Deep Jewish Family Roots in Asheville Pave the Future for the Green Family

“Temple Beth HaTephila holds such a significant place in our family history that we both wanted to help continue the tradition of giving and provide an example to our children. We both felt and continue to feel that it is important for this community to have a beautiful and state-of-the-art center for Jewish worship and education.”   Darren and Marissa Green

Hailing from St Petersburg and Maitland, Florida, Darren and Marissa Green met at a Bar Mitzvah of one of Darren’s cousins in Sarasota, FL in 2000. They were married in 2004 and had their first child Molly in 2007. Moving to Asheville in late 2007. They started a woodworking business called The Old Wood Co., now celebrating its 10th anniversary and joyfully added Judd and Quinn to their family in 2010 and 2013.

We have been members of CBHT since early 2008. We send all of our children to Sunday school and have contributed to the Capital Campaign as well as participate in family services,” adds Darren. Continue reading Deep Jewish Family Roots in Asheville Pave the Future for the Green Family

President’s Message

Last month I had a chance to spend some extra time with our religious school families, teachers and staff at both the May family service and the teacher appreciation ceremony on the last day of religious school.  On both occasions, I was reminded of the amazing effort put forth by our teachers, our madrichim, our musicians, our staff and administration, and our Rabbi to make our children’s and families’ experiences so rich.

On Friday night, the sanctuary was full (literally full!) of families, sometimes three generations deep, who were there to celebrate Shabbat, sing along with Seth and Eitan, and to encourage their children as they led prayers and songs from the bimah.  The joy on the faces of adults and children alike was truly infectious.  But what struck me the most were the teachers.  Whether they were kneeling in the aisle coaching the littlest ones through their song, or directing kids on and off the bimah, or sitting proudly in the pew while the older ones led a prayer, their commitment to our children was palpable.

On Sunday morning, as thank you’s and presents were being handed out, it was again clearly apparent how much our teachers love their students and their work.  As each teacher or madrichim received their award, a roar went up from the kids in their particular class, further expanding their joy.  When Toby Koritsky, our Education Director, thanked the teachers for giving up their Sunday mornings to teach our kids, I was reminded of the many Sundays when I brought my own kids to religious school.  I thanked the teachers for making it easier to get them out of bed and to school on time — they created a learning atmosphere that was worth getting up for!  These teachers continue to create an atmosphere of positive energy that excites and inspires their students.

I had the special honor on Sunday, along with Toby and Rabbi, of recognizing and thanking Debbie Cooper for her incredible efforts as the school’s administrator.  In that role, Debbie has gone above and beyond to make the school run seamlessly, managing countless tasks behind the scenes while making children and parents feel welcome.  Debbie planned to retire last year but offered to stay on one more year to ensure a smooth transition between Lauren’s and Toby’s leadership — another example of her dedication!

As we address our financial issues this year, including seeking ways to manage our expenses, several people have asked me about the religious school.  The concern is usually about the congregation ‘subsidizing’ the cost of the school.  And, it’s a great question.  Religious school fees cover about 70% of the expense of running our school.  We have bumped up tuition by 2% for the coming year and we’ve increased class fees for preschool classes.  The rest of the school’s expenses are covered by a portion of each of our annual commitments.  This support of the school fulfills our sacred responsibility as a congregational family, to instill in our children a Jewish identity and a love for Jewish learning.  It is also consistent with one of the goals of our strategic plan — to enrich the Jewish education of families with children from birth to 18 years.  Watching the children and their parents on that weekend in May reminds me how very fortunate we are to have a school that is fulfilling that responsibility.  Please join me in thanking Toby, Debbie, and all of the teachers and staff for making that possible, and in wishing them a wonderful, well-deserved summer break!

If you’re interested in helping out, by volunteering your time or offering other support to the school, I’m sure that Toby would love to hear from you.

My best,




Between You and Me

Two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February, I accompanied 12 students to the March for our Lives in Raleigh.  Shortly after, one of our teens organized a rally for students here in Asheville.  Inspired by their passion for change, their stories of being afraid at school and a deep conviction that all life is precious, I feel a shared responsibility to keep the issue of gun violence in the forefront of our minds.

I’ve been a rabbi for 22 years and a student of Tae Kwon Do for the last nine.  On the surface, it appears counterintuitive, but the two identities really do complement each other: the discipline, the ritual, the cultivation of awareness and character each demands feeds the other.  I practice mostly because martial arts are mind, body and spirit practices that teach deep respect for others and cultivate the qualities of perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit, integrity and courtesy. Despite having earned a third degree black belt, I’ve often still wondered whether I should rest more easily because I’m better equipped to defend myself.  As a martial artist, I walk taller and more confident when I’m alone at night.  But should I ever be in danger, would my training really be sufficient?

I had a memorable encounter with a visiting 6th degree master instructor early in my practice at a Tae Kwon Do tournament.  “At your skill level, do you feel confident you could defend yourself against anything, even if someone pulled a gun on you?”  I inquired.  His response floored me. “Yes, because I never leave the house without my pistol.”

Guns are a game changer.  Americans are 5% of the world’s population and we own 50% of the world’s guns.  In such an environment, it seems the only credible defense against a gun is another gun.  At the same time, studies are inconclusive whether putting more guns in the hands of good people is a good or a bad approach to gun violence.  Folks who study gun violence think the difficulty or ease with which guns can be acquired has more to do with changing the number of crimes committed with firearms.  In addition, we know painfully well from the school shooting in Florida that the authorities are not responding even when people who have guns are on FBI watchlists.  Addressing the scourge of gun violence has to be comprehensive and decisive.

I believe Parkland revealed to us too late to be prophetic that gun violence is a public health issue.  More than 210,000 students have experienced it at school since Columbine in 1999.  Those students will never be the same.  But I’m glad I am hearing their voices and I will join with them in making Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High be the tragedy that inspires us to do something collectively that will be sane and smart.  We Americans are good at tackling tough issues.  Remember how we radically changed American mores around tobacco, got people to start wearing seat belts and addressed the issue of drunk driving.  And our society is better for it. For all our sakes, now is the time to act on gun violence, too.

Tikkun Olam Book Share

On June 4, 2018, Marty Mann presented books to the Pisgah View Head Start from the Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee (LMTO).

Each child was presented a book to take home that was donated last fall by our congregation. LMTO Committee members regularly read to the young children at Pisgah View Head Start throughout the school year.

The LMTO Committee hopes to build a stronger relationship with this program and provide more weekly volunteers so that the teachers have additional help.  Contact Marty Mann for details if you are interested for the next school year.

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