Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

The City Folk are Coming

Malky Lowinger

You may call it “the country” — the idyllic place you’re headed to for the summer — but for a small segment of the frum population in New York State, it’s home. What’s it like for them when their quiet towns become flooded with fellow Jews?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

What’s it like to live in the small Upstate towns nestled in the Catskill Mountains — Fallsburg, Woodridge, Monticello, Ellenville, or others — places where you know everyone on your block and enjoy idyllic views from your kitchen windows all year-round, come sun or snow? How does it feel to be so immersed in nature that if you forget to secure the lid of your garbage cans, your home may be visited by a family of black bears foraging for food? And there’s also the annual mass migration of your fellow Jews to contend with when the weather warms up, their arrival dramatically altering the landscape for three months.    The Borscht Belt Reinvented Once upon a time, the Catskills was a thriving resort area where New York City’s secular Jewish families came to escape the heat. From the 1940s through the 1960s, the so-called “Borscht Belt’s” hotels, bungalows, resorts, and summer camps were filled with Ashkenazic immigrant Jews who came there to get away from it all. That era ended rather abruptly when air travel became more common, and the next generation of New York Jews preferred to vacation in more exotic places. Fast-forward several decades and the Catskill Mountains are experiencing a major renaissance as a popular vacation destination for city Yidden. But instead of slapstick comedy and late-night poker, this cohort of Jews occupy themselves with Torah study and shiurim. Along with the thousands of summer inhabitants come a network of shopping opportunities and conveniences, from kosher supermarkets and restaurants to Judaica stores and children’s clothing shops. And this time around, the swimming pools have separate hours and the children in camps sing songs by Yaakov Shwekey and 8th Day.    Yet at the end of the summer, even when the last box-laden vehicle hits Route 17, all vestiges of Yiddishkeit are not gone from the countryside. A close-knit, thriving community of several hundred frum families remains inSullivan and Ulster County, New York. And most of them say the same thing — their lives are slow-paced and very tranquil.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you