At Hanukkah, We Remember a Story of Hope from Billings, Montana | Not in Our Town

At Hanukkah, We Remember a Story of Hope from Billings, Montana

During this holiday season, we remember another Hanukkah 20 years ago in Billings, Montana. A year of racist and anti-Semitic violence came to a head one bitterly cold night when a brick was thrown through a six-year-old Jewish boy's bedroom window, where he had placed the family's Hanukkah menorah. The town rose as one to say, Not in Our Town, and a national movement was born.

That story was  told in our first PBS film entitled "Not In Our Town."  Hundreds of actions and campaigns followed, as our team traveled the country documenting the stories of community after community rising up against hate and prejudice with courage and persistence.

Through their actions, the people of Billings, Montana have given all of us an amazing gift. Their story has inspired others around the country to create new ways to stand together when neighbors are under attack.  At Not In Our Town, we want to share these  stories of hope with you through this new site. Now we are asking  you to share, as well. Spread the story of Not In Our Town to your community, bring people to our website and contribute your stories of action and hope so we can all learn from each other.

More Not In Our Town Resources:

Order a copy of Not In Our Town
Background on the Not In Our Town story (from
Watching Not In Our Town Together: Free Downloadable Discussion Guide
Local Lessons: How One Mother Used the Attack Against her Family to Teach her Children Never to Hide from Hate
Local Lessons: Three Guiding Principles for Confronting Hate

If the Billings story affected you, let the community know by posting your comments below.



 The story of Billings  to me is still one of the most moving stories of all the Not In Our Town stories. These folks began the whole NIOT movement with their courage!   I shall be forever grateful to them and to Patrice and Rhian for bringing this story to National attention through their PBS Documentary.  

In Newark, CA,  when Gwen Araujo was murdered and we were facing extreme difficulties with hate and prejudice, the story of Billings gave us the hope and strength to continue  working for equality and acceptance for ALL our citizens.    The City and the schools have responded with policy changes and programs.   

And though there is still much to do all across the country to combat Hate and help folks respond to Hate Crimes, Billings gave us the inspiration for how to respond to Hate with a community coming together to display love and acceptance for all of its citizens.

Bravo to Billings!

With all my gratitude,

Barbara Williams,  Not In Our Town- Newark & The Laramie Project

As a resident of Billings, I take great pride in the response from our community 16 years ago.  It is still amazing to me to see just how far this story has traveled and just how deeply it is felt.  Over the years as I have traveled, many times when I have said that I am from Billings, Montana folks are able to recall our community based on the Not In Our Town documentary.

No town is perfect, and our cause endures.  We continue to battle racism and intolerance with our thoughts toward the future knowing that we have a large reputation to live up to.  This year, during the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, we will have an interfaith service at Congregation Beth Aaron (the Jewish Synagogue)  On that day especially, I will be thinking of Wayne, Tammy, Margie, Bill, Chuck, Gary, Randy..and all of those leaders in Billings that lit a candle that has spread around the world. 

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