In the wake of the Civil War, one of the bloodiest wars in the nation’s history, Americans discovered pleasure. “Vacation” became a verb as well as a noun and, in some quarters, even a form of moral exhortation. A vacation, insisted reformer Melvil Dewey, is not just a luxury but a “necessity for those who aim to do a large amount of high-grade work.” Well-to-do, hardworking German-born Jews of the 1870s heeded Dewey’s words. Like other affluent Americans, they vacationed at Saratoga Springs, then one of the country’s premier watering holes, had enjoyed the bracing sea air of the New Jersey shore where luxuriously appointed hotels dotted the beach. “Fond of fun and frolic,” they spent their mornings and afternoons promenading on the boardwalks and boulevards of America’s resort towns; in the evenings they dined, danced, and gambled. America, they believed, was truly God’s playground.