I noticed a small uptick in our fair trade kippot sales recently. I'm sad that this may partially be motivated by the unthinkable massacre at Tree of Life synagogue. Those of us left behind to mourn and then worry about increasing antisemitism often choose to to wear our religion more proudly. One college student from Pittsburgh even wrote me and asked if I could offer a discount on one of our designs so she could (better afford to) stand in solidarity. (I did.) I've noticed several friends on social media proudly posting that they are once again wearing their childhood Star of David necklaces.
Heinous acts apparently motivate pride. And kindness. In the spirit of both, I thought I'd encourage everyone to support fair trade for Judaica purchases. Chanukah is coming up quickly this year, December 2-10. Why not make more of a difference? Here are my 7 suggestions for fair trade Judaica gifts for you or your loved ones. Some are specific to Chanukah. Some not.
1. CROCHET & BEADED KIPPOT - You know I had to mention Dunitz & Company and our fair trade kippot. Most of our yarmulkes were designed with women in mind. Yes, we have pieces perfect for men too. I suggest you browse the Dunitz site to find the perfect style and color for you. Our designs are crochet by hand, embroidered and then adorned with Czech glass beads. We've been working with artisans in Guatemala since 1989 and Dunitz & Company is a fair trade verified member of Fair Trade Federation.
CHOCOLATE CHANUKAH GELT - Last year I had the joy of discovering Divine Chocolate's fair trade certified Chanukah gelt coins. Growing up, chocolate coins were a tradition in my home. Divine Chocolate has partnered with T'ruah, the rabbinic call for human rights to promote kosher fair trade gelt. Now you can share and eat these guilt free! (Yes, they still have plenty of calories.) You also can feel good knowing cacao farmers were paid fairly and children were not enslaved to help with the harvest.
3. STAR OF DAVID PENDANT - Seeing friends of mine post recently about their childhood Star of David necklaces definitely had me searching for a fair trade option. Partners for Just Trade offers this simple design that will undoubtedly make a perfect Chanukah gift for someone you know. This pendant is made in Peru of sterling silver. And since Partners for Just trade are Fair Trade Federation members, that means this pendant is fair trade verified.
ORGANIC OLIVE OIL - Looking for the perfect hostess gift or something special for the cook in your family? For me, Chanukah always conjures up thoughts of latkes and fresh couscous. And for this, you need some premium olive oil. Serrv International (another Fair Trade Federation member) partners with Sindyanna of Galilee, a female-run organization that markets
fair trade olive oil channeling all profits
back to educating Arab women. Not only will you benefit from it's affordability, you're purchase makes a difference. Your purchase offers Arab farmers in Israel a fair price for their
crops, Palestinian and Israeli women greater economic opportunity, and a
rare model of Jewish-Arab coexistence. Learn more on their site.
5. HANDWOVEN CHALLAH COVER - I remember fondly making "French Toast" with my big sister during our childhood winter holidays. And in our house, it was always made with fresh challah bread. Yes.Yes. I know a challah cover is typically used on the shabbat table. But when I think of challah, I always think of Chanukah time too. So for this reason, I'm suggesting this beautiful handwoven blue challah cover with white stars from Mayan Hands as a lovely gift. I've been acquainted with the women behind Mayan Hands for many years, and I can personally attest to the great work they're doing and the difference they make in several Guatemalan communities. Mayan Hands is a member of Fair Trade Federation.
6. CHANUKAH PAPEL PICADO BANNER - Will you be hosting a holiday party this year? Why not consider decorating with a traditional Mexican paper cut banner? Or take one to the party you'll be attending! Casa Bonampak, has been working with artisans in Chiapas, Mexico for nearly 25 years. (Now that's what I call "sustainability".) These fun adornments are composed of ten silver and blue metallic sheets. Not enough to stretch the length of your living room? Purchase 2. You'll be glad to know Casa Bonampak is another fair trade verified member of Fair Trade Federation.
7. FAIR TRADE COFFEE - & Finally, never ever forget the coffee. And always make your coffee fair trade. Twin Engine Coffee not only serves up some awesome beans from Nicaragua they wrap it up in some swell looking packaging. That makes for perfect gift giving. Support them this season, and take advantage of their free shipping offer for purchases over $25. You know you and many of your loved ones will be drinking coffee. Fill your heart and mugs full, by supporting those that live by Fair Trade Federation's nine principles.
Dunitz & Company has been offering our fair trade kippot for several years. When I didn't think there was a market for fair trade yarmulkes, I was always encouraged by Ilana Schatz, who until recently served as the Executive Director of Fair Trade Judaica. Her tireless energy promoting fair trade to Jewish scholars and educators has helped build a demand for many items, including some mentioned in my list above. We all love beautiful things. Our world is a much better place when all of those beautiful things we choose to own are made by individuals who are paid fairly, treated with respect and work in safe environments.
My wish for all of you this holiday season is for peace, love and fair trade. -ND