Holy days get the social distancing treatment

Being in quarantine doesn’t mean you have to give up on important religious celebrations. Religious leaders incorporate tech into their services.


April 8, 2020

This pandemic might have convinced temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques to shut their doors, but it can’t get between you and your Zoom Seder.

As people from multiple faiths gear up to celebrate the holy days this month — Passover begins at sundown today, Easter is Sunday, and Ramadan starts on April 23 — they are scrambling to recalibrate their traditions for the Quarantine Era.

But religious leaders are bringing the right energy to the holidays. As one Michigan reverend put it to the New York Times, people should get “down and dirty” with at-home rituals.

Salvation is just a delivery order away 

In New York, restaurants are delivering premade, 3-course Seder meals to cut down on grocery shopping. One rabbi in Buffalo is offering an all-purpose Seder in a Box — an innovation that must have Blue Apron quaking in its boots.

Disappointed that you can’t gather at your church for the annual Easter egg hunt? An Ithaca church famed for its pursuits — last year, it snagged 800 guests — is offering egg-hunt to-go bags.

In the handoff, participants get premade Easter eggs stuffed with candy, plus detailed instructions on the best place around the house to hide them.

If you can’t beat it, stream it

Where in-person festivities fail, try going remote. New York’s Middle Collegiate Church has a fully online challenge, with eggs hidden across its website.

To keep alive the hunt for the afikoman — a piece of matzo hidden during the Seder — at least one rabbi has committed to carrying his laptop from room to room and letting the kids direct him on Zoom.

The United Hebrew Congregation, meanwhile, is streaming its Seder celebration, as are many individual families.

Even virtual worlds are getting in on the action:

  • Animal Crossing is bringing you its own version of Easter — Bunny Day — and it is already flooding its world with party balloons in preparation.
  • One Texas church has set up an Easter egg hunt in Minecraft.
  • The hajj, the pilgrimage taken every year by 2m+ Muslims, is canceled this year — so people are turning to VR apps like Experience Mecca to recreate it, sort of.

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