By 1900 the thriving Jewish population of Asheville already had two congregations: Beth Ha Tephila (founded in 1891) and Bikor Cholim (founded in 1899; name changed to Beth Israel in 1950). However there was always one single Jewish community which needed a place for meetings and events. The Jewish community held its functions at a variety of locations, including the Vanderbilt and Battery Park Hotels and the S&W Cafeteria. In late 1938 delegates from all the different Jewish organizations in Asheville met and agreed that “a Community Center is the urgent and vital need of our community.” Officers were elected, and a Building Fund established. A house at 236 Charlotte Street was purchased February 21, 1940.
“After remodeling and furnishing, the building was opened September 16, 1940 to provide more adequate facilities to meet the religious, cultural and social needs of the Community.” After more than fifty years of service,
the house was replaced in 1993/94 by a larger building on the same site, where the Jewish Community Center continues to offer Early Childhood programs, Summer Camp, Teen Programming, Young Adult and Older Adult programming.
In April, 2013 the Jewish Community Center transferred its archives to the NC Collection. The collection, covering 1924 to the present, includes photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper articles, written histories, and publications such as newsletters, membership directories, a cookbook, and programs for various events. In recent years many events and activities have been recorded on videos, CD’s and DVD’s. These digital records form another valuable part of the collection.
Processing is not complete, but if you’d like to see more photos click on the link below, and use “Asheville Jewish Community Center” in a key word search. Perhaps you could help identify people in the photographs.
This happy photo shows a group presenting a play, one of the activities during the Jewish Community Center Summer Camp, 1984.
LtoR: Nick Iovacchini, Gates Hurand, Dana Iovacchini, Becky Greene, and Ava Whalen. Nick and Dana Iovacchini are the children of Ellie Kincade and Eric Iovacchini. Gates Hurand is the son of Dr. Martha Salyers and David Hurand. Ava Whalen is the daughter of Sherrill Knight and Bill Whalen.
posted by Betsy Murray