Nashua’s Raymond Street Klezmer Band, led by a retired doctor who is also a mohel, Alan Green, is a point of pride for local Jews.Aside from the synagogues and a single Jewish federation that serves the entire state, New Hampshire has no other Jewish institutions. “It’s not easy being Jewish in New Hampshire compared to New York,” said Joel Funk, who grew up in New Jersey and moved to the Granite State in 1975.
But the state still has pockets of Jewish vibrancy.
New Hampshire boasts about a dozen synagogues representing all the non-Orthodox Jewish movements, from Reform and Conservative to Reconstructionist and unaffiliated.
“The state motto, ‘Live free or die,’ is taken very seriously here.
People don’t like to be told how or what to do.” In summer, Hasidim flock to Bethlehem (it’s supposedly pollen-free! Nobody moves to New Hampshire for its Jewish life, and some have left because of its dearth.
There is a small federation-run preschool but no Jewish day school, no JCC, no Jewish senior center and no Jewish family services — signs both of the dearth of Jewish New Hampshirites and the high degree to which local Jews are assimilated, longtime Jewish locals say.
“It’s pretty much an assimilated community here,” said Steve Clayman of Manchester.Though New Hampshire is a geographic mirror image of neighboring Vermont, the two states have very different cultures and reputations.Vermont is known as more hippie-dippy, tourist friendly and progressive. They’re old, with a median age of 41.9 (third-oldest in the country), and 94 percent white (fourth-whitest state in America). A few characteristics distinguish the 1.3 million residents of New Hampshire.The only year-round Orthodox presence in the state is a pair of Chabad centers, in Manchester and at Dartmouth College in Hanover.