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Local churches, synagogues offer online services for Passover, Easter

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Posted at 1:25 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 16:39:38-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — One of the most spiritual times of the year for people of the Christian and Jewish faiths will look much different this year.

Passover begins on Wednesday, but because of social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, many synagogues are not holding in-person services.

Instead, they're streaming their services online.

The same goes for many churches in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, which are live streaming Easter services this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

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"We got with the churches and the synagogues very early and said, in times like this, what you guys are doing is even more important," Gov. Ron DeSantis said in Tallahassee last week. "But we ask that you do it in a way that is going to be conducive to this overall mission."

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Florida's sweeping "stay at home" order, which is in effect until April 30, is causing controversy because it allows churches, synagogues, and houses of worship to remain open.

Many Floridians worry that will cause clusters of people to be together at once during religious services.

"I don't think the government has the authority to close a church. I'm certainly not going to do that," DeSantis said.

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The governor said religious centers across the state have agreed to practice social distancing guidelines, and many are only offering online services.

"Some have gone virtual. Some have had people but they've been spread out far enough," DeSantis said. "There's no reason why you couldn't do a church service with people 10 feet apart."

While the governor said social distancing is more important than ever, he also feels religious services are critical during such an uncertain time.

"In times like this, I think the service they're performing is going to be very important for people, especially when you have difficult circumstances," DeSantis said.

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County is offering online resources for families in the area.

For a list of local synagogues offering virtual services for Passover, click here.

For a list of local churches offering virtual services for Easter, click here.