The Second Time Around: Preparing for Passover & Easter

Join the gathering March 19 09:00 am - 11:45 am EST.  Sign Up Here. 

As with other milestones, we will mark this spring, it is hard to believe that we are rapidly approaching our second year celebrating Passover and Easter in the midst of the COVD-19 pandemic. It was disorienting, to say the least, trying to figure out how to observe these sacred occasions meaningfully last year when Zoom—our pandemic lifeline—was still a novelty for many people. Yet, here we are—one year later. At this point, we know how this all works. Zoom. Video recordings. Mute. Unmute. “Wait I can’t hear you. You forgot to unmute yourself.” We have grown more accustomed to this previously unimaginable way of expressing ourselves spiritually. Still, it feels as if we remain “strangers in a strange land,” to invoke the language of the Passover drama.

This Friday morning, Hebrew College, Boston University School of Theology, and Boston College School of Theology and Ministry will, for the fourth year, hold our annual interreligious gathering “Preparing Our Hearts for Passover & Easter.” It is designed as an opportunity for graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members to explore the similarities and differences of these sacred springtime celebrations. In the “Before Times,” this event was held at a synagogue located between the three schools. Last year, we were forced to shift to Zoom, working furiously to translate something of the richness of our previous in-person gatherings into a compelling online event. We were relieved and energized to hear that many people in our communities found the experience deeply meaningful. Given the uncertainty and anxiety of the still new and unfolding health crisis, the program served to help us—including many folks preparing to lead Passover seders and Easter worship services—sift through a range of personal and professional questions about the meaning of liberation, loss, resurrection, and community in a time of crisis.

This year, preparations have unfolded more smoothly. Online registrations? No problem. Breakout rooms? Those old things? Check! By now, we all know how to do this. The orienting question “the second time around” is how to observe these holy days in this liminal moment between lockdown and a return to “normality” (to use a Faucian term). How do we thoughtfully give expression to our grief, outrage, and fear and to our gratitude, love, and hope? Can we hold the realities of widespread illness and systemic racism in one hand and unprecedented scientific breakthroughs and the resilience of our democracy in the other? And can we, as religious leaders, help others explore these varied phenomena and the accompanying mixed emotions?

In crafting this year’s program, we are attempting to create a sacred space in which our communities can lean into the tension and discomfort of the moment, using the modalities of prayer, music, visual art, and intentional discussion to explore this unusual range of emotions (which will undoubtedly run high for many people during the upcoming holidays). Among the special features of the morning will be a preview of a photographic exhibit (to be unveiled next month) curated by Brenda Bancel entitled “Faith in Isolation Expressed.” Ms. Bancel has assembled an expansive collection of photographs capturing the many ways people in Boston and throughout the world have engaged in ritual practice over the last twelve months. As we move through the morning, we will use the following questions as touchstones:

  • What is one practice that has helped ground you this past year?
  • How might we integrate the realities of this moment into our holiday observances?
  • Where or with whom have you found community in the midst of this prolonged period of social distancing and isolation?
  • What lessons about ritual practice might we carry with us into the post-COVID era?
  • How has the pandemic impacted your understanding of community—virtual and in-person?

While we are certainly not out of the woods of this global public health crisis yet, there does seem to be the reason for hope. In coming together across our schools with people from different faith traditions, we seek to better understand all that has unfolded in our world over the past year, and how to contribute to the renewal of life at the heart of our respective spring holy days.

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

In order to keep this newfound sense of faith alive and to learn from the wisdom of others, I created a spiritual exercise out of interviewing people around the world about the role of faith changing their lives.
Imam Sultan was greatly revered for his compassionate outlook on life inspired by his faith. He was known for his interfaith leadership in the higher education field and as an active bridge builder.
The site was reported as having a significant number of Sikh employees, and the massacre has left the community shaken and in grief.
This is a sampling of sacred texts and statements, listed in alphabetical order by religion, that religious communities have used to engage in the work of public health amidst this global pandemic.
Ms. Moore discusses what an Office of Equity and Racial Justice does, how she and her team adapted amid the pandemic, and how religious communities are crucial partners for social change, connection, and healing.  
"We know that people of all faiths and philosophical traditions hold shared values that can serve as a foundation for a common life together."
How do we fight the evil and darkness during this time? No matter how small or how far we might be from the situation, we could use our voices to speak up, come to stand together as one human kind.
Musa writes an insightful analysis of data at the intersection of race and religion. He writes: "non-Black Americans seem to be fleeing religion because it’s become too political. Blacks seem to be leaving because it’s not political enough."
And as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, the currently closed museum is highlighting these artifacts tied to Islam on its website's blog.
In light of the urgent need for care within our families, communities, and movements, where can and should interfaith leaders fit in?
In the United States, our laws assure the separation of Church and State. So Sikh and Muslim kids growing up in public schools will never be taught that Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Vaisakhi, which falls April 13 or 14 depending on which of two dueling calendars one follows, marks the day in 1699 when Sikhism took its current form.
The presentation focused on how chaplains and spiritual life professionals can discover and utilize meaningful data to demonstrate the value of their work in higher education.
Still, there were glimmers that Ramadan 2021 could feel less restricted than last year, when Islam’s holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar commemorating Muhammad’s reception of the Qur’an, begins on Monday.
"Ramadan can be an opportunity for Muslims in interfaith relationships to introduce their partners to the core beliefs and teachings of Islam, as well as to the ways different Muslim cultures share what is a deeply communal experience."
This year, Ramadan will begin on Monday or Tuesday (April 12 or 13), depending on when Muslims around the world sight the new moon that signals the beginning of the lunar month.
"In the Qur’an, God – Exalted Be He – proclaims that we should ask the people endowed with knowledge…All the experts are saying the same thing: please get vaccinated and do it now."
"Among the topics educators must address to reduce bullying and to ensure representation in the classroom are religion and religious identity."
Whether I am based in Los Angeles, Washington DC, or Kansas City, I remain committed to building bridges of mutual respect and understanding among people of different backgrounds.
Biden said the partnership between the seminary and a community health center is one of many that are happening between religious and medical organizations across the nation.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.