Life in the Catskills, focusing on the old crowd that summered at Grossinger's and hundreds of other Jewish resorts. Kanfer...

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A SUMMER WORLD: The Jewish Experience in the Catskill Mountains from 1753 to the Sunset of the Borscht Belt

Life in the Catskills, focusing on the old crowd that summered at Grossinger's and hundreds of other Jewish resorts. Kanfer (A Journal of the Plague Years, 1973; novels: Fear Itself, 1981; The Eighth Sin, 1978, etc.) will satisfy readers who want an upstanding history told reservedly--but one misses the gusto and engaging authorial voice that this material could lend itself to. The first Jew to buy Catskill property arrived in 1753. Families grew around him and founded a Jewish colony called Sholem, which later attracted immigrants who wanted deep immersion in Jewish life away from the Lower East Side. The great Jewish summer of this century's borsch belt flowered in the late Thirties with Jewish entertainers such as Danny Kaye, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and, later, Jerry Lewis, who found themselves entertaining Jewish mobsters as well as Orthodox and Conservative Jews. By the Fifties, the great palaces such as Grossinger's and the Concord had arisen, offering lavish Jewish food feasts as well as cuisine for the non-Orthodox, luxurious rooms, and, as time went by, ""Italian nite."" Nubile Jewesses spent small fortunes on summer clothes (often with seven changes a day), hoped to land a future doctor or lawyer now working as summer staff. Young males were hired expressly to double as waiters and evening dates for the lonely. Loss fills Kanfer's final pages as third-generation Jews find they prefer weekends or vacations at their second homes or jetting abroad and Grossinger's goes under the wrecking ball. Draws you in, with Jewish jokes scattered throughout like almonds and raisins.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1989

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1989