September 2, 2020 Great American Jewish Cities #17: The Catskills
The Mountains, the Catskills, the Borscht Belt, upstate, the country. Monticello, Liberty, Woodridge, Swan Lake, Woodbourne, Fallsburg. A place of many names with one thing in common: a place rich in Jewish history and lore.
As a summer destination, the Catskills would be home to countless bungalow colonies as city Jews organized their communities for a mountain air getaway. Generations of children attended the many summer camps that dotted Sullivan County. Camps included Mesivta, Agudah, Munk, HILI, Kol Rinah, Torah Vodaath, Ohr Shraga, Sternberg and many more including the Betar Jewish self defense camp where Vladimir Jabotinsky died in 1940.
It was also famously known as the Borscht Belt, and the legendary hotels/resorts/country clubs like Grossinger's, Kutscher's and the Concord made their mark as vacation sites. Most Jewish comedians of the time commenced their careers there.
In addition to the summer crowd, the Catskills were home to many year round Jewish communities over the years. These towns built shuls, mikvas, hired Rabbis and even Jewish owned farms burgeoned for a time. This included Yeshivas as well such as the Mountaindale Yeshiva of Rav Yehuda Davis and the famous Yeshiva of South Fallsburg.
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