Archive - April 2016

Purim and Fair Trade Chocolate

Beth El logoWhy Does the  Chocolate Say “Equal Exchange”?  by Rabbi Michael Rothbaum,  Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA

The Youth and Family Education Program bought chocolate for today’s Purim fun from a company whose chocolate is what’s called “Fair Trade.”

It means the cocoa growers have been paid fairly, that working conditions for the growers were healthy and safe, and that it was made in a way that was good for the earth.

It is a mitzvah (“obligation”) in Judaism that workers be paid fairly and on time. Oppression of workers is forbidden:

Do not oppress a worker that is poor and needy, whether one of your people, or of your immigrants that are in your land, within your gates.

Give him his wage on the day he earns it; the sun should not go down upon it; for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it . . . .(Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

Jews are prohibited from activity designated as mesaya l’yiday ovrei aveira“association for the purpose of committing a sin.” If we know someone is engaged in unethical behavior, we are not allowed to assist such a person, even if they could have accomplished it without our help.

Being oppressive and cruel to workers is clearly prohibited by Judaism. We at YAFE seek to support those companies that treat their workers fairly – especially on Purim, a time that’s supposed to be fun for everyone.

A Totally Sweet Chocolate Filled Sufganiah Recipe

Chocolate filled sufganiotAs Chanukah draws near (Tuesday evening, 12/16), we remember and celebrate the ancient victory of the Maccabees, restoring the Temple and our freedom to worship there.  It inspires us to think of contemporary issues of freedom and liberation in general.  The word “Chanukah” itself means “dedication”, so perhaps this holiday is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to seeking freedom/liberation for those who are unable to do so for themselves.

When I first learned about the issue of trafficked child labor in the cocoa fields, I immediately thought of the gelt that I’ve eaten every Chanukah since I was a young girl.  The sweetness of its taste in my mouth while playing dreidel is deeply embedded in my memory.   Now I was being introduced to its true bitter-sweet character.

Today, young children are trafficked and forced into working on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, where more than half the world’s cocoa is grown.  Many have been kidnapped from surrounding countries and brought to the Ivory Coast against their will.  They are forced to work long hours, often without pay; they do not receive any education.  Their work involves hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and the dangerous use of machetes.

The gelt we eat on Chanukah is a reminder of the freedom our people won many years ago. There is a choice that leans towards freedom – Fair trade certification prohibits the use of child labor.

The Talmud teaches that we don’t rely on miracles (Kiddushin 39b); we must take action ourselves to bring about redemption. On Chanukah, we celebrate the miracles of ages past, and we strengthen our resolve to make miracles happen today. Choosing Fair Trade Chanukah gelt moves us a step closer towards ending child labor and modern slavery around the world.

Here is a kavannah to enjoy with your fair trade gelt (Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California):
“I hold more than chocolate in my hand. This product I have purchased is a mixture of bitter and sweet flavors, but it contains no taste of slavery. As Chanukah is an eight-day reminder that light can penetrate darkness, may this experience of tasting sweet freedom, the bounty of free people’s work, inspire me to add more light to the world”.

You can find fair trade gelt and free resources for Chanukah on Fair Trade Judaica’s website.

1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (keep some handy for your work surface)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or  peanut oil
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup Divine 70% Bittersweet or Milk Chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large metal bowl, stir together warm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy, around 5-7 minutes.
2. Add 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt; mix until well combined. Add egg yolks and remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then knead dough in bowl. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead a few minutes until smooth. Knead in butter.
3. Transfer dough to a well-oiled bowl; turn dough several times to coat entirely with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
4. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to form doughnuts, remove dough from refrigerator to come to room temperature. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into an 11 inch square about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter (or a glass), cut out about 24 rounds, dipping cutter in flour as needed to prevent sticking. Re-roll scraps and cut out about 16 more rounds.
5. Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg whites. Brush edge of a dough round with egg white, then mount 1/2 teaspoon jam or chocolate bar pieces in center, or both. Top with another round and press edges to seal. Repeat process with remaining rounds. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; let doughnuts rise until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Heat a few inches of oil in a large (4-5 quart) heavy pot until it registers 360 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer or a scrap of dough sizzles upon contact. Working in batches of 4 to 5, carefully slip doughnuts into hot oil. Fry, turning once until golden brown, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain.
7. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. While doughnuts are still hot, toss them in sugar, turning to coat. Serve immediately.

*** Developed by New York City pastry chef Keyin Fulford, inspired by a recipe from “Peace, Love and Chocolate”.  Recipe reprinted from Divine Chocolate website


Fair Trade Shabbat: Inviting Holiness and Human Rights to our Table

Guest post by Teri Jedeikin who organized a Fair Trade Shabbaton in Baltimore

Celebrating Havdalah at Fair Trade Shabbat

Celebrating Havdalah at Fair Trade Shabbat

Last week we celebrated Shavuot, the festival of harvesting and receiving. Shavuot’s major narrative is the giving and receiving of the Torah which emulates the ultimate act of reciprocity and contractual relationship: a covenant of holiness. The book of Ruth that we also read on this Chag Hakatzir, has been a long time favourite of mine and was the first text that resonated with my understanding of Fair Trade principles. In this story we learn about how to treat the stranger with respect and compassion. We cherish the relationship of Naomi and Ruth; two women seeking a means of empowerment and survival in a patriarchal society, who are loyal to each other despite their cultural differences. Moreover, the megillah also highlights how agricultural/commercial practices are interwoven with social welfare obligations; with justice and integrity as guided by the Torah.

Leading up to this special time, somewhere in the liminal “midbar” between Pesach and Shavuot, I was privileged to enjoy an oasis of Fair Trade Judaica nourishment.  May 10th was World Fair Trade Day and Fair Trade Judaica scattered the seeds of Fair Trade Shabbat consciousness throughout the country. In Baltimore, our seeds germinated with the enthusiasm of individuals like Regina Mosenkis, Andrea Grinberg and Laura Menyuk, who in turn engaged many members of their local communities. Participants informally represented a number of Jewish organizations including Moishe House Without Walls, The Pearlstone Center and Repair The World.

I first heard about Fair Trade Shabbat during FTJ’s incredible expedition into the world of Guatemalan Fair Trade Judaica creations. There, Ilana Schatz shared her vision of an annual World Trade Day Jewish involvement that could grow organically with the development of Jewish Fair Trade awareness. For me, a Shabbaton is the ideal showcase for Fair Trade support as it combines opportunities for sensual, experiential and intellectual learning. Our program was rich with topics like Faith and Fair Trade, Our Food Our Right and Fair Trade from the Business/Buyer’s Perspective. The Torah portion, Parashat Behar, also yielded deep insights into the concept of Shmitah (The sabbatical year) a hot topic in light of the upcoming Shmitah year commencing September 2014.

However, Judaism does not stand on intellectual study alone and we were inspired to weave Fair Trade appreciation into a multitude of sensual experiences from singing a Social Justice inspired Kabbalat Shabbat to feasting to beautifying our holy space. Guests were asked to include at least one fair trade ingredient in the food they shared at our potluck Friday night dinner. Regina delighted us the next day with her cooking and a selection of Fair Trade chocolate and ice cream treats generously sponsored by a Moishe House grant. Casey McKeel from Thread Coffee kept us awake and engaged with her artisanal cold brew coffee.  I decorated the Shabbat table with a plethora of Judaica and table-ware from South Africa (African Home empowerment project) and Guatemala (MayaWorks and Mayan Hands associated projects).  In addition, participants were invited to explore the world of fair trade shopping and appreciate the diversity of certified products in our Fair Trade Gift Exchange experiment.

Weaving Shabbat and Fair Trade consciousness was a powerful experience for me. It highlighted how boundaries between the sacred and secular are fluid when spiritual integrity is imbued into all practices. If a Shabbat gathering could provide the platform for supporting and recognizing work of Fair Trade organizations, then it is easy to recognize the divine threads that were woven into our social fabric at Sinai. For me at least, that is the revelation that I have been fortunate to glean from this special experience.

Chocolate Charoset Recipe and Story

Chocolate Charoset SHEHECHIYANU!   We can finally eat chocolate on Passover that’s been certified not to have been made with trafficked child labor!

Chocolate Charoset Recipe (by Philip Gelb, vegan chef and caterer)

  • 1 cup toasted, chopped nuts (pistachio, walnuts, pecans)
  • 1/4 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 ounce shaved Fair Trade 71% chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. port (or Kosher for Passover wine)

Mix all ingredients together. Let chill an hour before serving.

Why is this so important? Every Passover we gather as family and community, to celebrate our people’s freedom. We are obligated to tell the story of the Exodus, our journey from slavery to liberation. As we celebrate this freedom during Passover, we are compelled to reflect on how freedom continues to be elusive for other people. Our history of slavery awakens us to the plight of the stranger, and to the alarming occurrence of modern day trafficking and slavery. For how can we celebrate our freedom, without recognizing that so many individuals still have not obtained theirs?

There is much documented evidence about the role of trafficked child labor in the cocoa fields in the Ivory Coast and West Africa, where 40-50% of cocoa is grown and harvested.  Hundreds of thousands of children work in the cocoa fields, many of whom are exposed to hazardous conditions where they:

  •  Spray pesticides and apply fertilizers without protective gear
  • Use sharp tools, like machetes
  • Sustain injuries from transporting heavy loads beyond permissible weight
  • Do strenuous work like felling trees, and clearing and burning vegetation

But we don’t have to eat chocolate tainted by child labor, especially as we celebrate our people’s freedom on Pesach.  We CAN CHOOSE to purchase chocolate from companies that certify their supply chains through Fair Trade monitoring and certification, committed to eliminating child labor.

And this year, we are able to celebrate with Fair Trade Kosher for Passover chocolate!  Equal Exchange produces soy-free (lecithin-free) chocolate. Last year, Rabbi Aaron Alexander, Associate Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University, gave a Rabbinic ruling that specific chocolates can be eaten on Passover, and this year, they are also included on the Conservative Movement Rabbinical Assembly’s Approved for Passover 5774 list.

The gift of freedom our people received generations ago bestows upon us the obligation and responsibility to work for the liberation of all people. How can we fully celebrate our freedom without acknowledging millions of people today who are still forced to work, thousands of them young children who work in cocoa fields to bring us our delicious chocolate?   What better way than celebrate with a Chocolate Flavored Charoset?

Here’s a special reading for eating Fair Trade Kosher for Passover chocolate: Using mortar and bricks, the Jewish slaves built the pyramids. The charoset reminds us of the mortar, a symbol of unrewarded toil. We remember how our ancestors’ work enriched the Egyptians’ lives, and challenge ourselves to think about the ways that we currently benefit from exploited labor. Tonight we eat chocolate charoset to remember all the trafficked and enslaved children in the Ivory Coast who toil in the cocoa fields, harvesting the cocoa pods from which our favorite chocolates are made. For Jews, the descendants of slave laborers who build the pyramids, such profit should never be sweet. We eat charoset that is made with Fair Trade chocolate, the only chocolate that is free of child labor. We take the sweetness of this charoset as a symbol of resistance and the possibility of liberation for all.

This post was written for and published in “The Jew and Carrot Blog” in the Jewish Forward

Fair Trade Chocolate Hamentaschen

Homemade HamantaschenOriginally written for and published in The Jew and The Carrot

I’ve started noticing hamentaschen (recipe below!!) showing up in local bakeries, and it made me wonder if one of the reasons we say “Purim Sameach/Happy Purim” is because we know that we’ll be eating lots of hamentaschen, the traditional Eastern-European Purim dessert. This joyous day celebrates the repeal of the death decree against the Jewish inhabitants of ancient Persia (“They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”).

The word “hamantashen” is commonly known as a reference to Haman, the defeated enemy of the holiday. It turns out that there are many different interpretations of the word’s derivation:

  • In Hebrew, they are called Oznei Haman, meaning “Haman’s ears”. This name may have come from the Midrash which says that when Haman entered the King’s treasury, he was bent over with shame and humiliation (literally with clipped ears).
  • The word tasch means “pouch” or “pocket” in Germanic languages, so the reference may be to “Haman’s pockets”, symbolizing the money which Haman offered to King Ahasuerus in exchange for permission to destroy the Jews
  • Another folk story is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, thus its triangular shape.
  • The original Yiddish word montashn, or the German word mohntaschen, both mean poppy seed-filled pockets or pouches; the name was then was transformed to Hamantaschen, likely by association with Haman
  • Naked Archaeologist documentarian Simcha Jacobovici has shown the resemblance of hamantaschen to dice from the ancient Babylonian Royal Game of Ur, suggesting that the pastries are meant to symbolize the pyramidal shape of the dice cast by Haman in determining the day of destruction for the Jews.

Another big debate about hamentaschen is the type of dough they’re made from; one is thicker and more bread-like, and the other is thinner and more cookie-like.

And then, there’s the question of what to fill them with. The original Hamentaschen filling was made with poppy seeds. Others that I grew up with include prune, or a variety of fruit preserves or marmalade, including apricot and raspberry. In doing some research, I found that chocolate filled hamentaschen are popular in Israel! Seems like a tradition we should include here.

One of the deeper themes of Purim is that we are told to celebrate the holiday, and make it possible for those less fortunate to also join in the festivities. When we feast or send food packages, are the products we use harming or benefiting the workers? In many situations, those “less fortunate” are the people who grow the food we use to celebrate our holidays. They suffer from market-driven forces that pay them less than the food’s real value; they don’t have access to world markets and get taken advantage of by local distributors or large corporations; and prices on the world market fluctuate, so they can never be sure what price they’ll receive when it’s time to sell a crop.

Choosing fair trade chocolate and sugar for our Hamentaschen better assures that the farmer who grew the raw ingredients for those foods, has received a fair price; and therefore is more able to adequately provide for his/her family. Fair trade is based on the following principles:

  • Farmers are guaranteed a fixed price that exceeds their production cost, even when the market rate falls below that
  • They receive an extra fair trade premium per pound
  • Trading relationships are long term and transparent, allowing producers to reduce costs, gain direct access to credit and international markets, and develop the business capacity necessary to successfully compete.

Here’s a link to find Fair Trade Kosher chocolate products.

Below is a recipe for Chocolate-Filled Hamentaschen by Ruth Reingold. Enjoy!

Chocolate Filling (for about 25-30 Hamantaschen)

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (look for Fair Trade certified products)
  • 1 T. butter or cream cheese
  • 1 T. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (look for Fair Trade certified products)
  • 1 egg

Melt chocolate in microwave. Add sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir, and return to microwave very briefly, just to melt butter. Gradually, stir beaten egg into chocolate. Use this filling immediately before it hardens.

Let’s be partners for change

Today’s guest post is by Author and Book Reviewer Ronald Fischman, with deep thanks for his reflections on our Mishkan Shalom (Philadelphia) presentation. Ron writes:

I remember the very beginning of microcredit as a movement. I was there. My congressman, Ed Feighan (D-OH) introduced legislation that would make it part of US foreign aid. I worked with his legislative director, George Stephanopoulos, yes, that one, to make it law. Today my heart leapt as I met Ilana Schatz, Executive Director of Fair Trade Judaica, and learned of her initiative to make microenterprise the norm at Jewish B’nai Mitzvah, weddings, and synagogue celebrations. Why was I so pumped?

If you don’t have time to read my gushing review, you have my blessing to go learn for yourself.

I learned of a weaver named Lili Carmen Osario in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala, where my two children were born, who created the first ever Fair Trade Tallit (prayer shawl), and who trained five other weavers to make these on order through MayaWorks in Chicago (, Mayaworks has people tie the fringes under Rabbinic supervision. Wouldn’t it be better to give such a special prayer garment to your son or daughter? Wouldn’t he or she look forward to showing off the new holy threads at services AFTER becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah, knowing that they helped the children of a village go to school?

I learned of a micro farmers cooperative in Ghana, West Africa, with 65,000 members who hold stock in and sit on the board of their distribution company. With their profits, the members have provided safe drinking water, free primary education, and basic health care to themselves on a cooperative basis, and listen! Before the cooperative, when the only source of credit was a moneylender, dozens of micro farmers lost their land. Together, the coop bought back these farms and lent the money to the farmers to begin anew.

I learned of a cooperative in Nepal which is so successful that it advertises in the airline magazine for people on transoceanic flights. But this is no corporation, no shadowy entity controlled by a few self-dealing insiders. I saw the photos of the cooperators themselves. Ilana told us about them and each of their families! I was thrilled to learn the origin of the prayer flags that had popped up in my synagogue.

What can you do? First, visit the Fair Trade Judaica website and explore. Don’t worry, if a product you or your organization wants is available direct from the artisan, the site will give you the link to order directly. Second, contact them directly if you want to incorporate anything from kosher fair trade chocolate to kippot for a celebration. Third, introduce this concept in your synagogue or organization. Learn and share why this is a Jewish issue. You can make it a policy that your synagogue will NOT buy textiles made in sweatshops in China or Bangladesh. When there is a will, there’s a way.

Let’s be partners for change.

Ronald Fischman

Sweeten Your Rosh Hashanah With Fair Trade Honey

Rosh Hashanah Honey CakeNow that we’re in the month of Elul, I’m starting to plan my Rosh Hashanah meals – yummy round raisin challahs, some kind of fish dish, vegetable tsimmes, apple noodle kugel, several salads and vegetable dishes, and of course, ending with a delicious honey cake (see recipe below)!

 Many of us are deeply concerned about the declining numbers of bee colonies around the world, partly because we love watching bees at work and also because they are the major pollinators for most of our food crops.  Major contributing factors include widespread use of pesticides and fungicides and parasitic mites in beehives.  One of the ways each of us can help is by supporting small and local beekeepers, especially those practicing organic farming, both near our communities and from beekeepers around the world.

 Fair Trade Sweetens the Deal

In the US and Europe, a large percentage of the imported honey is produced by impoverished bee keepers in developing countries in Latin America and Asia.  Most bee keeping families live in remote areas, with limited access to transport or market information.  They often lack the infrastructure to store and transport the honey without negatively affecting quality, and haven’t received training that would help them identify the different types of honey, thus losing the opportunity to sell their product at a higher price.

 As a result, many beekeepers are dependent on local middlemen to buy their honey.  Given this weak bargaining position, they’re forced to sell it at fraction of its real market value, and are not able to make a sustainable livelihood.

 Fair Trade offers producers an agreed upon minimum price, independent of market rates.  Bee keeper cooperatives are linked directly to Fair Trade buyers, cutting out the middlemen, and creating longer term sustainability.

 Fair Trade standards for honey assure that:

          Producers are small family farms organized in cooperatives (or associations) which they own and govern democratically

          The minimum Fair Trade price is paid directly to the producer cooperatives, allowing producers to cover their production costs

          Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals and ban genetically modified plants

          Pre-harvest lines of credit are provided to the cooperatives if requested, up to 60% of the purchase price

          No forced or child labor is involved

          A Fair Trade premium is included in the purchase price; the cooperatives choose how to use this additional support for social and economic investments, such as education, health services, processing equipment, and loans to members.

 One Fair Trade bee keeping cooperative, Miel Mexicana, based in Morelos, southern Mexico, has 42 members.  It produces nine different types of honey produced from local plants—sunflower, chamomile, mesquite, orange, avocado, cactus, Mexican lilac, campanula and morning glory.  It was founded in 2001, producing about 3 tons of honey.  After being certified organic and Fair Trade in 2004, it now exports 500 tons, and has won many national and international awards for sustainability and honey quality.

One of its members, Sara, is the cooperative’s first woman beekeeper and serves as the cooperative’s treasurer. She joined the co-op after her father, a long time co-op elder, passed away and Sara inherited his beekeeping operation. Sara’s bees forage on pristine, organic wildflowers deep in protected jungles.   She also helps maintain the cooperative’s organic community garden.

The cooperative unites indigenous people, women, elderly, youth, and adults.  With the Fair Trade premium that they receive, the community is building schools and healthcare centers, as well as providing their members with continued training on fair trade and organic practices.  This enables cooperative members to maintain ties to their ancient indigenous cultures while participating in the global marketplace.  One of their goals is to create jobs to help stem migration to the United States, which negatively affects the family and community structure.  Since 2003, there has been zero migration of its bee keepers to the U.S.

This Rosh Hashanah, sweeten the beekeepers’ lives as well by choosing one of these certified Fair Trade and Kosher honey products:

BossBodywords is an online Etsy store featuring natural products. She has a variety of organic fair trade certified and kosher (Earth Kosher) honey products for sale, many of which are flavored with natural herbs (e.g. cinnamon, cherry, fennel, turmeric).

GloryBee produces a wide variety of OU Kosher Pareve certified Fair Trade organic honey products (raw, coffee blossom, organic). You can buy them on-line or find a local store that carries them.

Heavenly Organics gathers honey from naturally occurring wild beehives in India and the Himalayas. It is 100% raw organic, fair trade certified and OU Kosher certified. You can purchase online or visit their store locator to identify where to purchase the honey near you.

Trader Joes’ Organic Raw Honey also comes from bee-keeping cooperatives in Mexico, and is simply the uncooked “unadulterated nectar” of jungle wildflowers. I t has Circle K (OK) Kosher certification and is available in all their stores.

Wholesome Sweetener’s Organic honeys (raw, amber, bottles/jars), certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, come from Fair Trade cooperatives in Mexico, so the farmers also receive a “sweet” and fair wage. You can now purchase their products online at their Amazon store.


Majestic and Moist Honey Cake

Marcy Goldman, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rye or whisky (see Note)
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)


Make cake at least 1 day before eating.

Use a 9-inch angel food cake pan, a 9 by 13-inch sheetpan, or three 8 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the pan(s). For tube and angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper. For gift honey cakes, I use “cake collars” (available from Sweet Celebrations) designed to fit a specific loaf pan. These give the cakes an appealing, professional look.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.

Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) – fill about half way as the batter rises, and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with the almonds. Place the cake pan(s) on 2 baking sheets stacked together and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. For angel, bake for 60 to 70 minutes; loaf cakes, 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquidy batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time. Cake should spring back when gently pressed.

 Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Sweeten Your Rosh Hashanah with Fair Trade Honey

Rosh Hashanah is just a few days away, an auspicious time to reflect on how our actions truly express our values. Choosing Fair Trade products, when they are available, is one powerful way to act on what is important to us. This year, by choosing Fair Trade honey, we can also sweeten the lives of the bee keepers who make it.

Here’s my guest blog published by Hazon’s “The Jew and Carrot” column in The Jewish Daily Forward.

Fair Trade Your Chanukah!

In less than two weeks from now, we’ll be gathering around our menorahs, playing dreidel, eating potato latkes (and jelly doughnuts), celebrating the festival of Chanukah. Chanukah comes from the word meaning “dedication”, and refers to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabee’s battle for religious freedom.

On Chanukah we not only celebrate our people’s freedom, but are also called upon to re-dedicate ourselves to work for the freedom and liberation of all people. Making consumer choices based on fair trade principles provides a powerful opportunity for us to act on our Jewish values.

When we buy Fair Trade products, we know that:

  • Artisans and farmers are paid a fair and livable wage
  • No child labor is involved
  • Safe working conditions are provided
  • Environmentally sustainable production methods are used.
  • Profits are reinvested into the community for education, health care, and social services /li>
  • Communities become self-sustaining and can raise themselves out of poverty

Here are some specific Fair Trade products you can choose to use this Chanukah:

Dedicate one night of Chanukah to learn more about fair trade and how it has positively changed the lives of artisans and farmers using these resources:

We all have the opportunity to create miracles in this world!

Chocolate Need Not be Bittersweet

I haven’t been quite the same since I watched “The Dark Side of Chocolate” DVD last September at the international fair trade conference in Boston. I had heard that children were involved in harvesting cocoa, the same cocoa that makes the chocolate bars that I love in my s’mores every summer. But who wants to believe that chocolate could be so bittersweet in that way?

The DVD documents Danish journalist, Miki Mistrati’s journey to Cote d’Ivoire to investigate these allegations. And what you see on the screen is quite disturbing. Not only are children working in the cocoa fields, but many are trafficked there, working involuntarily, and in hazardous conditions.

One moment your heart is broken, then inspired by the courage of others trying to stop the trafficking. And then outraged, when the chocolate company executives solidly deny these claims, even though Mistrati has captured all this on film.

Last September I brought home a copy of the DVD, part of the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, inspired to spread the word. Fair Trade Judaica has developed an entire resource section called “Bean of Affliction: Chocolate, Child Labor, and Choosing Fair Trade“, which provides background information, ideas for raising this issue at Passover seder, and campaigns to promote fair trade chocolate (including Kosher for Passover chocolate!).

And since last September when I saw “The Dark Side of Chocolate”, I have only purchased Fair Trade chocolate – even the dark chocolate tastes sweet!

Fair Trade Rosh Hashanah

Chiapas Collective BeekeepersOne of my favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions is dipping apples into honey (and eating them!) as a symbol of starting the Jewish new year with sweetness. Last year I found out about fair trade kosher honey from Wholesome Sweeteners, and knowing that the farmers were paid fair wages and that they were able to preserve a long community tradition, made the enjoyment of the apples and honey even sweeter. Here’s some info on their story:

High in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico 46 beekeepers have formed a Fair Trade Certified cooperative, and the whole community prospers from the honey harvest. The hives have been tended by Mayan communities for generations, creating meaningful employment. The hives are isolated, deep within organic perimeters, and the bees forage only on native plants—wildflowers and, for one brief week every year, organically cultivated coffee blooms. As the season progresses and the flowers change, the honeys’ character changes too, deepening in color and flavor.

Before they formed a fair trade cooperative, middlemen, or “coyotes,” took a majority of the beekeepers’ income. Now, there are no middlemen involved and the cooperative works autonomously and directly with customers. The beekeepers are able to improve standards for their families (like sending their children to school), their communities and protect precious rainforests and habitat.

It’s a win-win for farmer and consumer alike.