Have you ever wanted to go back in time while being in the future? When was the last time you had that feeling?
If you have ever wanted to experience such a feeling The Borscht Belt Revisiting the Remains of America Jewish Vacationland, may just be the soft tool to “dash” you with some magical spells.
“Borscht Belt, or Jewish Alps, is a nickname for the (now mostly defunct) summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in parts of Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster counties in New York. Borscht, a soup associated with immigrants from eastern Europe, was a metonym for “Jewish”.
These resorts were a popular vacation spot for New York City Jews between the 1920s and the 1970s. Most Borscht Belt resorts hosted traveling Jewish comedians and musicians, and many who later became prominent began their careers there.
The tradition of Borscht Belt entertainment began in the early twentieth century with the indoor and outdoor theaters constructed on a 40-acre (16-hectare) tract in Hunter, New York, by Yiddish theater star Boris Thomashefsky.
Beginning in the 1980s, the growth of air travel made the Catskills less attractive, so many of the resorts eventually closed, although Jewish culture has remained present.
A large percentage of the region comprises summer homes and bungalow colonies (including many of the historic colonies) for Orthodox Jewish families, primarily from the New York metropolitan area, as well as year-round dwellers.
Resorts still are operating in the region, including Catskill Mountains Resort, Villa Roma, an Italian American resort, Soyuzivka and Xenia, Ukrainian cultural resorts, and the Skazka and Hotel Pine, Russian cultural resorts. Additionally, motorsports enthusiasts are drawn to the area visiting the Monticello Motor Club.”
“Today the Borscht Belt is recalled through the nostalgic lens of summer swims, Saturday night dances, and comedy performances. But its current state, like that of many other formerly glorious regions, is nothing like its earlier status.
Forgotten about and exhausted, much of its structural environment has been left to decay. The Borscht Belt, which features essays by Stefan Kanfer and Jenna Weissman Joselit, presents Marisa Scheinfeld’s photographs of abandoned sites where resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies once boomed in the Catskill Mountain region of upstate New York.
The book assembles images Scheinfeld has shot inside and outside locations that once buzzed with life as year-round havens for generations of people.
Some of the structures have been lying abandoned for periods ranging from four to twenty years, depending on the specific hotel or bungalow colony and the conditions under which it closed.
The Pines Resort
Other sites have since been demolished or repurposed, making this book an even more significant documentation of a pivotal era in American Jewish history.
The Borscht Belt presents a contemporary view of more than forty hotels and bungalow sites. From entire expanses of abandoned properties to small lots containing drained swimming pools, the remains of the Borscht Belt era now lie forgotten, overgrown, and vacant.
In the absence of human activity, nature has reclaimed the sites, having encroached upon or completely overtaken them.
Many of the interiors have been vandalized or marked by paintball players and graffiti artists. Each ruin lies radically altered by the elements and effects of time.
Scheinfeld’s images record all of these developments.”
WHERE GAMING MEETS LUXURY
Resorts World Catskills provides unparalleled gaming like no other in the region, featuring 100,000 square feet of gaming action including 150 live Las-Vegas style table games, 1,600 state-of-the-art slot machines, a poker room and private gaming salons. In other words the new development is working on bringing back some of the luxuries and social extravaganza of the bygone era.
The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland is an entertaining and relaxing read. A book that can be devoured with enthusiasm while relaxing at the beach, swimming poolside, at the airport while awaiting departure, on the plane or even just relaxing in bed catching up on much-deserved R & R. Get your copy now and enjoy.