Family Matters

Meet Our First Executive Director

Dear CBI family-

I am honored and humbled to have been asked to serve as our congregation’s first ever Executive Director as we navigate together this transition time between Rabbi Justin’s departure and our new, yet to be identified next Rabbi.  As I write this, I am still working with the JCC team to determine my exact last day at the J, but I should be at CBI by mid-January.  During this interim period, we will explore together all the amazing elements that make up our congregation and identify areas of opportunity for improvement.

Some of you already know me and my family’s story as it relates to Jewish Asheville and our congregation. For those of you who don’t, my parents Ron and Toby Cohen moved to Asheville in 1993 and immediately immersed themselves into the fabric of CBI- most notably my Mother served as Sisterhood President for many years and my father served as the chair of the Cemetery committee for several years.

My sister Alyce and her husband Robert Phinney were married at CBI in Spring 1999. We moved here from Boston when my oldest Alex was 14months old.  This was in spring 2004. We joined CBI in the Fall of 2006 and celebrated the birth (and bris) of Logan in the sanctuary.  This was the last time my Mother was in the sanctuary before she passed a month later.  Both my boys have gone through Bet Sefer and now had their Bar Mitzvahs at CBI- Logan’s was just this past October.

My favorite community event each year is our Hanukkah party as I love seeing all the menorah’s lit up at once.  Logan and I have also won a prize at the make your own Hanukkiah contest three times in row! (note:  there may be a competitive streak in me…).   So while I’ve only been living here for 16 years, I’ve actually been visiting Beth Israel for even longer.

I have been giving some thought to some of the many differences between the work that I’ve been doing for the past 12.5 years at the JCC and the work that I will soon begin doing at Beth Israel.  I’ve spent my time over the last decade heavily focused on efforts around building community.  I believe deeply in the work that I and my JCC colleagues have done. In thinking about how the CBI family is interwoven and different from the JCC, the word and concept of ‘family’ is what has struck me.

I see and feel and participate in our amazing Jewish community every day, but at Beth Israel, we have more than just community; we have a family.  Like all families, there are amazing moments and hard ones.  There are strong emotions, passions and struggles.  There are relationships that are new and old, heated and peaceful and everywhere in between.  This is what a family looks like and we are fortunate to have such an amazing one to rely on, protect and nurture.

In the coming weeks, I hope to have the opportunity to speak and meet with each of you, learn your story and how you weave into the CBI mishpocha.   The boys and I are very excited about immersing ourselves even further into the family.


Rochelle Reich

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