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Jewish Community of Tannersville

Tannersville's 140-year Jewish history reflects the development of Judaism in America. Every summer at the turn of the century, 40,000 Americans visited Tannersville's sixty-five boarding houses and hotels. In the early 1900s, Tannersville had more than a dozen kosher boarding houses. Writers Mark Twain and Arthur Brisbane interacted with Jewish boarders and later wrote about them.

In the early 1900s, Tannersville was the vacation home to Jewish leaders and sports legends as well as the setting for Jewish organizational meetings pivotal to the development of Judaism in America and Israel.

Rabbi Solomon Schechter of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Macy's owner Nathan Strauss vacationed in Tannersville. The annual Tannersville conventions for the American Federation of Zionists and the Jewish Theological Seminary debated the understanding of being Jewish in America; Patriotism vs Zionism, Reform vs Conservative vs Orthodox. Boxing legend Benny Leonard, "The Ghetto Wizard," trained in Tannersville for his 1923 Yankee Stadium lightweight boxing title match versus Lew Tendler. The record-breaking title bout is considered one of the greatest boxing matches in history.

In 1902 the Tannersville Jewish community built the Anshei HaShoran synagogue. The building still stands today, retaining its original beautiful appearance.

Soon illustrious rabbis infused Tannersville with an aura of Torah and holiness. In the 1920s and 1930s, Torah luminaries Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz, his son-in-law Rav Reuvain Grozovsky, Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein and Rav Elchonon Wasserman each rested and learned Torah in Tannersville during their busy fundraising trips from Russia and Lithuania. They were followed by Rabbi Joseph Breuer and Rabbi Israel Stein, the Foltichaner Rav from the 1950s to the 1980s. Today, the Bostoner Rebbe of Flatbush Rabbi Pinchos Dovid Horowitz and Rosh Kollel of Yeshiva University Rabbi Hershel Schachter spend their summers in Tannersville. Tannersville is currently home to a thriving Summer Jewish community.

The Jewish History of Tannersville, New York: A Village in the Catskills    

(August 23, 2018)  by  Dr. Gary J. Lelonek  

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