Catskills

Borscht Belt’s Newest Bet

Casino on former Concord site may be good for the economy, but some local Jewish voices express reservations.

12/24/2014
Staff Writer
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Shira Dicker, a longtime summer resident of a bungalow in upstate Monroe, has vivid memories of her father, a Conservative rabbi, traveling up to the Concord Resort Hotel during the 1960s and ’70s to attend an annual rabbinical convention.

A rendering of Montreign Resort Casino near Monticello. Photo via mediad.publicbroadcasting.net

A Dream ‘Gig’ In The Bygone Catskills

07/16/2014
Special to the Jewish Week
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By the time that Kutsher’s Country Club fell to the wrecking ball in May, the Catskills were already long past their prime as a Jewish vacation paradise. In fact, the popularity of the “Jewish Alps” was already waning in the 1970s, when “The Gig,” Doug Cohen’s new musical about a group of amateur jazz musicians who land a prized booking in the Borscht Belt, is set.

Doug Cohen’s musical captures a “sense of celebration” about the heyday of the “Jewish Alps.”  Courtesy of Doug Cohen

Catskills On Broadway

“It was air conditioning that leveled the Catskills,” one of the cross-dressing characters in Harvey Fierstein’s excellent new play, “Casa Valentina,” says. “Why drive when you can use a machine to cool off your home?”

Nick Westrate, Patrick Page and Tom McGowan in "Casa Valentina." Courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club

Borscht Belt Resort Kutsher’s To Face Wrecking Ball

05/21/2014
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Kutsher’s, the fabled Catskills resort hotel, is set to be demolished later this month.

The 1,300-acre property near Monticello, N.Y., was sold last year for $8.18 million to Veria Lifestyle Inc., which plans to turn it into a health and wellness resort. The buildings will be demolished in the next week or two, according to the Times Herald-Record.

Modern Ruins In The Mountains

An empty yellow-and-white lounge chair graces the ungroomed grass and ferns surrounding the mildewed indoor pool at Grossinger’s. Not so long ago the grass was terracotta tiles and there were rows of chairs, a guest on each.

The haunting image is from “Ruins of the Borscht Belt,” a series of color photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld on exhibit at the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy’s  Kling and Niman Family Visitor Center on Grand Street.

Coffee Shop, Grossinger's Catskill Resort and Hotel. Marisa Scheinfeld

Brokedown Palace

Young photographer drawn to Catskills’ ruins and relics, and to Elul’s existential questions.

08/07/2013
Associate Editor
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Ruins harbor demons, says the Talmud. The sage Reb Yose dared to pray in a ruin and later was asked by an apparition of Elijah, “What did you hear in there?” Reb Yose replied, “I heard a Divine voice, cooing like a dove…”

Pink chairs and overturned tables in the dining room of the Pines Country Club in South Fallsburgh. Marisa Scheinfeld

Comedy U.

New documentary tells the story of the Catskills hotels and the comics who ‘went to school’ there.

07/23/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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The evocative term “baggy-pants comic” has its roots in burlesque, but you could apply it with some justice to the new documentary film “When Comedy Went to School,” which opens on July 31 in New York City and Aug. 2 on Long Island. The film, directed by Mevlut Akkaya and Ron Frank, tells the story of the Catskills hotels as a training ground for stand-up comedians and, like the burlesque funny man’s trousers, it’s rather shapeless. But, like the guy inside the trousers, it is also very funny.

Mountains men: “When Comedy Went to School” narrator Robert Klein, above. Left, Mort Sahl.

Summer’s End In The Catskills

Chasidim and soldiers mix in a friendly setting.

09/11/2012
Associate Editor

Most of the 250,000 Jews who summered in the Catskills this year have boxed up the insides of their bungalows. Seasonal stores are shuttered.

West Point’s Jewish plebes came to Kutsher’s for some R & R.

Former Brown’s Hotel In Catskills Burns Down

04/17/2012

The former Brown’s Hotel, once a popular resort in the Catskill Mountains, has burned down.

The fire, which began at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday, destroyed seven of the nine buildings in what are now the Grandview Palace condominiums in Fallsburg, N.Y. About 100 people were evacuated; no injuries were reported.

Earlier this year, the town of Fallsburg had condemned the complex for fire safety and other building code violations. An investigation into the cause of the fire reportedly is underway.

The old Brown’s Hotel in Fallsburg. A fire destroyed seven of the nine buildings in what is now the Grandview Palace condominium

Simon Says: Forget The Catskills

One of the great miracles of the Catskills resorts was always their ability to make the ordinary into something exciting. Like playing shuffleboard at the side of an unspectacular pool or listening to second-rate comics in a run-down casino. Or watching an old man play a kids’ game with guests in the lobby.

Lou Goldstein
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