Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday


Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

As a result of our merger with Shaarie Shalom we acquired about a thousand wonderful books. Among them was a very curious one. It didn’t seem like a “Jewish” book which is what we have in our library. I couldn’t imagine why Shaarie Shalom would have this book….until I read it.

The title of the book is: Strange Fruit…Billie Holiday, Café Society, and the Early Cry for Civil Rights, written by David Margolick. Strange Fruit is the name of a Blues/Jazz song sung movingly by Billie Holiday.

The song was written by Abel Meeropol, a Jew (also famous for adopting the Rosenberg sons after their parent’s execution). I think the author David Margolick is also Jewish.  The owner of the famous Café Society, Barney Josephson is also Jewish. I guess “Civil Rights” is part of the Jewish value system. I came to the conclusion that with all these Jewish connections…having the book in our library was permitted. Call Jerry Medowar 516-623-6739 to borrow this book.

To listen and watch Billie Holiday sing this, click here for YouTube video.