In Boyle Heights, traditions meet in seniors' celebration of Japanese-Jewish Seder

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Passover begins this Friday night, but on Monday in Boyle Heights, two communities came together for a Seder different from all other Seders.

Residents of the predominantly Japanese Keiro Senior Healthcare Center welcomed folks from the Los Angeles Jewish home, which was founded 100 years ago where Keiro Senior Healthcare is today.

Boyle Heights was at one time a bustling community of Jewish, Mexican and Japanese residents. Today the area is largely Latino, but its past is reflected in the area's architecture and tradition.

Four seniors shared a table, giving the residents of the two communities an opportunity to mingle as Rabbi Anthony Elman led prayers, songs and rituals. Participants sang along and took part in the prayers, sharing the Passover traditions of eating matzo, drinking wine and dipping parsley in salt water.

"The importance for me is to find the common links between the history of the two peoples and to think of in recent history internment and freedom here," said Elman. "And our own Jewish history and story of freedom."

Annette Shapiro, a volunteer at the Los Angeles Jewish home, spoke before the ceremony.

"This day is very special to me because my grandfather had his 60th birthday in 1942 in this building," she said. "It's so reminiscent and it has such a warm feeling. I feel so comfortable here. It's just wonderful."

"The Jewish community was instrumental in establishing our first retirement home for Japanese," said Shawn Miyake, CEO of Keiro Senior Healthcare. "Our communities have shared so much touch points in history."

In addition to the traditional Passover fare of wine, matzo and bitter herbs, there was plenty of fish, rice, and sushi rolls.

With contributions by Abe Rosenberg

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