By Hilary Larson, The Jewish Week
With its vast miles of fabled white beaches, glamorous mansions and celebrity-studded galas, the Hamptons of Long Island are the ultimate summer resort.
But talk to locals, people who prowl the shore and bustle about town after the leaves have faded, and another Hamptons emerges: tight-knit communities that value the small-town friendliness on the East End’s South Fork.
Generations of families have farmed the land, caught the fish and spent summers sunning themselves here. More recently, a steady influx of year-round residents and weekenders has given the area a new sense of vitality and strengthened its institutions.
…Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten, who oversees Chabad “from Coram on east” as director of Chabad Lubavitch of the East End, recalls when the organization held Shabbat services in Jewish homes around the Hamptons 25 years ago, before other worship options existed.
Five years ago, he moved his family to East Hampton full-time, and today he oversees three Chabad houses: a full-service, year-round center in East Hampton, a weekend center in Southampton and a summer weekend satellite in Water Mill.
“I started to feel that presence throughout the year,” explained the rabbi of Chabad’s eastward expansion.
“We haven’t missed a daily minyan in years, even Monday morning.”
Chabad also has popular summer camps and a weekend children’s program; the rabbi’s wife, Goldie, hosts a Thurday evening challah-baking session and the Sunday religious school.
Goldie also operates KosherHamptons, an online kosher-food delivery service (www.kosherhamptons.com) that trucks out freshly prepared Shabbat dinners, glatt brunches and more from caterers in Great Neck.
Kosher food is still difficult to find in much of the Hamptons, which lacks kosher restaurants and whose Jewish community is low-key in observance.