Asheville Jewish Community Facts and Figures
In 2009, the Asheville Jewish Leadership Collaborative, on behalf of the Asheville Jewish Community, embarked on the first-ever demographic study of our community. The study was designed and performed by demographers from Brandeis University.
In October 2010, the results of 2010 Western North Carolina Jewish Demographic Study were presented to the community. The following are just a few of the statistical highlights. To download and read the entire study, click here.
Total Number of Jews in WNC: There are approximately 4,720 year round residents in Jewish-connected homes in Western North Carolina and at least another 1,000 seasonal residents.
Where do we live? 72% of the Jewish connected households in Western North Carolina are located in Buncombe County. Another 13% are in Henderson County, 5% in Transylvania County, and 3% in Macon County; the remaining 7% of households we found were spread among 14 other counties in Western North Carolina.
10 Most Popular ZIP Codes: 28804, 28803, 28805, 28806, 28801 (Asheville); 28704 (Arden); 28787 (Weaverville); 28712 (Brevard); 28739 (Hendersonville); and 28715 (Candler).
Tenure of Residence: Nearly 60% of all Jewish-connected households in Western North Carolina first moved to the area in the last ten years, and nearly 80% arrived in the last 20 years.
Seasonal Community Members: Of the estimated 835 seasonal members of our community, about 46% are from Florida; 10% are from South Carolina and another 10% come from other parts of North Carolina; 18% are from Connecticut, New York, and Oregon. Other states represented by seasonal residents include Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Virginia.
How old are we? The mean age of our Jewish community is 49.3 years; an estimated 28% of the WNC Jewish population is 65 years or older; 21% are 55- 64; 21% are 35-54; 15% are 18-34; children (aged 17 or younger) make up 15% of the population.
Business Ownership: About one-third of Jewish adults in Western North Carolina own their own businesses (35% of year-round residents and 30% of seasonal residents). Of those, 93% operate only in Western North Carolina and 7% operate both in Western North Carolina and elsewhere.
Marital Status, Children, and Intermarriage: Approximately three-quarters (78%) of Jewish-connected households in Western North Carolina include a married couple. Forty percent of these couples are interfaith. Among households that include married couples, 27% include children. Sixty-four percent of the children are being raised exclusively Jewish, with another 19% being raised Jewish and something else. Seventeen percent are being raised exclusively non-Jewish.
The History of Jews in Asheville
|1860s||First documented Jews in Asheville|
|1868-73||Estimated period of delivery of The Scattered Nation by Zebulon Vance, a speech praising Jews, delivered by a governor from Western NC|
|1880||Railroad comes to Asheville; more Jews begin to arrive.|
|1880s||Moses Cone becomes president of C.E. Graham Manufacturing|
|1891||Congregation Beth HaTephila founded as a conservative congregation 1892. Jewish section of Riverside Cemetery purchased|
|1899||Bikur Cholim synagogue formed as an orthodox congregation, Today Congregation Beth Israel|
|1902||Beth HaTephila purchases their first building|
|1904||Solomon Schechter, head of the Jewish Theological Seminary, brought to Asheville to negotiate a merger of congregations|
|1905||Jewish population of Asheville 100|
|1907||Asheville has chapters of the National Council of Jewish Women|
|1908||Beth HaTephila joins Union of American Hebrew Congregations and becomes a reform congregation|
|1912||Asheville chapter of B’nai B’rith founded|
|1915||Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) organized|
|1916||Mount Zion Jewish Cemetery (now known as Lou Pollock Memorial Park), organized by the West Asheville Hebrew Cemetery Association. Bikur Cholim’s new building burns down. Another congregation, Anshei Yeshuran forms|
|1922||Agudas Israel, a reform congregation in Hendersonville, is founded 1924 Bikur Cholim building reconstruction completed|
|1926||Central Conference of American Rabbis holds its’ annual meeting in Asheville 1927, Jewish population of Asheville 700|
|1928||B’nai B’rith erects a monument to Governor Vance in the “Westminster Abbey of the Southland” in Fletcher|
|1929||Thomas Wolfe’s book Look Homeward, Angel published|
|1931||William Dudley Pelley, the would-be American Hitler, moves to Asheville 1934, The first Brotherhood Day is observed|
|1933||Black Mountain College founded. This became a destination for Jews from the Bauhaus school to leave Germany.|
|1933-45||The Holocaust period|
|1935||Federated Charities organized; later becomes WNC Jewish Federation 1937 Jewish population of Asheville 950|
|1939||Jewish Community Relations Council organized in response to Kristallnacht. 1940 Jewish Community Center of Asheville opens on Charlotte Street|
|1947||Jewish population of Asheville 600|
|1949||Congregation Beth HaTephila erects a new building|
|1950||Bikur Cholim changes its’name to Beth Israel; Asheville has an active chapter of the National Council of Christians and Jews.|
|1960s||Harry Winner helps integrate Asheville’s retail sales force, Beth HaTephila has integrated Boy Scout troop. ASCORE works for racial integration (1960-65)|
|1960||Jewish population of Asheville 875|
|1969||Asheville Biltmore College becomes part of the University of North Carolina. Beth Israel moves into a new building|
|1970||Connie Lerner the first Jewish American to be crowned Miss North Carolina|
|1970s||Many businesses relocate from downtown to the new mall; family department|
|1974||Temple of the High Country founded in Boone. A synagogue was built in 2008. 1979 The Mountain Synagogue was started in Franklin|
|1980||Jewish population of Asheville 1000|
|1983||Center for Jewish Studies created at UNC-Asheville|
|1987||Merger of Congregations Beth Israel and Beth HaTephila again discussed|
|1989||Kenneth Michalove becomes Asheville’s first Jewish mayor|
|1995||Center for Diversity Education founded at the JCC|
|1997||Leni Sitnik becomes Asheville’s first female and second Jewish mayor|
|1999||Jewish Family Services founded at JCC|
|2001||Brevard Jewish Community formed|
|2003||Hard Lox Jewish Heritage and Food Festival started|
|2005||Celebration Israel started|
|2006-2011||Maccabi Academy operated as a Jewish Day school|
|2006||The Chabad House founded|
|2009||Jewish Film Festival started|
|2010||3,400 people in Jewish-connected homes in WNC plus 835 seasonal residents|
|2013||Esther Manheimer becomes Asheville’s third Jewish mayor|
|2014||Jewish Secular Community of Asheville founded|
|2014||Carolina Jews for Justice/West chapter, founded as a result of the first Mountain Moral Monday event in Asheville|