With COVID-19 restrictions easing on Long Island, this summer affords opportunities to resume religious activities beyond one's social bubble. This week’s clergy discuss how they are celebrating with a cautious return to the sanctuary, holiday gatherings and home visits.
The Rev. Vicky L. Eastland
Pastor, Brookville Reformed Church
The pandemic forced many clergy to adapt to technologies, like Zoom, that were new to us before COVID-19. Virtual church became a blessing in so many ways.
A couple from our congregation moved to Tom’s River Township in New Jersey at the height of the pandemic, which did not afford them the opportunity to find a church in their new neighborhood. Zoom church gave them the chance to remain active and connected to the congregation they had left. My husband and I finally went to visit them this month in their new place. We were able to give each other hugs, share meals together and have in-person conversations about faith and family instead of the virtual conversations we had been having over the past year and a half. It was a reunion long in the making as we had waited to be fully vaccinated before traveling to New Jersey to be together.
The leadership of Brookville Church decided we all needed a break after 63 weeks of church services on Zoom. Pastors rarely get a break to rest and enjoy their parishioners in a more relaxed setting. I look forward to many more happy reunions over the summer months.
Rabbi Mendy Goldberg
Lubavitch of the East End, Coram
Summertime means sun and fun in the outdoors — all wonderful albeit materialistic ways of occupying our time.
Jewish mysticism views the summer as a season to reflect and to truly expand our horizons, to appreciate and harness this season’s blessings to achieve greater spiritual endeavors. As the temperature rises and the rays of the sun give warmth, knowledge, spirituality and closeness to God help us to grow and feel the warmth of our family and acquaintances. From this perspective, the last year made us stronger and more imbued with purpose and focus in our spiritual aspirations.
With the ability to congregate together, and especially during the High Holidays celebrated this year in September, we will harness these energies by preparing activities and High Holiday programs for all ages to enjoy. We will aim to bring the light and spirit of the holidays to those who in the previous year have not been able to celebrate with others. We are opening our doors to all regardless of membership — with no fees for tickets — just for them to come, grow, get a spiritual boost and a dose of sweet mysticism and optimism for the High Holidays and the new year that begins on Rosh Hashanah.
Member, board of directors, Multi-Faith Forum of Long Island
Last year the COVID-19 pandemic deprived us of many activities previously taken for granted, such as social and extended family gatherings, working at the office and in-person medical visits. But perhaps most troubling for observant Hindus such as myself was the inability to worship at my Hicksville temple, which was closed during lockdown. At home I could do yoga, meditate or chant bhajan songs with uplifting lyrics to bring peace of mind. However, the loneliness and isolation I felt in not being able to worship in a public space with friends and family have begun to subside as more people have become vaccinated.
Although we are not yet out of the woods, I now feel confident about such religious activities as singing devotional songs and meditating in group settings. And for the first time since 2019, I am able to celebrate Guru Puja this weekend with friends and family. On this day, we pay tribute to our spiritual teacher by chanting together about the importance and glory of having a guru in your life.
Furthermore, as a member of the Multi-Faith Forum, I am now able to make presentations on Hinduism in person, instead of on Zoom, at senior centers.
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