Armenians in Israel

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Armenians in Israel
PikiWiki Israel 21643 Armenians in the old city of Jerusalem.JPG
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Catholic Church
Armenian Evangelical Church
Related ethnic groups

Armenians in Israel are Armenians living in Israel, some of whom hold Israeli citizenship. According to a 2006 study, 790 Armenians live in Jerusalem's Old City.[3]


A significant minority of the Armenian community has been resident in the Levant for centuries. The first recorded Armenian pilgrimage to the Holy Land was an Armenian delegation of priests in the early 4th century AD. The visit is alluded to in an Armenian translation of a Greek letter written by Patriarch Makarius of Jerusalem to his contemporary, St. Vertanes.[4] The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem was founded in 638.[5] It is located in the Armenian Quarter, the smallest quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Many Armenians from Kütahya, a city in Turkey, were known for their hand-painted ceramic wares and tiles. In 1919, several master craftsmen were brought to Jerusalem to renovate the tiles covering the facade of the Dome of the Rock. They remained in Jerusalem and developed the art of Armenian ceramics.[6]

Elia Kahvedjian, a refugee of the Armenian genocide, was one of the leading photographers in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th century.[7]

After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the establishment of the State of Israel, a number of Armenians residing in what had been the British Mandate of Palestine took up Israeli citizenship, whereas other Armenian residents of Old City of Jerusalem and the territory captured by Jordan took on the Jordanian nationality.[citation needed]. Two groups of Armenians emerged: Armenians with Israeli citizenship living within the borders of the state and Armenians with Jordanian nationality in Jerusalem's Armenian Quarter and the West Bank.

After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Armenian population, especially in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, experienced a decrease in its numbers because of emigration.


Armenian ceramicist in the Old City of Jerusalem

The overwhelming majority of Armenians in Israel are Armenian Orthodox, but there are also a small number of Armenian Catholics and Armenian Evangelicals. The Armenian Orthodox remain under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the residing Patriarch under the auspices of Armenian Apostolic Church (See of Holy Echmiadzin), whereas the Armenian Catholics are under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Catholic Church and Patriarchal Vicar (residing at Via Dolorosa 41 - Fourth Station).

The Churches belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church are amongst others St. Elias Church in Haifa and Saint Nicholas Church in Jaffa. Armenian-Israelis also pray in St. James Cathedral (Sourpotz Hagopyants) at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (under joint jurisdiction of Armenian Church with other Christian churches) and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (again under joint jurisdiction of the Armenian Church and other Christian churches). The Armenian Church also has the St. George Monastery in Ramleh. Armenians in Israel and the West Bank celebrate Christmas and the Epiphany on the same day, which is traditionally on January 19, while Armenian Orthodox communities in Armenia and worldwide celebrate on January 6. This is because the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem still abides by the ancient Julian calendar, whereas the Armenian Apostolic Church has adopted the newer Gregorian calendar. Armenian Catholics in Israel celebrate Christmas on December 25, in line with all other Catholics of the Roman Catholic Church.

Language and culture[edit]

The Institute of African and Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem established a chair of Armenian Studies program, specializing in study of Armenian language, literature, history and culture as well as the Armenian Genocide. There are a few Russian-speaking Jews from Armenia in Israel, but they are classified within the former USSR Aliyah so no precise statistics are available prior to 1991 when Armenia restored its independence from the USSR.

Armenian ceramics in Jerusalem

Armenia–Israel relations[edit]

The Republic of Armenia maintains diplomatic relations with Israel. According to the CIA World Factbook, Armenia receives 4.8% of its imports from Israel, while Israel receives 7.1% of Armenia's exports.[8] Although both countries have diplomatic relations, neither maintains an embassy in the other country. Instead, Ambassador Ehud Moshe Eytam, the Israeli ambassador to Armenia is based in Tbilisi, Georgia, and visits Yerevan twice a month. In Jerusalem Tsolag Momjian is the honorary consul.

Since Armenia's independence, Israeli politicians, rabbis, and the country's Armenian community have called on Israel government to recognize the Armenian Genocide. At the same time, Turkey has threatened to break off ties with Israel if Israel or the United States recognizes the killings as genocide.[9] As of 2008, there has been an ongoing debate regarding recognition in the Knesset with Turkey lobbying hard to prevent it.[10] According to The Jerusalem Post, many Israelis support recognition.[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]