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This IS the Borscht Belt! Talk on Resorts of the Jewish Catskills

Hosted By: The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC)

Nearly a century ago, just 90 miles of New York City, celebrated Jewish resorts – both small and large – were created in the mountain communities of New York’s Sullivan and Ulster Counties. Jewish New Yorkers hungry for mountain air, good (kosher) food, and the American way of leisure came to the mountains by the thousands. By the 1950s, more than a million people inhabited a magical Jewish summer world of bungalow colonies, summer camps, as well as small and large hotels. The large resorts – such as Grossinger’s, Kutsher’s, the Concord, and the Nevele – were pioneers of the “all-inclusive vacation,” offering three meals a day, snacks, entertainment, child care, sports facilities: everything you can get now at Club Med – plus a knish to die for.

The legendary Grossinger’s grew from a single-family house in which the owners rented rooms to a 1,200-acre, 35-building resort – complete with its own airstrip and post office – that served 150,000 guests a year.

“Borscht Belt” entertainment was first-rate. Musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Dean Martin, and comics Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman, Woody Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld all toured the hotels. The “Jewish Catskills” were popularized in books and movies, and made nationally famous through the vehicle of “Borsht Belt humor.”

Importantly, the institutions of the “Jewish Catskills” helped shape American Jewish culture – enabling Jews to become more “American” while at the same time introducing the American public to immigrant Jewish culture. Join popular lecturer Justin Ferate as we dermonen zikh (reminisce), sing, dance, swim, hike, play pinochle and mahjong, kvetch about food portions, and cavort in the beloved and long-lost memories of the Jewish Catskills.

There will be a Q&A following the presentation.

The event listed here is hosted by a third party. My Jewish Learning/70 Faces Media is not responsible for its content or for errors in the listing.

Teacher

Justin Ferate

Justin was honored by New York State Governor George Pataki and the New York State Tourism Council as New York’s “Most Engaging Tour Guide”. Mr. Ferate also wrote the official New York City Professional Tour Guide Licensing Examination for the City of New York. Time Out New York selected Mr. Ferate as “One of New York’s 50 Essential Secrets!”
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Host

The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC)

The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC) is an educational non-profit, created in 1998, to preserve and support the Lower East Side’s community of living synagogues and other historic structures, and to raise public awareness of the neighborhoods distinct cultural identity. As the birthplace of American Jewish civilization, and the most iconic immigrant neighborhood in America, we share this history by taking people on walking tours which enter sacred sites, where you learn how past generations came here, lived and worshiped. Learn more about LESJC here.
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