With a Hebrew School, Sisterhood meetings, an Appalachian State University group and much more, The Temple of the High Country, the area’s only Jewish temple, is a constant scene of activity with events and services.
Located at 1043 W. King St. between Galileo’s and the Watauga County Agricultural Center, in five and a half years, the temple has become an important community center for the Jewish and even non-Jewish people of the area.
“We’re blessed with the start of this building,” said Marla Gentile, co-president of the temple’s board of directors. “Having the building and a home for ourselves in the High Country has attracted new members, a feeling of belonging, created a safe feel and made us more visible so we’re able to do more things.”
The High Country Jewish community’s history goes back to 1974. The Boone Jewish Community, as it was called, met at different places, from ASU meetings rooms to various churches, over the years until 2012, when the group was able to cut the ribbon on its temple.
“We’re eternally grateful for our Christian neighbors who helped us all those years,” Gentile said. “We’ve been really blessed with the support from the town of Boone. When we built the temple, they welcomed us with open arms. It’s nice to know we have so much support.”
The temple hosts continuous educational events, such as Hebrew School. Children meet starting at 4 p.m. every Tuesday and adults on Thursday at a mutually convenient time. The classes are taught by congregation member Chuck Lieberman.
“We learn the Hebrew Alphabet first of all,” Lieberman states on the temple’s website. “I teach the common blessings. I teach the stories of the Torah, the morality and ethics of Judaism, the history of the Jews, Bible stories, translation and grammar of Hebrew and finally I tutor students individually for bar and bat mizvot.”
Education is also a major component of the temple, which works with the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies at ASU. The temple has a strong presence at ASU with the Hillel student organization. Hillel gives students a chance to learn about Jewish culture and is open to non-Jewish students. The group meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Watauga River Room in the Plemmons Student Union. The group also hosts a monthly Shabbat service at the temple.
“It’s a beautiful service,” Powers said of the Shabbat service run by Hillel. “We’re very involved with the Hillel group.”
The temple also has a Sisterhood, which has a different focus every meeting, which is once a month.
“Recently we did a CPR course,” said the temple’s Hospitality Chairperson Zodie Powers. “People have spoken about all different types of subjects.”
The Sisterhood also hosts Mahjong Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Mahjong is a tile-based game originally from east Asia that is similar to the game rummy.
“People come and play who are not a part of the temple,” Powers said of the Mahjong Wednesdays.
This Monday, Jan. 29, Alpha Epsilon Pi will be hosting a fundraiser at Chipotle in Boone. From 5 to 9 p.m., 50 percent of Chipotle’s proceeds will be donated to the Repair the World Fund, as part of AEPi Gives Back. Beneficiaries include BBYO, B’nai B’rith International’s Disaster Relief Program, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Israel Children’s Cancer Foundation and the Birthright Israel Foundation.
As the year goes on, the temple’s board of directors will set dates for its annual events, Powers said. In addition to its weekly Shabbat service, which are either Fridays at 7 p.m. or Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., the temple holds annual Havurah meetings. The Temple’s part-time spiritual leader Rabbi Stephen Roberts will be conducting services at various times of the year, including the High Holidays. Rabbi Roberts’ next visit to the High Country will be March 9-11.
“We have a very enthusiastic, very dedicated, very motivated board,” Gentile said of the board of directors’ commitment to continuing to hold events.
For more information on the various events at the Temple of the High Country, visit its website at www.templeofthehighcountry.org or call (828) 266-9777. For more information about Hillel at ASU, visit hillel.appstate.edu.