Encino, CA – On Monday, April 23, 2007, Jewish World Watch (JWW) presented Dr. J. Michael Hagopian’s “Voices from the Lake” before an audience of over 600 at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino, California. The Armenian National Committee of American – Western Region (ANCA-WR) welcomed the news that over 200 Armenian Americans from the West San Fernando Valley attended the screening.
Jewish World Watch is a coalition of over 50 synagogues in southern California. The organization’s mission is to educate and activate the Jewish community to help build the political will necessary to empower leaders to take all reasonable and necessary steps to protect innocent victims around the world from genocide and egregious human rights violations.
With twenty-five years in research and production, “Voices From the Lake” focuses on the day-to-day tragedy unfolding in Kharpert-Mezreh, one of 4,000 towns and villages targeted for ethnic cleansing by the Ottoman Empire during the 1915 Genocide. The cataclysmic events are relived through the eyewitness accounts of American and European officials, missionaries, educators and survivors. After the film was viewed, Dr. J. Michael Hagopian was warmly welcomed by the entire congregation with a standing ovation. A discussion was held with Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis and Dr. Hagopian sharing with the crowd the common genocidal experience of both the Armenian and Jewish peoples. Rabbi Schulweis expressed that the Jewish people support the need for acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. After the film concluded, Dr. Hagopian was again showered with a standing ovation.
Attending this event was a wide cross section of leaders from the San Fernando Valley’s vibrant Armenian American community. San Fernando Valley ANC member Chris Keosian, former ANCA-WR Chairman Armand Keosian, Ara Papazian and dozens of members of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church in Encino attended the screening. They were joined by members of the Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, members of Jewish World Watch and scores of interested individuals from the San Fernando Valley.
“Humanity is subject to genocide and amnesia is dangerous,” said Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, Founder of Jewish World Watch. “If you forget or deny the first genocide of the 20th Century, you waste the experience of the past. To die is tragic, but to be told that you have not lived is an insult to civilization. Denial is the strangulation of conscience. 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. The Armenian and Jewish communities are kinsmen in suffering and consolation,” he added.
In a February 8, 2007 letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Jewish World Watch urged the Speaker to support passage of H. Res. 106, a resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide. The letter noted the importance of recognizing this tragedy and encouraged the Speaker’s leadership on the issue.
“The ANCA-WR is pleased to be collaborating with Jewish World Watch,” stated Andrew Kzirian, Executive Director of the ANCA-WR. The advancement of human rights and the prevention of genocide everywhere are goals that both or of our organizations believe in dearly. The ANCA-WR looks forward to continuing to work in concert with Rabbi Schulweis and his team to bring an end to the global cycle of genocide,” he added.
Jewish World Watch, along with Facing History and Ourselves hosted a Lecture & Book-signing event on Thursday, April 26th with John Prendergast and Don Cheadle who discussed the ongoing genocide in Darfur and offered their insights into stopping genocide around the world. On Friday, April 27 JWW is set to host an Armenian Genocide Commemorative Shabbat Dinner (6:00 pm) and Service (8:00 pm) at Valley Beth Shalom. Finally, on May 15, JWW will present the “First Annual Jewish World Watch iWitness Awards” honoring Dr. J. Michael Hagopian and Dr. Richard Hovannisian for their outstanding work and activism related to the Armenian Genocide. Please visit www.jewishworldwatch.org for more information.
The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Photo Caption: Jewish World Watch.