Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi, Ramadan: Milwaukee celebrates major religious holidays during a pandemic
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Religious holidays this month are being celebrated using social distancing, but faith leaders say that doesn't mean people of faith have to be spiritually distant.
Many places of worship around the state are getting creative in how they celebrate. Many have moved their services online. Others are offering drive-up services.
At Faith Builders Church, they held a virtual service on Easter Sunday and invited congregation members to a drive-up blessing after the service was over. Senior Pastor Jeff Pruitt prayed over each family as they drove up in their cars.
"They're just smiling and crying, and actually it was a little overwhelming because I didn't think it was going to be that kind of a response," Pruitt said.
Places of worship from many different faiths are now worshiping via YouTube and Facebook Live.
"This month is Passover for the Jewish community, Easter for the Christian community, Vaisakhi for the Sikh community, Ramadan for the Muslim community... April is a very holy month," said Pardeep Kaleka, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.
Congregation Shalom Milwaukee held a virtual sing-along Sunday morning and wished everyone a Happy Passover. Passover is celebrated from April 8 to April 16.
Ramadan will be celebrated from April 23 to May 23. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year.
Kaleka will be surrounded by family as he celebrates Vaisakhi from home on Monday. He said it's a new year and a festival of spring and strength.
"A lot of people of faith have really been tested," Kaleka said. " I think just wanting to congregate and physically gather and not being able to has really tested our spiritually."
But it's also a time to form new connections. Archbishop Jerome Listecki invited Christians from all denominations to ring bells together at noon on Sunday.
"My brothers and sisters, how I long to be with you on Easter," Listecki said during a service livestreamed Sunday morning. "But I am so happy that we have the opportunity at least through this broadcast to be together."
Kaleka said virtual services can actually provide a blessing in disguise for those who are curious about other religions but afraid to step foot in other houses of worship.
"Let me learn a little bit more about Islam. Let me learn a little bit more about Sikhism, Christianity and Judaism and all of these different faiths. What we're basically saying is, 'I want to learn a little bit more about you,'" he said.