Suburban mosques host drive-through Eid celebrations
In what has been a historic year of firsts, Muslims today are observing Eid al-Fitr -- marking the end of a period of dawn-to-dusk fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan -- with drive-through celebrations held in the parking lots of various suburban mosques.
As mosques remain closed due to the state's ban on mass gatherings, most Muslims will perform their morning Eid prayers at home.
Then, thousands of families will set out in decorated cars to join caravans leading to mosques in Bolingbrook, Bridgeview, Naperville, Lombard, Orland Park, Wheaton and Willowbrook. Families can pick up balloons, gifts, toys, sweets and goody bags without getting out of their cars.
"We have to be creative in this time," said Hassan Aly, imam and religious director of The Mecca Center in Willowbrook. "We are expecting over 500 cars."
Typically, more than 3,000 worshippers attend Eid prayers at the center.
Professional photographers and videographers will take pictures of families in their cars and record the three-hour event to be uploaded onto social media.
"We will make this very special memory available for our community," Aly said.
Elgin has launched a new informational video series, "Elgin en Español" or "Elgin in Spanish," to help city officials communicate better with residents.
Police Cmdr. Eric Echevarria and Karina Nava, assistant to the city manager, discuss city services, resources and community news in the video series, which can be viewed on the city's YouTube channel and Facebook page. They talk about taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19 and testing sites.
The city also has added a Spanish-language component to its website, cityofelgin.org/es, providing information and links to resources in Spanish. A Spanish-language version of the city's COVID-19 dashboard also offers data on cases and available hospitals beds. Latinos comprise nearly 50% of Elgin's 1,519 confirmed COVID-19 cases, latest data shows.
A team of suburban Muslim women raised more than $71,000 to help young immigrant men, women and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The fundraising campaign was the collaborative effort of more than a dozen Islamic and interfaith organizations and about 200 people of diverse religious and secular backgrounds, said Anisha Ismail Patel, of Arlington Heights, who has led this initiative since 2019.
"This is an inspiring and united circle which will continue to empower and advocate for our new neighbors," Patel said.
The women raised $40,000 last year to help Viator House of Hospitality and Bethany House of Hospitality that run safe houses in the Northwest suburbs. Viator House shelters 20 young men -- a majority of Muslim faith -- and Bethany House cares for 12 young women and three children.
Carpentersville Village Trustee Maria Vela says the village needs to provide COVID-19 information and resources in Spanish for residents.
Latinos comprise 51% of the town's population and 53% of its 459 cases, according to the latest data.
"If we disseminate information about the virus in their language, it will support our effort to control or somehow to try to lessen the growth of this pandemic," Vela said. "We have to do better."
The village has only one site where COVID-19 testing is available by appointment -- Aunt Martha's Community Health Center. Vela and other suburban elected officials are pushing for more testing sites in Latino communities.
As the COVID-19 pandemic limits police's ability to interact in-person with residents, the Carpentersville Police Department has switched to Facebook and YouTube outreach through bilingual storytelling, and public safety and informational notices.
Social services coordinator Meg Krase serves as the department's Spanish translator and new Latino community liaison providing resources and referrals.
Krase hosts a bilingual program for families via Zoom video conferencing on topics such as vaping, runaways, domestic violence, orders of protection, and housing eviction and foreclosures.
"My goal was to get out into the community. I'm trying to do as much virtually as possible," Krase said.
English is a second language for a large segment of the village's population -- 51% are Latino. Meanwhile, the police department has about 10 Spanish-speaking employees, including officers and support staff, and officers who speak Russian, Polish, Filipino dialects and Urdu/Hindi, Police Chief Michael Kilbourne said.
• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic with Madhu Krishnamurthy at email@example.com.