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'This adversity is an opportunity' | Charlotte faith leaders adjust as Passover, Easter traditions move online

Faith leaders say this is a good time to reflect on what the holidays are actually about, rather than focusing on the social plans accompanying them.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's a holy week for many — Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday and Easter is right around the corner. Normally, many would gather together at the dinner table, but the coronavirus has celebrations moved online.

It comes at a crucial point in the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know that these holidays, Good Friday, Easter and Passover, will tempt people to get together," Governor Roy Cooper said at a press conference Tuesday. "It’s usually a time for families but it is not safe to gather with extended families and friends right now."

Keeping the faith can be hard but there are parallels to the struggles people are facing right now in many religions.

Passover Seders, the dinner that involves retelling the story of slavery and freedom, will be much smaller and online. But the Israelites celebrated the very first Passover in quarantine.

“The core foundation of Judaism is actually not meant for the synagogue or temple, it’s meant to be at home, it’s meant to be your family," says Rabbi Bentzi with Chabad of Charlotte. "That’s the first step of building a community, building a faith."

Several Charlotte-area synagogues and churches are streaming services online.

RELATED: Keeping the Faith: How Easter, Passover gatherings are adapting to social distancing

Transformation Church had been before the pandemic and their following is now five times bigger than it was three weeks ago. The lead pastor says there are lessons to be learned from the meaning of Easter.

“Because the tomb is empty, we too shall rise," says Dr. Derwin L. Gray. "When Jesus died, he defeated death in his resurrection, so we are more than conquerors in him who loves us. This adversity is an opportunity to experience his love deeper and to sacrificially and generously love people who are hurting."

Faith is comforting for many, and will still be there when life gets back to "normal.”

“After we get through COVID, I do believe there is going to be such a hunger for physical contact and community that it can actually be beautiful,” Gray said.

Leaders in both faiths say this is a great opportunity to really reflect on what the holidays are actually about, rather than focusing on plans or stressing about a big meal.

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