Different religious institutions in South Florida have joined together to host virtual interfaith services and uplift people’s spirits during the new coronavirus pandemic.
One of these online services was an “Interfaith Vigil of Prayer” that was led by clergy of three houses of worship in Jupiter –Temple Beth Am, JupiterFirst Church and St. Peter Catholic Church. The service featured prayer, music, conversations and candle lighting.
Rabbi Alon Levkovitz of Temple Beth Am, Rev. Donald T. Finney of St. Peter and JupiterFirst’s senior minister Kevin Young all delivered sermons during the service and were joined by two musicians.
“We all have different perspectives,” Levkovitz said. “We’re Jewish, we’re Catholic and we’re Protestant, so we look at this crisis in similar ways but with different nuances.”
Levkovitz continued, “This is the first time that I can think of something that has affected the entire world, and we stressed during the service how all of us are in this together.”
Levkovitz told the virtual service’s viewers that the angels he has encountered throughout his life are ordinary people who happen to be at the right place at the right time and chose to do the right thing, including police officers, firefighters, nurses, doctors and supermarket employees working during this crisis.
Finney told the viewers, “As people of faith, lean into your faith.”
"Follow the guidelines, stay at home, wash your hands, keep your distance and turn worry into prayer."
Young told the viewers, "Your hands may feel tied, but I don't believe that they are."
“I believe that during this season, there is no more important time for us to be God’s people and to live as people of faith.”
Through this service, the religious institutions have collected more than $10,000 to support local healthcare professionals treating patients affected by the coronavirus. Visit templebetham.com/worship/livestream, facebook.com/templebethamjupiteror live.jupiterfirst.org to view the service.
This interfaith service was one of many that the three religious institutions have collaborated on together in the last 20 plus years. In late October 2018, Temple Beth Am hosted an “Interfaith Vigil Against Hate and Anti-Semitism,” where clergy from the synagogue and both churches led prayers for the victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. They also jointly host a service annually on Thanksgiving.
Leaders of Temple Judea in Coral Gables and First United Methodist Church of Miami are collaborating for a virtual interfaith healing service co-sponsored by MCCJ (formerly known as the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews) and Interfaith Miami at 7 p.m. on April 22.
Jodi Rozental, cantorial soloist at Temple Judea, and Gerardo José Ortega, director of music ministries at FUMC, will co-lead the service. Both religious institutions have conducted their own healing services the past few years and also co-led an interfaith one in December 2019.
Rozental said it's extraordinarily meaningful for everyone to come together virtually during this crisis.
"It was so important for us to do this before [the pandemic]. When we did this in December, we knew that bringing people together was of utmost importance with everything that's going on in the world and in our politics as there's so much division, so there's always such a great need to bring clergy partners of different faith traditions together, even more so now."
Ortega, who has also been part of Temple Judea’s High Holidays choir, was inspired to recreate a healing service for his church after attending Rozental’s at her synagogue. He said regarding this new incarnation of the healing service, “The goal is to aid in healing through the scriptures, no matter the creed, and the arts so that the deepest wounds of our spirits can be tended to.”