Clean Energy Asheville: A Report from Mayor Manheimer 


Carolina Jews for Justice/West will sponsor a program, “Clean Energy Asheville:  A Report from Mayor Manheimer.” on Sunday, March 13th from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm in Dave Hall at Congregation Beth HaTephila Congregation, 43 North Liberty Street in Asheville.  The purpose of the meeting is to update the community on the collaborative partnership between the City of Asheville, Buncombe County and Duke Energy on building a 21st Century electric energy infrastructure in our community.  In addition to Mayor Manheimer, panelists will include Councilwoman Julie Mayfield, and a Robert Sipes, General Manager of Duke Energy’s Western Region.

As part of the WNC Modernization Plan, Duke Energy has committed to work with our community in reducing electricity demand by 25 Megawatts/year in order to prevent the construction of a 192 MegaWatt natural gas peaking turbine..

The City of Asheville has been engaged in reducing its carbon footprint since Mayor Bellamy signed the Mayor’s Climate Agreement in 2007. In the past three years, the City has passed a Clean Energy Economy Resolution and developed a Community Clean Energy Policy Framework. Now we have Duke Energy’s commitment to put resources into our community to help us reduce energy use and to begin to build community energy infrastructure. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to ignore. Citizen participation is needed, so please attend on March 13th.

“I want to encourage everyone to attend this important gathering,” says Rabbi Justin Goldstein of Congregation Beth Israel.  “While we may not have much control over how the industrial nations of the world react to climate change, we do have a big say in how our local government responds.  We are blessed to live in a community, which has taken a strong voice of leadership on curtailing our city’s carbon output, and we are blessed to have a mayor and city council willing to engage Duke Energy, the largest utility in the country, in assuring a more sustainable future for our city and our region.  The Jewish tradition compels us to be stewards of Creation and to ensure that our planet is sustained for future generations.  That Mayor Manheimer is willing to share her time to discuss the city’s goals of establishing sustainable practices and its relationship with Duke Energy is an opportunity we should not miss,” he added.

For more information about Carolina Jews for Justice events and projects go to 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.


Poetry Friday: “Sabbath”: Dr. Rick Chess

Sabbath as beloved bride and queen: familiar tropes in Jewish liturgy and thought. Now, thanks to Dan Bellm’s “Sabbath,” a subtle poem of loss and longing, a promise and a vow, we have another metaphor: Sabbath as mother. The Sabbath, a fixed period of time, stands outside of time. Jews are commanded to keep and remember it, and these two commandments, according to Lekhah Dodi, Come, My Beloved, the mystical hymn sung on Friday evening to welcome Shabbat, were spoken in a single utterance. The Sabbath: an overcoming of apparent physical limitations, a confounding of ordinary distinctions. Not unlike what we experience in Bellm’s poem. Here we encounter a holy day and a mother, but they mostly seem to both at once. Here we encounter a mother and a presumably male child, though the adult-child becomes a kind of mother, bearing inside him, safeguarding the image, the memory of a mother, a Sabbath now gone. Woman gives birth to boy who as a man becomes a kind of woman. Creator becomes creation becomes creator becomes… Mother, child, Sabbath: without and within. Love, loss, and holiness. A powerful poem to help us receive and hold, hold and release, give birth to and be born this Sabbath and, God willing, many Sabbaths to come.

—Richard Chess


——   Then will I carry
you within me for as long
——   as I can: not a

——   consolation but
a promise, and not because
———I must: not as you

———carried me but to
be your keeper, a place where
———you remain the one

———bearing life: not as
a god or idol that I
———have made too small, but

———only blessing you
do I keep the blessing safe:
———infant image of

———the created one
I long to be, Sabbath-self
———concealed in the guise

———of ordinary
time, my life the covering
———that protects the vow.

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

For more information about Carolina Jews for Justice events and projects go to 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!

My Luxury, My Privilege: Dr. Rick Chess

Sunday morning. I have the luxury of yoga pants and t-shirt and black tea and the Sunday Times. There’s only one route from my house on a hill to the supermarket, but I never need to think about being ambushed while on a quick bread, milk, and chocolate run.

A winter night, the trees bare and the cold air carries heavy sounds from tracks a few miles south of here to my bedroom window cracked open. I have the luxury of listening. I do not need to steal an hour of sleep while my abuser, my tormentor, is passed out in another room. I have the luxury of listening to the nineteenth century: romance transporting its cargo.

In high school, I didn’t ask for a hall pass. I didn’t need to. I was president.

Driving any American road with a speed gun aimed at me, I don’t neutralize my countenance. I don’t need to look innocent, but I am and I do.

I didn’t need to have the talk with my son before he went downtown on his own for the first time to shop for vinyl records, skinny jeans.

On skinny Avon beach (North Carolina’s Outer Banks), my luxury’s the sea all the way to the curved horizon. My luxury’s the annual ritual Atlantic immersion. I face in each of the four cardinal directions, and, four times, I let the ocean break over me. Suspended in fetal position underwater, I welcome the cold purification of body, heart, mind, and soul for as long as breath can hold.

On Sukkot, season of flimsy abundance in permeable booths, my luxury extends to the ripe moon, rich with light.

My luxury in February: Chilean grapes.

I don’t need to remember to adjust, in the restroom mirror, my whiteness—turn it up or down—before I return, hands clean, to the office party.

My luxury in four postures: lying down, rising up, standing still, and walking without fear by the way.

My luxury: the sun I own. I invite you to enjoy it, but remember the one to whom it belongs.

My luxury: I’m free. Is that because the judge is mine? Just like the teacher was mine? Even before the first quiz, she knew the best grade in class belonged to me.

I love my mortgage enough to take out a second one. What shall it be? Build up or out? A fitness room? A spa? My luxury is a room for each of my moods. The comforts of home.

Remember that innocent era between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and 9/11? I remember: my luxury.

Your savior isn’t mine, your holiday isn’t mine, your hymnal isn’t mine. What luxury, what a privilege to set myself apart from the holly wreaths, holiday attire, assumptions and indulgences of neighbors on either side, across the street, and down the road all the way and all around me in the places where I work, shop, and play.

The luxury of mother’s love: shirt fresh from the dryer.

The campus police: I don’t know their names or the way they move around campus. I barely notice them at all: my luxury.

I can afford hours.

I can afford the luxury of poetry: a darkened room where mother, father, and child wait while, in their front yard, a few white men gather, a cross burns. “Incident,” Natasha Trethewey.

I imagine God. I imagine no god. My luxury: I create, I delete. What difference does it make to God? My luxury: I don’t need to make a difference.

It’s only a matter of time. Time is white. My time—growing up as an American middle-class 1950s and 60s assimilated Jew—is also sechel, what Jews got and goyim ain’t got. Brains, smarts, cleverness, common sense. That’s what I was told. Lucky me. Why question it? My luxury.

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

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.