Jerusalem’s German Colony Armenians

Since I’d often wondered about the apparently deserted building situated in the triangle at the entrance to Jerusalem’s German Colony, I jumped at the chance, through a city open-house program, to visit  it.

Since I’m currently researching the Colony’s Templers (as opposed to  Crusader Templars who were in the area hundreds of years before), I was hoping to accumulate useful data as well. I was both disappointed and elated.

After the German Templers– turned  Nazi sympathizers–were expelled from Israel  during WWII, this tiny meeting house was acquired by Jerusalem’s Armenian community.  Since then, it has   served as one of their churches. So my adventure  was  Armenian rather than  Templer.

After an enlightening lecture that pressed the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) home, an Armenian religious service followed. The priest wore a long black gown, and a ceremonial black head-dress, a  Byzantine-style mitre  that tapered  to an impressive  point over his head. The congregation was filled with , I thought at first,  yeshiva buchers. When they began to sing, however, in what must have been Armenian, I realized that these young men in black suits were  actually choir members. After a long, completely unintelligible service (to anyone who did not understand their tongue), they fanned out into a semi-circle, abandoning their unison chanting for three part Armenian religious (?) melodies. When their director, an imposing character with a marvelously imposing voice sang, the lofty, dim, wooden-roofed  sanctuary  swelled with song,   accompanied  by   insistent peals of   church bells and the tinkling of     tiny bells swinging   to and fro from a perfumed silver incense-holder.

 

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