Community backing for Fair Trade

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

The first national campaign launches next week to persuade Jews to buy fair trade goods.

It has been timed to run during Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual promotion by the Fairtrade Foundation, which labels approved products from Third World exporters.

The campaign has the backing of a wide coalition of groups across the religious spectrum, including the United Synagogue, the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements, the UJIA, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC), the Board of Deputies, Tzedek and the Pears Foundation.

Organisers hope to double the current number of 40 “fair trade” synagogues over the fortnight, as well as promote awareness of fairtrade kosher products. A series of special events have been lined up, including fair trade Friday nights for Jewish students and the launch of a booklet, A Jewish Guide to Fairtrade.

In a letter calling for community support, Board president Henry Grunwald, UJIA chief executive Douglas Krikler and the leaders of other sponsoring organisations write: “Over the past two decades, we have all enjoyed the advantages of being able to buy goods from around the world including coffee from Kenya, tea from India, cocoa from Ghana, and bananas from the Caribbean. We are often unaware of how these goods are produced and where they come from.

“Judaism teaches us the values of justice and self sustainability; fair trade goes a long way to ensuring a fair wage and livelihood for producers in the developing world.”

To become a fair trade synagogue, a community has to make a three-fold commitment: to use Fairtrade tea and coffee for all meetings, start using other Fairtrade produce such as fruit at kiddush, and participate in Fairtrade Fortnight.

“One of the things we are doing is to produce Fairtrade kippot, which uses Fairtrade yarn sourced from India,” said Poppy Berelowitz, who was hired by the Jewish Social Action Forum to run the campaign. “We are also trying to get Jewish football teams to use Fairtrade footballs.”

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Last updated: 10:02am, February 19 2009