All posts by editor

The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee – August 2019

Upcoming Scheduled Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Projects:

  • 1st Friday each month from 1-3 PM @ MANNA– CBHT volunteer team. Contact Sandra Layton to help.
  • 3rd Friday each month @ noon – CBHT Vets shelter meal serving. Contact Hilary Paradise to help.
  • Monday, August 26th @ 4:30 PM—next L.M. Tikkun Olam Meeting

Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee Updates

Start Collecting Now!!

Have you already filled one box of new or lightly used children’s books already?  This Rosh Hashanah is once again our every other year children’s book collection.  Since 2011 our congregation has given over 5000 children’s books to pre-school children, Read to Succeed, and the Asheville/Buncombe Literacy Council and the job is still not complete.

Most of these books are given to 3-5-year olds to help them start a home collection of appropriate books to be read to them. Currently many of these children are students at the Head Start classrooms at Pisgah View Apartments in West Asheville where our congregation has four weekly volunteers who love to be with these children.

So, get ready to bring your books to CBHT.  Beginning in August, Marty Mann will


East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival

By Sam Hausfather

The LMTO Committee invites CBHT congregants to join us at the East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival August 23rd, 24th, & 25th in MLK Park in Asheville.  There will be live music, arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, and a children’s area.  Hours are Friday 6 PM to 9 PM, Saturday 10 AM to 9 PM, and Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM.  The Parade and Car Show on MLK Drive starts at 11 AM on Saturday from South Charlotte Street to MLK Park.  Sunday Worship Service at St James AME Church will be followed by Gospel Music with local choirs and gospel artists.

East End/Valley Street is Asheville’s oldest African-American neighborhood and is where the St. James AME Church is located.  Their neighborhood festival could use volunteers.  If you would like to sign up to help out at the Festival, please click go to: to sign up.

This is an alcohol free, family friendly festival!  Come celebrate with our neighbors.

Everyone is welcome!

Contact Vivian Ellner for more details.

President’s Message – August 2019

Since being elected president of CBHT a few weeks ago, I have had the opportunity to reflect on why I serve on the board and what it means to me in the context of my connection to our temple community.  Let’s be honest: our board has occasionally had meetings that have gone on too long, then continued in the parking lot.  Some of the tasks the board takes on are the mundane tasks of any organization with a budget, a building, and a membership.  But what makes it all more than worthwhile, and truly a pleasure, is the great group of people on our board that I get to meet with every few weeks.

I’m one of those people who finds value in tackling tasks that just need to get done.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Buddhist who can find the sublime in every mundane task. (And, anyone who tries to tell you they love every minute of every committee meeting they have ever been to shouldn’t be allowed on any committee.)  But our temple board has been blessed with such a great group of kind, generous people that it has never been a burden to devote the time necessary to finish a discussion or make a considered decision.

As we transition into a new board at the beginning of the fiscal year (which started last month), I hope, if you have the opportunity, you will thank our board members for devoting their time and energy to the hard work of temple leadership, whether mundane or sublime.  I hope also that you will find new and interesting ways to participate in temple activities, perhaps even volunteer to join a committee or two.  And, I thank you for being part of our shared temple community.


Between You and Me – August 2019

The Talmud tells the story of a man called Honi the
Circle-Maker, a Jewish Rip Van Winkle, who went out for a walk, sat down to rest, and fell asleep for 70 years.  When he awoke and returned to his village, no one recognized him.  Separated from his former companions, he died of loneliness, at which point the Talmud comments: “O chevruta o mituta; either friendship or death!”

Almost 2,000 years later, we have the science to back up what the rabbis intuitively knew about the life-giving nature of companionship and friendship.  Loneliness is literally as powerful an indicator of premature death from heart disease as other factors like diet & exercise. People who define themselves as lonely or feeling socially isolated appears to increase the risk of having a heart attack, angina, or of eventually dying of heart disease, by 29%.  The risk of stroke increases by 32%, almost a full third.

In an age of unprecedented connectivity, making accumulating Facebook friends and followers as simple as touching a screen, one might think our loneliness would be heading the way of the Dodo bird.  However, studies show that people who spend more than 3 hours on social media and cell phones, ironically feel 30% more depressed.  Four or more hours on our cell phones also decreases our empathy for others by 40%.  This gives a whole new meaning to the saying, “With friends like that, who needs enemies.”

That reminds me of another story the sages of old tell about a young student who wanted to know what heaven and hell were like.  An angel acceded to her request, and brought her first to hell.  The first thing she noticed was the food: banquet tables were laden with every possible delicacy and steaming platters of food – and delectable aromas wafted through the halls.  But then she noticed the people.  They were glum and bitter and miserable.

And then she understood why: large wooden spoons were strapped onto everyone’s arms, past the elbow, so that they couldn’t bend their arms to put any food into their mouths.  When the student arrived at the entrance to heaven, she was taken aback.  The scene was identical: the same banquet tables, the same delicacies and steaming platters – and the same large wooden spoons strapped onto everyone’s arms.  However, the scene was not glum.  There was singing and talking and laughter because people figured out they could feed each other.

The moral of this story is, of course, going it alone is hell.  Our heart’s true happiness is found in the ways we help our fellows flourish.  We can’t do it alone.  Ecclesiastes wisely observed, “Two are better than one.  For should one fall, one can raise the other.  But woe to him who falls with no one to raise him up.”

The rabbis taught that the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed on the 9th of Av 1949 years ago this month because of a persistent enmity that grew between friends, giving new meaning to the adage chevruta or mituta, friendship or death.  The Chasidic master Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz taught: “Friendship is like a stone. A stone has no value, but when you rub two stones together properly, sparks of fire emerge.”  Think about someone whom you consider to be a very special friend.  In what ways has that friend helped you to become a better person?  In what ways have you helped your friend to grow?  How will you show your gratitude to that person?

1These findings were published in the scientific journal “Heart”, the official journal of the British Cardiovascular Society, 2016.

Religious School News – June July 2019

Seth Kellam

Let’s keep on learning!

I know! I know!  We just finished out the school year!  And, by the way, what a great school year it was.  Lots of learning, lots of giving and lots of fun!  But there is no better time to think about our CBHT Religious School mission than now.  As we know, our goal is to Grow Jewish Lives.  And, that doesn’t need to end at the end of the school year.  As parents we are often considering ways of closing the gap that summer break creates.  Our Jewish lives are no different.  So, here are some fun ways to continue to grow Jewishly, over the summer:

  • Come to services! Family and Regular services have their own vibe during the summer.  You may find that we are outside more.  We also like to mix some more traditional tunes with some covers.
  • Light Shabbat candles at home. If you are feeling insecure about the blessings or the tunes use YouTube!  You may find old favorites or new ones that resonate with your family.
  • Make Havdalah! You can build your own Havdalah set!  Find some spices from the yard!  Did you know that there is more than one tune for Havdalah?  Check out the Rick Recht version!
  • Why don’t we start saying Shema before bed? Can you use a different tune for every night? How about Billy’s Shema?  What about the Pik Shema?  Of course, we can always do the traditional Sultzer version!
  • Do you ever say Motzi before eating? How about the camp version?  Can you make up your own?
  • Gratitude, gratitude gratitude! There are always opportunities to express thanks.  From Modeh Ani in the morning to conversations of thanks at the dinner table.

 Needless to say, Jewish living and growth never have to end.  And, if you want to feel the joy that we create every Sunday try including some of our homegrown tunes, at home!


 Seth Kellam

Education Director 

President’s Message

Over the past two years, when I have spoken to people about my role as president of our temple, I would get that “Oh, I am so sorry” look.  They most always say something about how tedious it must be to deal with the complainers, the naysayers.  I can honestly say that has not been my experience.

My experience has been that nearly all my interactions are with kind and compassionate congregants who only want the best for our temple.  My experience has been with trustees who are engaged and when we have tough decisions before us they make valuable contributions.  My experience has been that executive committee members do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to deal with all kinds of complex issues.  I have had the pleasure of collaborating with our dedicated staff, executive director and rabbi.  I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many volunteers.

We have faced some challenges during my tenure as president.  We’ve had to navigate some serious issues, including a financial deficit and the need to improve security.  Sometimes there were heated debates and there were often differing opinions.  But in every situation, my respect, admiration and love for the people I got to work with only grew.  And, I had the added benefit of getting to work closely with the Rabbi.  This has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

As I wrap up my time in this leadership role, and also wrap up my time at CBHT, I can’t help but reflect on the many wonderful moments that have shaped my and my family’s lives here.  But it is truly the people I’ve come to know and the friends I have made, whom I will miss.  I continue to be amazed by the efforts of so many to make this a special place.

I recently had the chance to dip my toe into temple life at a synagogue in Nashville.  Someone there asked if I was ‘synagogue shopping’, and I guess the answer is “yes.”  The transition for me won’t be easy, as I believe our temple has set the bar incredibly high.  But I will know when I’ve found my new temple home because it will be filled with kind and generous people who work hard to make their faith community thrive.  I am so grateful to have learned the value of that here at CBHT.

All My Best,