Accompanied by legislators and a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wiped a highly-offensive ethnic slur from his state’s books with the stroke of a pen.

The April 27 signing ceremony of Senate Bill 318 effectively removes the word “shylock” and its derivatives from Florida statues against usury and other deceptive loaning practices. Originally coined in the late 16th century, the pejorative term – which has its genesis in the moneylender Shylock in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – has taken on anti-Semitic overtones. It first appeared in Florida’s laws in 1969.

“Today, I am proud to sign legislation that honors Florida’s Jewish community by removing harmful language from Florida’s criminal moneylending laws,” said Crist. “Harmful terms that communicate hate have no place in our society and especially not in our laws. The removal of this language is long overdue.”

Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, the Tallahassee-based director of Chabad of the Panhandle, stood behind the governor as he signed the bill into law. At the ceremony, Crist – who has taken strong positions against anti-Semitism in his state – asked the rabbi to speak.

“This is a country of kindness,” said Oirechman, invoking statements by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. “This is an action that demonstrates the greatness of this country and of this state.”

The law was sponsored by state Rep. Elaine Schwartz and state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, and was unanimously approved by both legislative chambers shortly after the beginning of the latest session.

“It brings the entire legislature together,” Schwartz told The Miami Herald afterwards. “I wish we could say that about the budget.”