Happy New Year to everyone! 

Last year Alan Hood and I introduced our upgraded website with member management software that has streamlined our members' files.  The calendar is frequently updated and will keep you all informed of coming events.

The Board has a three-year strategic planning session scheduled.  At this meeting we will be using the information that was collected from the surveys that were filled out by membership at the last Annual Meeting.

Change can be uncomfortable but together we can make it happen.

Gary Selnick
JSCA President

Board of Directors

  • Gary Selnick
  • June Dreznick
    Vice President
  • Julian Biller
  • Carol Falender

Carol Greenman
Newsletter Editor


Table of Contents

Committee Reports

JSCA Activities



Gary Selnick, Chair

The Executive Committee maintains and educates our members on our not-for-profit status, by-laws, and committees.

JSCA is a 100% volunteer driven organization. At Board meetings, we highlight our organization’s growth, successes, challenges from the past year, and talk about events being planned for the coming year.

As stated in our bylaws, a quorum is needed in order to vote annually for the Board and the Budget. At these meetings we highlight our organization’s growth, successes and challenges from the past year. We talk about events being planned. Nominations for officers and directors can come from the floor. The slate of Officers and Directors proposed by the Nominating Committee and endorsed by the Board are voted upon.

In framing a vision for the coming year, Board discussions have involved:

  • JSCA as a humanistic community, based upon a strong historic Jewish philosophy
  • Meaningful holidays and Shabbats
  • Opportunities for forming bonds with people we do not know, and forming a strong local Jewish community
  • Active membership, energy and personal experiences that people of varying ages bring to JSCA
  • Inclusion of non-Jewish spouses/partners
  • Affordable plans for this not-for-profit organization
  • Communications and emails for membership

The Executive Committee welcomes our members’ help.
Our members come from various places with a lifetime of experiences, which can be of value to our entire membership.

How to get involved: Join us for holidays, monthly Shabbat, member hosted Shabbat dinners/brunches, committees, educational programs, special interest groups, social events, book club, women's discussion group.

Our job is to learn from you about what you want from JSCA. Kindly talk to us: Let us know what you like, and what you would like to see changed. Your suggestions are welcome.

Rory Novell, Chair

There are currently 143 active members in JSCA.  The Membership Committee’s role is to help members, especially new members, to assimilate into our community.  The Committee serves as welcoming ambassadors greeting folks as they walk into a room and striking up a conversation with anyone who is standing alone.  Committee members also make phone calls to chat with new members.  The Membership Committee is responsible for organizing the JSCA booth at Hard Lox each October.  In November, the Membership Committee sponsored the Oneg following the monthly Shabbat Service.  Also in November, members of the board, the program committee, and the membership committee worked together to provide a two-part orientation program.  Several times a year the Membership Committee organizes intimate home-based brunches or dinners allowing members to get to know each other better.  The next such event will be a brunch and discussion held in multiple homes on Sunday, February 4th.  Checking the website, especially the calendar section, is your best source of information.  

Barbara Aaronoff, Chair

In the spring of 2017, our new Program Education Committee and Secular Humanistic Education Working Group began meeting to discuss how we could provide a variety of programs of interest to our varied membership. We were able to draw upon the expertise and talents of some of our members as well as from the larger Jewish Asheville community and beyond.

With members coming from various parts of the county, we find that we at JSCA share some significant commonalities: A love of Asheville, dining together, eagerness to learn new things and an ever-present desire to maintain our Jewish identity.

So far, we have learned about surviving the Holocuast, The Jews in Colonial NYC, how Martin Buber's secular thinking applies to our own lives, and how our all-volunteer organization maintains its Board and committees.  We have delved into what it means to us personally to belong to JSCA.

Our new website and calendar of events are now easy to access to learn what is coming up. Some events planned for 2018 include comedy, music and learning how to find our ancestors (which is easier than you might think for Jewish people). Lots more to come, so don't forget to check our JSCA calendar and emails and join in.

Carol Falender, Chair

The JSCA Social Justice Committee works towards “repairing the world” (Tikkun Olam) and increasing JSCA member connections. The Committee generates a focus on opportunities for volunteerism, advocacy, and education for our members.

We see Social Justice as taking action to educate, volunteer and advocate.

The JSCA Social Justice committee has hit its stride with an active and engaged group of volunteers, educational programs, volunteer activities and opportunities for advocacy. Our focus has been on income inequality with a special emphasis on homelessness.

We have invited our members to become connected with three advocacy organizations in North Carolina. These organizations are:

Through emails from these organizations, JSCA members will be regularly alerted to issues, educated and given opportunities to share their ideas and perspectives with elected officials at many levels of government. It is never too late to email carolfalender@gmail.com to be linked or to check out these organizations for yourself.
Social Justice committee member Kathryn Liss has just begun a Social Justice book discussion group, another Special Interest group available to JSCA members. Read books that will broaden and deepen your understanding of a Social Justice issue and come together with other JSCA members to discuss, explore and consider - a great way to learn and deepen your JSCA connections. Contact Kathryn at kliss@igc.org for more information.

Three times this year (Annual Meeting, Sukkot, Hannukah), JSCA members have generously donated kitchen and cleaning items for Homeward Bound, a program that seeks to permanently end homelessness. These items are given to individuals moving into a permanent home after experiencing homelessness. Another Homeward Bound program is Room in the Inn, a temporary shelter program for up to 12 women. Room in the Inn collaborates with faith communities which provide nightly shelter, volunteer prepared meals, safety, and security as women come in from the cold awaiting a permanent home. The Social Justice committee has researched this program and if there is interest from an individual or from a small group, the Social Justice committee will link them to this vital program.

In January, JSCA members were invited to share a table and attend the community-wide MLK Prayer breakfast. Last year 20 JSCA members attended. This month's breakfast was held at the Crown Plaza hotel on Saturday, January 13th.

In addition, the Social Justice committee is developing a survey to assess members' Social Justice interests which will help the committee guide our plans for the future.

In addition to this, the Social Justice Committee sponsored the Sukkot/Shabbat observance with invited speaker Sharon Blythe from Homeward Bound.  We have had JSCA members volunteer three times in 2017 for Habitat for Humanity, with plans to do so again in 2018.

Click to enlarge any image below.

JSCA Pitches In for Habitat
Building With Habitat

Join our regularly scheduled planning meetings and help to shape our future.

Deb Winston, Chair

Why, you might ask, does the JSCA need a Ritual Committee? Well, for starters, we consider ourselves the Ritual/Holiday Committee. In the past year, we have addressed many challenging and exciting issues, like:

1) Evaluating existing Shabbat services with the Secular/Humanistic tradition, and helping to form our own liturgy

2) Creating and formatting High Holiday prayer services

3) Providing ideas for the Education/Program committee to use at Shabbat dinner

4) Helping to create the Sukkot service that occurred under the stars

5) Discussing the role of Torah study for our group

6) Assessing what ritual objects would be appropriate for us to own

7) Planning the Secular candle/challah/wine blessings

8) Continuously evaluating which rituals and holidays might be meaningful and usable by
    our congregation in the future

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Cantor Deb Rosh Hashanah

Nearly 100 Gather
for Rosh Hashanah

Oneg Shabbat Under the Stars

Decorating Our Sukkah
Gathering on Yom Kippur Morning
Yom Kippur Morning Service 

These are only a few of the things that we have discussed and accomplished. It's a busy and dynamic committee with lots of varying opinions, and our meetings are usually lively and always productive.

The Ritual Committee researches services which best reflect JSCA values. This committee recommends text and form of worship for each service, including guest speakers, music and participants.

Join us anytime as a guest, or go ahead and join the committee as a member. Email Cantor Deb with any questions at cantordeb@bellsouth.net

Errol Stone, Chair

The JSCA Caring Committee is a community where people support and care about one another and are able to participate fully in our Community. Our purpose is to make a positive impact on the lives of Community members and their families through providing a personal touch that enhances well-being and inspires them to stay connected.

The Committee concentrates on providing assistance, with members’ consent, in case of the death of a member or family member of the Community, or if a Community member or his/her family member is suffering from severe illness. The Committee may ask for people with a number of skill sets to become volunteers in support of the family’s needs in such situations.

Cantor Deb works with the Committee. The Committee provides training to our volunteers in skills for interfacing with the bereaved and family members.

As Jews and as members of our Community, we are responsible for deeds of loving kindness. So, in a sense, we of JSCA are all members of the Caring Committee.

Robert Winston, Chair

The Catering Committee does the following:

  • Decides on the dates and locates a venue for Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah, and Passover
  • Discusses and chooses the meal for each event
  • Secures the venue
  • Arranges for the e-mails that invite the membership, and receives the reservations
  • Arranges for volunteers to help set up and sort out before and after
  • Arranges for a catering company if that is appropriate for the event
  • Inventories supplies necessary for the event (plastic ware, plates, tablecloths,
    napkins, cups, etc.)

Shaking Lulag, passing Etrog

Rosh Hashanah


June Dreznick, Chair

The Fundraising Committee looks for opportunities to raise additional funds for future programs.  We will soon offer occasion cards which can be sent to family and friends for the cost of $10.  For more information, please contact June Dreznick  jdreznick@yahoo.com


The Finance Committee consists of the Treasurer, Vice President and other members that the President may appoint from time to time. The Committee manages all financial matters and completes the yearly 990 short form which allows IRS and the public to evaluate a nonprofit’s operation.

Julian Biller, Chair

Last on this list but far from least, the Communication Committee is essential to our organization. Julian Biller sends emails to all members concerning a great many issues, short- and long-term.

From specific Committee plans and meetings to programs and activities of interest to JSCA members, our Communication Committee keeps us all informed and involved. Julian’s responsiveness to JSCA events and needs ensures that all members are current with our ever-evolving organization.

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JSCA members are involved with a great many activities and undertakings which enhance the lives of our Jewish community.  Many of these activities are planned, developed and presented through the Committees described in this Newsletter.
Others are developed by special interest groups and individuals.

Following are descriptive reflections on some of the many recent activities of JSCA, as well as projections of future scheduled events.


In SEPTEMBER our Social Justice Committee announced to JSCA members two programs presented by Carolina Jews for Justice and Just Economics.
The announcement for the programs, by the Social Justice Committee chair Carol Falender, was as follows:

As part of a state-wide “Call for Action for Raising Wages,” starting on Labor Day, Carolina Jews for Justice/West will be collaborating with Just Economics, to present two programs addressing the economic challenges of living in poverty in Buncombe County.  On September 6th a short film, “Faces of Poverty,” produced by Just Economics was screened, followed by a Q&A. 

“At the core of its vision of a just society, Judaism demands compassion for the economically less fortunate:  You shall open your hand to your brother, to the poor and needy in your land.  Deut.15:11. Other passages of Torah require that the worker’s wages be sufficient to sustain life.  Our ethical mandate does not permit us to turn aside from our obligation to help those in need,” says Judy Leavitt, Chair, Steering Committee, Carolina Jews for Justice/West.

In addition, on Sunday afternoon, September 17th we continued our focus on hunger and poverty with a “Poverty Simulation” led by Just Economics.  The meeting was held at Congregation Beth Israel in Asheville.  This thought-provoking and illuminating simulation illustrated what it is like to live as a poor person in Asheville today. 

“To act in a way that makes a difference, we must understand the condition of those who need our assistance and advocacy,” Leavitt added.


"Carolina Jews for Justice (CJJ) combines advocacy and education to organize a non-partisan Jewish voice in North Carolina.  We work to influence policy at the local and state levels and encourage individuals and Jewish institutions to take a stand in our community.”

In NOVEMBER  the Social Justice Committee presented these opportunities to be involved in social justice:

Monday evening, December 4th, 6:30 pm, Carolina Jews for Justice and the ACLU co-sponsored the screening of 13th, a documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, at the Altamont Theatre in Asheville.The film explores the history of racial inequality in the US, focusing on the nation’s prisons that are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. A panel discussion followed. Catering was provided by Comedy Catering, and Black Star Line Brewing from Hendersonville, a new African-American owned brewery, featured its brews. All net funds from this event went to Hood Huggers International.  On December 6th at Firestorm Cafe in Asheville, Kathryn Liss facilitated a discussion of Gloria Steinem's book, "My Life on the Road". 

On December 10th, Carolina Jews for Justice/West hosted an Open House to socialize and organize. The event took place at Congregation Beth HaTephila, Asheville.  Issues we are working on include economic inequality, racial justice, voter engagement and immigration. Most importantly, this presented opportunities and how JSCA members can be involved.

Saturday, January 13th, citizens of Asheville and Buncombe County celebrated our community’s 37th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Resort on Resort Drive. The keynote speaker was Asheville’s own Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons, who founded the Asheville Prayer Breakfast in 1982. 

In DECEMBER the Social Justice Committee organized a Hanukkah Party Collection for HOMEWARD BOUND, a major nonprofit giving organization in Asheville. In addition, the Committee announced a Community-Wide Observance of Martin Luther King Day on January 13th, 2018.

The Social Justice Committee also announced its choice of three local and state advocacy organizations with which JSCA may wish to link:

Children First/Communities in Schools (http://childrenfirstcisbc.org)
Carolina Jews for Justice, or CJJ  (www.carolinajewsforjustice.org)
North Carolina Justice Center  (www.ncjustice.org)

For those who wish to receive advocacy updates from these organizations, Carol Falender’s email address is carolfalender@gmail.com


The Program/Education Committee held an October meeting on Humanistic Judaism by Ron Manheimer.

Barbara Aaronoff also provided for JSCA members a link to a relevant Article by Rabbi Adam Chalom:

Cantor Deb prepares and schedules fully participatory services for the Holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah). Cantor Deb also organizes, presents, and graces us with her wonderful singing at Shabbat services monthly and sometimes more often. Shabbat prayers are read by the audience, and by selected members at the bimah.

Among groups formed within JSCA are the Women’s Discussion Group, Singles Lunch/Dinner Group, and monthly Bridge Players.

Click to enlarge image below.

Monthly Bridge Group

Barbara Weitz has regularly assembled information on movies relevant to many of our members, including the Israeli Film Series.

She has, as well, publicized trips and tours of interest to our membership.

Click to enlarge any image below.

Czech Lands
The Women's Balcony
The Farewell Party
The Trial of
Viviane Ansalem

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