Cover image for In the Catskills : a century of Jewish experience in "The Mountains"
In the Catskills : a century of Jewish experience in "The Mountains"
Brown, Phil.
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 415 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
1110 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F127.C3 I5 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Through fiction, memoir, music, photography, and art, In the Catskills highlights the Catskills experience over a century and assesses its continuing impact on American music, comedy, food, culture, and religion. It features selections from such fiction writers as Isaac Bashevis Singer, Herman Wouk, Allegra Goodman and Vivian Gornick; and original contributions from historians, sociologists, and scholars of American and Jewish culture that trace the history of the region, the rise of hotels and bungalow colonies, the wonderful flavors of food and entertainment, and distinctive forms of Jewish religion found in the Mountains.

What was life--the work, the play, the food, the romance--like at Catskills Mountains resorts? These very personal recollections capture the special sense of community and real sense of freedom that developed. Far from the welter of the city, Jewish families learned to vacation and enjoy themselves, to savor the social mobility and cultural space the resorts afforded, and to nourish their culinary and comic traditions. From "Bingo by the Bungalow" by Thane Rosenbaum to "Young Workers in the Hotels" by Phil Brown to "Shoot the Shtrudel to Me Yudel" by Henry Foner, this charming anthology captures an era that has had enormous impact on the Jewish experience and American culture as a whole.

"Whenever I speak about the Catskills," observes editor Phil Brown, "I am struck by the strength of people's desire to relive their experiences in the Mountains." If you've visited the Catskills yourself, or heard stories from your parents or grandparents, or are just interested in this extraordinary time and place, pack your bags and prepare to enjoy your stay In the Catskills.

Author Notes

Phie Brown is a professor of sociology and environmental studies at Brown University. He is co-founder and President of the Catskills Institute (a historical preservation society)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The culture of the Catskills the wide range of hotels, bungalows, rooming houses and elaborate resorts in the mountains in New York State that catered to a mainly Jewish clientele has become, in the broadest sense, American culture: Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Joey Adams, Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar, Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis and many others got their start there. This anthology of 34 essays, memoirs, fictions and songs (illustrated with wonderful, evocative photographs) conveys some of the religious, social, historic, sexual and ethnic complexity that "the mountains," as it was called, embodied. Brown (Catskill Culture: A Mountain Rat's Memoirs of the Great Jewish Resort Area) has been the unofficial historian of this part of the Jewish-American experience, and this anthology gives a nice, if superficial, taste of the literature. There are engaging popular memoirs (like an excerpt from Joey Adams's 1966 autobiography, The Borscht Belt, and surprising fiction pieces, such as one from Abraham Cahan's classic 1927 novel, The Rise of David Levinsky, as well as the lyrics of the 1941 song "Shoot the Shtrudel to Me Yudel!" which was dedicated to Yudel Slutzsky, owner of the Arrowhead Lodge. While Brown reprints some fascinating historical material, such as Abraham Lavender and Clarence Steinberg's "Jewish Farmers of the Catskills," which charts the start of the Jewish presence in the area and the beginnings of the resort culture, many of the pieces a chapter from Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar and one from Allegra Goodman's Kaaterskill Falls are easily available and add little. This is a great look at the history of Catskill culture for readers new to the material, but those looking for more depth will be disappointed. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

IntroductionPhil Brown
Part 1 History
Jewish Farmers of the CatskillsAbraham Lavender and Clarence Steinberg
Hotels and the HolocaustReuben Wallenrod
The Catskills at the End of World War IIMartin Boris
Part 2 Boarding House, Bungalow, and Kuchalayn Life
The Yearning HeiferIsaac Bashevis Singer
Grine Felder-A Place in the CountryMartin Boris
Bingo by the BungalowThane Rosenbaum
Bungalow Colony LifeIrwin Richman
Part 3 Hotel Life
Dinner at the Rigi Kulm HouseAbraham Cahan
Old StockHortense Calisher
Young Workers in the HotelsPhil Brown
The PoolEileen Pollack
Growing Up at Grossinger'sTania Grossinger
Reflections on the Delmar Hotel and the Demise of the CatskillsJerry A. Jacobs
Part 4 Entertainment
Comics, Singers, and TummlersJoey Adams and Henry Tobias
The Social Director in the Adult Summer CampMoss Hart
The CasinoHarvey Jacobs
The Fine art of Mountain TummlingJoyce Wadler
Shoot the Shtrudel to me Yudel-music and lyricsHenry Foner
Part 5 Romance
Miss TevkinAbraham Cahan
Forbidden FruitHarvey Jacobs
Amy LourieTerry Kay
Part 6 Religion
Bungalow SummerRobert Eisenberg
The Shul in Kaaterskill FallsAllegra Goodman
Food Eating at the HotelSarah Sandberg
The Catskills RememberedVivian Gornick
BungalowElizabeth Ehrlich