One of the four quarters of old Jerusalem belongs to the Armenians, keepers of an ancient monastery and library, heirs to a tragic history and to a stubborn 1,600-year presence that some fear is now in doubt.

Buffeted by Mideast forces more powerful than themselves and drawn by better lives elsewhere, this historic Jerusalem community has seen its numbers quietly drop below 1,000 people. The Armenians, led by an ailing 94-year-old patriarch, find themselves caught between Jews and Muslims in a Middle East emptying of Christians, and between a deep sense of belonging in Jerusalem and a realization that their future might lie elsewhere.

“Very few will remain here if it goes on like this,” said Kevork Kahvedjian, a Jerusalem storeowner.

Kahvedjian sells vintage black-and-white photos of the Holy Land from a store founded in 1949 by his father, who arrived in Jerusalem as a child after mass killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule during World War I claimed his own parents. Today, Kahvedjian said, he has siblings in Canada and the U.S., a son in Washington, D.C., and a daughter who plans to move away soon.

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