Churches and synagogues go digital amid coronavirus

Middle Collegiate Church’s Rev. Jacqui Lewis (pictured left during Pride last year) said that the church wants to encourage community even while people can’t meet together in person. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In this bizarre new world of isolation and self-quarantine, local houses of worship are adjusting with the circumstances to bring services to people in their homes to give New Yorkers a sense of community. 

Various synagogues and churches emailed members at the end of last week as the number of coronavirus cases in the city began escalating and government officials began to implement restrictions on gatherings, letting them know that services would be live-streamed or in some cases available to watch later. Rabbi Josh Stanton of East End Temple sent a message to members of the synagogue near Stuyvesant Square Park last Thursday to announce that the building would be closed starting on Friday following the advice of public health officials. 

“This is a moment in which we need to fully live out our values, in this case to protect each other and society more broadly from the spread of COVID-19,” Stanton said in the email. “We acknowledge that some other institutions will remain open, but we feel a social duty to engage in ‘social distancing’ in order to slow the spread of the virus. […] At the same time, we need to be even more present for each other. Each household can expect to hear from our clergy in the coming week. We also invite you to call and email your friends from the community, so that they can feel the warmth of the relationship.”

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Things to do during Pride Week

The New York City Dyke March takes place this Saturday evening. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Easily the most well-known gay pride event in New York City is the parade that happens at the end of every June, this year scheduled for this Sunday, but a number of other events are planned for this weekend in addition to the march. Read on for a list of local gatherings aimed at celebrating LGBTQ pride.

Shake Shack will be hosting a free quiet dance party to on Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. in the original Madison Square Park location at East 23rd Street. The event will be hosted by Quiet Events, a company that loans out wireless headphones for quiet dance parties throughout the city, and there will be three live DJs playing top 40 dance hits, throwbacks and hip-hop, reggae and soca. Entrance is free but a credit card is required to check in and receive the wireless headphones. The event is all ages and rainbow colors are encouraged for the dress code. Shake Shake food and drinks will be available for purchase. RSVP is available online.

While the New York City Dyke March is usually a raucous good time, the organizers technically bill the event as a protest rather than a party. The march, held on the Saturday before the parade, is mostly lesbian-led and those who don’t identify as “dykes” are encouraged to stand on the sidewalk and cheer on the participants. The organizers usually don’t seek a permit for the march, further emphasizing the political aspects of the event. Participants will step off from Bryant Park at 5 p.m. on June 23 and walk down Fifth Avenue, ending at Washington Square Park.

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Local sites to be explored in Open House New York

Church of the Transfiguration at 1 East 29th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Church of the Transfiguration at 1 East 29th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Open House New York, an annual event that encourages conversations about architecture, public spaces and urban life, will be taking place throughout the city this weekend. Buildings and parks throughout the five boroughs will be participating and a handful of local institutions are opening their doors to the public, with no entrance fees at these participating sites.

Most of the open access sites offering tours this weekend are buildings, including historic landmarks and skyscrapers, but one unexpected offering includes the greenmarket at Union Square. The site serves as an info hub for the event all day on Saturday but is also featured as a site in itself. There will be a behind-the-scenes tour with GrowNYC, the non-profit organization that runs the greenmarket, at 10 a.m. on Saturday to meet some of the farmers who serve as regular vendors that bring fresh produce to New Yorkers.

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