A Summer World: The Attempt to Build a Jewish Eden in the Catskills, from the Days of the Ghetto to the Rise and Decline of the Borsch

Stefan Kanfer, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $22.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-27180-0
With a dearth of analysis and a surfeit of nostalgic name-dropping, this Catskill Mountain history by the author of A Journal of the Plague Years has the effervescence of seltzer gone flat. Early Jewish peddlers and farmers tried to eke out livings in the mountains, but, by the 20th century, Jewish resort owners flourished--touting fresh air and serving co-religionists spurned by gentile establishments. Yiddish superstar Boris Thomashevsky initiated entertainment in the region when he brought a troupe of actors to vacation with him. Later, singers like Eddie Fisher and Jan Peerce were launched there. Satirized by Jewish and secular newspapers, as well as by their own self-abnegating comedians, the Jewish Catskills became a symbol of bourgeois bad taste vis-a-vis food, sex, fashion, spouse hunting and social climbing. Today, once posh resorts now in decline have become condominiums, or serve nonkosher food to woo gentiles. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Paperback - 978-0-571-12937-9
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