Sunday, November 25, 2012

Celebrating the "Borscht Belt"

Grossinger's Hotel
The "Borscht Belt" was a nickname for the summer resorts in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York that were frequented by Jewish vacationers coming primarily from New York City.  Its heyday was the 1940's through the 1960's.  Many well known comedians either got their starts or performed regularly in the Borscht Belt hotels, including Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, and Jerry Stiller, names I grew up listening to.  I was also told that one of my grandfather's brothers used to work in the hotels during the summer and met his lifelong sweetheart there.  So even though I am too young to have actually gone to the Borscht Belt, it was something I grew up hearing a lot about.

Next Saturday, December 1, at 7:00 p.m. I'll be attending a free screening of Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt, a 1986 documentary by Peter Davis, at Congregation Beth-Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco.  Though there is no admission fee, donations are welcome.  Havdallah and refreshments will be provided.


  1. Well, foo. Due to some sort of technical difficulties, the showing of "Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt" has been cancelled for December 1. They hope to reschedule it for a future date.

    I guess I'll just spend more time researching on Saturday instead!

  2. Hello, I was wondering if you knew how I could get a copy of "The Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt" on DVD. My parents (mom, 77 and dad, 88) and my mother in law (87, father in law deceased) are still going to the mountains, one of the very few non orthodox colonies left. They are in South Fallsburg. I met my husband in a bungalow colony. His family has been going to the mountainssince 1959. They were the first wave of immigrants to do so. I would love to show this documentary to them, but my VHS copy that I taped from a TV documentary years ago, is of very poor quality.
    Thanking you in advance for any help you can give me!

    1. Hello, Ruth,

      I wasn't able to find any place online with information about how to purchase a DVD, but I did find the Web site of the company that produced the documentary. Here's the page about it:

      My best suggestion is to contact the company and see if they have any suggestions for you. Good luck!



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