South Haven; the Catskills of the Midwest
Jewish life in Southwest Michigan started with the arrival of jewish farmers from Eastern Europe. Soon the Jewish urban population of South Haven increased as well and, with loans from the JAS, the residents were able to erect a synagogue and community center building in 1928.
Jewish farmers began to let rooms to vacationers looking to escape from Chicago and Detroit during the summer. Eventually, it became more profitable to run a resort than a farm, and many abandoned farming all together. From Chicago, vacationers traveled east across Lake Michigan in steamships to spend long summers on the South Haven beaches. At these primarily kosher Jewish resorts, they enjoyed the finest entertainment of the day at stylish resort pavilions.
At its height, South Haven had sixty-three resorts run by Jewish immigrants for Jewish vacationers.
The Casino Dance Hall was a very popular meeting place in town. Each year the B’nai B’rith of South Haven sponsored a beauty contest where each resort would send a contestant. The heyday of the Jewish resorts of South Haven was the mid– to late 1940s.
Today, Jewish life in South Haven centers around First Hebrew Congregation. During the summer, Reform/Conservative services are held on Friday night, and Orthodox services are held on Saturday morning. Contact the temple for exact times. (269) 637-1603
Kosher Vacation Rentals
We make kosher kitchens and a kosher grill available to our guests.
For more about Jewish life in South Haven, read A Time to Remember : A History of the Jewish Community in South Haven, Michigan
First Hebrew Congregation