J Family Drive-In pulls community together with big screen event

Local kids made themselves comfortable in, by or on top of their cars, watching the featured films at the J Family Drive-In. (Community photo by Robbyn McClain)Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence

By Lisa Hornung
For Community

Jewish Louisville, hungry for some kind social gathering amid a coronavirus surge, got what they wanted Sunday, July 26, in a retro sort of way: a drive-in movie.
About 100 people from the Jewish Community Center traveled to LaGrange for J Family Drive-In Movie Night at the C. Families gathered in their cars, with lawn chairs, snacks and pillows to watch Despicable Me and The Goonies on the big screen.
The theater asked motorists to park six feet apart and required masks for those walking around or getting concessions. The movie cost $5 per carload, thanks to a grant by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.
Alison Roemer, director of Jewish journeys and experiences, planned the event to offer JCC families a chance to come together for fun, but to stay socially distant and safe.
“We’re just trying to give people opportunities to connect with the Jewish community,” Roemer said. “That’s sort of what this event was, you know. We can’t really be together, but we want to bring the Jewish community out in a way that’s socially appropriate.”
Rachel and David Goldman brought their two boys, Judah, 8, and Shai, 4, to the drive-in for a chance to get out of the house.
“I actually had just been looking at the drive-in movie, and we got the email (about the event) like the next day,” Rachel said. “I was like, ‘Let’s do it with some JCC people.’”
The Goldmans, who met at the JCC as children, were pleased to stay connected with other J families.
“We’re always happy to do things with the JCC and to get together with other people,” Rachel said. “We’ve been stuck inside. Now, we have camp, and the pool is open, which is great. But we’ve been kind of stuck, not getting to do a whole lot.”
Emily Renco and Elizabeth Davis – area teenagers – sat in the back of an SUV, waiting to watch the movies. They had been to the drive-in before with BBYO, they said. This time, according to Davis, they were just “looking to do something, to get out of the house.”
Sara Klein Wagner, president and CEO of the Jewish Community of Louisville (JCL), praised the event.
“It’s an unusual summer, and therefore we have to take advantage of extraordinary opportunities to bring people together safely,” Wagner said. “People binge watch everything in their homes, so this way they can get out outside and enjoy people from afar.”
Neil Davidoff and his son Richard, 12, sitting in their lawn chairs ready to watch the movie, were grateful that JCC events are resuming.
“We did go to the JCC pool just the other day, and you know, it’s good, that there’s still community events going on,” Davidoff said.
Marsha Bornstein, director of the Louisville Jewish Film Festival, went to the movies with her daughter, Michelle, and her three grandchildren. Their two cars were parked side by side, prepared for a fun night.
“We came early so we could get the best seat in the house, next to each other, and we’re so excited,” Bornstein said. “This is just perfect. I’m so thrilled to see people I know.”
While Bornstein has been furloughed from the JCC (she returns in August), she’s been helping her daughter, who works from home, with the children.
“It’s been really challenging,” she said. “When the JCC pool opened, that helped. We went swimming yesterday.”
Roemer said she was pleased with the turnout and hopes to keep encouraging families to stay connected.
“You know, we hope people will look for opportunities and ways to come out and try to get their children to be involved in some way during the coronavirus in whatever safe way is possible,” she said. “Obviously, we’re all kind of feeling the strain of not being able to get out and be with our friends.”

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