'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!
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • 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.