Jewish Heritage North Carolina: What Is It?

North Carolina has a long and interesting Jewish history. It was the site of the first Jewish settler, Joachim Ganz, who was part of a British colony that arrived in 1585 – coincidentally, sixty-nine years before the heralded date of the 1654 New Amsterdam settlement.

Despite this, however, North Carolina became beset by sectarian politics and lacked clear opportunities for Jews. In 1702, there was a protest against illegal votes, and many Jewish people struggled to attain equal rights and chances to thrive.

Nearing the mid-nineteenth century, however, Jews found opportunities in the mill and market towns, leading the coastal population to move closer inland to the piedmont. The population of 820 Jews in 1878 grew to 8,252 in 1927, and today that population amounts to around 35,435 people.

Jewish Heritage In North Carolina

The Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina captures the long Jewish history of the state with records that span the years 1750 all the way to 2022. It is the only statewide organisation that is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and presenting this Jewish history – similarly celebrating Jewish culture and using the knowledge to connect modern communities.

They collect artifacts that tell the story of Jewish ancestors, with programs designed to educate both Jews and non-Jews alike about the history of Jewish communities and the culture which has grown over the last two-hundred-and-seventy-two years.

Keeping The Jewish Heritage Alive

If you are a Jew who lives in North Carolina – or you are planning to move there – heritage is an important part of your identity, which the foundation strives to keep alive.

For any Jew, it is important to not only have context about what has come before but honour that context in order to grow closer together and closer to God.

Doing Your Bit

There are plenty of ways to do this in North Carolina. For starters, it is important for Jewish families to honor the faith and community in their own homes, ensuring that they uphold principles and attend weekly services.

As well as this, online websites such as Nadav Art by Avi Nadav give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in Jewish symbolism and history on an individual level, keeping your faith close to you – whether through personal jewelry, holiday sets, and culture-based artwork – and ensuring it plays an important role in everyday life. 

Coming Together

Jewish Heritage, on the other hand, is exciting because it allows you to connect with your faith on a broader level. It offers a way for the community to come together with a number of Jewish exhibits, college programs, holocaust education, and events.

It runs across the entire state, and its work can be supported either through becoming a member or a donor – gifts to the Jewish Heritage North Carolina allows them to continue collecting stories, protecting, sharing and ultimately promoting Jewish culture through their community-strengthening programs.

Respecting The Past To Pave The Future

Keeping history alive is all about individual goals – making sure you do your own bit to honor and appreciate the culture – and communal togetherness. Thankfully, in North Carolina, there are plenty of ways to achieve both.

In the meantime, the work of Jewish Heritage does ensure that the communities of old are never forgotten, while communities of today are connected and inspired to grow.


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