Celebrate Spring with local Passover, Easter and seasonal events

Local organizations are creatively celebrating long-held traditions this season 

Challah bread is forbidden during Passover, but is a prized first post-Passover dinner staple (Yitzchock Kahan/Special to The Sun).

As the world enters its second pandemic spring, local organizations are finding creative ways to keep traditions alive.

From holidays like Easter and Passover to the seasonal reopening of favorite local spots, spring is a time for celebration. At Chabad in Medford, a Jewish community organization, the pandemic provided a way to reconnect with faith from home.

“Judaism is really a home-based religion,” said Rabbi Yitzchock Kahan. “Synagogues, or communal gatherings are there to inspire our home base. We look for opportunities to give people that comfort and convenience.”

Passover, one of several major Jewish holidays, began on March 27 and continues through April 3. This year, Chabad is observing the festival under the slogan “Celebrating along, together.”

Kahan created a tutorial video called “How to Passover.” The organization provided catered to-go or delivery seder and hosted a small, socially-distanced community seder. Chabad is also offering holiday services indoors and outdoors.

“No matter what the circumstance was, no matter what the restrictions are, I want to be able to provide the Jewish experience to the people,” Kahan explained. “Just because we are physically limited, doesn’t mean that we are spiritually or culturally restricted.”

More information on how to participate in Chabad’s Passover celebration is available at chabadmedford.org.

In Tabernacle, the Church of the Holy Eucharist is celebrating Easter with a similar sentiment in mind: faith is about building relationships.

“We’re recognizing that the church isn’t just a building,” said Jessica Garrett, communications coordinator for the church. “It’s about connecting.”

Holy Eucharist is providing parishioners with a “Holy Week Kit,” which includes activities that individuals and families can participate in for each day of Holy Week. The kits include palms for Palm Sunday, a virtual Easter egg hunt and an at-home veneration of the cross. Parishioners will also be invited to attend mass in the church’s parking lot on Easter Sunday.

The Church of the Holy Eucharist in Tabernacle will host a parking lot mass on Easter Sunday. Parishioners can bring lawn chairs and socially-distance while attending the service (Jessica Garrett/Special to The Sun).

“We still want to be able to meet the people who would normally come,” Garrett explained, noting that a virtual version of mass will also be available. “Still keeping the tradition, bringing our technology together and just giving a fresh and joyful experience is our goal for Easter this year.”

More information on Holy Eucharist’s Easter celebration is available at holyeucharist.org.

Throughout the region, many other organizations are planning events to celebrate spring.

  • Atsion Recreation Area reopens for the season on April 1. For a list of activities, visit njparksandforests.org
  • V & V Adventure Farm in Shamong is hosting Easter hayrides and egg hunts on April 2 and 3. More information is available at vvadventurefarm.com
  • Crossroads Church in Shamong is hosting an Easter basket fundraiser. All donations will support its food pantry. To donate, contact foodpantry08088@gmail.com
  • St. Mary of the Lakes Church in Medford will host in-person mass for each day of Holy Week. For a full schedule, including simulcast information, visit smlparish.org
  • Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford invites families to “ReDiscover” the refuge from April 2 to 5. A programming schedule and information for registration is available at cedarrun.org.