Genocide Centennial Highlighted at AJC Diplomatic Seder


Dr. Arpi Boynarian

Dr. Arpi Boynarian

BOSTON — On Sunday, March 22, the American Jewish Committee of Boston (AJC) hosted their 16th annual Diplomatic Seder at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The Seder brought together 450 guests, representing a wide range of community leaders, and the consular corps from throughout the region, to have dinner and reenact the Passover Seder meal while bringing witness and hearing testimonies of injustice.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The AJC invited Dr. Arpi Boynarian, originally from Syria, and Issy Aurbacker, a Holocaust survivor from Auschwitz, to testify.

Boynarian, who originated from Homs and later Aleppo, Syria, provided moving testimony during the dinner hour. She testified that Armenians lived at peace in Syria until Islamists destroyed the City of Homs and Aleppo. Dr. Boynarian described the tightly knit community in Aleppo and described how her husband, Rev. Avedis Boynarian, would visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor to pray for those who died during the Genocide. She described how the sanctuary was destroyed by radical Islamists and condemned the violence and intolerance as the root of all evil. She sent a warning to the audience to act now, stating: “Last September, the Armenian Memorial at Der Zor was overrun and destroyed by the Islamists.  Once again, our homes, our churches, our world is being violently dismantled. It now seems that what happened 100 years ago is happening again. It is almost unbearable to think about.”

At the conclusion of her testimony, the audience stood and gave Boynarian a round of applause. “Listening to Dr. Boynarian’s and Mr. Aurbacker’s testimonies once again re-emphasized our shared sufferings and the human determination to overcome unspeakable horrors,” stated Armenian Assembly Massachusetts Chair Herman Purutyan. “We are glad to have AJC stand with us in our efforts to bring attention to the Armenian Genocide, the unpunished crime against humanity, and in doing so help to prevent future genocides,” Purutyan said.

Rev. Avedis Boynarian and Dr. Arpi Boynarian were joined by Armenian Assembly of America Board of Trustees Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian who was seated with Israeli Consul Yehuda Yaakov. Purutyan was seated with French Consul Fabien Fieschi together with the Boynarians and Barsamian.

In 2014, the AJC re-stated its commitment to recognize the Armenian Genocide and has called upon organizations and governments to do the same, stating: “In a month of solemn remembrance of the atrocities of the last century – from the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide to the annual commemoration in Israel and the United States of the Holocaust – we pause in mournful tribute to the memories of the estimated 1.5 million victims of the Meds Yeghern, the Genocide of Armenians, committed in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.”

The Passover Seder marks the Israelite exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is also an occasion to celebrate the universal human quest for freedom with leaders of Boston’s religious, ethnic, academic, political, and human rights communities. In a time of urgent global challenges, the AJC Boston Diplomats Seder connects the modern quest for religious freedom, free speech, coexistence and other core democratic virtues with the ancient Jewish ritual of the Passover Seder.