By Evelyn Miller
When I first joined the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, it was going through the process of transitioning from more of a Manchester organization to a statewide one. Over the five years that I have been a board member, I have watched this organization change its location and transform its office space from a business to a Jewish comfort zone. It has worked hard to support and maintain the Israel-connected Shlichut Program, and truly share our emissaries with all of the New Hampshire communities. Although the Jewish preschool was closed, the Federation developed Early Childhood and PJ Library affiliated programs in its place, to strengthen young children’s Jewish identity. We have maintained older, familiar programs like Seniors Forever Young, the Jewish Film Festival, and Holocaust Remembrance study. The Federation has broadened its horizons by including a special “visit Israel” program to moms within our statewide Jewish community, and also taken advantage of a special teens to Israel camp experience. The Federation took on the difficult task of helping all of us deal with antisemitism, and also developed a teen program that invites Jewish teens from all over the state to participate in a comfortable and supportive group setting to learn ways to confront antisemitism.
All that is to say, the Federation has come a long way. However, the journey hasn’t always been easy. This is a unique state and a unique Federation. Finding leadership that understood our state and its diversity took several years, and several directors. During the pandemic, we needed to find a new director, so I volunteered to sit on the search committee and had an eye-opening experience: Not only did we have applicants from the East and West coasts, large and small cities, but even applicants from South Africa and the Philippines. The misunderstanding of who we were was jaw-dropping. Finally, though, we looked within our own ranks, to find someone who already knew and loved the NH Jewish community at its heart.
So after five years—and coming out of a pandemic—it is most exciting to see a collaborative event planned with six synagogues joining together to work and celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary. All have their own personality and they are chosen to bring their unique talents together to form a larger New Hampshire Jewish community event. It’s wonderful to see the Federation working for the greater Jewish community, and the greater Jewish community working with each other as a whole.
Finally, I feel a special gift of the FedWhy I Give continued from page 1 eration is to connect all of our NH Jewish community through communication, specifically through The NH Jewish Reporter and the JFNH statewide calendar of events. My husband and I have enjoyed the best pastrami sandwiches at the summer Jewish food feast at the Laconia Synagogue. We found our lawyer while attending a talk at the Nashua synagogue. We enjoyed an Israeli Music concert in the Keene synagogue. We loved a music-fest on the seacoast put on by Chabad. We thought the music festival in Bethlehem was a great vacation getaway. And Hannakah at the Palace with Chabad was great, with a full house of New Hampshire Jews.
So why do I think the New Hampshire Jewish Federation is “special,” you ask? Well, after five years, I think we are through with our transition, and have fully become an organization working for all the synagogues, all the New Hampshire Jewish communities, and New Hampshire as a whole.