8 Nights of Chanukah — 8 Fair Trade Judaica Artisans

As we gather to celebrate our legacy of liberation and the lights of Chanukah, may we remember and be inspired by these Fair Trade artisans, working hard every day to create beautiful products for us, and bring prosperity to their own families.

One candle Chiapas Papel Picado of Mexico
Chiapas Papel PicadoThese artists in Chiapas, Mexico make beautiful paper cut (papel picado) Chanukah banners. Papel Picado is the traditional Mexican art of cut paper. Artists use a hammer and chisel to punch designs out of stacks of layered tissue paper. It can take many years of study to learn how to make the most elaborate papel picado. Globalization pressures, as well as the political situation in Mexico for indigenous peoples, are threatening their ability to continue making a living through their traditional craft.
Two candles Rajana Association of Cambodia
Rajana AssociationThe Rajana Association is a nonprofit organization for income generation and skills training, producing fair trade products using traditional Cambodian skills with contemporary designs. The name “Rajana” means “design” in Khmer. Rajana Association focuses on the rural and urban poor, and small producers of handicrafts. Rajana trains young Cambodians in traditional craft-making skills, as well as in accounting, marketing, computer courses and English. Through development of traditional craft-making skills, Rajana helps maintain and rebuild Cambodia’s rich cultural traditions, damaged in the country’s wars. Rajana makes the unique Bird Family Menorah.
Three candles Victor Chiteura/African Home of South Africa
African HomeVictor was born in Zimbabwe, one of four children whose family lived in abject poverty. His father died when he was ten, leaving his mother to fend for all of them in their rural home. Victor left school in grade 8 to provide financial support for his family. He moved to the city when he was 16, selling cigarettes and constantly job hunting, even living alone on the streets for two years. It was during this period of extreme poverty that Victor began to teach himself craft. For the next 15 years, Victor made crafts, barely making a minimum wage. Since joining African Home in 2007, he has had a relatively constant flow of work and has even bought a car, further helping him fulfill the orders that come his way. Victor makes a variety of wire and bead menorahs.
Four candles La Semilla de Dios of El Salvador
Cooperative La Semilla de DiosThe Cooperative La Semilla de Dios, meaning The Seed of God, is located in the town of La Palma, El Salvador, and consists of 40 people of limited economic resources who make a variety of wooden items painted in the famous La Palma folk art style. Men do the carpentry and women the hand-painting and finishing. The cooperative owns a piece of land in the mountains outside town, where they plant and sustainably harvest trees to supply about 40 percent of their wood needs. Cooperative income provides better nutrition and educational opportunities for artisans’ children. La Semilla de Dios also runs a savings plan from which members can borrow, and has instituted a retirement fund. La Semilla de Dios makes the beautifully painted wooden menorahs.
Five candles Noah’s Ark International Exports of India
Noah's Ark International ExportsNoah’s Ark International Exports is a fair trade handicraft marketing organization in Moradabad, India. Most of the artisans are women, who benefit from the fact that they can work from home and maintain their responsibilities for children and household. Noah’s Ark provides benefits such as education and medical treatment for artisans and their families. As artisan businesses become more self–sufficient, Noah’s Ark takes on new families. Since the company’s inception, about 20 artisan workshops have become independent. Noah’s Ark makes the menorahs made from recycled bicycle chains.
Six candles Sasha Association of Craft Producers of India
Sasha AssociationSasha empowers artisans to run their businesses independently, building livelihoods for socially and economically marginalized producers. The wide range of crafts and textiles offered by Sasha draws on tradition, retaining cultural context, yet making products contemporary for present-day living. Sasha also hopes to revive a wide variety of dying handicraft traditions. For many artisans, handicraft production is their main source of income. The artisan groups have grown with Sasha both in number of artisans working and volume of work undertaken. They take increasing responsibility for their affairs and contribute to Sasha’s overall functioning. They make the Brass Caravan menorah.
Seven candles Xochipilli of Mexico
XochipilliXochipilli and its sister organization, Xochiquetzal, an alternative trade marketing group, are named for the Prince and Princess of Flowers in Aztec mythology. With a goal of achieving permanent markets, these joint organizations benefit hundreds of families in south-central Mexico through training in marketing and product development. They work to generate local employment for artisans and create sustainable community development. Today, more than 150 artisans in 8 family-based workshops receive design and technical assistance, equipment funding, administrative training, and revolving loan funds through this nonprofit organization. They make the Children of Hope menorah.
Eight candles Kuapa Kokoo of Ghana
Kuapa KokooKuapa Kokoo is a cooperative of cocoa farmers formed in 1993 to combat the effects of the liberalization (transfer of power from the public to private sphere) of the cocoa market. Cooperative members are paid an assured price, regardless of world market prices; receive an additional fair trade premium which the community uses for health, education or social services; have their children attend school rather than work in the fields, and have set up a credit for their own use. They make the delicious Fair Trade and Kosher Chanukah gelt for Divine Chocolate.

Donate Please help Fair Trade Judaica support these artisans.