On Sunday afternoon, 22 January 2006, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, and Member of the Knesset, Yuri Stern, paid a courtesy visit to His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch. .
Also present were: Bishop Aris Shirvanian, the Patriarchate’s Director of Ecumenical and Foreign Relations, and Archbishop Nerses Bozabalian, from the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, in Armenia. The latter had met the distinguished guests during their audience with His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II in 2005.
“I learned from that visit to Armenia that our two nations, Israel and Armenia, are so similar and our communities are connected from all over the world to our homelands. Both our peoples have suffered so much these last one hundred years,” said Rabbi Metzger. “The emotion we experienced at the Genocide Memorial Mountain in Yerevan was heartfelt. Our interpreter was so moved that he began to weep and could not continue to translate.”
His Beatitude the Patriarch spoke of his visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, relating the overpowering impact of the image of the young boy, with hands held up, questioning his fate. “Next to each picture, I can place an Armenian one, and write the same caption as is written in Hebrew,” remarked the Patriarch. He continued by tracing the history of survival of the Armenian people, who have sacrificed themselves throughout seventeen centuries of oppression to preserve their Christian faith.
To Bishop Shirvanian’s question about lobbying for a resolution to be brought for passage to the Knesset, Mr. Stern replied that, when at the Genocide Monument in Armenia, Rabbi Metzger had recited the special Hebrew burial prayer, usually said to memorialize the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, but remembering those who lost their lives in the Armenian Genocide of 1915. “We must keep working again and again to bring about policy changes,” he said. “It’s a moral issue for us.”
Rabbi Metzger presented His Beatitude with a framed photograph, taken during his visit to Armenia together with the Armenian Prime Minister and the Catholicos of All Armenians. The guests were given copies of the Hebrew language edition of The banality of denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide, by Yair Auron