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ADD: Not In Our Town (Fred Small)

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ChanteyLass 08 Jan 17 - 09:17 PM
Joe Offer 07 Jan 17 - 10:35 PM
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Subject: RE: ADD: Not In Our Town (Fred Small)
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 08 Jan 17 - 09:17 PM

One of Fred's many wonderful songs. I'm happy to see it here.

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Subject: RE: ADD: Not In Our Town (Fred Small)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jan 17 - 10:35 PM

Hanukkah ran for most of San Francisco's Camp New Harmony last week. Many of us gathered in the dining hall at dinner and lit menorahs and sang Hanukkah songs. It was fun and inspiring, and the Challah was delicious.
Then I saw a discussion of Fred Small's "Not in Our Town" on San Francisco's Harmony discussion list. It's about an incident in Billings Montana that inspired a movement called Not in Our Town. It's a powerful song.

(Fred Small)

When the Klan came to Montana, they made no grand parade.
No hooded knights on horseback, no banners boldly raised.
Spray paint and bomb threats, a voice on the telephone line:
"Kill the niggers, kill the homos, Jew bitch die."

Five-year-old Isaac woke screaming in the gloom.
"Mommy, there's a man at my window, looking into my room."
"Son, there's nothing out there but the shadows branches make."
The little boy went back to sleep, his parents lay awake.

For Isaac's bedroom window showed their faith for all to see
The candles of the menorah stood for hope and memory.
The next night, out of the darkness, a cinder block was hurled.
It shattered Isaac's window, and the boundaries of his world.

One moment of conviction, one voice quiet and clear,
One act of compassion, it all begins here.
No safety now in silence, we've got to stand our ground.
No hate. No violence. Not in our town.

The cop was not unfriendly. He said, "Ma'am, if I were you,
I'd take down that menorah, the Star of David, too."
Isaac's mother Tammy said, "I'm sure that's good advice.
But how then could I ever look my children in the eye?"

Then at their doorway a little girl did stand
A gift for her schoolmate in her outstretched hand.
A menorah drawn in crayon, from a Gentile to a Jew
It read, "To Isaac, From Rebecca, I'm sorry this happened to you."


Have you seen the paper? Did you hear the news?
What kind of people are we? We thought we knew.
Can children primed in prejudice in peace together dwell?
If we look out through this shattered glass, do we see ourselves?

Margaret McDonald called her pastor on the phone.
"This time the Jews will not face their foes alone.
We'll make paper menorahs, display them from our homes.
We'll show the bigots there are more of us than they have stones."

Volunteers printed up menorahs by the score.
Children in their Sunday schools colored hundreds more.
Grocers and dry cleaners gave out the design, singing:
What's a little broken glass when freedom's on the line?

Now in the town of Billings live not 100 Jews,
But menorahs now were everywhere, on every avenue.
Thousands upon thousands, in windows rich and poor.
When a neighbor stands in danger, we will not close our door.

Through the drifting snow, Tammy drove her children round
To see all the menorahs in the windows of the town.
"Are all those people Jewish?" asked Isaac as they went.
"No," his mother answered, "they are your friends."


No hate. No violence. Not in our town.
No hate. No violence. Not in our town.


I have not yet found a definitive source with which I can verify these lyrics.

Here's a performance by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus:

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