It was the 1990’s in Billings, Montana. Tammy Schnitzer and her five-year-old son, Isaac, had placed a Menorah in Isaac’s bedroom window. They were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. Without warning, a large cinder block careened through their window. Glass was shattered throughout the room. The Menorah was destroyed! This is one of several incidents in Billings, Montana that took place in the 1990’s. There were other acts of intolerance aimed at both Jews and black Americans.
Tammy Schnitzer did not hide from these incidents. She did not let these senseless acts control her lifestyle. In Billings, Montana, the community spoke out. A newspaper in Billings published a picture of the destroyed Menorah. Ten thousand copies of this picture were displayed in homes and businesses in the city of eighty thousand. Residents also took action, standing side-by-side with an African-American church to show solidarity regarding an incident in which insidious remarks were spray-painted on the church.
In November of 2010, Tammy Schnitzer spoke at the Merrick Long Island Jewish Center. Her speech was on the Anniversary of Kristallnach. In English, this means “The Night of the Broken Glass”. On November 8th and 9th of 1938, Nazis throughout Germany killed dozens of Jews. More than two hundred synagogues were torched. Three thousand Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Jewish stores, businesses and places of worship were broken into and destroyed.
Rabbi Charles Klein of the Merrick Jewish Center also spoke on November 8th. He talked of rising intolerance in the United States; an example of which was the murder of Marcello Lucero in Patchogue. Marcello Lucero was a Ecuadorean immigrant who was murdered by white youths as part of a hate crime.
Tammy Schnitzer has been giving talks about intolerance throughout the United States. She has grown famous because of a television movie made about what happened to her and her family in Billings, Montana. Bill Clinton, when he was president, appointed Tammy Schnitzer to a hate crimes advisory committee.
Tammy said in her speech, “Hate truly was dividing my community”. Tammy says that hate cannot be eliminated, but you can create a platform to discuss it and educate people. With education and teaching tolerance, blind hate can be overcome!
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