“Echoes of the Borscht Belt” by Marisa Scheinfeld

Opening September 10th New York's Yeshiva University Museum will present Marisa Scheinfeld’s haunting photos of abandoned sites where Borscht Belt resorts once boomed in the Catskill Mountain region of upstate New York.

“Echoes of the Borscht Belt” assembles images Scheinfeld has shot inside and outside structures that once buzzed with life as summer havens for generations of New York Jews.

Scheinfeld, who grew up in the region, began her documentary photo project in 2009; this exhibition marks the first time audiences can see her work on the large scale for which it was conceived. 

“Echoes of the Borscht Belt” will also feature original artifacts and ephemera from some of the Borscht Belt’s most beloved hotels and resorts: An ashtray from Grossinger’s, soap from The Nevele, a ski hat from the Concord, postcards from the Jerry Lewis Theater Club at Brown’s, in addition to era photos.

Some of the structures in Scheinfeld’s photographs have already been demolished, making the project even more significant as historical documentary.  Nature has encroached into or overtaken the historic sites; many of the interiors have been vandalized or marked by paintballers and graffiti artists.  Scheinfeld’s images record all of these developments.

“The Borscht Belt was a haven for an entire cultural and social movement of people,” Scheinfeld notes; “its influences spread to mainstream American culture, entertainment and media. Growing up in Sullivan County, I feel a strong connection to the region and, as a photographer, I felt inclined to document its history, decline and what has come of it. I was drawn to the hotels because of their rich history but found unexpected beauty in their current, changing landscape.”

Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of Yeshiva University Museum, agreed. “The Borscht Belt gets labeled as the birthplace of standup comedy; but it was much more than that. It became an important communal resource for Jews from the 1920s to the 1970s, when many of them couldn’t afford to go – or were banned from going – elsewhere. The Borscht Belt became a community where they formed bonds and could vacation ‘like Americans’. In addition to being beautiful works in themselves, Marisa’s photographs offer a moving reflection on that period.”

Exhibition Dates: August 3, 2014 - April 12, 2015 

Exhibition Opening Event: September 10, 2014, 6:30 - 8:30 PM (details below)

Artist's Tour: Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 6:00 PM. FREE, however reservations are required. Visit www.smarttix.com or call 212-868-4444.

Yeshiva University Museum
Selz Gallery
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone 212-294-8330

Museum Hours:
Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday: 11 AM - 2:30 PM 
FREE: Monday, Wednesday (5:00 - 8:00 PM) and Friday 

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