About Congregation Beth Israel
About Congregation Beth Israel, Asheville, NC
Founded in 1899, Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) is an independent, egalitarian synagogue that
strives to welcome and support all members in their desire to experience Jewish meaning and
expression. We are a diverse community of about 125 households: young families with children,
business and educa1onal professionals, and active retirees. We are also a blended family of
Jews by birth, Jews by choice, interfaith couples and Jews of color. We are inclusive of all,
regardless of sexuality, gender or political identification. This diversity creates the beauty and
uniqueness of CBI.
In addi1on to the Rabbi, our staff consists of a full-time office administrator and an interim
In 2018, our synagogue completed a $1.2 million interior renovation of our 50-year-old building,
which sits on a four-acre lot in residential North Asheville. The renovation includes an
interactive, circular main sanctuary with enhanced acoustics and lighting; hearing loops in the
sanctuary and social hall; and improved amenities with handicap access. Our social hall now
boasts a moveable stage and excellent A/V facilities. In addi1on to our kosher kitchen, we have
a small potluck kitchen that allows congregants to bring in vegetarian food prepared off-site for
potlucks and special events.
Our weekly Shabbat morning services utilize Siddur Lev Shalem (adopted in 2016) and the Etz
Hayim Chumash. Typical attendance is 40 to 60 individuals, including visitors. Services are
largely lay-led, helped by a large cadre of congregants knowledgeable in leading, chanting Torah
and Habarah, and delivering divrei Torah. Men and women participate equally in all aspects of
services. A weekly catered kiddush lunch after services offers treasured opportuni1es for
socializing and community building.
Friday night attendance is generally small. We hold services the second and fourth Fridays of the
month; the second Friday is a Family Shabbat with a vegetarian potluck, and the fourth Friday is
a traditional Kabbalat Shabbat.
High Holy Day services are well a`ended and utilize the New Machzor. We hire a cantor for the
High Holidays, but rely on congregants for Torah and Habarah readings.
CBI finds many ways to build authentic relationships between people. The first Friday of each
month, members take turns hosting home-based Shabbatlucks. Our annual Rummage Sale,
legendary in Asheville, is a major fundraiser for CBI, and our beautiful social hall is the setting
for Music on Murdock. Most years, we host a well-attended second-night community Passover
Seder. On alternating years, we honor outstanding members of our community with a One Light
Our Social Action committee engages in many community-based projects, volunteering at
Habitat for Humanity home builds, serving meals at the WNC Rescue Mission, raising funds for
Thanksgiving turkeys (Give-a-Gobble), collecting food for MANNA Food Bank, and assisting with
Room In The Inn, a rotating shelter project for homeless women.
Our local Chevra Kadisha joins congregants from CBI and the local Reform synagogue. Lou
Pollack Memorial Cemetery serves the CBI community.
Our vibrant Adult Education program features a weekly Friday Noon Study Group that has been
meeting for more than 20 years. Led by a retired UNC professor, the group discusses a variety of
ancient and contemporary texts and typically attracts 20 or more attendees, not all of them
Jewish. Every month we hold Torah on Tap, a discussion group meeting at one of Asheville’s
many craft breweries.
A special endowment funds a bi-yearly Scholar-in-Residence weekend that has brought several
exciting teachers to CBI. The most recent, in 2018, was Aviya Kushner, author of The Grammar
of God. Our departing Rabbi also conducted a number of well-attended classes, including a
weekly Midrash study, special holiday classes, and a monthly Hassidishe Kiddush.
The Youth Education Program (YEP) currently has two areas of focus, Hebrew and Judaics. The
weekday Hebrew program focuses on Hebrew language, prayer, and bar/bat mitzvah training.
The Sunday morning Judaics curriculum is designed to develop Jewish identity through
knowledge of Jewish practices, holidays, and texts with a focus on experiential,
Asheville is a unique small city located in the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. The city
boasts a rich arts and culinary scene, abundant nature and outdoor activities, plus a growing
and innovative business community. We have a regional airport and hospital and several
institutions of higher learning.
Asheville’s small but vibrant Jewish community (about 5000) supports a newly expanded and
renovated JCC with a highly rated full-day preschool; after-school children’s programs; a brand
new year-round, state of the art swimming pool; adult programs; and summer camps. The
Asheville campus of the University of North Carolina has a Center for Jewish Studies that hosts
several programs a year. Jewish Family Services offers an Elder Day Club, case management, and
mental health services to the Jewish and larger Asheville community.
In addition to CBI, Asheville has a Reform congregation, Beth Ha-Tephila (CBHT), Chabad, and a
Secular Jewish Community. The congregations get on well together and frequently support each
other’s events and fundraisers. CBHT graciously hosted CBI during our 14-month renovation,
and we take a booth at their annual Hard Lox Festival in downtown Asheville.
Together we learn, celebrate, and support each other’s life journey. We invite you to join us in
our celebration of life at Congregation Beth Israel.
For Additional Information
Our website: www.bethisraelnc.org
Asheville JCC: www.jcc-asheville.org
Center for Jewish Studies: https://cjs.unca.edu
Jewish Family Services: www.jfswnc.org
Asheville Chamber of Commerce: www.ashevillechamber.org