There is probably an Uncle Chaim in just about every Jewish family, especially in Ashkenazi families. He could be pictured in so many different assortments of characters and physical images: short, tall, fat, smart, funny, assertive, aggressive, and loving. This week, my article is solely devoted to my own Uncle Chaim Roth z”l, who was niftar this past Thursday, 14 Av.

Hallmark hasn’t approached the market of the Jewish Valentine’s Day of Tu B’Av as of yet. No hearts and xoxo cards or even a Hallmark channel Saturday night movie about the day of love that follows a fast day, in that peculiar order. Did you even attempt to bring home a dozen long-stem red roses with a box of chocolates? Okay, you are forgiven for this go around, but for next year, let’s explore this day of “amore” a little bit more.

The Concord Hotel was Grossingers’ more glamorous younger sister. It was designed by the renowned architect Morris Lapidus, primarily known for his Neo-baroque “Miami Modern” hotels such as Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau and Eden Roc. His work has since come to define that era’s (‘50s and ‘60s) resort-style hotel. Nestled in Kiamesha Lake, New York, the Concord was the largest resort in the region. The resort encompassed over 2,000 acres with approximately 1,500 guest rooms and a 3,000-seat dining room. It was more lavish in decor and activities than any other Catskills hotel during that time.

The excitement around Grossinger’s was the idea that you could be in a glamorous hotel adorned with photos of famous guests such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Onassis, President John F. Kennedy, and Joan Rivers while dining on flanken with a side of chopped liver and another side of kishka. The beautiful resort was the ideal world where you were able to ski, golf, and swim without compromising your religious practices. While eating lox and bagels at the Sunday breakfast extravaganza you were assured that the mashgiach was watching the food preparations in the massive kitchen.

Having grown up in Kew Gardens Hills, my summers were planned around weekend getaways to “the mountains.” Before Vacation Village and other summer communities there was a magical place called the Borsht Belt. Dancing in the Pink Elephant Lounge, golfing on the Monster, laughing with Jackie Mason, or ordering 10 side dishes with your two mains were celebrated activities within the area known as the Catskills. If you have ever participated in Simon Says or collected a fistful of photo visors, you know exactly what I’m referring to.

At the Sunday family barbecue, I was complaining that my whole body ached from the intense Pilates class I took that morning. My husband’s older son, a Torah scholar and law student, quickly commented that Pilates sounds a lot like the beds of Sodom. Frankly, I had no idea what he was talking about while he quoted the source in the Gemara, but anyone who takes real Pilates knows that the “reformer” bed-like apparatus is very serious on the body – with the sole function of stretching, toning, and strengthening the body with straps, coils, bars, and balls.

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