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Decades before covid, a Catskills vacation was the ultimate guilt trip

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The New York Jewish Week, August 2020

Nu, it’s almost Labor Day and you didn’t get to go the Catskills this year. Are you thinking about whether there is still time? Would you prefer Schwartz’s Paradise Lodge, like other years? Or perhaps Bernstein’s Meadow Mansion, which your neighbor always told you was better?

Wait! Did you forget that the great Jewish resort area is gone? Yes, there are a few bungalow colonies — mostly charedi Orthodox — a crop of yeshivas, and many individual summer homes. But it’s not like a half century ago when there were more than 700 hotels and over 600 bungalow colonies, and where a half million people a year vacationed and where the Jewish working class and middle class learned how to enjoy themselves and Yiddishkeit in a safe, leafy milieu.

Or did you forget that Covid-19 was in full force and that if you could get away anywhere, you might feel guilty? What kind of pleasure can we allow ourselves in a major crisis like this? Is it OK to relax while others suffer? Or does getting away perhaps help us and others get through these times better?

Vacationers in the Catskills used to ask themselves these same questions, during the Holocaust and in the decades that followed.

Continue reading at The New York Jewish Week.

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