ARS NJ ‘Shakeh’ Chapter Celebrates 100 Years of Activism

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On Sat., Oct. 31, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) New Jersey “Shakeh” Chapter held its centennial celebration gala at the prestigious Chart House Restaurant on the Hudson River in Weehawken, N.J. This memorable event was organized by the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter under the auspices of Prelate Oshagan Choloyan.

ARS Ungerouhis at the event

Members of the centennial committee and the ARS Central Executive

Dr. and Mrs. Kourkin and Talene Tchorbajian presided over the evening’s event. In attendance were His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian representing the prelate; Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoyan, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church in New Jersey; Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in Manhattan; ARS Eastern Region Executive Board chair U. Taline Daghlian with four other executive members; Mayor of Ridgefield Anthony Suarez; U. Mark Alashaian, chairman of the ARF New Jersey “Dro” Gomideh; representatives of affiliated organizations; and ARS ungerouhis and their families.

The ARS anthem initiated the official opening of the evening’s program, followed by opening remarks by master of ceremony Knar Kiledjian. She mentioned that the devotion of the chapter’s members and the commitment towards addressing the needs of the Armenian people were the keys for the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter’s century of service. Ani Keshishian, the chair of the chapter, paid tribute to all of the members who have nurtured the ARS throughout its 100-year existence and “to whom we owe our presence here today.” She expressed gratitude to the Armenian people who trusted the ARS and stood shoulder to shoulder wherever and whenever needed.

Cutting the centennial cake

Keshishian concluded, “In light of the challenges of the 21st century, and the world’s focus on empowerment of women, it is essential for Armenian women to expand their traditional role. In addition to being guardians of Armenian heritage in the family and involvement in community, they can and should be involved professionally in leadership positions in government and international community. Armenian women have the intelligence, the willpower, and the devotion to achieve higher grounds towards the advancement of our national aspirations. It is with this understanding that we, members of the Armenian Relief Society ‘Shakeh’ Chapter, renew our oath and step forward into the next century to serve the Armenian nation ‘with the people, for the people.’”

Keshishian with Mayor Suarez

The chapter then welcomed Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, who presented a proclamation on behalf of his office and the Council of the borough of Ridgefield congratulating the centennial anniversary. The ARS “Shakeh” Chapter was founded in 1915 in W. Hoboken, N.J., and moved to Ridgefield in 1959, where the new community center was built. W. Hoboken is now Union City; and on this occasion, the mayor and Board of Commissioners of Union City also issued a proclamation resolving and designating Oct. 31 as “Armenian Relief Society Shakeh Chapter Day.” The proclamation was read and presented to Keshishian by Alashaian.

Kiledjian then introduced Dr. and Mrs. Tchorbajian, the honorary chairs of the gala. Dr. Kourkin (Kirk) Tchorbajian is an outstanding member of both the medical community and the Armenian community in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Board certified and fellowship trained, Tchorbajian is a graduate of the prestigious University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier in France. He is a founding senior partner of Associated Eye Physicians and Surgeons of New Jersey. In the early 1990’s, he played an instrumental role in founding the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO). Tchorbajian has been recognized as a “Top Doc” by “Inside Jersey” magazine and was chosen as a Leading Physician of the World and Top Ophthalmologist in New Jersey by the International Association of Ophthalmologists. He received the 2015 recognition by Castle Connolly as a Top Doctor. He is the devoted husband to Talene Tchorbajian and father of two beautiful young girls, Serena and Ani.

Bishop Anoushavan, ARS Regional Chairlady & Honorable Sponsors Dr. & Mrs. Kourkin & Talene Tchorbajian

Tchorbajian spoke in Armenian praising the ARS and especially the “Shakeh” chapter for their centennial service of unconditional devotion to the Armenian people. He said his family was humbled to accept the honor to preside over this important milestone of the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter, as it coincided with the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Referring to the candle lighting ceremony to follow later in the program, he mentioned that the candle will symbolize a spark stemming out of the memory of the martyred Saints of the Armenian Genocide and will transform to a shining sun for all Armenians worldwide.

Talene Tchorbajian gave her remarks in English on behalf of the Tchorbajian family, stating, “We extend our sincere gratitude to the ARS ‘Shakeh’ Chapter for bestowing upon us the honor of sponsoring tonight’s momentous event. As Armenians, 2015 holds a special place in all our hearts, for it marks the commemoration of our past as we remember the dark days of our history; it also marks the resilience of our people as we march towards the future to keep our rich cultural heritage and history alive. Let us tonight praise the tireless efforts of all the ARS ungerouhis who continue to follow through with the organization’s mission of promoting the educational, humanitarian, and social needs of our people.”

The candlelighting ceremony

Sevan Kolejian spoke on behalf of the ARS Eastern USA Regional Executive and congratulated the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter on its centennial anniversary and for appealing to the community to join the ranks of the Armenian Relief Society. Mary Tarpinian, a longtime member and chair of the “Shakeh” Chapter, had written a poem dedicated to the ARS centennial in 2010. The poem was beautifully recited by “Shakeh” Chapter executive member Marina Yakoubian, accompanied by violinist Diana Vasilyan, who performed magnificently and was greatly appreciated by the audience.

Next on the program was the recognition of 25-year service honorees. Taline Daghlian, the chair of the ARS Eastern U.S. Region, presented Appreciation Certificates. Ani Keshishian, the chair of the “Shakeh” Chapter, presented 25-year service pins to the honorees. They were Ungerouhis Alice Aghjayan, Silva Baronian, Pauline Dostoumian, Marie Laterovian, Maral Kaprielian, Seta Keshishian, Shake Ketsemanian, and Shake Manjikian.

His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian delivered a message on behalf of Archbishop Choloyan, praising the role of the ARS and Armenian women in the community. He stated that the secret of our longevity can be summarized in one sentence: “The ARS has kept pace with the pulse of the Armenian people throughout history and has been the main life-pumping organ like the heart is for human life.”

Honoring 25 years of service to ARS

The sensational candle lighting ceremony concluded the program. Candle holders were donated by Michael Aram for this special occasion. Candles were lit by Bishop Tanielian; Dr. and Mrs. Kourkin and Talene Tchorbajian; the chair of the ARS Eastern U.S. Regional Executive; the chair of ARS “Shakeh” Chapter; the chair of the ARF “Dro” Gomideh; the ARS New Jersey “Agnouni,” “Bergen,” and “Spitak” Chapters; Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoyan, in memory of all the deceased members of the “Shakeh” Chapter; and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, in memory of all the ARS ungerouhis who worked for the ANCHA program in which the cathedral on 27th St. in Manhattan played a vital role.

Additional candles were lit by Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Mary Ohanessian, sponsors of the 75th anniversary of the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter, and Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Silva Baghdadlian, sponsors of the 80th anniversary, and for all the ungerouhis who served the ARS in the last 100 years. Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Suzy Dostourian lit a candle in support of ARS Orphan Care and Orphan education programs. Josephine Baghdasarian lit a candle in memory of her husband, Antranig Baghdasarian. Mr. and Mrs. Aram and Pirjo Haroutunian lit a candle in memory of their parents, Garabed and Gadar Haroutunian. Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Diana Mkhitarian lit a candle in memory of the Mkhitarian and Adjemian families. Mr. and Mrs. Zarmair and Sonia Setrakian lit a candle in memory of their parents, Hamazasb and Mary Setrakian, who was a member of the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter. The last candle was lit by Knar Kiledjian and her daughter, Maree Kiledjian Gueyikian, symbolizing the passing of the ARS torch from one generation to the next.

MC Knar Kiledjian, Event sponsors Dr. & Mrs. Kourkin & Talene Tchorbajian & Ungh Ani Keshishian, Chair of ARS Shakeh Chapter

This centennial celebration gala was entertained by Elie Berberian and his band from Montreal, Canada, who provided great music to dance to all night through.

On this special occasion, the organizing committee published a memorable illustrative booklet summarizing the history of the ARS “Shakeh” Chapter and the ARS throughout the years. The centennial organizing committee included Knar Kiledjian (chair of the centennial event), Ani Keshishian (ARS “Shakeh” chapter chair), Marina Yakoubian, Aida Gharibian, Nora Diratsouian, Reine Marashlian, Anik Keshishian, Lena Tarakjian, and Pauline Dostoumian, who compiled the booklet.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: ARS NJ ‘Shakeh’ Chapter Celebrates 100 Years of Activism