Eighteen-year-old Samantha dreams of more than waiting on tables, but with an alcoholic father and no money, her prospects are dim. Landing a clerical job at a Jewish resort in the Catskills in 1976 seems like a step in the right direction, but soon she bungles her way through the foreign world of kosher meals and no meat with dairy. In her free time, Samantha fends off amorous rabbis and lusty pool boys. Rising to protect her, Larry the maintenance man, a Vietnam War veteran with an affinity for whiskey, shows up when he's needed most. Mrs. Rosenblatt, a vociferous and opinionated Manhattanite who dominates the resort pool, appoints herself as Samantha's Jewish fairy godmother in charge of her future. Josh, a Jewish college student from the Bronx who works the summer as a pool boy, tries to befriend Samantha.
Based on actual events at Grossinger's Resort during the 1970s, Cinderella Borscht Belt is about a young woman determined to change her fate and her cultural and class struggles at this now non-existent orthodox Jewish mountain mecca. Opposed to the film Dirty Dancing, the heroine, Samantha, is a staff member of the resort who wants to break from her working-class confinement and dreams of attending college. Sprinkled throughout the story are historic details of the Borscht Belt, such as Jewish customs and entertainers, as well as a description of a magical place where millions of New Yorkers visited every summer.