'Jew Pond' Earns Unwanted Scrutiny

New England Town Ponders Name With Curious History

What’s in a Name? Frank and Jill Weber have lived in Mont Vernon, N.H., for almost four decades. They want the official name of Jew Pond changed.
Ted Siefer
What’s in a Name? Frank and Jill Weber have lived in Mont Vernon, N.H., for almost four decades. They want the official name of Jew Pond changed.

By Ted Siefer

Published February 22, 2012, issue of March 02, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

One could say it was bacteria that caused Jew Pond to emerge from the miasma of history.

In the summer of 2010, an algae bloom forced the closure of a small swampy pond near the center of Mont Vernon, a storybook New Hampshire town of 2,400 people. And so it was that “Jew Pond” was splashed across the headlines of the local papers.

The name wasn’t news to longtime residents; that’s what they had always called the pond. As best as anyone could remember, it was because a couple of Jews had briefly owned a nearby hotel back in the 1920s.

Newer residents, including a Jewish couple living in town, were aghast at what they considered a slur. A well-meaning town health officer petitioned authorities to change the name.

But the town’s Yankee establishment dug in its heels, insisting that the name is part of its heritage. Now the issue is on the agenda of a March 13 town meeting.

There’s probably no one in Mont Vernon with a more visceral reaction to the Jew Pond controversy than Jill and Frank Weber, one of the few Jewish families in the area.

Click to enlarge.
Kurt Hoffmand
Click to enlarge.

The Webers, who are originally from New York, have lived in the area for nearly 40 years since buying a ramshackle house for $12,000. (“We were ripped off,” Frank Weber exclaimed.) They say they love the community spirit even though they know they will always be considered outsiders.

“I feel so fortunate for having found my roots here,” said Frank Weber, a burly man whose father was killed by the Nazis.

Still, the Jew Pond name struck a nerve, and the Webers are determined to speak out against it at the upcoming meeting.

“I don’t care if they continue to call it Jew Pond. By all means, make yourself happy,” Frank Weber said. “I just want the damn name changed. It shouldn’t be on any maps.”

The Jewish Federation of New Hampshire and the state’s influential Roman Catholic bishop have also stepped into the fray, urging the town to reject the name.

“You just absolutely know it’s meant to convey some measure of contempt,” Bishop Peter Libasci wrote in an editorial in a local paper.

Roberta Wilkins, a member of the town historical society, acknowledged that the Jew Pond name was probably an “insult.” But like many of the town’s old-timers, she regards the name as innocuous and as an echo of the town’s heritage.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.