- Hardcover: 200 pages
- Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (October 4, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501700596
- ISBN-13: 978-1501700590
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America's Jewish Vacationland 1st Edition
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"One winter I went with other teenagers to a convention at Grossinger's and remember my excitement at discovering the indoor swimming pool and the deep heat of their sauna. I recall that the whole place seemed to offer a wonderland of new experiences. I went to the convention again the next year, but I never went back after I left New York. There is a stark difference between my memory and the shell of a resort that exists today. But the past can be given form and detail by photography, and that is what Marisa Scheinfeld’s photographs do. Visualizing the past this way can actually take the form of memory. Old and new pictures help us to experience any change that has happened, and I have found change to be the truest measure of time."―Mark Klett, photographer
"In photographing the ruins of the great Jewish resort area, Marisa Scheinfeld taps our memories of the great Golden Age of the Catskills and fills our hearts with recollections. In their whirlwinds of color, these photos sing the history of the hotels and bungalow colonies, putting us at ease by the pool, at sport on the handball courts, and always at the table in the dining room. It's a joy to step into these vivid images and relive such an important historical phenomenon."―Phil Brown, Founder and President of the Catskills Institute
"Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld has documented the end of the great resorts in The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America's Jewish Vacationland, which features page after page of photos of waterless, cracking pools, dirt- caked floors, weathered and withered wooden cottages, gashed ceilings and gushing insulation, graffiti-bedecked walls, rows of bereft beach emptiness where there had once been fullness. Scheinfeld’s photos remind one of the old Catskills’ theme of nature despoiled, a contemporary counterpart to the desolate final painting in Cole’s The Course of Empire."―Neal Gabler, Jewish Review of Books (Summer 2016)
"Those structures that haven't been repurposed as meditation centers or rehab facilities have fallen into that beguiling realm neither humanity nor nature can produce alone, with wild vegetation blurring, bending, and breaking the rigid geometries of civilization.The book notes Woody Allen's quip, no doubt delivered at some point from a Borscht Belt stage: 'Eighty percent of success is showing up.' Some might say that Scheinfeld arrived half a century too late, but her photos reveal that she showed up just in time to discover mutable beauty in tumbledown dreams."―R. C. Baker, Village Voice
"I will never forget my childhood in Brooklyn and my days visiting the Catskill Mountains. I worked one summer at Grossinger's as a busboy and it was a memorable experience in my life. It is sad to see these pictures of what once was and what will never be again. They are brilliant photographs and the memories will be indelible in my mind. This is sadly joyful."―Larry King
"I was there in the glory days of the Catskills and the audiences were tough and demanding. They really sharpened your act. It was do or die. No Borscht Belt, no Mel Brooks."―Mel Brooks
"Susan Sontag famously observed that 'all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.’ One could scarcely imagine a more observant and poetic testimony than Marisa Scheinfeld’s eerie photographic record of the crumbling remains of American Jewry’s mid-century Xanadu, the Borscht Belt. Scheinfeld has an archaeologist’s attention to the accumulated layers of history and the passage of time; her melancholic images of ruins, detritus, and festering vegetation are haunted by an unseen and undefined presence, providing a visual meditation on abandonment and absence. These photographs invite us to consider the rich history of American Jewish life, the legacy of the Catskills, and the ways in which this complex history is enduringly present and woven into the very fiber of the region."―Maya Benton, Curator, International Center of Photography
"It was my good fortune to land in the Borscht Belt in the summer of 1933. It had an active Jewish community and a bucolic countryside, in many ways similar to the shtetl life familiar to me in Lithuania. My cousin Seymour Cohen and I visited every major hotel in the area and carefully compared what they had to offer. I was introduced to some of the owners. I think I even met the legendary Jennie Grossinger. But all good things eventually end."―Al Jaffee, ninety-five-year-old journeyman cartoonist
"These photographs capture the decay of what once was a rich cultural tapestry. I can even visualize it all coming back to life . . . the fun, the joy . . . places where I grew up, as a woman and a performer."―Marilyn Michaels, comedian
"In New York's Catskill Mountains, a party began in the twentieth century that lasted decades. Party pictures filled thousands of scrapbooks―but now, the party’s over, and the guests are gone, never to return. Enter Marisa Scheinfeld, whose camera finds profound eloquence in the silence that remains and hope in new life emerging from the ruins. This story was already ancient when Shelley penned “Ozymandias": that all things grand eventually fall. But Scheinfeld’s work is all the more moving, because these things are ours, now.”―Alan Weisman, author, Countdown and The World without Us
About the Author
Marisa Scheinfeld's photography has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is among the collections of The Center for Jewish History, The National Yiddish Book Center, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, and The Edmund and Nancy K. Dubois Library at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
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All week I've kept it beside me on my desk so that I can wander, repeatedly, though it, thankful for the pleasures of the images and the three essays, Marisa's most particularly. I plan to share it with the class I teach on memory.