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Easter, Holy Week, Passover services go digital during COVID-19

With social distancing rules in place, houses of worship are observing religious services online.

SAN DIEGO — It's an important week for many world religions, and because of social distancing orders, religious services celebrating Easter, Holy Week, and Passover are going digital. 

For the Jewish community, Passover celebrates the exodus from slavery and rebirth. While many family gatherings and celebrations were canceled, on Wednesday to mark the first day of Passover, many said it was a time to reconnect and appreciate their faith. For example, in the times of COVID-19, family prayers were done on Zoom. 

Up With 8 anchor Stella Escobedo said she was on the phone with her mom getting advice on her Matzo Ball soup, Seder plates, and Passover traditions.

“This is the first time I’ve actually had Passover dinner at my house and cooked everything. It gives you a different appreciation for the meaning of Passover - the appreciation of what the Jews went through as well,” said Escobedo.

Jewish Family Services said it filled 200 bags with Seder ingredients for seniors, and those who could not access the items.  

For many San Diego Catholics, this will be a Lent to remember. 

“Lent is supposed to be about sacrifice and contemplation and let’s face it, we have had a lot to contemplate and sacrifice,” said Kevin Eckery, Catholic Diocese of San Diego spokesperson.

The Catholic Diocese of San Diego will continue to hold mass services online throughout Holy Week in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

San Diego County health officials said that despite the number of COVID-19 cases not drastically increasing, every one needs to avoid any large gatherings - including religious services. 

“I want to encourage everyone no matter what your religion to please continue to avoid public gatherings,” said Greg Cox, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman.

The Catholic Diocese of San Diego stated Easter service will also be held online with Bishop McElroy.

At the Rock Church, Pastor Miles McPherson expects 100,000 people to gather online for church service, and he’s going to wear a suit, which he normally doesn’t do.

“We want to recruit people to volunteer and repair PPE's to give blood and donate money to feed the nurses,” said Pastor McPherson.

While many will miss celebrating their sacred holiday in their house of worship, services will continue online. 

No matter your religion, faith leaders said during this time it’s about being self-sufficient in your faith.

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