When many Jews think about summer traditions we think “The Mountains.” So many of our traditions are gone – delis, the Lower East Side, Americans born with Eastern European accents. All we have left are trees during the summer and Bloomingdale’s. Every summer, Jews of New York flock to the “The Mountains”. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of going to the bungalow colonies, allow me to take you on a journey…

Imagine taking Brooklyn and putting it someplace with foliage.

The Mountains: What Are They?

Imagine taking Brooklyn and putting it someplace with foliage. The Jews of New York want to see grass and trees. That is their summer vacation. The Mountains are a plateau consisting of the Catskills and Poconos. There’s nature, trees, and you can see greenery. Therefore, people from Brooklyn call it The Mountains. In Brooklyn, “mountains” means grass and flowers. That is how they teach geography in Flatbush. Anything with grass is a mountain.

Also, The Mountains must be capitalized as it is a Jewish city. I do not believe that New Yorkers have ever traveled farther than The Mountains. This is what makes them ‘The’ Mountains.

The Jewish Homeland for two months and the home of non-Jewish people the whole year, The Mountains is also known as land occupied by Jews in Upstate New York. It is a highly politically contested area. Even so, it doesn’t make the news, because nobody outside of the five boroughs wants to live in a bungalow.

THE BUNGALOW

The idea is to move from a home with central air to a hut with a screen door that doesn’t keep out mosquitos. That is enjoyment for New Yorkers; a screen door that doesn’t shut. A home with uneven floors and no air-conditioning.

Clothing is a Night Gown

It is fashionably to walk around in night gowns. That is the style. I have no explanation for this.

Use Your Front Lawn

Bungalows are communal. People bring out tables, benches, chairs. Bring whatever you can out of your bungalow including fridges, ovens and dressers. This frees up the hovel and gives you enough space to sleep. Don’t worry about keeping your clothes outside. You’re going to be wearing the night gown all day anyways.

Family Time

This is something the kids don’t enjoy. If they ever get decent reception and internet access in The Mountains, this tradition will be done. Kids will once again be sitting at dinner on the web, posting pictures of their mom walking around in a night gown at dinner.

Bungalow Colony

Jews leaving New York City move as one unit and live in what is known as a “colony.” Like we are ants or something. This is a form of protection against the unknown terrain and being caught without a minyan. It is also a way of supporting each other in the weird decision of moving from your nice home to a shack.

THE HOTELS

The hotel resort industry was big in The Mountains until the 1980s, and then the movie Dirty Dancing came out. Patrick Swayze and the dance instructors were living in the bungalows, and all the religious Jews decided they wanted to be there.

Reason the hotels closed: The Jewish people would not settle for anything less than twenty four hours of buffet and constant dinner.

SHOPPING & EATING

Pizza: You Define a Jewish Town by Pizza

The Woodbourne block gives you the full experience of Jewish New York. This includes eating. Pizza shops, knishes, and more eating. There is New York style pizza; thus, Woodbourne is Jewish.

You can now find kosher pizza shops in Monticello. South Fallsburg is loaded with pizza. Pizza all summer. That is the nutrient of The Mountains. Pizza.

What came first? Jews or pizza? Please help me answer this.

Grocery Shopping

They had Shop Rite, but that did not satisfy the full New York Jewish experience of being on vacation outside of New York. Hence, they opened a “Landau’s New York Supermarket”, so that the Brooklyn experience of being on vacation away from Brooklyn in The Mountains could be enjoyed.

Amazing Savings

If Amazing Savings did not exist, The Mountains would not be Jewish. All people in bungalows must go shopping at Amazing Savings. Jews need to buy tin pans.

Walmart was enjoyed by the Jewish people of The Mountains until they didn’t allow us to return stuff after two months. Talk about chutzpah! I ask you, what am I supposed to do with my purchase of the lawn chairs after the summer?!

PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES IN THE MOUNTAINS

Hikes

Allow me to explain how hikes work in The Mountains:

Anytime you walk in The Mountains that is a hike. If there is no sidewalk, that is a hike. Mothers pushing their babies up and down the main roads of Monticello, that is a hike.

Anytime there is a chance of finding a salamander, that is a hike. This includes a salamander you found under your bungalow. You step outside, see an animal that is not a human, that is a hike. It is exercise.

Anytime you have a bottle in a bag, that is a hike. Bottle in your hands, that is a walk. Walking in your night gown is a hike. Anybody walking to the pizza shop when they could be driving, is hiking and losing weight. If you are from New York and you are surrounded by trees and grass and you go for a walk, that is a hike.

The Lake

There is always a lake nearby. You do not swim there. You swim in the pool that is built right next to the lake.

Boating

Jews do not use motorboats. They go boating with an oar. It’s all part of the Jewish tradition of reliving slavery.

No Surfing

That is too tiring. If you see anybody outside of the boat, that is a man overboard.

No Fishing

Finding kosher food is time consuming enough. Waiting to catch a fish is not something we have time for, when we are trying to find the rightkosher supervision on the tartar sauce package.

Swim with Shirt, Skirt or Dress

This is done either because of modesty or because your one-day South Beach diet did not shed all the extra pounds. Don’t be crazy. Nobody swims in a night gown.

Next time you are looking for the New York City experience, go to The Mountains. Join me for some New York City pizza and hike down the road to Amazing Savings. I am even happy to spend some quality time sitting on the bungalow colony lawn with you, in night gowns.