WHY WE LOVE LIVING HERE

WHY WE LOVE LIVING HERE

 

The Woodstock Jewish Congregation is a vibrant, thriving, regional congregation located in the beautiful mid-Hudson Valley of New York State, two hours north of New York City.

With over 300 membership units, we are the largest synagogue in the area. Members come from all over the mid-Hudson Valley, primarily from Ulster, Dutchess, and Columbia counties as well as the New York metropolitan area and the capital district. We are drawn to the congregation for its friendliness, openness, diversity, spiritual life, and educational, artistic, and social action programs.

Our building, built in 2006, sits on 35 acres of mostly wooded land. We have a solar array on our roof, LED lighting throughout the building, and have recently installed an energy-efficient heat pump system.

The mid-Hudson Valley is one of the most beautiful areas of the United States. The Hudson River flows south from the Adirondacks to New York City and is an important shipping route as well as a place for sailing and kayaking. The Catskill Mountains, although not the mightiest of ranges, offer opportunities for hiking, biking, swimming, and downhill and cross-country skiing. The town of Woodstock and the area around it have many offerings of performing and visual arts. New York City is easily accessible by Amtrak from Rhinecliff, by bus from Woodstock and Kingston, and by MetroNorth commuter train from Poughkeepsie. New York’s capital city of Albany is about a one hour drive north.

 

Here is information about Woodstock and neighboring towns:

 

ULSTER COUNTY

Woodstock, NY has a population of 6,000.  Ulster County has a population of 180,000. Besides the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, other synagogues in Ulster County are: Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley (Reform) and Congregation Agudas Achim (Orthodox) in Kingston, Jewish Congregation of New Paltz (Reconstructionist) and Kol Hai: Hudson Valley Jewish Renewal, in New Paltz. There are also small synagogues in Ellenville and Kerhonkson.

 

Ulster County is home to SUNY New Paltz and its Dorsky Museum and SUNY Ulster, a community college.

 

Woodstock is approximately 100 miles from New York City. It has been a colony for the arts for over 100 years, and a magnet for religious seekers of all faiths. Woodstock has three theaters and many cultural institutions and organizations, from art galleries to performing art spaces, to musical venues, and more. 

 

For general information about the town of Woodstock visit the town’s website 

or the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce 

 

A more personal guide is here.

 

The town of Saugerties is about 10 miles east of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation. It was founded in the 1600’s, was a center for lumber mills and quarrying, and now has a historic business district with many antique and art galleries, shops, and restaurants as well as historical sites.

 

For more information about Saugerties, click here

 

The City of Kingston was New York State’s first capital city. It has a long history and after a few years of decline is now experiencing tremendous growth in the arts, restaurants, and hotels.

 

The official interactive visitors guide is here

 

A more focused guide is here

 

Information about Ulster County 

 

DUTCHESS COUNTY

Just across the Hudson River to the east, across the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, is Dutchess County.

 

Dutchess County has a population of 293,000. The Rhinebeck Jewish Center (Orthodox) is in northern Dutchess. In or near Poughkeepsie are Vassar Temple (Reform), Temple Beth-El (Conservative), Congregation Shomre Israel (Orthodox), Congregation Shir Chadash (Reform), and the Beacon Hebrew Alliance (Conservative).

 

Dutchess County is home to SUNY Dutchess (community college); Bard College, home of the world-famous Fisher Center for the Performing Arts; Vassar College, home of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and the Powerhouse Theater; Marist College, and The Culinary Institute of America.

 

Both the towns of Red Hook and Rhinebeck in northern Dutchess have much to offer in the way of culture, shopping, dining, and outdoor experiences. The Dutchess County Fair, held at the end of August every year in Rhinebeck, is the largest county fair in New York, and offers history, animals, food, and entertainment for all ages.

 

For information about Dutchess County

 

For information about Red Hook

 

For information about Rhinebeck and the hamlet of Rhinecliff (which has an Amtrak station to connect to New York City and also to points north): 

 

For information about the village of Tivoli (part of the town of Red Hook):

 

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Also across the Hudson River, north of the town of Red Hook, is Columbia County. The largest city, Hudson, was a whaling port on the river, and is now attracting many artists and restaurateurs.

For information about Columbia County

 

The Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church built his home, Olana, on a hill overlooking the river. It is now a New York State historic site, with tours of the home and walking trails.

For information

 

West across the Hudson River in Greene County via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Cole was also a painter in the Hudson River School.

For information:

 

Brand new in 2019: It’s now possible to walk between Olana and the Cole house via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge: 

 

Temple Israel (Reform) is in the town of Catskill, Greene County.

 

 

JEWISH LIFE IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

Both Dutchess County and Ulster County have Jewish Federations and offer both programs of their own and publicity about the offerings of local synagogues.

 

All local supermarkets and health food stores offer packaged and fresh kosher food. Most offer frozen Empire poultry; the ShopRite in Kingston often has fresh kosher poultry. For a larger selection of kosher meat and Passover food, people drive either to Monsey in Rockland County (about 1 ½ hour south) or to the large PriceChopper in Albany (about an hour north; they also have a year-round kosher butcher.)

 

There are no kosher restaurants in the area. Woodstock has a vegan restaurant and most restaurants have vegetarian selections.

 

The nearest Jewish day schools are in Albany and Monsey.

 

Congregational and Federation events are attended by people from all congregations as well as those who are unafilliated.

 

NEARBY UNIVERSITY AND CULTURAL SITES

In and around the Capital District of New York (the cities of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy) are The University at Albany, the Palace Theater and The Egg Performing Arts Center in Albany, and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

 

An hour and a half to two hours away, in Western Massachusetts are Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, Mass MOCA, the Clark Art Institute, and the Yiddish Book Center.

 

We live in the country and have to drive almost everywhere. We support many wonderful businesses, artists, and cultural sites. We love the beautiful river, lakes, streams, and mountains. 

 

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area with so much to offer.