The Families

The Agudas Israel Congregation included several families working together. These families came together and formed not only a place of worship, but a community as well. Among the many families who contributed to the congregation five played critical roles in the early years of the congregation. This is a brief overview of each family and how they played a critical role in the early years of the Congregation.

The Lewis Family

Edward Lewis, a man struggling with yellow fever, decided to move his family to Hendersonville, NC in 1900. The Lewis family operated a store in Saluda previously, but desired a town with more potential.1 Edward Lewis was on a train one day when he was delayed in Hendersonville. He saw it as a town with more potential compared to Saluda and established the Lewis Department Store, becoming the first Jewish family in Hendersonville.2

The Lewis family is one of the most influential families when it comes to the founding of the Agudas Israel Synagogue. Members of the Lewis family contributed to many important decisions about the Synagogue. They were appointed to many notable positions, including The Finance committee, Trustee member of the Board of Officers, as well as working on some temporary committees. The Lewis family also worked along side other notable families such as the Brenners, Kantrowitzes, Lazaruses, and the Pattersons.3 The Lewis and Patterson families were both known to be top contributors to the Synagogue, expert businessmen, and fierce business rivals at that.4 Although the two families had a business rivalry they did have a common interest in the welfare of the Synagogue. Notable member Abraham Lewis would even be elected to serve along side Harry Patterson as Vice Presidents of the Congregation in 1923.5 Sammy Williams, member of the synagogue, even said “Some members of the Synagogue even found the rivalry between the two families to be amusing.”6

The Patterson Family

Edward Patterson, son of Harry Patterson, was born in Somerset Kentucky on December 3, 1904. His father decided to move to Hendersonville in 1906 when Ed was a year and a half old to help combat his wife’s tuberculosis. Growing up in a Republican community his family, who were Democrat, was met with some anti-semitism. These came in many different forms such as threats from a barber and even slander from another business owner. The Patterson family did find a true place to call home in the Congregation where they made friends. Although the Lewis and Patterson families had an ongoing rivalry, they did not hold grudges against one another according to Edward Patterson.7

The Patterson family is another one of the most influential families when it comes to the history of the Synagogue. They were elected to some of the most prestigious offices and appointed to very notable committees. In 1926, Harry Patterson was elected to be the President of the Congregation. He was also appointed to become a member of the Hebrew School committee. Being in such positions allowed the Patterson family to work closely with the Lazarus, Patla, Sherman, Cooley, Brenner, Kantrowitz, and of course the Lewis families.8 Many families came together to help erect the Synagogue, but one of the most devoted were the Pattersons. A lot of credit has been given Harry Patterson as one of the key contributors for funding the Synagogue.9 It’s also noted, by Morris and Anne Kaplan, that the “business style” between the Lewis and Patterson families is the reason the Jewish businesses did not suffer or go bankrupt. The Patterson family had connections to northern businesses and were also deemed very giving to gentile families in troubled times.10

The Sherman Family

The journey of the Sherman family begins in the year 1889 with Sarya Sherman, father of Louis Sherman. Sarya Sherman decided to move from Pushalot, Lithuania to the United States after the death of his wife, Rossa. Louis Sherman, the youngest of 7 children, would make this journey and become a naturalized citizen in 1896. The Sherman family originally settled down in Columbus, Ohio, but Louis Sherman traveled around for work. In his travels he would meet Rosena Cold who would become his wife in 1915. In 1920 they had a son named Kalman Sherman, moved to Hendersonville in 1922 and establish the Sherman’s Sporting Goods store.11

On July 16, 1925 Louis Sherman was given authorization, along with Harry Patterson and Abraham Lewis, to purchase the lot on 328 N. King Street. This will be the lot in which the Synagogue will be first erected for the Congregation.12 In 1922 Mrs. Sherman was elected as the Treasurer for the Synagogue.13 On December 5, 1926 Louis Sherman was elected as the Treasurer for the Congregation and Mrs. Sherman was appointed as a trustee. Louis Sherman was also appointed to the House committee on December the 26 and his wife was appointed to the Assessments committee. Louis Sherman worked alongside other notable members such as S. Cooley and G. Lazarus on the House committee in charge of maintaining the Synagogue.14

The Kantrowitz Family

On September 24, 1922 the Congregation for Agudas Israel was established in the Kantrowitz home. This home was the location for many of the initial meetings that would form the Congregation we know today.15 In the early years on the Congregation, finding funds for the erection of a Synagogue was proving to be difficult. The Congregation decided to release a fundraising appeal document to appeal to the non-Jewish community to help donate funds for their cause. Mr A. Kantrowitz, proud owner of The Hub Shoe Store, was one of the signers of this important document to take in donations.16

The Kantrowitz family has done the Congregation a service through many different positions. In 1922, Mrs. Kantrowitz was elected as the Recording Secretary. President Brenner at the time placed Mr. Kantrowitz on two special committees. The first one was to secure a charter for the Congregation with Harry Patterson, George Lazarus, and Nathan Fred. The second committee was to find a suitable location for the Synagogue. This second committee contained seven members including Mrs. Kantrowitz, Harry Patterson, and Abraham Lewis.17 In 1926, Mrs. Kantrowitz was appointed as a trustee for the congregation. She was also assigned to the Finance committee along with Nathan Brenner and Abraham Lewis.18

The Brenner Family

Nathan Brenner is often regarded not only as a key contributor to the funding of the Synagogue, but also as one of the most influential members of the Congregation.19 In 1922 Nathan Brenner was elected as the President of the Congregation and Mrs. Brenner was appointed as a trustee. Nathan Brenner would then go on to form important committees, containing many families, to secure a charter and a suitable location for the Synagogue. On October 8, 1922 Both Mr. and Mrs. Brenner would join the male and female money raising committees. Mr. Brenner would go on to be reelected as President of the Congregation in 1923 and Mrs. Brenner would be elected as Treasurer.20 Once Nathan Brenner retired as President of the Congregation he still remained an active participant for the Synagogue. In 1926 he was appointed to the Finance committee and was also appointed to solicit subscriptions for purchasing a lot for the cemetery.21 Nathan Brenner has worked very closely with other important members such as Harry Patterson, Abraham Lewis, and Louis Sherman. He carried out a strong Presidency for the Congregation that led to the successful upbringing of the Synagogue. Anything from the Congregations financial problems to the allocation of valuable members, Nathan Brenner was able to serve.22

Banner Image: “Frame Collage Photo 2.6” Photograph,Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804

Page Images: “Framed Collage Photo 2.6” Photograph, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804

  1. Leonard Lewis (son of Abe Lewis, founding family). Date April 26, 1983. Photocopy, Box 1, Folder 4, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  2. Kalman Sherman. Date March 6, 1997. Photocopy, Box 1, Folder 4, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  3. Meeting Minutes from the Board of Officers. Dates 1926-1927. Box 1, Folder 3, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  4. Letter from Jill Savitt. Date August 9, 2003. Box 1, Folder 6, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  5. Meeting Minutes from 1922. Box 2, Folder 1, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  6. Transcript of an interview with Flossie and Sammy Williams. Date march 4, 1997. Box 1, Folder 6, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  7. Transcript of an interview with Edward Patterson. Date March 7, 1997. Box 1, Folder 6, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  8. Meeting Minutes from the Board of Officers. Dates 1926-1927. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 3, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  9. Personal Rememberances: – Leonard Lewis (son of Abe Lewis, founding family). Date April 26, 1983. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 4, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  10. Transcript of an interview with Morris and Anne Kaplan. Date March 6, 1997. Box 1, Folder 6, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  11. Kalman Sherman. Date March 6, 1997. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 4, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  12. A “Brief History of Agudas Israel. The Genesis of Agudas Israel Congregation.” Undated. Box 1, Folder 2, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  13. Meeting Minutes from 1922. Original ledger and one photocopy. Box 2, Folder 1, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  14. Meeting Minutes from the Board of Officers. Dates 1926-1927. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 3, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  15. A “Brief History of Agudas Israel. The Genesis of Agudas Israel Congregation.” Undated. Box 1, Folder 2, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  16. Fundraising Appeal. Undated. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 3, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  17. Meeting Minutes from 1922. Original ledger and one photocopy. Box 2, Folder 1, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  18. Meeting Minutes from the Board of Officers. Dates 1926-1927. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 3, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  19. Leonard Lewis (son of Abe Lewis, founding family). Date April 26, 1983. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 4, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  20. Meeting Minutes from 1922. Original ledger and one photocopy. Box 2, Folder 1, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  21. Meeting Minutes from the Board of Officers. Dates 1926-1927. Photocopy. Box 1, Folder 3, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
  22. Meeting Minutes from 1922. Original ledger and one photocopy. Box 2, Folder 1, Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804