Churches, synagogues to mark Easter, Passover in innovative ways amid coronavirus pandemic

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As Holy Week began, Christians around the world marked Palm Sunday without palm branches and massive church gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, an influential group of rabbis in Israel ruled that Passover could be shared with extended family and friends over the online video conference system Zoom, a shocking move that was condemned by other Jewish leaders given the rigid holy day restrictions among devout believers.

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One of the holiest times of the year, these religious holidays with ancient roots will be marked in new ways.

“We may cancel Easter services, but the promises of Easter cannot be. That’s above our pay grade," Pastor Max Lucado told Fox News Channel chief religion correspondent Lauren Green in a recent podcast episode. "The promise of Easter is that Christ rose from the dead. He's defeated death and He demonstrated his power over death by exiting the tomb.”

A lot of priests and rabbis will not be speaking to packed congregations this year during Holy Week and Passover due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A lot of priests and rabbis will not be speaking to packed congregations this year during Holy Week and Passover due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Green noted that stay-at-home online church can have added benefits for many believers.

"Sometimes going to church is kind of like checking a box," observed Green. "But in-home worship makes it more of a relationship with the living God."

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For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, sacraments like the Holy Communion cannot be taken through a screen, but many leaders, including the Archdiocese of Chicago, have issued decrees dispensing Catholics from Easter duty.

Pope Francis' traditional Easter message will be livestreamed from the Vatican, as the virus continues to run rampant in Italy.

Rabbi Anchelle Perl of Chabad Mineola on Long Island issued a “Passover Eve Warning.”

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“I am no Moses, but I can assure you, keeping social distancing, even at the expense of having limited people at the Seder table, is now one of the Ten Commandments, at least for the time being,” he wrote to worshipers.

President Trump, who watched Pastor Greg Laurie's Harvest Church Palm Sunday service, said "it's sad" that many will be observing Easter from a laptop.