Families continue to celebrate April holidays during quarantine

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Illustration by Eli Weitzman ('20)

Due to the crisis, annual holidays have been forced to shift and adapt with the pandemic.

By Ziv Amsili, Cherry Hill High School East

The annual April holidays are right around the corner, but due to the increasingly infectious virus; COVID-19, some family traditions will have to change.

With the circumstances at hand, such as restricted gatherings of over 50 people, and social distancing, there are clearly no congregations held at the church, mosques, synagogues or temples concerning religious prayer.

Family gatherings that were annually looked forward upon have also been canceled. Passover, Easter and Ram Navami, religious holidays around the corner, will not be celebrated by members of the community with the same traditional congregational worship and community gatherings.

It’s really difficult to find a religious support system [during this time] without everyone being at church, and it is also hard to be spiritual when there is no congregation”

— Abby Alexander ('22)

Easter, the Christian holiday celebrating Jesus’ resurrection is usually celebrated with family and friends, going to church on Easter Sunday and coming together as a congregation. This Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, however, some of the Cherry Hill East community’s own students are celebrating differently.

Abby Alexander (‘22), says that during Easter, her family usually goes to church on Sunday morning and then has a holiday brunch with her family from Pennsylvania.

This year her traditional event will not be taking place, however. St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, PA, the church that Alexander goes to will instead be live streaming Sunday mass on Facebook/YouTube, at the same time the supposed church hours were to be attended to. Additionally, most churches’ do an annual Easter egg hunt which has also been canceled for the younger kids.

“It’s really difficult to find a religious support system [during this time] without everyone being at church, and it is also hard to be spiritual when there is no congregation”, says Alexander.

Others, such as Isabel John (‘22), will be praying with her family at her house and following the usual mass on YouTube. Gatherings with cousins, aunts, and uncles have also been canceled.

Passover, a Jewish religious holiday that dedicates remembrance to the Jews exodus from Egypt, is also celebrated with family and friends attending synagogue and celebrating with an annual Passover Seder (religious dinner including praising symbolic foods), usually for the two nights of Passover. This year, Passover on April 8, 2020, and April 9, 2020, will also be modified due to restrictions posed by social distancing.

For example, Elisa Goodman (‘22), says that usually, her family from Maryland ends up driving to her house for Passover. This year, however, she is doing a seder with her family that lives in Maryland on zoom (a great solution to communicate virtually while maintaining traditions).

Due to the coronavirus, she says it will be harder to keep the Passover restrictions such as eating leavened grains (wheat, barley, and rye) that are present in foods like bread, pasta (with gluten), cookies, etc. because of precaution to visit the grocery store to restock on foods.

“I am disappointed that I cannot see my family and [friends] but I think [staying home] is a new experience for everyone,” says Goodman.

Sam Friedman (‘22), also says that despite the current circumstance of social distancing is present, he will still be communicating over zoom with his grandparents from both sides of the family.

Additionally, Hindu Holiday Ram Navami, a holiday in honor of the god Rama celebrates the descent of the god Vishnu as Rama. This year, the holiday was celebrated on April 2, 2020.

Regularly, the holiday was celebrated with Bajans (gatherings of community members chanting for Rama) and fasting for the entire day.

Tharunika Govindasamy (‘22), said that she usually makes a traditional Indian dessert to offer the gods, but this year the only difference between every other year and this year, was that she has gone to the Temple to pray.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several families have been coming up with great alternatives to celebrating the annual April holidays. These families are looking forward to making new memories in innovative ways.

This story was originally published on Eastside on April 6, 2020.