The Chanukah story is one of the fight by the Maccabees for religious freedom from the Greek-Syrian oppression. We take eight days to increase the lights on our chanukiah, eat fried foods, and celebrate miracles and our freedoms. This time of year especially, our consumer choices also allow us the opportunity to live our values and stand in solidarity for the freedoms of others.
This year Ganei Beantown did a variety teaching around the theme of integrating fair trade awareness and chocolate into Chanukah celebrations. Fair trade is a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership in international trading by creating opportunities for economically marginalized producers, paying fairly and supporting safe and empowering working conditions. In the cocoa industry, forced child labor is often the norm. A fair trade certified chocolate product provides assurance that regular audits are done prohibiting forced child labor. As cocoa demand increases worldwide, we can do our part to support payment to the producers to earn a livable income and not rely on child labor.
In November, Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland invited Ganei Beantown to participate in their Shabbat B’yachad program, an inter-generational Shabbat celebration. Together we learned about the chocolate process and shelled cocoa beans:
At Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue we took it a step further and headed into the kitchen to make some rudimentary and tasty chocolate:
At LimmudBoston we taught a workshop aimed at providing individuals and congregations understand and resources of fair trade practices. We spent the rest of the day in the exhibit hall with Fair Trade Judaica:
You can integrate these ideas and more into your holiday celebrations. The Shabbatot during Chanukah are deemed Human Rights Shabbat by T’ruah (The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights) and they provide materials for learning and action.
The name ‘Chanukah’ means ‘dedication’ and we commemorate the re-dedication of the holy Temple. This year, let’s take the opportunity not only to celebrate our own freedoms, but also to re-dedicate ourselves to freedom from oppression of all people. That allows us to bring our light out further into the world.