Fair-trade gelt gets a winning slogan

Hanukkah gelt doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that should need a brilliant marketing strategy — it’s chocolate, after all. Who needs another selling point?

Judy Massarano

But Fair Trade Judaica, the Berkeley-based nonprofit that promotes fair trade as a Jewish value, wanted something catchy that would explain to customers why buying fair trade chocolate is the way to go this holiday season.

So the FTJ team launched a contest online, asking entrants to submit their best slogan to help advertise this year’s “guilt-free gelt.”

The dark and milk chocolate coins are from Divine Chocolate, which is co-owned by some 65,000 farmers who belong to Kuapa Kokoo, a democratically run, fair trade cooperative in Ghana that prohibits child labor.

Nearly 50 submissions came in from around the United States, said Ilana Schatz, the director of Fair Trade Judaica, which she founded in 2007. She and her board considered each one anonymously, looking for a slogan that was “inspirational” yet “short and sweet.”

Turned out the winner was right in their backyard.

Judy Massarano, a Jewish educator who lives in Berkeley, entered the winning tagline: “The Chocolate of Change.”

“It just popped into my head,” explained Massarano, who heard about the contest via an email list. “My sister later cleverly pointed out that gelt can also refer to small coins or ‘change,’ but I chose these words so that people can become more aware of where their food comes from, and how it is produced.

“Making informed choices that support the ethics of fairness for all is important in maintaining the tzelem elohim, true godliness, in ourselves and in others,” she added. “This type of change can be deeply holy.”

Some of the honorable mentions: “Joy Without the Oy,” “Put your money where your mouth is,” “Less kvetch, more kvell,” “A Taste of Freedom,” “Make it a Festival of Rights” and “Gelty as Charged: Jewish, Fair, Delicious.”

The coins from Divine Chocolate are available through Fair Trade Judaica’s website, at Whole Foods and in Judaica stores around the Bay Area. Orders this year come with a special prayer that “relates to the kavanah [intention] for eating fair trade chocolate,” written by rabbis from T’ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights).

Schatz said that, based on participation in the contest and other events, she thinks awareness about fair trade issues is more acute than ever in the Jewish community.

“I’ve heard of at least 10 kids recently who have decided to focus on fair trade for their bar and bat mitzvah projects, and we’ve doubled the number of Judaica stores that sell fair trade products here,” she said, noting that Fair Trade Judaica will be participating in Hanukkah programs at both the Marin and East Bay JCCs.

FTJ produces, distributes and sells certified fair trade Judaica products from around the globe. For more information or to order “guilt-free gelt,” visit www.tinyurl.com/ftj-gelt. Divine Chocolate is donating 10 percent of its gelt sales to Fair Trade Judaica when the promo code FTJUDAICA is entered at checkout.

Emma Silvers