June 3, 2013

Plenty of Kosher at the Catskills but Slim Pickings in the Hamptons

Westhampton…While vacationers in New York’s Catskill Mountains will find an unprecedented selection of kosher foods, not so for the elite who call the Hamptons home for the summer. Despite a growing number of Orthodox Jews who vacation in what some authors have called “the summer playground of the rich and famous,” the Hamptons has not had a kosher restaurant since Prime Grill opened a satellite store here more than a decade ago.  Rabbi Ari Korenblit who serves as Assistant Rabbi at the Hamptons Synagogue is working to change that. He is trying to convince the local Waldbaum’s, just down the street from the synagogue on  Sunset Ave, to increase its kosher offerings. He provides kosher certification to Shock, an ice cream parlor which also carries the prized baked goods of Zucker’s from Wantagh. Zucker Bakers is a small family owned bakery established in 2008 which is known for its pareve and nut-free products. Many vacationers love the Zucker’s challah which is sold at Shock.

Rabbi Korenblit says that local ordinances on sewage “make it difficult for a new restaurant to open.” He says that the weekly lavish Kiddush at the Hamptons Synagogue is one of the kosher highlights of the vacation area. “Why would anyone be looking for a restaurant on a Saturday night after such a kiddush?” Rabbi Korenblit wonders.  In addition to the Kiddush,  the Synagogue offers a robust program of seminars, Jewish education and world renowned speakers, under the direction of its founding rabbi, Marc Schneier. Many vacationers either bring kosher food from other part s of the city or order from caterers in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn who deliver to the Hamptons.

There is no shortages of eating establishments or kosher food in the legendary borscht belt. In fact, New York’s Catskill Mountains now features many year-round kosher eateries and stores. The Wal-Mart in Monticello has significantly increased its kosher aisle following criticism of years past that it was not catering properly to the nearly 300,000 who spend summer in the Catskills.  Just across the road, the Shoprite is a key kosher destination in the summer.