agudasisrael star


505 Glasgow Lane

Hendersonville, North Carolina 28739


Yom Shabbat, 28 Kislev 5775

Welcome to our Synagogue!

Menorah AGUDAS front name sign 2-small Agudas Israel front

The Center for Jewish Living in Henderson County!


rabbi phil cohen-cropped

Creating a sacred space
by Rabbi Philip Cohen, Ph.D.

I was reminded recently of the interesting phe-nomenon we experienced last year when the Jewish calendar threw the holidays significantly back in time and Chanukah converged with Thanksgiving, giving us Thanksgiving-a-kah.
This year, the Jewish calendar places Chanukah back in a more normal place, its close proximity to Christmas. So as this message is published and distributed, thoughts of latkes and candles are dancing in our heads. Eight days of celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks over 2200 years ago.
Now it’s true that in the pantheon of Jewish festivals, Chanukah is not weighted heavily. It’s a rabbini-cally ordained holiday, without the rules that accompany holi-days ordained in the Torah. It’s also true that the American celebration of this holiday is much enlarged from the Euro-pean experience most of have descended from. There the lighting of the chanukiot would be accompanied by fried food and a few pennies of Chanukah gelt. The large way in which we celebrate Chanukah here in the United States is an Ameri-can innovation.
Even in Israel, Chanukah is celebrated more modestly than here. Having said that, however, there is a way in which the festival is imbedded in the Israeli consciousness that is, I think, different from here.
One anecdote, from Betsy. When we were in Israel for my first year of rabbinical school, my wife took courses at He-brew University. One night during Chanukah she came home with the following story:
She went to one of the cafeterias at Hebrew U. for dinner or coffee. A woman, likely a student, entered the cafeteria. She extracted a chanukiah from her backpack, inserted the appropriate number of candles, and proceeded to light the Chanukah lights. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and joined in with the woman, singing the blessings and per-haps a verse of Maoz Tsur, Rock of Ages. When finished, everyone returned to their business, and that was that.
In the generally secular state of Israel, in this Hebrew U. cafe-teria, everyone paused and the room was, for that moment, made sacred. Everyone in that room had the need to pause, make a blessing, and become a community.
It is a festival imbedded in our consciousness. I joke that if you awaken a Jewish child, say, age four, and you ask her to tell you what Chanukah is all about, she’ll say, “A tiny jar of oil lasted eight days…” It’s biological, as is, by the way, the Dreidl song. No matter that no one I know has ever made a dreidl out of clay, we all sing that song.
But of course there are two parts of Chanukah live in our minds that have a deep meaning for the Jewish people.
First, we learn that a small group of dedicated people can overcome tremendous odds in the battle for an important cause. When one reads a serious history of the period it is plain that the Maccabean army had no right to beat the Syrian Greeks, but they did nonetheless. Sec-ond, the rabbinic appropriation of the festival through the mira-cle story of the oil that lasted eight days shows the faith of the Rabbis that God enters history. The miracle story of the long-lasting oil tells not only about faith as such. It shows that the presence of God in this story concerns the maintenance of something sacred, the newly reconsecrated Temple. Without the oil lasting for those eight days, the reconsecration would have failed.
And so when those students at Hebrew U paused in their day to join together to bless the Chanukah candles, they were in a sense replicating the original miracle. They were creating a sacred space for themselves out of the matrix of this ancient history of ours.
We too, have that opportunity to create a sacred space in our homes, in our synagogue, and in any place you might join in with the blessing of the Chanukah candles.
While I’m writing of lighting the lights of Chanukah, please do not forget to bring your chanukiah to the Temple on the Shabbat of Chanukah. That’s December 19th.
I’d like to entice a few of you to agree to read a few (and I do mean a few) verses from the Torah on a Friday evening. I would train you, create a recording and rehearse with you. It wouldn’t be difficult, and it would be a big mitzvah. Let me know if you’re interested.

Shalom, Rabbi Philip Cohen, Ph.D.


 Linda PerkelPresident’s Message

As president of Agudas Israel, one of my goals is to build on the good work of our previous president, Paul Vanek. I believe we are ready to move forward utilizing our commitment, crea-tivity, and strong communication processes to best meet our congregation’s needs. Elie Wiesel said “To be part of a commu-nity, to shape it, and to strengthen it is the most urgent, the most vital obligation facing the Jewish individual”
Towards that end, on Sunday November 9, your Board of Trustees, Committee chairs, and Rabbi Cohen participated in a board workshop facilitated by Jane Aronoff, representing the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Jane is an experienced temple leader as well as an active member and leader at the URJ.
The morning began, of course, with a little coffee and bagels and a brief Torah study. We then began the process of engage-ment, learning a little more about each other, questioning and responding to challenging questions regarding who we are and how we can be better. We looked at our strengths and how we can build on them. We asked ourselves, what are our congre-gants asking for, what do we care deeply about, how will we know we are succeeding?
A significant portion of the discussions revolved around the concept of relationships. While programs are an important ele-ment of our temple lives, it is the people that are more impor-tant. We talked about and identified some ways in which we can better know ourselves and those who walk through the door. We agreed to try some new approaches for member recruitment and engagement. Don’t be surprised by a phone call or an invitation to coffee by a board member! We want your input face to face. What do you want from the synagogue? What do you love to do?
As the morning concluded we narrowed down our discus-sions to 3 major goals.
1. Recruiting and engaging new members which includes orientations, welcoming and communication.
2. Developing a plan and a strategy for fundraising.
3. System for volunteer engagement.
In the coming months I hope you will see how these goals are being pursued. I will keep you up to date on progress and activities. Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas to help us build on our efforts.

Shalom, Dr. Linda Perkel, President







The most up-to-date information:

The Caring Committee presents "Winter Blues & Blahs" Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD]

Monday, Sept. 8, 1:30-3:30pm Featuring: Debra Bell, MSW, LCSW, Mental Health Counselor for Jewish Family Services of WNC Sponsored by the BJH Foundation

Winter Got You Down? Feeling Stressed Or Sad? Do You Miss The Sun? Come Learn All About Coping With SAD And Chasing The Winter Blues

Congregational Chanukah Shabbat Service and Dinner, Friday, December 19,

Service 5:30pm, Dinner immediately following. Bring your Chanukiah. Cost $15 per person, children 13 and under are free; Guests $20, children $5. RSVP to Nora Levin, 828.693.5152 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Community Chanukah Event, Sunday, December 21, 2pm Refreshments will be served.

Sisterhood Chanukah Luncheon, Monday, December 22. Cost $10 per person; Guests $15. RSVP to Natalie Zitnick, 828.692.9088 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Hebrew Classes - Wednesdays, Arthur Lebowitz, resident language scholar will teach beginning and intermediate Hebrew.  6:30-7:30 Beginning Hebrew followed by Intermediate at 7:30-8:30 pm.  To register contact Dr. Arthur Lebowitz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call Susan at Agudas Israel's office, 828.693.9838



Agudas Israel Congregation presents

A Festival of Jewish Tradition

A Community Event for Everyone! Food! Traditions! Music! Crafts! Holiday Celebrations!

Click here to see the Save the Date flier!


 Agudas Israel has a Facebook Page.  We are keeping up with the current times.  Please take the time to check out our do not have to have a facebook account to view our page....see photos...LIKE US...the most up-to-date information:

Bookmark this page and refer to it often for up-to-the minute program details/changes/and photos of latest events.

Volunteers are needed for coordinating Onegs, Managing the Calendar, Hunger Coalition and Chai Lites.  


 B'NOT MITZVAH SERVICE was held on August 22-23, 2014

bnot mitzvah reduced for web

We are so proud of our B'not Mitzvah class (as pictured here): Adele Groban, Teri Nadler-Thorz, Linda Reihs, Linda Sauter, and Linda Perkel. They all did a terrific job with their D'vor Torahs and leading both the Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services. Mazel Tov!

Mainstay is in need of volunteers.  The Purple Ribbon Thrift Store needs help.  Mainstay is an organization that helps women and their children get shelter from domestic violence. Please call 828.693.3840 and ask for April Hatch, volunteer coordinator.



Use gift cards for all of your holiday gift giving (hairdresser, mail carrier, teachers, housekeepers, etc) Come into the synagogue with your check or contact Carol Leaman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . See how you can help speed up this process with gift cards.


Bookplates are now ready to be inserted into our siddur, Mishkan T'filah. The bookplates can be purchases for $36 each, "In honor of" or "In memory of". Send your order with payment to Susan LaRue in the Agudas Israel office. There are only 100 books available and we expect them to sell out quickly


Mazel Tov to the Chairs and volunteers on great events and a jobs well-done. See the Special Event section for photos from our latest special events at Agudas Israel (or click here)! (Please wait a few seconds for them to download.)





Upcoming Events


12.20.2014 9:30 am - 10:30 am


12.20.2014 10:30 am - 12:30 pm


12.20.2014 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


12.21.2014 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


12.21.2014 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


12.22.2014 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


12.22.2014 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


12.23.2014 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm