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President’s Message

It has become axiomatic that to be a Jew is to care about the world around us. To be a Reform Jew is to be engaged in the ongoing work of tikkun olam, striving to improve the world. The ancient command to seek justice has led to a long and proud tradition of political activism by the Reform Movement. But, here is a challenge –within this framework, how can we make space for and respect politically diverse voices in our Movement, and in our own congregation, including politically conservative Reform Jews? Several of us who attended the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) Biennial in December had a chance to hear how the Religious Action Center (RAC) and Commission on Social Action (CSA) address this issue and this allowed me to consider how we do the same at CBHT.

The CSA, a joint commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judaism, provides guidance to the Movement as it faces the challenge of applying our progressive Jewish values to public affairs. It oversees the work of RAC in Washington. At Biennial, the senior leaders of RAC and CSA spoke to the importance of consulting thoughtful conservatives who share our enduring Jewish values.

They regularly turn to politically conservative Reform Jewish leaders to vet position papers and resolutions on topics that are ultimately voted on at the Biennial’s General Assembly. In doing so, they ensure that the basis of our stance on any issue is religiously informed, not politically motivated. The resolutions adopted by the URJ do not bind the members of individual congregations, nor do they presume to speak for all.

Joining a Reform congregation does not mean that one subscribes to a particular political perspective. In any group, there will be divergent opinions.

How then, do we as a congregation assure that members with conservative views feel like they have a voice? One speaker suggested that equating community with homogeneity is flawed reasoning, and that the bonds of faith should be strong enough within a community to sustain disagreement. I personally have made the mistake of assuming that everyone in our temple community shares my progressive political views. In doing so, I found out that I offended people who deserve to feel as connected an

d supported in our community as anyone else. In fact, it is a community’s responsibility to make all members feel connected all the more when there is disagreement. Our rabbi’s right to “freedom of the pulpit” brings with it acceptance of our members’ right to respond, or their “freedom of criticism.”

Reform Judaism does stand for certain principles. Many members of our congregation take pride in our long history of “speaking truth to power. It should be expected that our congregation will bring our progressive, reform Jewish values to bear in the community at large. We will be engaged on issues of local, national and global concern; we will participate in interfaith coalitions and activities; we will speak out on behalf of the vulnerable.

This is who we are. Our politically conservative members have made a decision about the totality of the Reform Movement and about our congregation. There is something that draws them to Reform Judaism, despite the stance we take on certain issues. I have learned that, the way to respect those voices in our congregation is to be curious. Batting around issues with our conservative members will certainly result in a deeper understanding of all sides of those issues. And, approaching those discussions from a place of trust that our religious values transcend our politics will result in a meaningful, respectful discussion that will strengthen our community.


 February, 2018

Between You and Me

We are taking a break, a thoughtfully considered, time‑sensitive break from singing music penned by the well-known Jewish Rabbi and musician, Shlomo Carlebach.

After a thoughtful discussion with the Sacred Music Team, we came to the conclusion together that in light of this moment, when the abuses of artists are becoming public and the wider society is taking swift actions to distance itself and condemn those behaviors in order to address the larger issue of sexual harassment, that our services are a place where it is important to affirm those efforts. We will join hundreds of other congregations who are wrestling with this question and concluding that this is not a time to shut our eyes and stay silent. Plus, we have survivors of Carlebach’s abuses and survivors of others’ abuses in our congregation. If there is a time to stand with them, it is now.

As you may know, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was one of a few revolutionaries born in the twentieth – century Chassidic world who stepped out of the insular confines of his community to bring the joy and ecstatic experience of Judaism into the wider Jewish world. His niggunim and his music were part and parcel of a revival of Jewish music and experimentation in Jewish life and practice that reverberated within all of our movements. Ironically, the same man whose hugs of minors lasted too long and didn’t understand the boundaries between wanted and unwanted touching, also alienated himself from his own religious community for advocating for women’s equality. According to Anat Hoffman, he was the only male Rabbi at the inaugural gathering of the Women at the Wall in 1989. He even performed an impromptu solidarity concert for them in a Jerusalem gymnasium after local authorities threatened to pull the kosher certification from the hotel venue they had booked when they heard women would be dancing with the Torah.

Carlebach taught Torah alongside his wife, sang publicly on stage with his daughter, acts that remain scandalous in fundamentalist corners of Jewish life. He was also a typical charismatic and, as is an all too common flaw of people who gain a following for it, his “loving” knew no boundaries.

It is important to note that we are not permanently banning Carlebach’s music from our services, but agree that at this time, it doesn’t feel right to overlook the artist’s moral character in favor of the art itself. Sometimes timing is everything.

In this case, that feels true. I do wonder, and this has everything to do with us as a community and a society, what does the world have to look like for us to bring Carlebach’s music back? What kinds of things need to change for it to feel different? When might the wounds be healed enough? I don’t know but let us together find the way, not for Carlebach, but for us.

February, 2018

Lifelong Commitment to Tikkun Olam Inspires a Bat Mitzvah Journey

Judy Leavitt grew up in a time when Reform Judaism was going through a major transformation and women in Reform Judaism were not yet able to be a Bat Mitzvah. Her story reflects a larger story of our movement as well as the changing role of women in the movement.

Growing up in New Jersey, in a family of Jews whose lives were focused on social justice, Judy became committed to Tikkun Olam, helping to ‘repair the world’.

At the beginning of her career Continue reading Lifelong Commitment to Tikkun Olam Inspires a Bat Mitzvah Journey

Family Tradition at CBHT Spans Six Generations

Family Tradition at CBHT Spans Six Generations
I  was fortunate to be born and raised in western North Carolina. My roots in Asheville date back to 1898. Six generations of family have called Asheville home. Living in a small, southern town, Asheville has been great for me. The city has grown into an exciting, fun and interesting place to live — I have liked the many changes and growth we’ve experienced. Raised in a Jewish rural WNC community was unique to say the least but I never lost sight of who I am and what I am. This is why giving to CBHT and the Jewish community is not only an obligation but an honor for me.

One distinct memory I have at CBHT is my Bar Mitzvah in 1955 with Rabbi Unger. I have a clear recollection of looking up from the bimah and being struck by the beauty of the stained glass of Moses and the 10 commandments above the doors. That image has never left my mind. I went to Sunday school in the former choir loft where the choir and organ were located above the Ark. I remember there was a peep hole there along with an electric switch which allowed communication between the loft and the Bimah!

In later years as an adult, my brother Skip and I honored our parents Fred and Anne Pearlman with recognition on the Memorial Wall in the vestibule of the sanctuary. There were many campaigns and ways to give over the years at CBHT. When I come to temple for services, I always sit in the same pew—named after my father and grandfather – Fred and Barney Pearlman. This is very special to me. Over the years it is important to all of our family members to have these legacies visible for those who come behind us.

I strongly believe when a building campaign of such high importance to the future of so many families like mine, that 100% of the congregants need to pledge- even a minimal amount. Knowing you gave what you could and participated with your fellow congregants to reach the goal will provide immeasurable satisfaction. I guarantee it!

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Lowell Pearlman


Lowell Pearlman is a life- long member and donor at CBHT, including the L’dor V’dor Campaign and current Climb the Mountain campaign to complete our building. Watch for more member highlights and why families and individuals are choosing to donate to our capital fund drive, now moving into its’ final phase.




CBHT —Giving from the Heart


CBHT —Giving from the Heart

By Gail A. Manheimer

I have always felt our Temple represents an extension of our home, a welcoming place for us to pray, meditate, study, sing, find fellowship, make new friends and at the same time we seek the kind of inner peace that is so needed in times of stress or the strain of work and family responsibilities. My present involvement in the CBHT campaign actually goes back many years. When it was decided that we would take the beginning steps to modify our Temple, the religious school facilities, and add the social hall building, I was reminded of how I had participated in the expansion and rebuilding of my previous Temple Beth El in Harrisburg, PA.

At that time, 1979, I was a divorced, single mom. I had very little “extra money,” yet I wanted to be a part of this project and have my children know that they had spiritual ownership in this building where they were growing up and would celebrate their Bat and Bar Mitzvahs. I made a pledge of $100 a month for three years, knowing that when it was paid off it would be $3,600! Once I had made my pledge, I was then eligible to step up and be a part of the fund raising team, in a position to ask others to join me.

When our renovation was completed in 1984, my children and I located our names inscribed on a small plaque, along with many others, just outside the social hall. Thirty-two years later, I still remember the feeling of what it meant to us, this major accomplishment of being a small, yet to us significant, part of this large project.

As a member of the Temple board in 2007, when we voted to begin the process of renovating and expanding our beloved Congregation Beth HaTephila, I knew I wanted to be a part of this very important milestone. I met with Joe Karpen in 2008. Little did I know at that time, Ron Manheimer and I would be married the following year under the Chuppah in the Sanctuary and have our wedding reception downstairs in the wood-paneled Unger Hall that was original to the building. Having paid off my pledge a few years ago, Ron and I made another contribution September, 2016 because this project is not complete until the debt is retired….marked Paid in Full.

As living examples, my parents always supported our Temple, wherever we lived and this was the lesson that was passed on to me. If Jews do not help other Jews and our religious institutions, then who will? In our broader community of Asheville, there are many worthy charities that beg for our attention, energy and support. However, when you choose to support Jewish organizations, know that if you step aside and refuse to help, then the broader community will not be there to lend a hand. Jews helping Jews by giving to Jewish causes means that your commitment honors your family: your parents, your grandparents, perhaps going back generations to ancient times when we were asked to contribute our valuables for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

We are being called now just as we have always been called. Will your contribution be the one that helps us finally complete this process? Do you see some metaphorical golden ring embedded in the foundation of the building? Will you kvell, glow with pride, feeling important, knowing you are part of the solid foundation that giving from the heart engenders?

Join me in this vision: this is my Temple, my Temple family, my Religious School, my little Torah that I carry marching around the Sanctuary, the place where my children, my grandchildren are now becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The tradition of giving and caring about what happens here, right now, insures our success.

Think about it quietly yourself; talk about it with your family. Your heart will tell you what to do. Then call the Temple or fill out this enclosed envelope. Multiply your mindful gift by 36 payments and, together, we will reach our goal of retiring our mortgage so that we are debt free. Then you will be able to experience with joy what you have helped create, your name on a leaf, on a plaque, or on a wall, honoring your gift and commitment to your Temple family.

Together we are One Temple Family strong!




Gail and Ron Manheimer are active members of CBHT and a donors to the L’dor V’dor Campaign. Watch for more member highlights and why families and individuals are choosing to donate to our capital fund drive, now moving into its’ final two phases.