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8 Social Justice Gifts to Make the World a Better Place This Hanukkah

8 Social Justice Gifts to Make the World a Better Place This Hanukkah

Aerial shot of gifts wrapped in shiny paper alongside colorful wooden dreidels

This year, give the gift of social justice! Here you can find a gift idea for each night of Hanukkah to emphasize the work of tikkun olam – the work of repairing a broken world.

1. Give the gift of music

Available for purchase now at www.togetherasonemusic.com, Together As One is an album of brand new social justice music. The album, which was recorded in Nashville, features award-winning and critically acclaimed artists. These songs will inspire, challenge, and elevate all who sing them and serve as a call to action for a new generation of activists. 

2. Give the gift of Fair Trade Judaica

When was that last time you gave some cool Judaica to someone? Consider giving fair trade Hanukkah gelt from Guilt Free Gelt or a new tallit or challah covering made by Guatemalan artisans receiving fair wages available at Fair Trade Judaica. Check out the fair-trade jewelry at Bead for Life or the delicious coffee beans at Equal Exchange.

3. Give the gift of reading

Gift a RAC Reads book to a friend. Reform Jews across North America come together in their own communities to read, explore and discuss social justice-themed books. RAC Reads provides all the tools necessary to help get you started. We’ve selected best-selling books that address relevant social justice topics, provided questions to guide your discussion, topics on getting started and resources to help you take action. So, grab a few of your fellow congregants, pull up a chair and let’s get reading!

4. Give the gift of light 

There’s a lot that needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions and decrease our detrimental impact on the world around us, which can be a little overwhelming. Unlike traditional light bulbs, which produce huge amounts of heat in addition to light, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) give off high-quality light using 25% of that electricity. EnergyStar.gov has some useful tips for replacing your household lights with CFLs 

5. Give the gift of sustainable food

The foodie in your family will love the healthy and ethically sourced foods that come with a share in your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, purchased through Hazon’s Tuv Ha’aretz Jewish CSA program or a farm near you. A few hundred dollars buys an entire season’s worth of nutritious food and the opportunity to connect with your community, Jewish values and the environment in the most delicious way!

6. Give the gift of freedom

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a new executive order restricting travel from eight countries. This is the third ban coming from the White House this year that places heavy restrictions mainly on predominantly Muslim-majority countries. The new restrictions on travel vary by country and include a phased-in approach that was planned to begin on October 18, 2017. Urge President Trump to rescind this latest discriminatory executive order, and urge your members of Congress to denounce its provisions, including the imposition of a religious test for entry, and urge its immediate repeal. No one should be barred from entering the United States based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

7. Gift the gift of warmth

In the cold winter months, consider donating coats, gloves, hats, and socks to your local homeless shelter to help families in need. Create a donation box at your congregation where members can drop off used winter gear to donate. Consider giving to the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Goodwill or a number of other local organizations who will help families stay warm this winter. 

8. Give the gift of legacy

In honor of your favorite social justice hero, consider donating to the Religious Action Center. For nearly six decades, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) has been the hub of Jewish social justice work. For more than 50 years, the RAC has been the Reform Jewish voice for justice in Washington, D.C., representing the Reform Jewish community on the most pressing issues of our day – economic inequality, environmental justice and human rights.

Liz Mitlak is the congregational engagement fellow at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Originally from Indianapolis, IN, she is a member of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a degree in social justice studies.

Liz Mitlak
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