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Curriculum introduces the history of “Not in Our Town” to schoolchildren throughout Montana



Montana – The Magic City community came together for peace in 1993 as a result of hate crimes, and this movement inspired people all around the world to follow suit.

Even thirty years after the historical event that became known as “Not in Our Town,” many people have been motivated to speak out against discrimination because of it.

The Montana Jewish Project told their narrative and explained how they want to use education to carry on the battle against hate.

Rebecca Stanfel Executive Director for the Montana Jewish Project says that “those of us who have lived in Montana for any amount of time were aware that antisemitism and hate crimes have been growing. We are very fortunate to have a volunteer who writes curriculum and we wanted to reach out and think about how is it that we can make a difference to try and improve the lives of kids, all kids in classrooms at a younger age.”

The events that transpired in Billings, Montana during the winter of 1993 have since gone global in their inspiration.

Like many tales, this one inspired the writing of others. A nationwide movement was developed and multiple documentaries were produced.

However, the Jewish Project in Helena and the Stanfel contend that the story itself and the lessons it may impart are the most potent outcomes of this tale.

Stanfel went on to say that “the idea behind it was certainly not any religious instruction and not even focusing on Hannukah, but this idea of how is it that we can come together and respect each other no matter what our differences are?”

The Montana Jewish Project is distributing curriculum packs to classrooms around the state for the second year. In addition to a school menorah, candles, a dreidel, and decorations so that kids may learn more about the Jewish culture in the classroom lesson, the kits include the story of the Christmas menorahs.

Upon request, classrooms and schools receive these packets. Stanfel further points out that the majority of the orders originate from Montana’s smaller communities or schools located on or close to reservations.

She claims that this demonstrates how these problems affect more than just one or two groups and that the only way we can improve the state is via outreach and education.

Stanfel emphasized that people need to understand “that there is this need, and this wants to have these tools available in the classroom and we are just really thrilled to be able to provide them and, in our view, this is how change happens change isn’t going to happen with some big pronouncement from the governor or the president, or whatever, change happens one kid at a time in a classroom. And it’s small, and that’s what we can do, and we are just very honored to be able to do that in a way we can.”

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