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Jewish Bedtime Story Co-op

Once upon a time, there was a clothing store in the warm State of North Carolina.

This story took place at a time in American history when there were many awful laws that separated people based on the color of their skin. There were several people who were mean to people with darker skin and made their lives bitter and difficult. But there were also many other people who thought these bad laws were wrong, and found ways to fight the laws and find ways to get around the bad laws.

One of the good people was Mr E., the owner of one of the clothing stores in Durham. He remembered that during the Passover seders, his parents would tell him about how thousand of years ago, the Jews were slaves in Egypt and were mistreated bitterly. He promised that he wouldn't let other people be mistreated.

His store sold coats, shoes, shirts, underwear, ties, gifts, toys, and many other items. Many people shopped there -- trying on clothes and shoes, looking in mirrors, picking out gifts. The store also had a small restaurant with both a lunch counter and tables and chairs, so that busy shoppers could have a quick meal.

A lunch counter is a long tall and thin table with tall stools. Many of the stools can twirl around and around. If you came to the restaurant you could sit at the counter for a quick snack, or you could sit at the tables and chairs and be served soups, sandwiches, juice, soda, pie and milk.

Parents and their children, no matter what they looked like, no matter what their religion, no matter what color their skin was, would dine at the restaurant.

But one day, the sheriff of the town came into the restaurant. He told Mr. E., the owner of the store and restaurant, that it was against the law for people with darker skin to sit and eat at the lunch counter. He said that the lunch counter had to separated into a "whites only" section.

Mr. E. asked to see the law, so the sheriff gave him a copy.

Looking at the law, he noticed that it said that "people of light and dark skin may not sit and eat lunch together at lunch counters in the City of Durham."

Mr. E. thought that this was a bad law.

That evening, he went home and talked the problem over with his family. After dinner, he had an idea. The law said that people could not SIT and eat together. It said nothing about not being able to STAND and eat together.

So the next morning, Mr. E. woke up and rushed to his store and restaurant. He and his staff unscrewed all the tall, spinning stools where people sat at the lunch counter. They put all the stools in the basement. When the store opened up that morning at 10 AM, shoppers did not notice that the stools were missing. But at 12 Noon, lunch time, the shoppers came into the restaurant for lunch, and saw that the stools were gone.

Now they could choose to sit at tables, or stand at the lunch counter and eat.

An hour later, at 1 P.M., the Sheriff returned to the store to see Mr. E.

The Sheriff was very mad. He was so mad that his face turned red. The Sheriff asked, "Didn't I tell you that you were breaking the law? Didn't I tell you that it is illegal for white and non-white people to sit and eat together at the same lunch counter?"

Mr. E. replied. "Yes, Sheriff. You told me about the law. But I am not breaking the law. See, the law said people could not sit and eat at the lunch counter. But I do not have any stools, so everyone is standing and eating together. There is no law against that, is there?"

The Sheriff stood and thought for a moment and said, "You're right Mr. E., there is no law against standing and eating." The Sheriff then got into his police car and drove away."

A few years later, Mr. E. helped to change the bad laws and create good laws. He was elected Mayor of the city. He learned a valuable lesson that day. It is important to carefully read laws and books, because sometimes you can find a way to change bad things and make them good."





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