Paper Candles: How Courage and Goodness Triumphed In An American Town 

Paper Candles is a unique teaching tool which incorporates drama, music and oral history to tell the true story of events which occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. It can easily be adapted into existing curriculums and/or staged as a full scale school theatrical production.

The musical is based upon the award winning book, The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice I. Cohn. Described by American Bookseller as “a must have book for all ages – child and adult,” The Christmas Menorahs was chosen as a notable children’s trade book in the field of social studies by The National Council for the Social Studies and The Children’s Book Council which praised the story as “a powerful narrative about how two children, their families, and a community resolved to stand together against bigotry and hatred.”

Paper Candles vividly recounts this uniquely American story using drama and music to entertain, as well as to teach some crucial lessons in:

  • Social studies and history
  • Moral courage
  • Countering bullying
  • The power of the bystander
  • Prejudice reduction
  • Non-violent crisis resolution
  • Character education
  • Holocaust education

The play packet includes:

  • Script and staging suggestions
  • Discussion guide
  • Hardcover copy of The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate
  • Background materials, including interviews with the main characters in the play
  • The story of the 1943 rescue of the Danish Jews, which inspired the residents of Billings

Please note:

  • The Play's approximate length is a little over an hour
  • This is an approved Holocaust/character education project
  • School purchase orders are accepted

To visit the Paper Candles Web site, please click here


  Excerpts from selected press coverage:

A decade ago, Janice Cohn of Montclair wrote “The Christmas Menorahs:  How a Town Fought Hate,” a book spotlighting the many residents of Billings, Mont., who coalesced during the winter holiday season of 1993 to fight hate crimes in their community. 

“This would be a perfect show,” student Lawrence Feltz said of “Paper Candles.”  It has a great moral point.”

The play was part of the “We Remember Moral Courage” project which was the brainchild of teachers Patricia Clark and Delores Olma.  Pupils learned about the history of World War II and the persecution of Jewish people.  The project also promoted acceptance and tolerance for people.

“You can see that what happened in the 1940’s unfortunately was happening in the 1990’s,” said Olma.  Pupils learned from “the mistakes of people from the past.”  The learned “how to learn from them and celebrate our differences…I think the history has become more personal to them.” 



 The Catskill Puppet Theater presents:

The Town That Fought Hate

The Town That Fought Hate is based upon Janice Cohn’s award-winning children’s book, The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate.

Both the book and the play recount the true story of how people of all faiths and races came together in the town of Billings, Montana to successfully fight a group of haters threatening the town’s tiny Jewish population and other minorities during the Hanukkah / Christmas season of 1993.

The play is a creation of the much-honored Catskill Puppet Theater and was co-produced by Young Audiences of New Jersey.  It features original music, almost life-size puppets and shadow puppets, and more than a few theatrical surprises.

While The Town that Fought Hate is first and foremost great entertainment for young and old, it also gently imparts some timeless life lessons including the importance of standing up to bullies and haters, the power of community and the power of each of us – including children – to make a difference.

For information about booking this production for schools, churches, synagogues and community theaters, contact:

Young Audiences of New Jersey (for New Jersey performances)
(609) 243-9000

The Catskill Puppet Theater
(607) 263-5820


For more information about the Catskill Puppet Theater and The Town That Fought Hate, click here.

Some reactions from young critics:


I really enjoyed it and thought about this performance… there were a lot of funny acts and hilarious outcomes…I thought how people are sometimes treated badly…and how we can help.

[The play] showed how people think.  It showed a lot of feeling.


It was cool.


I thought it was a good puppet show for all ages.


It showed me how people can help each other when something is wrong.


[The show] inspired me to keep on making a book I am working on with my computer.