Small Bites: Mountain Jewish Festival

PITCHING IN: Agudas Israel Congregation members, from left, Natalie Zitnick, Sherry Harris, Ruth Marcus, Carol Leaman, Joan Kershner, Barbara Beckerman and Barbara Monoson have been busy preparing Jewish food delicacies to sell at the synagogue's inaugural Mountain Jewish Festival. Photo by Bonnie Cooper

For months now, many members of the Agudas Israel Congregation have been doing weekly kitchen duty at their synagogue in Hendersonville. Altogether, nearly 100 women and men have been working together regularly, whipping up Jewish food and making plans for the congregation’s inaugural Mountain Jewish Festival, which takes place Sunday, Aug. 16.

Why did the synagogue decide to undertake such a huge project? “The reason we decided to do this festival was to expose and share our Jewish food and traditions with the community,” says the event’s publicity chair, Bonnie Cooper. “[We’ve been] preparing the food weekly for the past six months. Both the brotherhood and sisterhood have participated.”

The food Cooper is referring to includes a long list of traditional Jewish delicacies such as kugels, potato latkes, chicken soup with matzah balls, knishes, pastrami, corned beef, braided challah bread, bagels with lox and cream cheese and more. Samples will be available, and guests will be able to buy some to eat there or take home as well.

The congregation also plans to introduce Agudas’ new rabbi, Rachael Jackson, to the community during the festival with a meet-and-greet, and a new video on the history of the Jewish people of Hendersonville will be screened. In addition, there will be music, Jewish craft activities for children, a Jewish book sale, a Sukkah (an outdoor arbor used for dining during the Jewish festival of Sukkot) and tours of the synagogue’s sanctuary. The synagogue’s Judaica Boutique will be open and stocked with new items.

Admission to the festival is free. Food and craft tickets will be sold for $1 each at the door. Cash, check and credit cards will be accepted.

Mountain Jewish Festival happens 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 at Agudas Israel Congregation, 505 Glasgow Lane, Hendersonville. For details, call 693-9838 or visit

Fermented foods workshop

Cooperative Extension consumer sciences agent Renay Knapp will offer two hands-on fermenting workshop for all ages on Thursday, Aug. 13. Cost is $15 and participants will each receive a jar of goodies to take home. Preregistration is required.

Workshop sessions are at 2 and 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Office, 455 Research Drive, Mills River. To register, call 697-4891.

Mushroom foraging classes

Fungal forager Mateo Ryall will offer Mushrooms of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, a series of hands-on foraging classes, Saturdays, Aug. 15-Sept. 5. Participants can choose to attend one or all four of the classes, which will offer instruction in identifying, harvesting and preparing edible and medicinal mushrooms. All skill levels are welcome. Cost is $25 per class or $75 for the series of four classes. Ryall has been studying and foraging for mushrooms for 15 years. He owns and operates Herb and Roots Nursery in West Asheville.

10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturdays, Aug. 15-Sept 5. Participants will meet in the back parking lot at Earth Fare Westgate and proceed to nearby forests. For details, visit or contact Ryall at or 413-636-4401.

Black Mountain Ciderworks Anniversary Party

Black Mountain Ciderworks will celebrate its second anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 15, with the release of Viking Blood, a cherry-aged mead blended with cider. The festival is open to the public and will feature food and an outdoor cider pressing demonstration. Admission is free. Children and pets are welcome.

1-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, Black Mountain Ciderworks, 104 Eastside Drive, Unit 307, Black Mountain. For details and updates, look for Black Mountain Ciderworks on Facebook.

ASAP Local Summer Cookout

The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project will host its Local Summer Cookout fundraiser on Thursday, Aug. 13. Chef Philip Bollhoefer of the Omni Grove Park Inn will prepare Hickory Nut Gap Farm pork ribs and a host of locally sourced summer side dishes to be paired with a local berry dessert from Vortex Doughnuts. The event will be held at Catawba Brewing Co.’s South Slope taproom and will feature two Catawba brews made with North Carolina ingredients. Catawba will also unveil its new T-shirts made with North Carolina cotton. Tickets are $20 and will include entry into a raffle for two private dinners at Omni Grove Park Inn’s Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen, a Catawba Brewery gift basket and a free pass to ASAP’s Farm Tour. Tickets include only the food — beer and other drinks will be sold separately. Reduced-price tickets for children ages 12 and younger will be available at the door. All ticket proceeds benefit ASAP.

5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, Catawba Brewing Co., 32 Banks Ave. For tickets and details, visit


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