PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Easter and Passover are a special time of year for communal get-togethers and services. But in this time of social distancing, we’ll be observing them from home.
There will be no Palm Sunday Services at St. Paul Cathedral to kick off Holy Week.
There will be masses and services this week, but you can only view them online.
Holy Week and Passover mark then most sacred time on the Judeo-Christian Calendar, but this year the doors of churches and synagogues are locked.
“It’s natural that we’re going to feel an ache of not being able to be with people that we love, and I especially feel that,” said Bishop David Zubik.
Instead of communal services, seders and Easter dinners, these holy days will be observed mostly online through computer screens. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, Protestant churches and synagogues are streaming services online hoping congregants connect with the deeper meaning.
“We’re a congregation that like to be together and do things together,” said Rev. Jeff Sterling of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “But the message is the Holy Spirit is not held to geography. So the Spirit can be wherever we are.”
In Squirrel Hill a line formed outside Murray Avenue Kosher to buy shankbones and matzah for Wednesday night’s Passover Seder, where Terri Cowan and her husband will connect with other friends and families over Zoom.
“I think it will work out well. It won’t be good as being with family and other people, but I’m thankful to have my husband,” she said.
“Sometimes you have to take a small loss for a greater gain,” said Rabbi Daniel Schon of the Kollel Jewish Learning Center. “I think that for many of us, that’s what we’ve been doing with this coronavirus pandemic.”
But in addition to a loss of community, there has also a financial hit for the congregations themselves. Bishop Zubik has set up a special fund to help struggling parishes and the families they serve during what is usually a time of substantial giving.
“I think we’re especially worried about some parishes that are going to be in tough shape,” he says. “Especially we have to be consciously aware of some people who financially are having some difficulties because of this. That what the find had been established for.”