7. The Vegetarian Hotel

Outdoor Pool, Vegetarian Hotel, Woodridge, NY.Photo by Marisa Scheinfeld from The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland

The Vegetarian Hotel in Woodridge, New York was, unsurprisingly, a hotel for those who wanted meatless alternatives. A postcard from the hotel reads “For health and pleasure. Enjoy wholesome meatless meals, health lectures, all sports, heated swimming pool, free boating, solarium, entertainment and band, folk dancing, luxurious accommodations. Special diet, spa-like atmosphere.”

The hotel was founded by Fannie Shafer, a Russian immigrant who relocated to the Catskills after her workplace burnt down in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, in the early 1900s. The hotel was thriving by the 1940s under her leadership and eventually the leadership of her son, Verb Konviser. The hotel closed down in the late 1980s.

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4 Responses
  1. MArk Levine Reply

    My first job was at the Brickmans Hotel I was 15 yrs old and ran the softball games The owner was MURRAY POSNER My 2nd job was at the PINES HOTEL i was the Athletic Directer under HANK LEEDS and did the spotlights for rhe shows under the MATRE D NORMAN I was in the Catskills since i was 5 yrs old

  2. Alan I Fleischmann Reply

    Fond memories of the Grossinger’s and other Catskills resorts. I spent 2 years (1971-1973) attending Sullivan County Community College. Originally at the old South Fallsburg, then at their brand new campus in Loch Sheldrake in 1973.
    As a Jewish kid from Long Island (of course born in Brooklyn) I always felt at home the resort area, working weekends at many of the resorts. I was a bus boy, car hop, bell hop, and staff photographer for Earl “the Pearl” Tunick. As one of Earl’s army of photographers, I took photos at dinner and cocktail parties at The Concord, the Pines, The Raleigh, The Brickman, The Gibber, The Granit 2, the Nevele, the Fallsview, The Flagler (whose owner, Milt Brizel, was my Math professor) The Gilbert, Kutschers, Grossingers, and many others. I lived for a semester at the Olympic, the Evans, and in an apartment in nearby Hurlyville. These were among the most memorable two years of my life. My parents and grandparents always had stories of their childhoods in the Catskills, from the old Summit House in South Fallsburg, to Finkelsteins Foibles (between Hurleyville and Loch Sheldrake. While at Sullivan Community College, I had Manny Wakefield (author of “To The Mountains By Rail-History of the O&W) as one of my professors. Crazy and memorable characters like Morty Cherlin (the Evans), Bob Rosenburg (The Olympic), Max Kahn, Lebel Wirschinsky, Dave Tractenburg, and many others will forever have a place in my memories….. Truly fond memories. I had the opportunity to tour the county on a recent road trip, and came away truly depressed at the dilapidated condition of the county. I DO have the memories!

  3. Simon DelMonte Reply

    Such an incredible melancholy to see these hotels just sitting there. Surely someone out there wants the land, if nothing else. But as much the weather up there is still cooler in the summer and the scenery is still lush, it seems that no one wants to go to a resort in the Catskills for any reason now.

    I was at the Homowack for a singles event in 1992, and around the same time my future wife went there for a family get-together, so it was not that long ago that the place was getting business. But by 1992, the grounds were leaning toward decrepit, the rooms were antiquated, and the overall effect was enough to make me never go there again (though I did get to see the late, great comedian Dennis Wolfberg, who lamented having an agent who booked him there for July 4th).

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