Jew Pond deserves a name change
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
To the Editor:
In December 2011, I was installed as Bishop of Manchester, and since then, I have had the honor of meeting many New Hampshire citizens, including some of my fellow religious leaders. Recently, I met with the leadership of the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, who told me of their concerns regarding a small pond in Mont Vernon with a name that they considered to be disparaging and offensive: “Jew Pond.” I admit that, on hearing the phrase, I involuntarily bristled.
It is my understanding that local historians and reporters believe that this pond was probably named as a “snide joke” or “insult” aimed at the Jewish owners and clientele of a nearby hotel. As Jeff Fladen of the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire has publicly noted, it is the use of “Jew” as an adjective that is pejorative. It is different than the use of the word “Jewish” or “Christian” because it is added as a stinging barb, the way that a bigot in private company would mention a “Jew lawyer” or “Jew doctor.” You just absolutely know it’s meant to convey some measure of contempt.
The voters in Mont Vernon will have the chance on March 8 to vote to change the name of the pond. I hope and pray that the citizens of Mont Vernon vote to change the name. It is a small pond, but anti-Semitism is a big deal.
PETER A. LIBASCI
Bishop of Manchester