Assemblymembers Jesse Gabriel and Adrin Nazarian Bring Together Armenian & Jewish Leaders to Combat Rising Acts of Hate

For immediate release:

Los Angeles – In response to recent hate incidents targeting Armenian and Jewish institutions in the San Fernando Valley, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel brought together religious and lay leaders from the Armenian and Jewish communities for an inter-community dinner and dialogue. The discussion focused on efforts to work together to combat hate and discrimination of all forms.

On January 29, 2019, hate incidents occurred at two Armenian schools in the San Fernando Valley, with Turkish flags being hung at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School and AGBU Manoogian School. The following day, Mishkan Torah Synagogue in Tarzana was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.


In welcoming the community leaders, Assemblymember Gabriel made the following remarks:

“After these disturbing incidents, Assemblymember Nazarian and I discussed how we could bring together the Jewish and Armenian communities in the Valley to combat anti-Semitism and hate of all forms. We wanted to engage with students, educators, clergy, law enforcement, and local officials so that we can all work together to defeat ignorance and bigotry.”

Assemblymember Nazarian added, “History has shown time and time again that acts of hate will not frighten our communities; we will to rise to meet any obstacle, we will continue to love and prosper. I am honored to break bread with these leaders and together confront and defeat hate.”


The dinner brought together members of the Jewish and Armenian communities, including:

  • Arpi Avanesian | Principal, AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School
    • *school recently victimized by an act of hate
  • Captain Ernest Eskridge | Los Angeles Police Department, West Valley Area
  • Vivian Ekchian | Deputy Superintendent – LAUSD
  • Alisa Finsten | Senior Vice President of Community Engagement, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
  • Matt Friedman | Senior Associate Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League
  • Maral Karaccusian | Government Liaison, Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society
  • Siamak Kordestani | Assistant Director, American Jewish Committee
  • Manya Lefian | Immigration Project Coordinator, Neighborhood Legal Services
  • Nayri Nahapetian | Boardmember, Glendale Unified School District
  • Alice Petrossian | Chief Academic Officer, Pasadena Unified School District
  • Mihran Toumajan | Western Regional Director, Armenian Assembly of America
  • Rabbi Julia Weisz | Congregation Or Ami
  • Student body presidents from AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School and Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School
    • *school recently victimized by an act of hate

Hate incidents have been on the rise in Los Angeles over the past year, with a 13% rise in 2018 over the prior year. In 2018, there were 289 hate crimes reported, according to LAPD statistics gathered by researchers at Cal State San Bernardino. Jews are one of the groups experiencing the largest rise in hate incidents, along with African Americans and members of the LGBTQ community. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2017 audit, Anti-Semitic incidents increased 57% in the U.S. in 2017 compared to the previous year.