Reston, VA

With Passover and Easter quickly approaching, religious organizations and state officials are encouraging people to find alternatives to large group celebrations.

Easter Sunday falls on April 12 and Passover begins on Thursday (April 9) and ends on April 16 this year — around when statisticians hypothesize COVID-19 will peak in the D.C. area.

To obey state mandates and keep their followers healthy, religious groups such as St Joseph Catholic Church and the Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon decided to host celebrations digitally and provide guides for stay-at-home worship.

For Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, while Passover is a Jewish holiday to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses.

Fairfax County released a statement reminding people that it is illegal to gather in groups of 10 or more and requested that people celebrate at home with immediate family members.

“Consider the use of technology to gather people virtually in your home to have shared meals,” the statement said. “Through various media platforms, communal sharing and celebration of religious observances can continue while keeping each other safe.”

Similar recommendations will be in place for Ramadan, which begins later in the month.

The Virginia Department of Health also released a public service announcement, primarily echoing Fairfax County’s statement.

“While the Passover Seder often includes extended family and friends, it is by tradition a ceremony of the home,” the Virginia Department of Health said. “The essence of the Seder can be the same: sitting with your family around the dining room table to remember the exodus.”

“The purpose of Jumu’a is to gather the entire community together in one place for prayer and since that cannot be done safely, imams are asking each person to pray in their own home,” according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The New York Times published an article exploring how added stress from the pandemic might influence people’s mindsets and emotions during the spring holiday season.

The article’s author encouraged readers to celebrate through family activities like video chatting, reading to one another, playing games and signing.

Congregation Beth Emeth held it’s first digital Passover celebration this morning and will host another tomorrow (April 9) at 9 a.m., the website link. People can tune in at the link listed on the group’s website, which also listed places locals can order kosher groceries and celebratory supplies.

St Joseph Catholic Church is hosting an online Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night (April 11) at 8:30 p.m. as well as an Easter morning Mass in Spanish at 12 p.m. and English at 10 a.m. Links can be found on the church’s website.

Photo via Olivia Snow/Unsplash

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