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, religious groups such as Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church and Saint John the Beloved in McLean are encouraging their patrons to worship at home this year or through digital means.
For Christians, Easter is a celebration of resurrection of Jesus 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.”
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.”
Similar recommendations will be in place for Ramadan, which begins later in the month.
“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.
For celebrations scheduled to take place this week, Saint John the Beloved, the Catholic church in McLean, has links on its website to online Mass and Easter celebrations at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Temple Rodef Shalom has updated its Facebook page to reflect the upcoming digital Seder celebrations, which will take place through Zoom from 5:30-8:30 p.m. People are asked to preregister and will receive a link shortly after.
For other religious ceremonies and support groups, Tysons Reporter previously did a roundup to see how places of worship are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.