Special Event: Tickets for seniors age 65+ are half-price. Coffee, tea, and noshes served.  After the film, join Rabbi Kate Speizer of Endless Opportunities to schmooze and nosh.  Guest: Director Lex Gillespie 

In Person: March 8

THE CATSKILLS is a humorous and nostalgic tribute to the rise and fall of what was affectionately known as the “Borscht Belt” or “Jewish Alps.” Director Lex Gillespie maps the development of the vacation destination, from a refuge for working-class Jews seeking a respite from poverty in overcrowded New York City tenements to a lavish summer playground for the affluent dating back to the early 20th century. The numerous resorts attracted Holocaust survivors as well as celebrities. Hostesses such as Jennie Grossinger of the famed Grossinger’s Hotel entertained politicians and athletes. Nightclubs featured musicians and comics, often fostering new talent and supporting blacklisted artists during the height of McCarthyism. Perhaps most importantly, “the Sour Cream Sierras” became a place of resistance against antisemitic exclusion and a flourishing haven for Yiddishkeit (Yiddish for Jewish peoplehood). In the film, standup comedians share their best shtick while former waiters, entertainers, and dance instructors recount tales of the family-run resorts and bungalow colonies that inspired TV Shows like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and the film DIRTY DANCING. A treasure trove of home movies, publicity photos, postcards, and menus reveal a bygone world of Jewish immigrant leisure culture New York in the early 20th century. 

Director Bio: View on IMDB 

Lex Gillespie is a three-time Peabody Award-winning public radio journalist-turned-filmmaker. THE CATSKILLS is his second film. His first, THE MAMBONIKS (2019, SJFF 2020), explored the mambo dance craze of the 1950s. His features for public radio exposed dangerous jobs in garment factories on the U.S.-Mexico border, chronicled the return of the sacred Blue Lake to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, and told the story of a hip-hop opera set in a Korean mom-and-pop store. 

Event Sponsors: Dancing Goats Coffee + Sholom Tea   

Community Partner: Temple De Hirsch Sinai/Endless Opportunities 

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