Jewish tribute for Armenian religious leader

October 7, 2012 Agencies
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Sydney Jewish leader has paid tribute to the Armenian archbishop of Australia and New Zealand at his funeral last week.
Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand, died suddenly late last month. He was 66.
At his funeral in Sydney last Thursday, attended by hundreds of mourners including of the Armenian Archbishop of Jerusalem, India and Armenia, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff paid tribute.
“The Armenian and Jewish peoples share a number of key and core themes – the importance of family, the value of culture and tradition, the trauma of genocide, the need at all times for acceptance of diversity and celebration of difference,” he said.
“All these were issues which Archbishop Baliozian personified, values which he exemplified.”
Others who spoke at the graveside included the Mayor of Willloughby, Councillor Pat Reilly, and numerous Armenian dignitaries. Also present were several MPs, including Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian, who is Armenian, and Federal Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, also Armenian.

The full text of the Alhadeff speech:

“On behalf of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Jewish community of NSW, it is an honour to pay tribute to His Eminence, Archbishop Baliozian.

Archbishop Baliozian’s life and career were personified by his commitment to a society based on the principles of respect and harmony – a worldview which is reflected by the nation of Armenia, where Jews have lived for 2000 years.

The Jewish community of Armenia suffered along with the rest of the population as regional powers sought to take over the area throughout history.

During the Soviet era, Jews moved to Armenia from other nations because Armenia was a tolerant society which permitted them to practise their faith.

Ten years ago, a book was published celebrating the relationship between the Armenian and Jewish people. Published by the Centre for Armenian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it was edited by Professor Michael Stone – a prominent member of the Sydney Jewish community who has been instrumental in building up the Hebrew University as one of the world’s leading centres of Armenian studies.

The Armenian and Jewish peoples share a number of key and core themes – the importance of family, the value of culture and tradition, the trauma of genocide, the need at all times for acceptance of diversity and celebration of difference.

All these were issues which Archbishop Baliozian personified, values which he exemplified.

Vic Alhadeff

I can do no better than borrow from my colleague, Jeremy Jones AM, who as president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry worked closely with Archbishop Baliozian: “He was a fine person, with great intelligence, a quick wit and a willingness to take risks to further ideals of peace, justice and an ethical society,” he said. “Those of us fortunate enough to have been his guests, particularly at his colourful, dignified and warm services, knew him as a leader, a caring person and an outstanding contributor to Australian society. His Jewish friends miss him dearly.”

I conclude with an expression which we say in the Jewish community at a time of bereavement: “I wish you long life”. The significance is that you should all live a long life so that you may continue to honour the memory of Archbishop Baliozian and his great legacy.”

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