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Easter, Passover in Webcasts

With spring come Easter and Passover, and the White House and a wired New York synagogue are Webcasting their holiday traditions.

As the Net evolves, people increasingly turn to it to conduct all manner of personal affairs--and celebrating holidays is no exception.

With spring come Easter and Passover, and both the White House and a wired New York synagogue are Webcasting their holiday traditions.

On Monday, the White House will broadcast its Easter Egg Roll via the Net, with streaming audio and video technology from ISP EarthLink and other tech firms. The event, dubbed "EasterLink," also will feature an Easter Egg Hunt; displays from international embassies; actors portraying historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Betsy Ross, and George Washington; storytelling by cabinet members as well as actress Jane Seymour and author Amy Tan; and music by Art Garfunkel.

According to the White House, the cybercast can accommodate more than 3 million page views and up to 300,000 concurrent visitors, which is roughly 10 times the expected physical attendance at the event. The White House has hosted an Easter Egg Roll since 1878.

Temple Emanu-El in New York is hosting its third annual CyberSeder, which began at 9 a.m. today PT. The time was chosen to coincide with sundown in Israel, since sundown is the traditional beginning of Passover. The audio broadcast of the seder will be repeated every hour for 24 hours, however, to allow users internationally to listen, according to the synagogue.

Along with the audio portion--which is being broadcast using RealAudio--users can view images and read additional material provided on the site. The broadcast includes traditional music along with readings from historic Haggadot, which are Passover prayer books.

According to the synagogue, more than 1 million people from 71 countries have tuned in to its CyberSeder over the past two years.

New York club the Knitting Factory also is continuing its Webcast seder tradition. The third annual event, being held at Lincoln Center on Sunday, will feature musicians Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, readings from Jewish scholars and activists, a video presentation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, and the traditional service.

Along with the Webcast of the events--which will be broadcast with Microsoft's NetShow technology--those tuning in online can chat.