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The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America

Hosted By: Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program ("CSP")

There is so much more to the New York mountain range than its Borscht Belt reputation suggests. America’s literature, school of art, and hospitality industry were all first founded there—long before the Catskills became known as the quintessential playground for upwardly mobile Jews.

In fact, until the early 20th century, much of the region maintained a strict “No Jews” policy, a situation that changed practically overnight. How did that happen? And, once it did, who were the larger-than-life characters, most of them women, who molded the Catskills into a world-class cultural and socio-economic force? What was the appeal of the place? What defined “Catskills humor” and why did it wield such a persuasive influence on show business? What brought about the end of the Golden Era? And what is taking place up in the mountains today?

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