New York – Chasidim Make Annual Exodus from Sullivan County


    Photo Credit : record MICHELE HASKELLSullivan County, NY – Bakery workers scraped mounds of poppy seeds into trash bins.

    Fathers strapped luggage and toys to the roofs of minivans. Mothers were too busy hosing off chairs and folding the last of the laundry to talk about the exodus.

    This scene has repeated for decades now. The day before Labor Day, Sullivan County’s Hasidic Jewish communities pack up and vanish. Shops close, bungalows empty, summer ends. Many return to the bustle of Brooklyn.

    “It’s unbelievable,” bakery owner Levi Gombo said. “In three hours, everybody’s gone.”

    Just two months ago, these Orthodox families, who also hail from places like Monsey and Montreal, arrived for the season and, along with other vacationers, increased the county’s population to about 250,000 people. And in one day the county’s population started its slide back down to 80,000 year-round residents.

    Yet in recent years more families have tried to stay on in the winter without their neighbors. New York City is becoming too expensive, and families enjoy the serenity of the mountains, Gombo said.

    But community is an integral part of the Hasidic lifestyle; it’s difficult to preserve the culture without every element intact. Hasidim vacation in groups for many reasons: They have enough children to fill a school, rabbis to lead prayer, bakers and grocers who carry Kosher food.

    They also need scribes like Rabbi Michuel Errera, who will keep Catskills Judaica open this winter for the first time. He’s had an increasing number of requests for services in the off-season and hopes to have enough customers so that he, too, can live in the mountains year-round.

    “Everybody’s talking about it,” Errera said of the desire to stay. But other businesses have tried to stay open in the past and failed, said Yosaif Krohn, owner of Le Chocolat.

    “The fact is that it is abandoned, and you have to have so many people to afford to stay open,” Krohn said.

    Bungalow residents will return on weekends to enjoy the lawns and flowers until the water is shut off. But the community won’t be the same.

    A few customers came into the chocolate shop Sunday, barely a trickle compared to the height of summer. One asked how long Krohn would stay open this season.

    He replied, “As long as there are people.”

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    1. I wish Gombo’s would be open during the year, I go crazy for his good stuff, and we go a lot in the catskills for weekends during winter etc. Mr. Gombo I wish you lots of Hatzlucha!

    2. It took 5 hours to pack the mini van. I had another story built on the roof rac, after seating all the 9 kids in the mini van it was off to the city. Now remember that we stop almost at every gas staion cause at every station someone else needs to use the rest the time we got to the city it was after midnight. Thank hashem we arrived beshalom in the city.

    3. Ezra 9:48AM. …I remember when Monsey was the Catskills… …There are people (I’m not one of them) who remember when SEAGATE and THE ROCKAWAYS were the “Mountains”?/Country!!!

    4. Please remember that a heavy roof rack increases the chance of tipping over, especially on a fast or tight curve or during an accident or emergency avoidance maneauver.

    5. I would think, given the high cost of real estate in NYC (in spite of the slowdown), that the Catskills will eventually see more year round frum businesses. Pizza shops and other food estabilshments are going to have a tough time in the off season.

      The tricky part is what to do for a living up there in the off season, not every one can live off the government or work for a yeshiva.

      It’s not a bad place to live, if you can manage the winters. You do have year round shopping at Wal-Mart and Shoprite. Some of the villages have year round shuls (besides the developments like Viznitz, etc.)

      My wife and I are occassionaly up there in the winter. We’ve seen a noticable number of frum people in the stores, so people are there. We would consider more weekends up there for a change of pace.

      Perhaps with technology more people may telecommute. If NYS and Sullivan County were not so anti-business (I don’t consider gambling pro-business), it would be a great place to have distribtuion and warehousing facilities because of it’s proximity to the highways (although fuel prices need to come down to make this viable).

    6. for someone like me who has not experienced a hasidishe bungalow stay in the catskills, the writer did an excellent job of capturing the sense of community and comraderie of the summer (year round to be) phenom.

    7. the memories of having young children and packing up to go to the country, packing up to come home, unpacking, sending the children off for their first day of school…the time flies. Before you know it we have empty nests and are off flying on our own lonely vacations with just the memories of all the summers back and forth to the country!

    8. I think it’s about time to stay in the mountains year round, it’s depressing to come back to the city with all the noise pollution and parking tickets.

      I’m ready to make the move, just provide me with minyan and a few more yiddelech..

    9. Anonymous Says:

      lock and load: I wish you could affort to come up here.

      09-01-2008 – 12:25 PM


      I B“H can affort it….

      The question is Can you?????

      I did do the country think for over 10 years

      I use to have the same stupid attitude… stay here in Brooklyn one Summer you will see what I am talking about….


    10. I currently own land up there..but its such a midbar in the winter that I cant make the ‘jump’…also, I grew up on bklyn and I cant llive without ppl..L and L, come and be my neighbor!!!

    11. This is the first time I agree with Lock & Load. I think the Country is here in Brooklyn during the summer not upstate. Enough parking on 13th Avenue, A mechaye walking the streets during Shabbos.

    12. It’s good to go and good to come.

      For those interested, there is a small community forming in Middletown,N.Y. for young Orthodox families.

      Looking into history of Catskills will note that it was quite a thriving Jewish neighborhood close to 100 years ago. There is bareley a town that doesn’t have a shul. With WW1 and 2, the boys joined the army and that is when many fell away.

      In Monticello, Rabbi Chanowitz tries very hard to work with what is left there of Yiddishkeit.

      For those who really want to live there , there are opportunities. Look at what the Viznitzer Chassidim have in Gibbers and all love it.

    13. the catskills is a zoo in the summer. noise, traffic, speeding, no obeying traffic laws or common sense, no patience and no mentchlichkeit, bad attitudes, pushy people, hang outs, fashion show etc. etc. sound like Brooklyn ? could have fooled me.

    14. the locals upstate are doing a happy dance now that the yidden have left.

      go to and find the blogs. there are more than 20 pages of anti chasid posts.

      the locals say the chasids are rude, dirty, smelly and more.

      we spend our money there, they hate us

    15. To 11:55 and shneur z.

      Not everything is about money. The money is nice and great and sure the goyim (gentiles) appreciate it. But at what cost ??? The country folks, as myself and my family (frum) get practically zero respect from many -(not all) of the frum yiden that come from the city- as described in my post above. The people that live in sullivan county year round, chose to live there NOT because of the big bucks that are spent there in the summer but because of a very low crime rate, the serenity of the fresh country air, the peace and quiet, the lower taxes and many other reasons. So because you spend all this money, that automatically gives you the right to do and act as you please ??? I might add that this phenomenon is not reserved just for the for sullivan county in the summer – the same thing happens to many nice/fine out-of-town communities that NY cityites ( 5 boroughs) come to visit or move to and also act in the same manner that they are used to. Its wrong and i might add- A BIG CHILUL HASHEM.

    16. love the peace and quiet:

      there is more to the mountains than monticello and south fallsburg

      I love the open-ness, quiet side roads, trees, trees agian, horses, cows, fresh air, beautiful scenery and OMG did i mention the trees, no constant sirens, the huge open bungalow colony whjere my kids recover from 10 months of depressing brooklyn, being together with all my friends, the list goes on. every monday morning when i arrive in brooklyn and see the chalerias in the street its SUCH a bummer. Everyone can say whatever they want – it’s all good. G-d just give me the ability, and off i go for a two-hour and ten-minute drive where the stress decreases with every mile i put between myself and nyc.

      lock and load:

      you sound like a geshmacke guy – come visit me in my bungalow next year.


      You mean (gasp!) goyim don’t like me? I guess I should just send them my money and stay away… I don’t think so, behaimelach. That’s why I won’t cry when they go to gehennim crying “but i am a decent hard-working person!”

      Which isn’t tosay we should give these cockroaches any pischon peh through making a chillul hashem c”v. too bad they found true facts to base their irrational antisemitism on. we should improve ourselves, mein teire brider und shvesters. let them hate us for being devil-spawn, c****tkillers, untermenschen, infidels or whatever is en-vogue to call us. zollen zei alle gein in der erd. btw i try my hardest to support jewish businesses in the mountains.

      NO WAAYYY! look at the time – my kids are waking up soon. good night to everyone see you all in june 2009 in the catskills iy”h.

    17. FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

      lock and load:

      you sound like a geshmacke guy – come visit me in my bungalow next year.


      Anytime Seichel….

      Lock & Load….

    18. Anonymous Says:

      I agree with Lock & Load

      Lock & Load Says:

      I wish you all stayed downstate

      Keeps the mountains here nice and calm….

      09-01-2008 – 10:45 AM

      09-02-2008 – 12:17 PM


      If your going to Quote me then this is what I wrote

      Lock & Load Says:

      I wish you all stayed Upstate

      Keeps the city here nice and calm….

      09-01-2008 – 10:45 AM

      Anonymous; 09-02-2008 – 12:17 PM,

      Your pathetic….

      you can`t come up with a line yourself…

      you have to use others and turn there words around……

    19. People love the country for the peace and quiet and wide open spaces. The problem is that when we frum people come to live someplace, that’s the end of all that. I’ve lived in Lakewood for over 30 years and the change has been phenomenal, but not always for the good. Although many parts of Lakewood are still beautiful, many very ugly and crowded housing complexes have been built (and have become the only houses that many can afford). People have built additional houses in the open spaces between two houses. Traffic, which was so normal once, has become a problem. Finding parking has also become a problem. (I used to breathe a sigh of relief when I came back to Lakewood after a visit to Brooklyn, but now we have much of the tension that I once thought I’d left behind). That is just the nature of a thriving, growing community. Does anyone want that to happen in the country too?


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