The Hendersonville area–with its Jewish boarding houses, resort hotels, and summer camps–was once known widely as the “Southern Catskills.”  The Jewish resorts are gone, as are the Jewish stores which once dominated downtown, but the area is experiencing a revival with an influx of retirees, including growing numbers of Jews. Agudas Israel congregation, dating to 1922, moved into a new building in 2002, and a full-time rabbi was hired.  Other mountain communities are also growing with new congregations meeting in Brevard and Franklin.

As the Center of Jewish Living in Henderson County, Agudas Israel sponsors a range of social and cultural activities beyond worship, including a Mountain Jewish Festival.

The Institute of Southern Jewish Life community histories document Hendersonville’s Jewish community beginning with immigrant merchants who arrived in the early 1900s and a Jewish mayor in the 1980s. Also documented is a new congregation in Brevard.

Camp Blue Star, founded in 1948, has a legendary status among southern Jews where youth formed lifelong relationships and embarked on careers of Jewish activism. It inspired Camp Judaea, opened in 1961, that is now affiliated with the global Zionist youth movement.