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As curator of the Armenian museum in Watertown, the largest of its kind in the diaspora, Mr. Lind-Sinanian is especially concerned about the preservation of Armenian culture in the United States.

Curiously, he is not of Armenian descent himself, but took to the culture in college under the wings of an Armenian professor. And not being born Armenian, he did the next best thing by marrying one – hence the hyphenated last name. His passion for Armenian history and culture is undeniable.

Mr. Lind-Sinanian oversees a four-story museum, founded in 1971 by local Armenian professionals, that has 22,000 books, scores of Oriental rugs and authentic Armenian costumes and about 100 paintings, surprisingly including the works of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, currently in a Michigan prison for assisting suicide.

“It is no accident that the museum is in Watertown and not in say, California, where you have a lot more Armenians,” Mr. Lind-Sinanian said. “First of all, New England Armenians are New Englanders, and they have an appreciation of the history of the region, which is where the U.S. started.

“Also, in California, the community is fragmented. It’s big enough to have its own isolated pockets. They often do not get along, there are tensions among the various religious groups and over Yerevan politics” back in Armenia.

The Watertown community is small enough to accommodate the various strands of the Armenian diaspora, he said. “Of course, there are still differences, and in that way the museum comes in handy.” Several years ago, when Armenia’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrossian, came to speak at Harvard, his wife wanted to host a banquet for local community leaders. It was thought that choosing a church would seem too political, Mr. Lind-Sinanian said. So, she chose the museum.

Each day, Mr. Lind-Sinanian receives proof that Armenian-Americans are losing their ties to their heritage. “I get over 1,000 books each month from people who can’t read Armenian – grandpa’s stuff that they’re looking to get rid of,” he said. Before the museum opened, people used to dump old books onto the sidewalks.

“In 50 to 100 years, the language will be gone from the U.S.,” Mr. Lind-Sinanian said. “This isn’t unique to Armenians. It’s happened to Polish and Italian communities, every group. American culture is seductive.”

The curator said he expects religion and politics to endure longer as a social glue.

“Armenians will always have their churches, even if attendance fluctuates. And the genocide unites all Armenians, just as the Holocaust does for the Jews,” he said. Indeed, each Armenian church in the area has on its grounds a memorial to the genocide’s estimated 1.5 million victims.

“It’s a rallying point for the community,” said Father Vasken Kouzouian, pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in a posh residential Cambridge neighborhood, just a couple of miles from downtown Watertown.

And, on a lighter note, Armenians will always have their food, Mr. Lind-Sinanian said. “People spend hours talking about which place makes the best lahmejunes.

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Tags: Cultural Identity Armenian Catholic Church Multiculturalism Assimilation