CNN) -- Vice President Joe Biden "should have been more careful" in a speech when he used a term that some consider anti-Semitic, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday.
At a conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, Biden recalled anecdotes from his son's experience serving in Iraq and meeting members of the military who were in need of legal help because of problems back at home.
"That's one of the things that he finds was most in need when he was over there in Iraq for a year," Biden said, "that people would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being...I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas."
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman issued a mild reprimand later Tuesday.
"When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term 'Shylocked' to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society," Foxman said in a statement, first reported by Yahoo News.
The name "Shylock" derives from the name of the antagonist in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice." Shylock, a Jew, was a ruthless moneylender in the play, and he's remembered for demanding a "pound of flesh" from the merchant Antonio if he failed to repay a loan.
"Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day," Foxman said. "The vice president should have been more careful."
The vice president's office did not immediately return a request for comment from CNN.
Biden, who's considering a presidential bid in 2016, heads to Iowa on Wednesday to speak at a kickoff event for Nuns on the Bus, a liberal Catholic social justice group based in Washington.