Mike Tyson’s mink boxing gloves. One of Melikian’s most recent acquisitions includes medals of Austrian-Jewish Pentathlon Champion Gerda Gottlieb. She won five consecutive Gold Medals in Vienna as winner of the 1933-37 National Pentathlon. These are on display in this exhibit. And, someday, the Melikians hope to create a museum.

The James and Ana Melikian Collection is on view at the Manoogian Museum through January 15, 2018 by appointment. For more information, view website: www.manoogianmuseum.org

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