First of all, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I live in Israel and yet come December, I’ve still got Christmas tunes stuck in my head. You can take the girl out of America….
In any case, I joined my flatmate Rebecca and her Hebrew U class on a tour of the Old City’s Armenian quarter.
I’ve been casually fascinated by Armenians since reading a particular article about them in National Geographic a few years back (excerpt available here), mostly because of all the things they have in common, historically and socially, with Jews.
We are both an ancient people with a profoundly strong sense of memory. We both have a religion that is central to our peoplehood. We both suffered a cold and calculated 20th century genocide that killed roughly a third of our already small numbers (Armenians number about 7-8 million). Despite our small numbers, we have achieved notable success in many fields, and love flaunting it. Food is central to life and any social event. We both have most of our populations living in the Diaspora and both are fighting to stem the tide of Assimilation and preserve our own rich heritages.
Socially, just take a look at this “You might be Armenian if….” Quiz and tell me how many are just as true for Jews, especially Sephardic ones.
And I won’t even mention the huge Magen David at the top of the Armenian Church of St. James, as you can see in my photo above.
In any case, deep inside the Armenian quarter has got to be one of the cleanest and quietest parts of The Old City. I barely believed I was still in Jerusalem, for where had the ubiquitous trash smell and all the stay cats disappeared to?
I guess they’ve figured it out by now. They have had a presence in Jerusalem for over 500 years, and they are the third biggest property holder in Israel. Go figure.
In any case, enough about Armenians, although I could go on and on. It’s almost time for Latkes.