Solved: The mystery of ‘Jew Hill’
I read with interest Judith Robinson’s article about “Jew Hill” in Greene County in the June 26 issue of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. About 20 years ago, I had a case (I’m a lawyer) where my client was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Greene County. She told me it occurred on a winding road right near Jew Hill not too far from Crucible, Pennsylvania. When I asked her why it was called “Jew Hill,” she didn’t know, but everyone in that area called it that. I sent out my investigator who could not find the answer to why that area was called that name. Now, after reading the article, I have the answer. It reminded me of finding out about the abandoned Jewish cemetery in White Oak in your Chronicle article (“Neglected Jewish cemetery in White Oak restored by non-Jewish volunteers,” July 12, 2019), which I had been searching for over many years.
Jack L. Bergstein
In defense of the removal of Confederate statues
In her June 26 letter, Rahel Kozlova very broadly concludes that “statues should not be removed.” However, I believe that it is long past time to remove statues of Confederate leaders and, in support, offer what I consider to be a more accurate comparison than those presented by Ms. Kozlova.
The Third Reich was based on a core belief in Aryan superiority, which it saw as justifying the extermination of Jews and other minority groups. Similarly, the Confederate government was founded on a belief in white superiority, thereby justifying the enslavement of Blacks. In his famous Cornerstone speech, Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, declared that the Confederacy’s “foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Both governments fought to defend their indefensible beliefs; fortunately, neither prevailed.
Imagine that, in the decades following Hitler’s defeat, “proud” Germans began a crusade to restore their power and glory. They fly the Nazi flag atop public buildings, place Nazi names on schools and government offices and display swastikas at public events. On public streets and squares, hundreds of statues of Nazi leaders stand on pedestals, glorified as “heroes” who fought bravely for a noble “lost cause.” Certainly, as a Jew, I would not want these “historical” symbols of hate to remain where they could continue to threaten future generations of Jews and inspire future generations of anti-Semites.
This is precisely what happened in post-Civil War America. Decades after the war ended, during the era of Jim Crow, white supremacists sought to reassert white rule in the South. They prominently displayed statues of Confederate “heroes” in order to intimidate and humiliate Blacks seeking racial equality, while also reassuring “proud” white Southerners of their power and privilege. These statues continue to send the same hateful messages today. While most were mass produced, to the extent that any pieces have aesthetic significance, they can be moved to museums where they can be given context and properly interpreted. In such settings, they will serve as historical artifacts, rather than civic monuments perpetuating a racist commemorative landscape.
This would not be history erased but, rather, history properly placed, a concept that is hardly new. To accommodate inevitable changing needs and times, we routinely topple old buildings and rename streets, and our museums are filled with art and artifacts that no longer conform to current sensibilities. While we must respect our past history, we cannot ignore historical progress and still evolve as a society. It is said that the moral arc of history is long. Unfortunately, we cannot always control its path, but this country is now presented with that opportunity. I believe that by removing these statues, we would help bend that arc toward justice.