The Borscht Belt: Golden Age of Jewish Vacationing in the Catskills with Dr. Jennie Hirsh

The Borscht Belt: Golden Age of Jewish Vacationing in the Catskills with Dr. Jennie Hirsh


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

The so-called Borscht Belt, famously revisited as the setting for Dirty Dancing (1987) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2018), once offered a wide range of options for Jewish families seeking to escape the heat and congestion of New York City during the hot summer months.
Our conversation introduces learners to the history of the extensive vacation culture designed for affluent Jewish families in the New York Catskills from the end of World War I up until about 1970. Turning back the clock, we will look at a number of examples of sites in Sullivan as well as Ulster counties, reconstructing the worlds of leisure, comedic entertainment, and socialization that places such as the Concord, Grossinger's, the Commodore, Kutscher's, and more hosted for multi-generational families in search of relaxation, fun, and fresh air every summer.
Led by an expert on modern and contemporary art and culture, Dr. Jennie Hirsh, this Conversation will take learners on a virtual tour of the Catskills during their heyday. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of not only the range of resorts and bungalow colonies in the Catskills during this key period but also the social conditions and restrictions that motivated entrepreneurs to build a vast network of small hotels, expansive resorts, night clubs, bungalow colonies, and summer day camps for children.
The photo shown at left is courtesy of Scott's Family Resort. A family-run business located on Oquaga Lake in Broome County NY.

Jennie Hirsh (Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College) is a Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton and Columbia Universities, as well as pre-doctoral fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Wolfsonian FIU. Hirsh has authored essays on artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Yinka Shonibare, and Regina Silveira, and is co-editor, with Isabelle Wallace, of Contemporary Art and Classical Myth (Ashgate 2011).

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
75%
(3)
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(0)
25%
(1)
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A
Anonymous (Orinda, US)

Guest did not leave comment

G
Gabrielle G. (Brooklyn, US)
A journey back in time

As always, Dr. Hirsh provided an enjoyable and educational journey back in time to the Jewish Catskills. She did an excellent job bringing to life and explaining the rationale behind the emergence of the Borscht Belt phenomenon. From the food and the activities, to the entertainment and architecture, she provided an engaging survey of life in the bungalow colonies, hotels and resorts alike between the 1940s and 1970s. Dr. Hirsh's use of archival photographs, post cards and maps was, as usual, very well curated. Her personal anecdotes brought the lecture alive, and it was nice to hear other participants share their memories as well. Looking forward to her Holocaust Cinema course in November! A++

L
Laura (Longmeadow, US)
Borscht Belt

Wonderful look back to a time that I participated in as a child and later as an adult. Did not know about the large number of facilities in that region. Visited Kutsher’s Hotel by invitation and witnessed first hand the basketball talent. Loved the presentation.

N
Nikki Zapol (Cambridge, US)
Borscht Belt 101

Dr, Hirsh put together an interesting overview of the origins, hey day, and demise of the Borscht Belt era. A bit more than needed on the specifics of the larger resorts, not a riveting presentation, but good information and fun video interludes.

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
75%
(3)
0%
(0)
25%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
Anonymous (Orinda, US)

Guest did not leave comment

G
Gabrielle G. (Brooklyn, US)
A journey back in time

As always, Dr. Hirsh provided an enjoyable and educational journey back in time to the Jewish Catskills. She did an excellent job bringing to life and explaining the rationale behind the emergence of the Borscht Belt phenomenon. From the food and the activities, to the entertainment and architecture, she provided an engaging survey of life in the bungalow colonies, hotels and resorts alike between the 1940s and 1970s. Dr. Hirsh's use of archival photographs, post cards and maps was, as usual, very well curated. Her personal anecdotes brought the lecture alive, and it was nice to hear other participants share their memories as well. Looking forward to her Holocaust Cinema course in November! A++

L
Laura (Longmeadow, US)
Borscht Belt

Wonderful look back to a time that I participated in as a child and later as an adult. Did not know about the large number of facilities in that region. Visited Kutsher’s Hotel by invitation and witnessed first hand the basketball talent. Loved the presentation.

N
Nikki Zapol (Cambridge, US)
Borscht Belt 101

Dr, Hirsh put together an interesting overview of the origins, hey day, and demise of the Borscht Belt era. A bit more than needed on the specifics of the larger resorts, not a riveting presentation, but good information and fun video interludes.