By Luke Lombardi, Section Editor
Various religious groups in Middlesex County were forced to change how they practiced their religion over the past few months due to government restrictions prohibiting people from mass gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.
Melissa Ellis, one of the faculty members of the MCC Campus Ministry club, said, “My religious practice at home consists of watching Mass on television, tuning into spiritual meditations and chants, family prayer and family reading of the Bible each evening. We share in discussion with our children about what it means to have faith in God and how that faith has an effect on our current world circumstances. The topic of gratitude is also greatly discussed in our home, and we frequently discuss all that we are grateful for and that God’s Blessings are all around us.”
Zenora Lala, an advisor for the MCC Campus Ministry club, said in addition to other things, she is calling and talking to older people to make sure they are doing fine during this time of crisis.
Matthew Castano, a member of the Christian club CRU and MCC student, said, “During these troubling times, we cannot go to church in person. Now, many Christians that I know of have been meeting with their church online through Google meets or Zoom. Also, our club at MCC has continued our meetings online. We meet every Tuesday on Discord and have a dedicated Discord server for the club now.”
Virender Kanwal, the advisor of the Indian Student Association and Hindu Students Council, said she is praying more at home. She also said when students pray, they should ask for strength and connect with our inner selves.
Stan Perlman, the president of Congregation at Beth Ohr in Old Bridge, said, “People can keep the faith by staying connected the best we can. We have a tremendous turnout on Zoom for our Friday night service. People can also keep faith by reaching out to others to just connect. We might be separated by physical distance but we have the ability to stay connected in so many different ways. People can also keep faith by studying Torah and by praying on a daily basis, whatever brings them peace and serenity.”
Perlman said that his congregation is doing Zoom sessions in place of meeting in person. They are also holding classes online two times a week and have special meetings as well when needed.
Rauf Zaman, the Imam at the Muslim Center of Middlesex County, said, “At the mosque we had five daily congregational prayers, including a special one on Fridays that was attended by the entire community. These prayers are all done at home now, individually. We had religious teachings every day. These are now online.”
Zaman said that they are regularly holding prayers for the sick and deceased. They’re helping distribute food and holding the funerals with small gatherings at cemeteries while some scheduled weddings moved online. Though weddings are not happening as often as usual.