Explore Jewish Life in Asheville
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the French Broad River, Asheville boasts scenic beauty and a mild climate. For more than a century it has drawn health-seeking visitors to its spas and sanitariums as well those wanting outdoor recreation whether hiking, rafting, or leisurely drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the 1890s, George W. Vanderbilt built his magnificent Biltmore Estate while immigrant Jews arrived to open stores or find relief from tuberculosis. Once a mill and market town, Asheville today is a tourist destination with a vibrant arts community and a thriving beer and food scene. Young families as well as retirees are arriving in growing numbers. Asheville supports two synagogues, a JCC, a Chabad House, a Jewish Film Festival, and HardLox, a Jewish street fair.
UNC-Asheville’s Ramsey Library holds an archive that paints a full portrait of the community including manuscripts, photographs, and oral histories. It documents downtown merchants, religious leaders, and Holocaust émigrés.
The Institute for Southern Jewish Life history of Asheville links the growth of the Jewish community to its mountain culture. Philip Henry, an Australian mine owner, built a grand estate while immigrant peddlers and merchants created a permanent community in the 1890s.