In N.H. Town, a Cultural Widening

June 11, 2007

Author: Sarah Schweitzer

Source: The Boston Globe

BETHLEHEM, N.H. -- Kosher history was made in this North Country town as clerks at the Bethlehem Village Store recently moved aside boxes of Luvs diapers and cases of Budweiser to make way for Manischewitz matzo meal, borscht, gefilte fish, potato pancake mix, and Tam-Tam crackers.

"The store is recognizing that there are other people who exist," said Harold Friedman , 76, a Bethlehem selectman and resident of six years, by way of Long Island. "It's wonderful."

Brookline, it is not. But Bethlehem, population 2,300, has become an unusual rural scene. Jews from across the country have taken up residence in and around this faded resort town, lured in part by the area's rugged beauty, but especially by the proximity to members of a common faith.

Jewish culture, far more prevalent in urban and suburban settings, now threads through this outlying town, which has a lone blinking traffic light and grassy knolls where elegant hotels once stood on Main Street. The recent influx has propelled an ongoing tutorial for long time residents in the ways of synagogues and Jewish burial and the rules of kosher food.