CJJ/W Screens Documentary: Faces of Poverty

Carolina Jews for Justice/West will preview a new documentary produced by Just Economics, “Faces of Poverty” on Wednesday, February 24th from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Congregation Beth Israel, 229 Murdock Street in Asheville.  The film focuses on the lives of five Buncombe County residents.

(Please note, this event was previously scheduled for Thursday, February 18th; it will now take place on Wednesday, February 24th).

“At the core of its vision of a just society, Judaism demands compassion for the economically less fortunate:  You shall open your hand to your brother, to the poor and needy in your land.  Deut.15:11.  Other passages of Torah require that the worker’s wages be sufficient to sustain life. Our ethical mandate does not permit us to turn aside from our obligation to help those in need,” says Judy Leavitt, Chair, Steering Committee, Carolina Jews for Justice/West.

Panelists will include representatives of Just Economics and Green Opportunities who will share their personal experiences of living in poverty here in Buncombe County and others who are seeking to do something about it.

“To act in a way that makes a difference, we must understand the condition of those who need our assistance and advocacy,” Leavitt added.

For more information about this event, contact Marilynne Herbert (828) 551-7005 or mherbert1@aol.com

For more information about Carolina Jews for Justice events and projects go to carolinajewsforjustice.org and sign up to get regular e-blasts.

In the event of inclement weather, please call Congregation Beth Israel at 252-8860 for news of a cancellation.

BBYO: 8th Grade Welcome Event

Kol HarimSunday, January 31st, 3:00pm
Skylanes Bowling (1477 Patton Ave, Asheville)

8th graders are now allowed to join BBYO! To welcome all prospective members to BBYO we will be going bowling! It will take place from 3-5 on January 31st at Skylanes on Patton Ave. All Jewish high schoolers and 8th graders are welcome, so please invite your friends! If you have any questions or plan on attending please call or text Hannah Seidenberg at 828-702-0766!

Carolina Jews for Justice Social Event

You’re Invited to Start the New Year With Carolina Jews for Justice/West – Sunday, January 10th

Begin the New Year by joining Carolina Jews for Justice/West for a nosh and a chance to meet  new friends and share our commitment to Tikkun Olam — the pursuit of social justice.

Learn how you can participate in issues of economic inequality, racial justice, protect public education and our environment in Western North Carolina

Carolina Jews for Justice/West (CJJ/West), is a grass roots organization, working to influence policy at the local and state levels, plus encouraging individuals and Jewish institutions to take a stand on important issues in our community.

Come and meet other like minded folks, learn a little bit about each other, our CJJ steering committee members and find out how you can get involved.

When: Sunday, January 10 from 3-5 p.m.

Where: Congregation Beth Ha-Tephila, 43 Liberty Street, Asheville.

RSVP: By January 7, 2016 to carolinajews@gmail.com

What to bring: If you would like, please bring a treat to share; appetizer, dessert, or beverage.  Make the food finger size and ready to nibble.


Jewish Community Forum: January 17

Food-For-Thought-1-17Sunday, January 17; 3:00-5pm (doors open 2:30 pm )
Beth Ha Tephila • 43 N. Liberty Street

Please join Asheville’s Jewish community at this important facilitated session! Together we’ll discuss some of the major issues and opportunities facing our community:

  • How can all of Jewish Asheville work together to maximize our resources?
  • Is there a future for Jewish Federation in Asheville?
  • Who are Jewish Asheville’s future leaders?
  • And more!

This is not a fundraiser. Nosh provided.
RSVP by January 14th.

This One Jewish Asheville event is sponsored by: Agudas Israel Congregation, Asheville Jewish Business Forum, Asheville JCC, Carolina Jews for Justice, Center for Diversity Education, Center for Jewish Studies at UNC-Asheville, Chabad House of Asheville, Congregation Beth HaTephila, Congregation Beth Israel, Jewish Family Services of WNC, Jewish Secular Community of Asheville, North Carolina Hillel, WNC Jewish Federation

The Mitzvah of Eating Chinese Food on Christmas

The following was posted by Rabbi Justin Goldstein of Congregation Beth Israel in his regular Friday congregational message. Enjoy!  


“The old will become new and the new will become holy,” -Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook

merry christmasOn the surface, Jewish culture can appear resistant to change. But when we look deeper we see that for all of our long history, Jewish culture has been a dynamic, evolving, ever-changing living organism. In part because of the historically transient nature of Jewish life, always moving from one nation to another, and in part by being influenced by those dominant cultures, the ability to adapt has proven itself tantamount to Jewish survival. Even while so many aspects of Jewish life have remained consistent – Shabbat, Kashrut, holidays, our language – the customs which have arisen over generations have been different based largely on geography and the dominant culture of the era.

One of the most fascinating and pervasive contemporary American observances of Jewish culture is what some have lovingly dubbed ‘Jewish Christmas’ – the custom of dining in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve and seeing a movie in the theater on Christmas Day.

The origin of this custom is very practical, in a society dominated by Christianity and Christmas, there are not too many restaurants which, in the past, remained open on Christmas. The Chinese population being primarily Buddhist, their establishments would remain open on December 25, and Jews living in those places would take advantage. Similarly, when most businesses are closed on Christmas Day, movie theaters have typically remained open and it provided a good excuse to catch a flick when most of the city is shut down for the holiday. But what emerged out of this very practical custom was a camaraderie and unifying spirit of what it means to be Jewish in a Christian society, and one so heavily impacted by the commercial aspects of the Christmas season.

To deepen the “Jewishness” of this custom debates have arisen in many Jewish communities – do you eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? When we now have a greater variety of Pan-Asian cuisine, must one decidedly choose Chinese, or would Thai or Japanese suffice? And now that many more restaurants than just those serving Chinese are open on Christmas Eve, does it really matter in what type of restaurant a Jew in America chooses to dine on Christmas? Is the point to celebrate our otherness? To rise above the loneliness some experience by not being a part of Christmas celebrations? Perhaps to simply have an excuse to eat mu-shu?

Whatever the origin of the custom or the motivation to participate, the practice has become so pervasive that it is, even if not exclusively practiced by Jews, a uniquely Jewish American custom.

Inspired by this, two of my friends and teachers, Rabbis Rachel Kobrin and Rick Brody, a number of years ago created a satirical take on what discussions of this custom may have looked like had it emerged during the time of the Talmud. Reading it has become a part of my personal Jewish Christmas observance. It is called Masekhet (Tractate) Chopsticks. I hope you enjoy and find it entertaining.

However we each decide to respond to Christmas – whether we participate in the sacred rite of mu-shu and wonton, whether we finally see that movie we’ve been to busy to catch, whether we celebrate with Christian friends and family, or whether we ignore it altogether, “Jewish Christmas” is one of a myriad of examples of the dynamic nature of keeping Jewish life relevant wherever and whenever we happen to live.

Vigil to Support Local Muslim Community

Friday, December 18, 1:30 – 2:15pm
We Stand with Our Muslim Neighbors
Join Us at the Islamic Center of Asheville

Please join other members of CJJ/West in an interfaith show of support for our local Muslim community by participating in a vigil tomorrow, December 18th, at the Islamic Center of Asheville from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.  The Center is located at 941 Old Fairview Road in Asheville, near Home Depot and the Democratic Party headquarters.

Our Jewish tradition is to love our neighbors, even the strangers among us, and to welcome them with hospitality.  We stand against intolerance and bigotry.  Please show your support for these principles by joining us tomorrow afternoon.

Have you heard? “Shabbat Shindig with Penny”

imageCountless children at the Asheville JCC Shalom Children’s Center have enjoyed singing songs on Shabbat with Penny White over the years. Families have long wanted a way to listen and sing along to these songs at home. So we are very excited to announce that Penny (and some of her friends from the JCC) have recorded a CD of these songs at Echo Mountain Recording Studios!

The CD, “Shabbat Shindig with Penny,” is available now! All proceeds after expenses will go to support Shalom Children’s Center scholarships.

Hear a few sample tracks:


Then pick up your copy of the CD at the Asheville JCC front desk. Out of town? No problem! You can get copies shipped from this website:


CJJ/W: Join Us for Justice

When: Sunday, January 10 from 3-5 p.m.

Where: Beth Ha-Tephila Congregation, 43 Liberty Street, Asheville.

RSVP: By January 5, 2016 to dvora.ivankowski@gmail.com.

You’re Invited to Join Us For Justice

CJJWInterested in learning how you can help participate and influence the public arena in Western North Carolina?

If so, Join Us For Justice to learn about Carolina Jews for Justice/West (CJJ/West), a grass roots organization, working to influence policy at the local and state levels, plus encouraging individuals and Jewish institutions to take a stand on important issues in our community.

Come meet your neighbors and community, learn a little bit about each other, our CJJ steering committee members and find out how you too can get involved.

Then, stay and join us for a nosh and more conversation


What to bring: If you would like, please bring a treat to share; appetizer, dessert, or beverage.  Make the food finger size and ready to nibble.


JCC’s 75th Anniversary Film Screening and Book Release

Thursday, November 19, 7:30 pm

A Home in Shalom'villeJoin us at the Fine Arts Theatre, 36 Biltmore Avenue, for a screening of Why the J?, a film produced by Marty Gillen in honor of the JCC’s 75th Anniversary.

The evening will also feature the book release party for A Home in Shalom’ville: The History of Asheville’s Jewish Community, written by Sharon Fahrer. Sharon and Marty will both be there to answer questions about Asheville’s Jewish history.

Tickets to the screening are $10 each and proceeds will go to support JCC programs.

Purchase tickets online