Jewish and Armenian Communities Come Together to Commemorate the Genocide

LOS ANGELES–In an historic demonstration of support by a Jewish organization, Jewish World Watch is hosting two events in April and one in May to commemorate the Armenian Holocaust. The goal of the events is to bring the two communities together in recognition of their mutual experience of genocide and in doing so have the Jewish community acknowledge and commemorate the heretofore unacknowledged genocide of the Armenian people in 1915. Humanity is subject to genocide and amnesia is dangerous, said Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, Founder, Jewish World Watch. If you forget or deny the first genocide of the 20th Century, you waste the experience of the past. Our experience with the Jewish Holocaust makes it a matter of conscience for the Jewish people to respond and recognize the grief and anguish of others. It is incumbent upon us to stand up and recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915. On Friday, April 27, the Jewish and Armenian communities will experience an historic event as the two communities come together to observe the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide with a Shabbat Dinner at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue. This will be the first time the Armenian and Jewish communities have blended their two cultures to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The guest of honor will be His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, Western Diocese/Armenian Church of North America. The evening will commence with a meal of Kosher Armenian food and end with musical offerings from Mark Kashper, Associate Principal, L.A. Philharmonic and Concertmaster, the L.A. Jewish Symphony, and the St. Peter Armenian Church and Valley Beth Shalom Choirs. (For information, please call 818-788-6000) His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian commented, Commemorating the 92nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in collaboration with the American-Jewish Community is not only a tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide but also to the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, the two communities who have witnessed man’s inhumanity towards humanity. During the commemoration event on April 27th, together we will pray, remember, and share our experiences. We will pray for the departed souls of the victims and hope that our collective prayers will awaken those who have not yet taken the courage to acknowledge the historic truth of the first Genocide of the 20th century. On May 15, Jewish World Watch will give out its first annual I Witness Award to honor representatives from communities that have been victims of genocides in the 20th Century and who, as individuals, have played a role in educating the world about the genocide. In keeping with its commitment to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide, Jewish World Watch will present the first award to documentary filmmaker Dr. J. Michael Hagopian, Ph.D. and Armenian historian, Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian, Ph.D., Professor, Armenian and Near Eastern History, UCLA. Both of the honorees have devoted their professional lives to chronicling the history of the Armenian people and are widely considered to be among the foremost authorities on the Armenian Genocide. The event will take place at Adat Ari El Synagogue, with the attendance of His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. We as a community know only too well the consequence of silence in the face of genocide, said Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Co-Founder, Jewish World Watch. We have chosen to honor Dr. Hagopian and Dr. Hovannisian because both men have dedicated their lives to keeping alive the memory of those who have suffered unspeakable horrors and in doing so are attempting to keep the world from forgetting and repeating. Both of these events will be preceded by the screening on Monday, April 23 of Voices From the Lake, the first film in the Witnesses Trilogy on the Armenian Genocide by Dr. Hagopian. The film tells of the tragedy that befell the Armenian citizens of Kharpert at the hands of the Turks in 1915. Dr. Hagopian will be present to discuss his film and the work of the Armenian Film Foundation, which he heads and whose goal is to document the Armenian history and culture and instill pride in Armenian youth worldwide. (For information, please call 818-530-4088.) Dr. Hagopian expressed his appreciation for the support of Jewish World Watch, The first major genocide of the 20th Century, the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Turks between 1915-1923 was followed by a span of a mere 12 years by the most cataclysmic event in the history of the Jewish people. The historical record indicates that had the world confronted the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust may not have happened. Victimization and genocide perpetrated and denied in one part of the world, can become the breeding ground for greater crimes against humanity in another part of the world. Americans of Armenian heritage wish to remind the world of the moral need to speak out against injustice and inhumanity. We thank the Jewish community for adding its voice to ours and making our plea stronger. Jewish World Watch is a coalition of over 54 synagogues working together to mobilize synagogues, their schools, members and the community to combat genocide and other egregious violations of human rights around the world. In response to the 400,000 civilians that have been murdered and the nearly 2.5 million people who have been displaced in the Sudan, Jewish World Watch chose Darfur as its first advocacy campaign. Since its inception, these synagogues have actively mobilized to stop the genocide in Darfur and have allocated more than $600,000 in direct assistance to the people in Darfur. While the focus of our work currently is on the genocide taking place in Darfur, Sudan, we believe that it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge and commemorate past genocides, in particular, the Armenian Genocide, which has been denied for almost a century, said Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, Executive Director, Jewish World Watch. We cannot criticize those who are committing genocide today, without acknowledging and commemorating the unacknowledged genocide of the Armenian community in 1915. Jewish World Watch is also urging Congressional leaders to support HR 106, the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff.

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