Posted by: ajsssummer | July 13, 2010

Update from Avery

Writing a “blog” entry about a week in which an unbelievable amount of experiences and moments of growth have happened is a daunting task. And of course, the week was shortened because of our national holiday to start it off!

Let’s start with last weekend, shall we?  After a relaxing morning and a somewhat “later” wakeup than our usual early start during the work week, last Saturday Team Avery or, as we decided last night we were calling our group a “Kehila” ( Hebrew for community) headed over to Banner Elk for a morning July 4th parade. We joined the BE community ( a majority of whom seemed to be seasonal residents, residing the rest of the year in Florida. There, we cheered for our Habitat for Humanity float, waved to Pat and Bill and their small group of comrades in the “Democratic” float, and of course, watched the famous duck race to conclude our morning ( don’t be deceived! These are rubber duckies, hundreds of them, floating down a stream). Afterwards, we continued over to Boone to enjoy a leisurely afternoon walking around and eating at some of the many delicious restaurants that Boone has to offer. To end our Saturday, we drove just a little further to Glendale Springs to what the locals refer to as a “Mountain Music and Jamboree” but what we would probably refer to as a “Line dance/square dance/mountain string band extravaganza”. Without taking anytime to even consider the fact that we were clearly not from around here, our group immediately took over the dance floor and learned a number of dances and shared many laughs.

We celebrated July 4th in the usual fashion: a BBQ at home, followed by the most exquisite fireworks I have ever seen at the Grandfather Mountain Country Club! How did we get free entrance to this private party?! Pat and Bill, of course!

Tuesday was back to work. The highlights of this week’s work include: harvesting potatoes at the Pine Grove Community Gardens, volunteering at the Crossnore School ( a boarding school for at-risk youth), putting up a new sign at the ReStore, putting up 52 tresses on both houses we are working on, etc. Finally, to end our work week, we went back to Grandfather Mountain, the most scenic peak in all of North Carolina, bright and early on Friday morning to sell tickets for ACADA, Avery Citizens Against Domestic Abuse, at the Highland Games—I have never seen so many kilts in one place in my life.

With the bagpipes still playing in the background, we went back down the mountain to relax a little, say hello to our friends over at the ReStore open house and finally, we prepared a delicious Shabbat dinner of lasagna, followed by beautiful, volunteer-led services.

Yesterday, we joined our friends at the First Baptist Church of Newland at Doe River Gorge in Tennessee for “Day Quest”—a day of swimming, blobbing, ziplining, relaxing, etc.

As I right this, we are eating breakfast and getting ready to head out for our first overnight adventure to Asheville!

With so much time and words spent on the specifics of our days, I will just say briefly that our group continues to gel and form new relationships every single day. We continue to learn the valuable, inherent lessons from the work that we are doing and the extraordinarily nice people that we still meet on a regular basis.

Breakfast time!

Love and crossing thresholds,




  1. I hadn’t heard about the AJSS until last week. I was eager to meet the group working in Avery County. So I did – last night at the services held by the local Jewish community (Temple of the High Country) in nearby Boone NC – where I live. I was very, very impressed. What a great group of young people — very friendly, dedicated, and enthusiastic. I really enjoyed talking with them at the potluck dinner which preceded services. I hope I get to see at least some of them again before they leave in a week or so. I have an idea of how that might happen.

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