Andrew Jacobs discusses Borscht Belt Fest

Borscht Belt Fest! - Our Interview with Andrew Jacobs

Some of us at Candleschtick have fond memories of vacationing with parents and grandparents at the old Catskills’ Nevele resort…as well as a current love of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. So when we heard rumors of a Borscht Belt Fest scheduled for July, we were excited to learn more.

Enter, Andrew Jacobs. Andrew is a reporter at the New York Times, writer, director, and producer of the touching documentary Four Seasons Lodge, and Board President (Mensch-In-Charge?) of the Catskills Borscht Belt Museum project in Ellenville, NY. We are thrilled (verklempt!) to have the opportunity to speak with Andrew, learn about his current project, and share the fun with our Candleschtick friends and family. Below are excerpts from our conversation.

Andrew’s connection to the Catskills:

“I made a film about a bungalow colony in the Catskills called Four Seasons Lodge, about a group of Holocaust survivors in their final few years, and I became fairly obsessed with them and the community they created.” Andrew’s award-winning documentary shares a look into the Catskills of yesteryear and the generations of vacationers who enjoyed life in the mountains each summer. 

Andrew was asked to join the Board of Directors of the museum project and has been actively involved in fundraising, museum planning, renovation, and development of the soon-to-be home of the Catskills Borscht Belt Museum. As groundwork for the museum’s opening in 2025, Andrew is also focused on the first annual “Borscht Belt Fest.” Inspired by the legacy of the Catskills’ brand of summer fun, the festival will celebrate comedy, culture, and cuisine of the era. Borscht? You bet!

Andrew’s vision for the museum:

“I see this as a regional cultural center that's not only a time capsule of Borscht Belt nostalgia - although it will be that - but much more.” Andrew describes space planned for visiting exhibits and fresh content curated in collaboration with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and The Catskills Institute at Northeastern University

The museum will tackle broader issues, including the Catskills as a refuge and themes of tolerance with many “threads to the narrative” explored. Libraries, archives, and educational programming will support study of the area’s rich history. 

A museum preview is scheduled for July 1, 2023, in Ellenville. This “pop-up” collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center of New York City will feature photography of fashion, food, and entertainment from the era. 

Borscht Belt Fest Museum Image

Mrs. Maisel & More:

With an impressive list of experts and advisors on hand, the project has serious chops! 

“It hasn’t been hard to get people to get involved and that’s been the most inspiring part of the project. We do have an incredible army of volunteers and people who are helping out. This era and this period of history resonates with a lot of people.” 

“Jews couldn’t stay in many hotels…and had to create their own leisure world. The world they created ended up having a deep impact on mainstream American culture.” Andrew credits the art of American stand-up to the hundreds of Catskill hotels that gave comedians and entertainers a proving ground. Luminaries of the entertainment world seem to agree, with Alan Cummings, Fran Drescher, Harvey Fierstein, Judd Hirsch, Robert Klein, Richard Lewis, Mary-Louise Parker, and Neil Sedaka adding their support as members of the museum’s Advisory Board. 

“In some ways American humor is Jewish humor…and that, I think, is quite moving for many people…I really think there’s a zeitgeist moment…The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has kind of reintroduced many people to the era.”

Where & When?

The festival will boast a mix of nostalgic fare and up-and-coming talent. “We wanted to create a hip, fun, accessible way for people to experience culture and food...and put our stake in the ground in terms of the Catskills becoming a cultural magnet once again.” The town of Ellenville is primed for a renaissance, “and we want to be a part of that placemaking.” 

With five comedy shows, live music, a rollerskating party (!!!), food vendors, merchants, lectures and panelists, there will be something for everyone. Check the Borscht Belt Fest website for more details…and subscribe for updates, schedules, and ticket information. 

Sunny Sky

Interview Lightning Round

  • Favorite Yiddish Word: “Schmuck”
  • Favorite Jewish Holiday: “Passover”
  • Blueberry Bagel: Y/N “No” (Which Candleschtick agrees is the only correct answer)
  • What are you most looking forward to for Borscht Belt Fest ‘23? “A really great turnout and for everyone to have a lot of fun and walk away feeling like they’ve benefited from attending, learned something new…and had a good and meaningful time.”

For more information about the Borscht Belt Fest, July 29th, 2023, visit:

For information about the Catskills Borscht Belt Museum, visit:

Museum Logo Image Credits:


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