2016-04-27 / Voice at the Shore

Survivor family celebrates 50 years in the hotel business

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore correspondent


Montreal Beach Resort co-principals (from left) Joseph, Jonathan and Larry Hirsch. Montreal Beach Resort co-principals (from left) Joseph, Jonathan and Larry Hirsch. Kathy Orr, meteorologist for Philadelphia’s Fox News, remembers learning to swim at the Montreal Beach Resort in Cape May, where she often spent time with her beloved grandfather. “Some of my favorite childhood memories took place in Cape May and at the Montreal,” said Orr.

This year, the Cape May resort started by Holocaust survivors Harry and Sophie Hirsch in 1966 turns 50. In honor of the resort’s golden anniversary, the Hirsch family is telling their story in a new book, “A Cape May Story,” that will be published next month. In addition to including the sunshine soaked memories of hotel guests like Orr, the book also describes the stark landscape of World War II-era Poland and the trials and tribulations experienced by the Hirsch family before and after coming to this country.

The 180-page coffee table book “tells the story of my parents coming to this country. It’s also a story about Cape May at the same time. The two stories kind of intermingle,” explained Larry Hirsch, who now co-owns and operates the hotel started by his late parents, along with his son Jonathan and his brother Joseph.

The story of how the Hirsch’s came to this country is a familiar one for many South Jersey Holocaust survivors, as well as for the many people whom their lives have touched. Harry Hirsch was 15 when the Nazi army invaded Poland and he was imprisoned in Auschwitz. He and his wife Sophie miraculously survived Nazi tyranny and found their way to America. They eventually settled in Vineland, New Jersey, which was then home to many Holocaust survivors like themselves. When the time seemed opportune, they—along with many of their neighbors— entered the hotel business, achieved success, and ultimately lived the American dream.

While this story is familiar— having played out in myriad variations for many South Jersey Holocaust survivors—it is nevertheless incredible. Miraculous, even. Its familiarity is a testament to both the resilience and perseverance of survivors as well as to the American dream.

Yet the Hirsch’s story is also a testament to the unique character of both the Hirsch family and of Cape May itself. “We’ve been part of the Cape May community for 50 years, and we’re committed to maintaining our long-time tradition of treating customers like they are members of our family,” said Larry.

For its 50th anniversary, the Hirsch’s have renovated “Harry’s Café,” the restaurant named after hotel founder Harry Hirsch. In addition to creating the coffee-table book, the Hirsch’s are also offering a commemorative bottle of wine— The Montreal Beach Resort’s Chateau Montreal/Harry’s Reserve, which will be sold for $19.66 to commemorate the resort’s birth year.

The inscription on that wine bottle reads: “A Toast to 50 Years! Like a fine wine, The Montreal Beach Resort has been aging to perfection for five decades. And after half a century, we know it takes care, love, and lots of people to create a perfect blend. Thank you for being part of our Cape May story. We hope you’ll join us as we celebrate 50 years of Montreal Moments. We raise a glass to you. Cheers!”

Both the wine and the new book are available at www.montrealbeachresort.com. .

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