Asheville Jewish Community Information

Jewish Asheville

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

1860sFirst documented Jews in Asheville
1868-73Estimated period of delivery of The Scattered Nation by Zebulon Vance, a speech praising Jews, delivered by a governor from Western NC
1880Railroad comes to Asheville; more Jews begin to arrive.
1880sMoses Cone becomes president of C.E. Graham Manufacturing
1891Congregation Beth HaTephila founded as a conservative congregation 1892. Jewish section of Riverside Cemetery purchased
1899Bikur Cholim synagogue formed as an orthodox congregation, Today Congregation Beth Israel
1902Beth HaTephila purchases their first building
1904Solomon Schechter, head of the Jewish Theological Seminary, brought to Asheville to negotiate a merger of congregations
1905Jewish population of Asheville 100
1907Asheville has chapters of the National Council of Jewish Women
1908Beth HaTephila joins Union of American Hebrew Congregations and becomes a reform congregation
1912Asheville chapter of B’nai B’rith founded
1915Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) organized
1916Mount 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
1922Agudas Israel, a reform congregation in Hendersonville, is founded 1924 Bikur Cholim building reconstruction completed
1926Central Conference of American Rabbis holds its’ annual meeting in Asheville 1927, Jewish population of Asheville 700
1928B’nai B’rith erects a monument to Governor Vance in the “Westminster Abbey of the Southland” in Fletcher
1929Thomas Wolfe’s book Look Homeward, Angel published
1931William Dudley Pelley, the would-be American Hitler, moves to Asheville 1934, The first Brotherhood Day is observed
1933Black Mountain College founded. This became a destination for Jews from the Bauhaus school to leave Germany.
1933-45The Holocaust period
1935Federated Charities organized; later becomes WNC Jewish Federation 1937 Jewish population of Asheville 950
1939Jewish Community Relations Council organized in response to Kristallnacht. 1940 Jewish Community Center of Asheville opens on Charlotte Street
1947Jewish population of Asheville 600
1949Congregation Beth HaTephila erects a new building
1950Bikur Cholim changes its’name to Beth Israel; Asheville has an active chapter of the National Council of Christians and Jews.
1960sHarry Winner helps integrate Asheville’s retail sales force, Beth HaTephila has integrated Boy Scout troop. ASCORE works for racial integration (1960-65)
1960Jewish population of Asheville 875
1969Asheville Biltmore College becomes part of the University of North Carolina. Beth Israel moves into a new building
1970Connie Lerner the first Jewish American to be crowned Miss North Carolina
1970sMany businesses relocate from downtown to the new mall; family department
stores close
1974Temple of the High Country founded in Boone. A synagogue was built in 2008. 1979 The Mountain Synagogue was started in Franklin
1980Jewish population of Asheville 1000
1983Center for Jewish Studies created at UNC-Asheville
1987Merger of Congregations Beth Israel and Beth HaTephila again discussed
1989Kenneth Michalove becomes Asheville’s first Jewish mayor
1995Center for Diversity Education founded at the JCC
1997Leni Sitnik becomes Asheville’s first female and second Jewish mayor
1999Jewish Family Services founded at JCC
2001Brevard Jewish Community formed
2003Hard Lox Jewish Heritage and Food Festival started
2005Celebration Israel started
2006-2011Maccabi Academy operated as a Jewish Day school
2006The Chabad House founded
2009Jewish Film Festival started
20103,400 people in Jewish-connected homes in WNC plus 835 seasonal residents
2013Esther Manheimer becomes Asheville’s third Jewish mayor
2014Jewish Secular Community of Asheville founded
2014Carolina Jews for Justice/West chapter, founded as a result of the first Mountain Moral Monday event in Asheville