Practicing Health Where They Preach

| September 20, 2009

Side by side, hand in hand worshippers of all religions often find themselves in close quarters. This weekend concerns over h1n1 will be high in houses of worship across North Texas and across the world.

After parishioners kneel down at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Allen, they wipe down.

Robert Halladay works in the church administration. "Once mass is over, every pew is disinfected with a cleaner."

He says they clean everything at the encouragement of their pastor.

"Father Tim met with us and decided we should go ahead and be a little proactive."

The customary handshake that occurs during the passing of the peace during mass at St. Jude is also a thing of the past.

"We’ve asked them not to shake hands; just to bow and say peace be with you."

It’s all because of concerns over h1n1 in places where hundreds stand side by side in prayer.

"The first time we asked them not to shake hands, they looked at each other and said, what do we do? I think once it started getting pretty bad and people started getting sick, they all understood why."

Many Catholic congregations around the country, like St. Jude, are no longer sharing wine from the priest’s chalice, and hand sanitizing is now a must before communion.

Friday night and Saturday marks Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. At Temple Emmanuel in North Dallas, it’s business as usual. However, in other synagogues like Temple Beth Zion, Rabbie Moshe Waldoks says the new year means a new approach to well being.

"I’m proposing a pleasant Buddhist bow which acknowledges the person in front of you, or the good old fashioned Obama fist bump."

At the Islamic Association of North Texas, thousands gathered at the Richardson mosque for the final days of Ramadan. Worshipers bow in close proximity, but no one is bowing down to the threat of h1n1.

The directors of the mosque say they went through that drill last year, but have since relaxed their stance.

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Category: Public Health

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