Is ‘Jew’ a dirty name for a pond?


The New Hampshire town of Mont Vernon is contemplating renaming "Jew Pond" after being petitioned by a local Jewish resident, writes Darren Garnick for The Atlantic:

In 1927, the property was bought by two Jewish brothers, Myer and Nymen Kolodny, Boston attorneys who had planned to fill the void for a Jewish-friendly hotel. Unfulfilled plans included expanding the small pond and rebranding it "Serene Lake." Locals mocked the owners, who wound up selling in 1929, with the sarcastic "Jew Pond" nickname that eventually became immortalized on government maps…

Along with the ADL, the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, The Nashua Telegraph (which originally broke the story), and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) have urged Mont Vernon to change the name.

Whether unaware or indifferent regarding the name’s origins, not every resident finds the name offensive.

Garnick points out that not every landmark bearing the name "Jew" or "Hebrew" is the subject of derision. Of course, all of the examples that he cites are Jewish organizations, synagogues or other institutions.

In 1926, Cleveland’s Hebrew Garden was established as the first of several adjacent inter-ethnic gardens, as The Forward explained in 2008. The garden was proudly maintained by Jewish and Zionist organizations and in 1927 was adorned with a bronze bas relief of Moses Mendelssohn.

A 1995 JTA article noted that "Jewish Street" and "the Jewish Tower" — the later built in 1465 — were vestiges of an old Jewish ghetto in the newly independent nation of Slovenia.

The same concept explains why Vienna’s first new synagogue since before WWII was erected in a district already called "Matzah Island."

The U.S. Board of Geographic Names — who in 1961 named an Alaskan mountain peak in memory of a Jewish senator — will have the final say in the "Jew Pond" matter.

Archive Notes: In 1934, a non-Jewish Chilean amateur theater group demonstrated their admiration of the Jewish people by adopting the name "the Jewish Dramatic Society" …  In Europe, governments or parties deemed sympathetic towards Jews — or enjoying widespread Jewish support — have sometimes been referred to as the "Jewish" government or party, as was the case in Poland (1934) and Hungary (1994)

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