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Passover Seder...With a Twist

Posted: April 6, 2017

Commemorating the Israelites’ epic exodus from slavery, the Passover Seder is one of the most significant Jewish rituals.

And each year, JCHE hosts its own Seder—with a unique twist.  

Because JCHE is home to seniors of all backgrounds, religions, and beliefs, our multicultural Seder celebrates freedom for all people—regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion—who have fled oppression or who have been displaced from their homes.

“Many Chinese residents participate in the Seder. We all learn a great deal,” explains Audrey, a Brighton resident from Shanghai, China, who has attended the multicultural Seder almost every year since moving to JCHE 18 years ago.       

Audrey learned about the Passover story at church, but had not participated in the Jewish Seder prior to calling JCHE home. 

“Chinese people sympathize with stories of suffering,” says Audrey, alluding to the many hardships the Chinese people have endured throughout history.

“I enjoy learning about new traditions, and I like how connected I feel to all my neighbors during JCHE’s multi-cultural Seder,” Audrey acknowledges.

This sense of connection is at the heart of JCHE’s “Aging in Community” philosophy, and it is integral to our efforts to prevent loneliness and isolation among our seniors.     

And there’s another important Passover theme that’s closely linked to our mission: displacement from one’s home and the hope of finding a new one.

In response to the dramatic housing displacement affecting seniors in Boston, in 1965, Jewish community leaders founded JCHE on the philosophy that “We don’t leave our elders behind.”

Were it not for the affordable housing we provide, many of our residents—whose average annual income is just over $16,000—would not be able to afford the state’s high housing costs. By providing housing for low-income seniors, we prevent displacement and help tackle the growing problem of elder homelessness.                   

As with all of our holiday celebrations, we will conduct the Seder in English, Russian, Mandarin, and Cantonese. And this year, JCHE’s Rabbinic intern (a position generously funded by the Kaplan Family Foundation), Moshe Givental, will conduct the ceremony. Moshe joined JCHE last year to spearhead programs that offer spiritual nourishment to residents and staff.

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