SUFFOLK COUNTY

Pandemic moves Easter, Passover celebrations online

Glenn Rohrbacker
Posted 4/9/20

In an effort to adhere to social distancing rules, many local houses of worship have moved to online services, hosting live masses and readings via Facebook, YouTube, or Zoom. This week marks …

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SUFFOLK COUNTY

Pandemic moves Easter, Passover celebrations online

Posted

In an effort to adhere to social distancing rules, many local houses of worship have moved to online services, hosting live masses and readings via Facebook, YouTube, or Zoom. This week marks Holy Week in the Christian religion, culminating with Easter Sunday on April 12. Passover in the Jewish faith began April 8 and runs through April 16.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s PAUSE executive order and further guidelines released on March 22 call for no public liturgies to be held, including funerals, wed- dings, baptisms, and any other cause for a church gathering, other than private prayer. Churches remain open, but Masses are being held online rather than in-house. And as a further effort to limit physical interaction, churches were not permitted to hand out palms on Palm Sunday, which was April 5.

“We all miss worshipping together,” said Rev. Terrence Buckley of Christ Episcopal Church in Bellport.

Services have been moved online, but they have not stopped. Buckley is holding twice daily prayers on Facebook Live, and is set up for this weekend’s Holy Week services to be held there, too. One thing he’s missing this year is the annual collection of local churches at the Bellport Dock on Easter morning to do a collective prayer. He may still go himself and do a prayer video on Facebook.

At Temple Beth-El in Patchogue, Rabbi Azriel Fellner has set up Zoom to continue services and communicate with community members. Though he said it will be sad when people go to celebrate the Seder on the first two nights of Passover, a tradition that typically brings families together to share a meal and tell the story of the Jews leaving Egypt.

“The hardest thing is that we can’t come together as a community,” Fellner said of the situation.

But the rabbi is encouraging people to stay home, and will be performing services on Zoom Thursday and Friday for Passover, and will be hosting a Sunday class, Coffee and Conversation, also on Zoom. And Fellner is trying to communicate to his community that health is the most important thing in the Jewish tradition. He said tradition allows for people to do whatever they need to preserve their personal health.

“Your health comes first; everything else is secondary,” Fellner said.

Buckley added that he has been checking in on older members of the parish, due to concerns for higher-risk people, who seem to be doing well. But he still misses being able to be together with people, especially in difficult times.

“From a pastoral standpoint, it’s really hard,” he added.

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