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What Holy Days Support your Fair Trade Work?

by Adrienne Fitch-Frankel

The Jewish high holidays referenced in Adrienne’s post last week have ended, and we finish up her contributions to this spirituality blog with a few more thoughts about the connection to economic justice of religious rituals and holy days. I’ll be curious to know if readers have particular religious rituals that evoke their devotion to justice…..

As I mentioned, one of my favorite Global Exchange resources is Passover Seder insert, which is written in the lyrical language of the Passover Haggadah and draws a parallel between the Biblical story of slavery in Egypt and the slavery faced by the children who are forced to grow our cocoa.

Here is an excerpt from the Passover Seder insert that draws those connections:

Assembled: We can walk in Moses’ footsteps. We can have the courage to ask the Pharaohs of today to let the children go.

Leader: We feel our lives are busy. That we do not have the time. But where would we be if Moses did not take the time to lead us to freedom?

Assembled: Where will those children be next year, if we do not take a little time to help these children find freedom?

Our faith traditions and sacred books explain, in a way that resonates especially deeply, why we should engage in social justice advocacy.  These texts and stories are rich with social justice messages that have passed the values of each of our faith communities from generation to generation for thousands of years.  Many members of faith communities grow up integrating these values into the core of our being, and they manifest themselves in daily acts as simple as looking for a Fair Trade label or as broad as developing a strategy to persuade an entire community or nation to go Fair Trade.  These values catalyze not only our own personal involvement, but means that millions like us share our social justice values and are likely to get involved if only they had the information and programs available to them.

The “how” is equally important.  Effective social justice organizing and outreach is structured through communicating to groups of people.  Congregations are some of the only large groups that have survived the fracturing of our society away from interdependent communities.  This means that communities of faith are among our society’s most important champions of social justice, not only because of values, but also because of the communities they have held together more successfully than other institutions.

Regardless of which faith tradition you come from, I would like to invite each and every one of you to participate in a tradition I just followed at the Jewish New Year.  Each of us is challenged to reflect on how we can be our best selves, and set some goals for the coming year on how we would like to change.  After you finish reading this article, please take just five minutes to set a new goal for something new you will commit to do to promote Fair Trade.  Make a plan, with the steps you will take to reach that goal and a timeline.”

Return to Adrienne’s posting from last week if you need specific action ideas, and please do use this blog to share the religious rituals or traditions that inspire you to act for economic justice.–Jackie

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