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Maro Zakarian is a Jerusalemite Armenian who met her Armenian-born husband during a multi-year stay in the United States. She ultimately moved back with her husband and daughter to be close to their families in the Armenian Quarter. She believes it’s possible to have a foot in more than one culture.

“Our community is very Westernized, and in some ways it’s easier to work on the Jewish side because of the social benefits, like universal health care and pensions,” Mrs. Zakarian says. “Every day a woman comes to the home of my elderly aunt and helps her.”

Mrs. Zakarian, who works at a Palestinian embroidery cooperative, says she is content with her life.

“This is our home; I feel comfortable here, even with the challenges,” she says. “This is our community; I attended the Armenian school. We are one big family.”

The only thing missing from Mrs. Zakarian’s day-to-day life is her daughter, who moved back to the United States to attend college. Her husband, Michael Zakarian, feels that Christians in the Holy Land are being squeezed from all sides. But Jerusalem, to him, is home.

“Jerusalem is where my great-great grandfather lived. When I go to the cemetery, I see generations of my family,” he says. In his view, to leave would be unthinkable.

“It is,” he concludes, “a matter of continuity.”

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Jerusalem-based journalist Michele Chabin has written for USA TODAY, National Catholic Register, Jewish Journal and ONE.



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