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Several Faiths Prepare to Mark Holidays

Starting with Palm Sunday services, Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches next week will celebrate through ritual, prayers and music the Gospel stories of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his execution days later.

The Holy Week liturgies foreshadow the triumphant rites of Easter morning, celebrated this year on April 12 by Western churches and on April 19 by Eastern Orthodox congregations.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony will celebrate a Palm Sunday Mass in English at 8:30 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 3801 Scott Road, Burbank, then at 11 a.m. in Spanish at Santa Rosa Catholic Church, 668 S. Workman St., San Fernando.

On Good Friday at 1 p.m., the Los Angeles prelate will preside over services at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, 804 E. Compton Blvd., Compton.

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On that morning, UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale will give the keynote talk at the 40th annual Los Angeles YMCA Good Friday Breakfast at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Others scheduled to take part include Mayor Richard Riordan and Nancy Daly Riordan. $14. (213) 351-2224.

A sampling of Holy Week activities follows.

PALM SUNDAY: Tenor Jonathan Mack and the Bel-Air Presbyterian Choir, accompanied by a 21-piece orchestra, will present Dubois’ “The Seven Last Words” at 7 p.m. at the church, 16221 Mulholland Drive. Free. (818) 788-4200. San Dimas Wesleyan Church will offer “The Living Lord’s Supper,” a dramatization of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the church, 125 E. Gladstone St. (909) 599-1603.

HOLY THURSDAY: Many churches have Communion services recalling the night of Jesus’ final supper with his disciples. After the 7:30 p.m. Eucharist at St. James Episcopal Church, 3209 Via Lido, Newport Beach, some members will take part in an all-night prayer vigil. (714) 675-0210.

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GOOD FRIDAY: Three-hour services starting at noon will be common at Catholic, Episcopal and some other churches. Seven area pastors will lead meditations at Altadena United Methodist Church, 349 W. Altadena Drive. (626) 797-2065.

Also, two church communities will recall Jesus’ walk to his place of execution. The 19th annual Way of the Cross observance allows participants to carry a 10-foot cross along a guided, 20-minute walk behind Claremont United Methodist Church, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., starting at 9 a.m. Friday. In Garden Grove, participants will walk 2 1/2 miles to four services, starting at noon at St. Anselm’s of Canterbury Episcopal Church, 13091 Galway St., and ending at a Presbyterian church.

Special music programs Friday include: “The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer” by John Stainer, conducted by Sara Banta, 8 p.m., St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 28211 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, (310) 457-7966; “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” a 7 p.m. pageant of narration and music by the 100-voice Freedom Choir at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2249 S. Hobart Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 730-8375; and a devotional concert featuring Mozart’s “Requiem,” 7:30 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church at Colorado Boulevard and Madison Avenue, (626) 568-2608.

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICES: The Times next Saturday will print a listing of community Easter sunrise services at Southland parks, cemeteries and other sites off church grounds. Send details by e-mail or fax (see below) to John Dart by Tuesday.

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MUSLIM HOLIDAY

Muslims around the world Sunday will begin observing activities associated with the hajj, or pilgrimage. The trek to revered Islamic sites in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is required of Muslims at least once in their lifetimes, provided they have the physical and financial ability to travel.

Muslims not making the hajj this year will gather at mosques or other large sites--in Southern California and elsewhere--for communal prayers Tuesday morning. Eid al-Adha is the second of two major Muslim holidays, the other being Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.

BUDDHIST HOLIDAY

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The birthday of Gautama Buddha about 2,560 years ago, observed by Japanese Buddhists on April 8 each year, will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Japanese Village Plaza in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district. Hanamatsuri (literally, flower festival) events that day include kendo and karate demonstrations after the 45-minute service sponsored by the seven-temple Japanese Buddhist Church Federation.

Other Buddhist traditions observe Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death on Vesak, which coincides with the full moon in May. However, in keeping with its pan-Buddhist outlook, the International Buddhist Meditation Center, 928 S. New Hampshire Ave., Los Angeles, will celebrate Hanamatsuri on April 12 before a potluck luncheon.

DATES

Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu speakers will take part Sunday in a Religious Founders’ Day symposium in Redondo Beach organized by local leaders of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Assn. This Muslim movement was founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghula Ahmad.

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Described as a respectful sharing of each religion’s teachings, the three-hour seminar will start at 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 315 Esplanade. Speakers will include Ivan Strenski, dean of religious studies at UC Riverside; Salvation Army Capt. Douglas Tollerud of Torrance; Rabbi Ron Shulman of Congregation Ner Tamid in Rancho Palos Verdes; the Rev. Kusala Ratna Karuna of the International Buddhist Meditation Center; and Anwer M. Khan, U.S. national secretary of the Ahmadiyya movement. (310) 679-4500.

FINALLY

Backing a labor union’s effort to obtain a better contract with luxury hotels in Beverly Hills, an interfaith procession in that city Wednesday will be led by Episcopal Bishop Frederick Borsch of Los Angeles.

The Jewish Labor Committee and several other religious leaders, including Methodist pastor James Lawson, will gather at noon one week before the expiration of the contract of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 11 with three Beverly Hills area hotels.

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Six downtown Los Angeles hotels signed a six-year contract for higher wages, benefits and job protections, which was announced Jan. 15 by jubilant hotel, city and labor officials.

The contract dispute has been marked by demonstrations that included the arrest March 4 of 33 union members in front of the Century Plaza Hotel. The Regency Wilshire and Beverly Hilton hotels have recently agreed to contracts, said a spokeswoman for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

Reflecting the overlapping of several religious holidays next week, rally organizers said symbols of those faiths will be incorporated into the procession, which will start at a park at Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards.

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Notices may be mailed for consideration to Southern California File, c/o John Dart, L.A. Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311, faxed to Religion desk (818) 772-3385, or e-mailed to john.dart@latimes.com. Items should arrive two to three weeks before the event, except for spot news, and should include pertinent details about the people and organizations involved, with address, phone number, date and time.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

PASSOVER

The Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ flight from servitude in Egypt in the time of the pharaohs, will begin Friday evening with festive dinners at homes and at some synagogues.

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Passover draws its name from the biblical story in Exodus of God “passing over” the homes of Israelites as he brought death to the firstborn of Egyptian households and of a pharaoh resisting Moses’ admonition to “Let my people go.”

The unleavened bread called matzo is eaten at the dinners as a reminder of the hasty departure of the Israelites, just as wine, roasted meat, bitter herbs and other items in the ritual meals have symbolic importance in the ancient story of freedom.

Reform Jews and people living in Israel celebrate Passover for seven days; Conservative and Orthodox Jews outside of Israel observe it for eight days.

Many synagogues hold community Seders on the second night of Passover, but reservations are required and many deadlines have already passed. Congregations with community Seders next Saturday include Temple Beth Ohr of La Mirada, (562) 691-2551; Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot of Irvine, (714) 857-2226; Beth Knesset Bamidbar, Lancaster, (805) 942-4415; Kol Tikvah, Woodland Hills, (818) 348-0670; Makom Ohr Shalom, Encino, (310) 396-9763; and Kehillat Ma’arav, Santa Monica, (310) 829-0566.

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Some smaller congregations will have Seders on Friday night. They include Hollywood Temple Beth El, (213) 656-3150; Temple Beth Zion-Sinai, Lakewood, (562) 429-0715; and the Jewish Deaf Community Center meeting at Burbank Temple Emanu El, (818) 845-9934. The Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles will also hold Seders at 10 locations in Los Angeles County for the disabled, elderly and others facing difficulties. (213) 761-8800, Ext. 210.

Among other specialty rituals will be the eighth annual Passover Seder for Jews in Recovery (from alcoholic and other addictions) at 6:30 p.m. April 11 at Gateways Hospital in Los Angeles, (213) 644-2026, and a feminist Seder, sponsored by the American Jewish Congress, at 5:30 p.m. April 15 at Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel-Air, (213) 761-8940.


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