As real estate prices in the Hudson Valley, Catskills and beyond continue to creep skyward, Pine Lake Park, located in nearby Northern Westchester, offers a surprisingly affordable and retro summer escape. The 65-unit, 50-acre summer coop community is situated around a well-maintained lake, and while it’s less than an hour from NYC, it feels like a different world. Kids can enjoy a “free-range” summer full of swimming at the life-guarded lake and outdoor playtime surrounded by lush, green nature, parents have tennis, softball, hiking, biking, and dancing in an old fashioned social hall. And—traditional Shabbat Services that may be just what you’re looking for this summer.
Even with an influx of new folks who did not grow up in Jewish bungalow colonies, Pine Lake Park Synagogue continues to hold self-run traditional services Saturdays during the season. The biggest challenge is meeting the needs of the most observant families, who live side-by-side with non-Shabbat observers but who are most comfortable with an all-male minyan. “We respect everyone’s sensibilities, and we make it work,” says synagogue leader Jack Katz. Kiddush follows, open to all in the Park, with lifecycle events welcoming large crowds. In recent years, several weddings have taken place as have Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations. The synagogue is always looking for new participants, and with a few bungalows turning over this year, Jack is hoping that Shabbat mornings will see a few new faces, ready to start the day in prayer.
After services, many grown-ups “hit the court” in some way. Some get together for a half court pickup basketball game, which has taken place since the 1950s, when Pine Lake was still a summer camp and rental community. According to long-time Pine Laker Ken Katz, “every Saturday, somewhere between 12 and 20 people show up.” The game, first played when Ken’s dad Jack was a counselor, “is a good combination of competitive ball mixed with some humor and camaraderie.”
The game is also a chance for the younger folk to spend some time with the older generations. “You not only get fathers and sons who play in the game,” says Ken, “but you now have grandchildren on the court with their fathers and grandfathers.” But don’t let the bucolic, jovial nature of the game fool you. Like many pick-up games run by grown-up kids from the boroughs, relatives or not, you’ll need to bring your “A” game. A strong tennis community keeps the four red clay tennis courts busy, while many hit the beach for swimming, boating and fishing.
There are a number of well-maintained, affordable properties available for sale or rent at Pine Lake Park, all of which you can find on the Pine Lake Park blog. Current offerings start from $67,000 to purchase, $3000/mo to rent from May to October.
For additional information and to schedule a tour in April, visit the website Pinelakepark.blogspot.com or email: [email protected]
By Michelle Leberfeld