Churches, synagogues adjust holiday plans due to Coronavirus

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SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — Wednesday marked the beginning of this year’s Passover but festivities will not look the same as years past.

On the first day of the eight-day festival, Spartanburg’s Temple B’Nai Israel Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz donned rubber gloves and a face mask to deliver homemade matzah — unleavened bread traditionally eaten during Passover — to his congregants.

Liebowitz told 7News several holiday essentials are missing from shelves at stores.

“There’s been a real parcity of available Passover supplies at grocery stores for understandable reasons,” he said.

As Seder — a ceremonial dinner at the beginning of Passover — began Wednesday, Liebowitz’s table had fewer attendees than it would during a normal year. Instead of the normal face-to-face chatter of the 15 to 20 people who would have attended, interactions occurred through screens.

“We’re going to be Facebook Live-ing and we’ve invited all of the people to join us through the miracle of that technology,” he said.

In fact, Passover events will take place with the help of technology.

As Passover begins, though, Easter approaches. The COVID-19 pandemic is meddling with that holiday, too.

“It’s very different to be preaching to an empty church on Sundays,” said Dr. James Hailstock, the pastor at New Day Baptist Church.

Despite the outbreak, though, Hailstock had planned an exciting Easter celebration for his church: an in-person service in the church’s parking lot. The extra space would have enabled strict social distancing enforcement while also allowing the community to interact face-to-face.

However, forecast rain this weekend forced Hailstock to postpone the celebration for another week.

Now, congregants will instead have the option to take part in an intercessory call and an online streamed service Sunday morning.

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