‘Drive-in’ Shabbat Comes To East Hampton

Justin Meinken
Rabbi Josh Franklin will lead a Shabbat service at Main Beach on Friday, which people can attend by staying in their cars.

Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback thanks to the novel coronavirus, but it is doubtful anyone has attended a drive-in for a Shabbat service before. That will all change Friday, May 29.

The Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton announced Wednesday that it will premiere its new “Drive-In Shabbat” at Main Beach in the village Friday at 6 PM. Social distancing policies in place due to COVID-19 make it impossible for the Jewish Center to hold its popular Shabbat on the Beach services, so organization leaders came up with a new plan to still have service and go to the beach.

“We have been exploring numerous ways to build community safely while remaining physically distant,” Rabbi Josh Franklin said on Thursday morning. “We have been dreaming up this idea since we realized that we would not be able to hold Shabbat on the Beach beginning Memorial Day this summer.”

Anyone may attend the services.

The Village of East Hampton gave the necessary approvals for the service, since it is being held in a village-owned lot, according to the rabbi.

“Services have been held through Zoom over the past several months, and people are longing for a Jewish experience where they can once again be in a physical community,” a statement from the Jewish Center said. The Shabbat service will be offered in a drive-in theater setting in Lot 2 at Main Beach. “Drive-in Shabbat will enable us to gather safely once more, and to celebrate Shabbat with the same music and rituals that bring us back to the beach week after week.”

“Judaism is not paused during a pandemic,” Rabbi Franklin said in the statement. “To the contrary, we are more in need of Judaism now than ever before.”

Those who attend the service will be given instructions tuning in with an FM radio to hear the services. More information is available at www.jcoh.org/drivein/.

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