D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Beth Ha Tephila Congregation
(Asheville, NC)

M79.13.1-13 ; P79.13.1-3 ; OS79.13.1

 "Altar, Temple Beth HaTephila." [beth_0008],
D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNC Asheville

Title Beth HaTephila Congregation (Asheville, NC) 1891-1976
Creator Beth HaTephila Congregation (Asheville, NC)
Subject Keyword Beth HaTephila ; Asheville, NC ; Young Men's Hebrew Association ; Temple Association ; Jewish Aid Society ; Jewish Ladies' Aid Society ; Temple Sisterhood ; Union of American Hebrew Congregations ; Sidney Unger ; Samuel Robinson ; Lions Club ; Stanley Funston ; Bernard Bloom ; Paul Kaplan ; Leo Finkelstein ; Siegfried Sternberg ; Dennis Winner ; civil rights ; racial equality ; Jews ; Reform Congregation ; Bikur Cholim ; E. Sternberger ; Louis Blomberg ; Morris Meyers ; Abraham Whitlock ; Solomon Lipinsky ;
Description The original collection spans the years from 1891-1977. Subsequent accessions have included material up to 2012. The material in the collection includes various temple activities, minutes of meetings, photographs, membership lists, service bulletins, and the plans for construction of the temple and religious school. It also includes papers relating to the Board of Trustees of the Congregation (minutes, annual reports and correspondence); the correspondence of Rabbis Unger (1951-1961), Bloom and Funston; the activities of the Temple Sisterhood and Brotherhood (minutes, correspondence and assorted papers).
Publisher D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
Contributor Congregation and Board of Trustees, Temple Beth HaTephila, Asheville, NC ; Southern Highlands Research Center
Additional Contributors Leah Karpen, History @ Hand ; Sharon Fahrer ; Jan Schochet
Date digital 2001-03-09
Extent 5.6 cu. ft.
Source M79.13.1 - 13 ; P79.13.1 - 3 ; OS79.13.1
Language English ; Hebrew

Is related
Leo Finkelstein Oral history in Voices of Asheville Oral History Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville ; Sol Schulman Collection, a small collection of material related to Jewish businesses in the western part of the state. Includes material on Sol Schulman, a businessman in Waynesville, NC. The Ada and Lou Pollock Collection contains rich material on many of the individuals and businesses mentioned in the Beth-HaTephila collection and also contains supplementary material related to the Congregation Beth-HaTephila. "Jewish Roots in the Carolinas: A Pattern of American Philo-Semitism," Charlotte, N.C.: The Carolina Israelite, 1955, in the D. Hiden Ramsey Collection printed material - various publications (M80.5.2.6), D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNCA ; Choosing to Remember - From the Shoah to the Mountains ; Sidney Schochet Family Papers; The Family Store Project: A History of Jewish Businesses, 1880-1990, a 12-panel exhibit displayed in a variety of locations in downtown Asheville in the fall of 2006 by History @ Hand ; "Beth HaTephila:  House of Prayer" panel, also by Sharon Fahrer from History @ Hand traces the Temple from its beginning in 1891 to the present day.
Coverage Temporal 1891- present
Rights No restrictions. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Acquisition 1976-08-20 ; 2001-05-01
Citation Beth HaTephila Congregation (Asheville, NC) 1891-1976, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804.
Processed by Special Collections staff, 1976 and 2001 ; 2010-02-05 ; 2011-07-13 ; 2012-05-10, HP ; 2013-06-05 CR
Historical Context Congregation Beth HaTephila, the first synagogue in Asheville, was founded on August 16, 1891. At that time the congregation met at the Lyceum Hall on Biltmore Avenue. Property for a Jewish cemetery was purchased in 1902 at Riverside. In the same year, a building was purchased at Spruce and Woodfin Streets.

In 1908 the Congregation became a Reform congregation and joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. In 1919 the Congregation debated the Conservative-Reform question again, but they voted to remain Reform, and the conservatives eventually split off to form their own Orthodox congregation called the Bikur Cholim in 1898. An Orthodox congregation synagogue was built and just before High Holy Day Services in 1916, the building was set ablaze in one of Asheville's first anti-Semitic crimes.

In 1946 Rabbi Sidney Unger began his seventeen years of service to Congregation Beth HaTephila. Fund-raising for a new temple had already begun in 1942, with the establishment of a New Building Fund Committee, but Unger was instrumental in bringing the plans to fruition. The new building, on the corner of Liberty and Broad Streets was dedicated in 1949. The temple facilities were later augmented with a new religious school building which was dedicated in 1959.

Dr. Sidney Unger retired in 1963. Rabbi Bernard Bloom served from 1964-1965, and was then succeeded by Rabbis Stanley R. Funston, Paul Kaplan, Ronald Bluming and Robert Ratner. The current Rabbi is Batsheva Meiri.

Asheville had an early and thriving Jewish community. The first settlers were those who came as tinkers and peddlers and who stayed on. Other Jewish families came for their health during the years when Asheville was well-known for its tuberculin santoria. When the railroad came to Asheville in the late 1800's the population of Jewish families again soared. The importation of merchandise to support newly created Jewish businesses was greatly simplified by rail transport. It is believed that by 1900 nearly half the businesses on Main Street were Jewish-owned and operated. Harry Finklestein, Louis Blomberg, Sam Finestein, S.W. Silverman, and others were among the early entrepreneurs.

Good sources of historical information about Congregation Beth HaTephila include the Golden Book of Memoirs(M79.13.5, folder 5) and the 75th Anniversary Program (M79.13.5, folder 6) and Letters from Leo: World War II Correspondence to the Asheville Lions Club, Boone, NC: Center Appalachian Studies, 1997.

A recent addition to the historical literature for the Congregation Beth Ha-Tephila is the historical panel created by Sharon Fahrer for the the dedication of the newly remodeled building. The "Beth HaTephila:  House of Prayer" panel traces the temple from its beginning in 1891 to the present day.

Series > Early Records
> Board of Trustees Papers
> Rabbis
> Women's Organizations
> Men's Organizations [includes Brotherhood]
> Publications
> Office Records
> Printed Material
> Photographs
> Blueprint and Oversize Materials
> Samuel Robinson - Addendum (later accessions)
> Sheet Music - Addendum (later accessions)
Last Update 2013-06-05 CR; 2015-09-30 GH
Items List
Series 1: Early Records (Most records are full text)
Series 2: Board of Trustees Papers
Series 3: Rabbis
Series 4: Women's Organizations
Series 5: Men's Organizations
Series 6: Publications
Series 7: Office Records
Series 8: Printed Material
Series 9: Arnold Sgan Papers (Addendum - Accession 2007)
Series 10: Photographs 
Series 11:  Oversize - Posters, Drawings, Blueprints  [OS79.13.01]
Series 12: Samuel Robinson Papers (Addendum - Accession 2007)
Series 13Dennis Winner Sermon (Addendum - Accession 2011-07-13)
Series 14:  Realia [RA79.13.01]
Series 15: Sound Recordings
Series 16: Sheet Music (Addendum - M79.13.13.29-43)