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JEWISH ASHEVILLE COMMUNITY
"Investec Realty is committed to supporting the Asheville Jewish Community."
"We are an estimated 2,500 Jewish families, two synagogues, a Jewish Community Center, a Community Day School, Chabad Center, Academic Centers for Asheville Jewish Studies and Diversity Education, Hillel, an active Hadassah chapter, a Jewish Business Forum, a strong Federation, and more! We are a wonderfully diverse community: Jews by birth and Jews by choice, traditionalists and spiritualist, all living in one of the most desirable areas in the country. It's not surprising then that the Asheville Jewish community is currently experiencing an unprecedented level of growth. As quality of life continues to play a bigger role in the decision of where to live, Asheville will continue to attract more and more young professional families, second home buyers, empty nesters, and active retirees." Alan Silverman, member of Congregation Beth Israel and Vice President of Maccabi Academy.
Asheville Jewish Community Facts and Figures
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.
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% re 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.
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“Many people who come to the south are surprised to find out that there is a strong Asheville Jewish community that has been here for more than 100 years. That certainly includes Asheville and the surrounding area. I have personally been laughed at by people outside the south who thought I was making that up. In our interviews for The Down Home Project, the state-wide history of Jews of North Carolina, Rabbi Michael Robinson, 80, who was born and grew up in Asheville, but lived outside the south as an adult, told us that when he was in the navy in WWII, shipmates would not believe that he was Jewish and from the south." Jan Schochet, partner History@Hand
Jewish Asheville Links
- Center for Jewish Studies at UNC-Asheville
Dr. Rick Chess, Director
- Chabad Lubavitch of WNC
Rabbi Shaya Susskind, Executive Director
The Chabad House
660 Merrimon Avenue, Suite C
Asheville, NC 28804
- Congregation Beth Israel (Conservative)
Robert Cabelli, Rabbi
229 Murdock Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
- Maccabi Academy of Asheville
- WNC Hillel
- WNC Jewish Federation
Janet Oppenheimer, Executive Director
P.O. Box 7126
Asheville, NC 28802
- Asheville/Hendersonville Chapter of Hadassah
Known as "the Paris of the South," Asheville combines the natural beauty of the mountains with a temperate climate and tremendous cultural richness. It consistently rates as one of the top destinations for outdoor enthusiasts and retirees alike. Hiking, camping and whitewater activities are close by. Cultural offerings include live theatre, music from symphony to bluegrass, and active professional crafts and fine arts communities.
Asheville's Jewish community numbers around 1200 households, but our high rate of synagogue affiliation and community activity belie our small size:
- We are the smallest Jewish community in the country to support a Jewish Community Center. The Asheville Jewish Community Center provides opportunities for everyone in Western North Carolina to connect to Jewish life and culture. We meet the needs of our vibrant, evolving community through every life stage with exciting programs that continuously expand and improve.
- Jewish Family Services of Western North Carolina was established in March of 2007 as a program of the Asheville Jewish Community Center to provide vital services to people of all ages, ethnicities and faiths. JFS provides programs and human services to educate, support and strengthen individuals and families in a manner consistent with the Jewish values of social responsibility, respect and caring for one another.
- The WNC Jewish Federation supports the JCC and provides grants for many worthy programs in the Jewish community and the larger community.
- Our local Hadassah chapter organizes monthly Rosh Hodesh celebrations, book clubs, lectures, and many other events.
- Jewish learning is alive in Asheville at the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC-Asheville.
- For information on where to find kosher foods in Asheville, click here.
More information, including links to most Asheville-based Jewish organizations and a community calendar, can be found at the website of One Jewish Asheville,an initiative of the Asheville Jewish Leadership Collaborative.
Asheville’s Jewish Business Heritage and Today’s Jewish Life
Jews have a long history in Appalachia. Downtown Asheville has a vibrant Jewish business past, and Jewish merchants helped shape the downtown we know today. It became a regional hub for shoppers from several states as well as from Asheville and surrounding western North Carolina. Business leaders helped establish a branch of the University of North Carolina, contributed to desegregation, and worked toward the betterment of impoverished citizens, as well as adding to the economic growth of the city.With the coming of malls and other suburban shopping centers in the 1970s, Asheville experienced dramatic changes in its retail businesses.
Today, the Jewish retail businesses are almost gone. Although Asheville's contemporary downtown thrives as an arts center, its stores no longer provide the necessities of daily living, from clothing to house wares.
The Family Store: A History of Jewish Businesses in Downtown Asheville,North Carolina, 1880-1990
An educational exhibit, documents 435 Jewish businesses and has inspired the Asheville Jewish Business Forum to carry on the traditions of their forbearers and create a networking opportunity for newcomers and old timers alike to help each other get established on Asheville and grow their businesses. We invite you to visit www.history-at-hand.com to learn more about Jewish Asheville’s business heritage. The Family Store exhibit was created in 2003 by Sharon Fahrer, an urban planner, and Jan Schochet, a folklorist, to preserve Asheville’s local and Jewish history.
Asheville and Western North Carolina comprise one of the most active Jewish communities of any small-city environment in the United States. For most of the 20th century, Asheville had the second largest Jewish population in North Carolina. It is the smallest community in the nation (fewer than 70,000 residents) with its own Jewish Community Center www.jcc-asheville.org, founded in 1940.
In addition to a Jewish Community Center, today’s Asheville Jewish community includes:
A Reform, Congregation Beth HaTephila http://bethhatephila.org, and Conservative, Beth Israel Synagogue www.bethisraelnc.org, congregations, both founded in the late 1800s; and The Chabad House of Asheville www.JewishWNC.com. Jewish education opportunities can be found at the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville www.unca.edu/cjs/, and students are served by the WNC Hillel Foundation http://orgs.unca.edu/wnchillel/ on campus. UNCA’s Ramsey Library houses Asheville’s Jewish Archives in the Special Collections Department, and portions can be searched on the Internet.
Agudas Israel Synagogue www.agudasisrael.com serves the Jewish community in nearby Hendersonville.The Hard Lox www.hardlox.com, Asheville’s annual food and heritage festival, is held every October in downtown Asheville, and the WNC Jewish Federation www.JewishAsheville.org serves the community and links it to Israel all year ‘round.One Jewish Asheville, www.onejewishasheville.orgThe Asheville Jewish Leadership Collaborative (AJLC) is a forum for community-wide planning and collaboration. The AJLC is comprised of lay/professional leaders and representatives from nine Jewish organizations. The organizations currently involved in the AJLC include: Asheville/Hendersonville Chapter of Hadassah Asheville Jewish Business Forum Asheville Jewish Community Center Center for Jewish Studies at UNCA Chabad House Congregation Beth HaTephila Congregation Beth Israel Jewish Family Services of WNC WNC Jewish Federation for more information please visit www.onejewishasheville.org
Jewish Adult Education in the community
The Adult Education Committee responds to the life-long Jewish learning interests and needs of the congregation through on-going classes, additions to the CBI library including our DVD collection, and special programming such as our Sunday speaker series, scholar-in-residence weekends, etc.
Over the past few years Adult Education Programming at CBI has included: A weekly Noon Study Group that engages in discussion of classic and modern Jewish texts Classes in Hebrew Language Programs on such topics as Midrash; Rebecca and Jacob; Singing the Siddur; and Women in Judaism Scholar-in-Residence Programming on such issues as Jewish Meditation, Jewish Views of the Afterlife, Mussar, Reading Torah Imaginatively A Sunday Night Potluck-Dinner-and-a-Movie Series Interactive study sessions on erev Shavuot For a taste of the kinds of adult education we offer, click here for several audio presentations featuring our congregant Dr. Walter Ziffer.Upcoming Programs:A Noon Study Group has met for the past twelve years every Friday from 12-1 in the CBI Social Hall:
Currently, the group is studying Walter Laqueur's The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day.CBI Beit Midrash a weekly communal learning experience - study in partners and engage in group discussions. For more information click here Meet the Midrash is Rabbi Goldstein's weekly study of traditional interpretation of the Sages on the Torah portion or upcoming holidays. We meet Wednesdays at noon.Dinner and a Movie series focuses on diverse films with Jewish themes. Hasidishe Kiddush - Fill your heart and soul with Torah (and schnapps...) after Kiddush the last Shabbat of each month to learn Hasidic thought and wisdom on the parshat ha'shavuJewish Life in Western North Carolina Ramsey Library at the University of North Carolina-Asheville houses a permanent special collection of books and materials on the history of Jewish Life in Western North Carolina. Click here to view the collection. North Carolina Museum of Art Judaic CollectionThe North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh is one of only two art museums in the nation with a collection of Jewish ceremonial art. The ritual objects, often made of precious metals and embellished with great artistry, are intended to beautify the ceremonies that define Jewish life. Click here for more information about the collection.
WHO WE ARE
A network group of Jewish business owners, executives, managers and professionals in the greater Asheville area.
Working together to enhance the area's economy, and continue the 100+ years of Western North Carolina Jewish heritage.
You belong at the Asheville JCC!
JCC membership is an integral part of the continuity and quality of Jewish life in our community.
The Asheville JCC provides a vital welcome for Jewish newcomers to Asheville; top-rated early childhood, after-school, and summer day camp programs; year-round aquatics; adult wellness, social, and cultural programs; and Jewish engagement opportunities for the entire community.
Asheville Hard Lox Festival
Jewish Festival - Downtown Asheville
Got a craving for homemade matzo ball soup or maybe a nice corned beef on rye? Perhaps a potato knish or a kosher hot dog? Head to downtown Asheville for the annual HardLox, Asheville's Jewish Food and Heritage Festival, to be held in Pack Square Park in from 11 AM – 4 PM.There will be lots of delicious homemade Jewish foods, Israeli dancing, crafts, klezmer music and lots more! Before you leave stop by HardLox To Go and take home your favorite Jewish foods.
Have your name written in Hebrew. Discover the Torah. Learn about Jewish holidays and festivals. Join in the singing and dancing. Every Jewish organization in the Asheville area will be represented with many providing interactive educational opportunities to learn about our Jewish heritage and culture. The HardLox Jewish Food and Heritage Festival is hosted by Congregation Beth HaTephila and co-sponsored by the City of Asheville. Asheville has a vibrant Jewish community with fifteen active organizations. The Asheville Jewish community has been described as inviting, inclusive, friendly, welcoming, and inspiring. And did we mention food?
Choose from over twenty mouth-watering traditional Jewish foods: Pastrami on Rye Corned Beef on Rye Chopped Liver Sandwich Lox, Cream Cheese, Bagel Falafel/Hummus Platter Whitefish Salad Sandwich Potato Latkes Potato Knish Kosher Dill Pickle Homemade Matzo Ball Soup Blintzes Noodle Kugel Kosher Hot Dog Challah Babkas Macaroons Mandelbrot Black & White Cookies Dr. Browns SodaPlease Contact Dave for more information: 828-273-3349
THE JEWISH LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE OF WNC
The Jewish Leadership Collaborative of WNC(JLC-WNC) is a forum for community-wide planning and collaboration. The JLC-WNC is comprised of lay/professional leaders and representatives from the organizations that make up One Jewish Asheville:
- Asheville/Hendersonville Chapter of Hadassah
- Asheville Jewish Business Forum
- Asheville Jewish Community Center
- Center for Jewish Studies at UNCA
- Chabad House
- Congregation Agudas Israel
- Congregation Beth HaTephila
- Congregation Beth Israel
- Jewish Family Services of WNC
- Jewish Secular Community of Asheville
- UNC-A Hillel
- WNC Jewish Federation
- Carolina Jews for Justice
The JLC-WNC (was called the Asheville Jewish Leadership Collaborative until October 2016) formed in November 2006 for the purpose of enhancing communications and encouraging collaborations among Asheville’s Jewish community organizations. It meets 10 times throughout the year. Some of the past initiatives discussed and/or implemented by the JLC-WNC include:
- WNC Jewish Population Study
- Community-wide Facilities-sharing Study
- The Community High Holiday Pass Program (read more)
- One Jewish Asheville Marketing Initiative
- Coordination of the 2012 Southern Jewish Heritage Society Conference (read more)
- Mapping of the Jewish Community Infrastructure
- Feasibility of a Community Fundraising Program
- Support for Jewish Family Services as an Independent Community Organization
- Coordination of Organizational Manpower and Resources
To review summaries for the JLC-WNC meetings, click here.
In addition to regular meetings, many of the members of the JLC-WNC take part in the Shalom Hartman Lecture Series, a two-year collaborative leadership learning program sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel.
For information about the Jewish Leadership Collaborative of WNC, contact Tzedek Fellow, Matt Andersen.