A farmworker leader of CIW demonstrates the weight of a container of tomatoes.

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster addresses a group of rabbis and clergy gathered in Immokalee, FL.

Dear friend,

I want to tell you a story about the kind of human rights wins that T'ruah can achieve.

In 2011, T’ruah took our first group of #tomatorabbis to Immokalee, FL, to learn from and partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a worker-led human rights organization that organizes tomato pickers. CIW believes the people most impacted by human rights abusesin this case, the farmworkersshould design the solutions.

Their solution, the Fair Food Program, put responsibility for human rights abuses at the bottom of supply chains with the top of the supply chains — with the corporations whose demand for the lowest cost drove down wages and degraded conditions for workers. 

In order for the Fair Food Program to work, CIW needed allies — including faith leaders — to join their campaign to get more companies to commit.  

That fall, the company that was in their sights was Trader Joe’s.

Perfect, I thought. The Jewish community loves Trader Joe’s.

When those first #tomatorabbis got back from Florida, they got to work mobilizing their communities. Synagogues around the country spent Sukkot learning about Immokalee and protesting for change.

Rabbis in Philadelphia set up a sukkah of justice outside of one store, and at a protest at the Trader Joe’s headquarters in California, our chaverim plastered the building with a letter to the company’s leadership signed by over 100 rabbis and cantors.

In February, during our second #tomatorabbis delegation, the first Trader Joe’s was set to open in Florida, in Naples, right on Immokalee road. Ahead of a weekend of planned nationwide protests, we took the delegation to the store. We sounded the shofar, hung a CIW postcard as the store’s symbolic mezuzah, and prayed “may this store open for justice.” 

I flew back from sunny Florida to freezing New Jersey. I was stopped at a traffic light the next day when my phone started buzzing. 

“We won!!!” 

We won? 

As human rights activists, it’s not often that we get such a tangible win, and it took a moment for the meaning of those words to sink in. 

Trader Joe’s had joined the Fair Food Program. 

Rabbis protest for fair working conditions for farmworkers. Wendy's still refuses to join the Fair Food Program. 

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster speaks at a Boycott Wendy's rally. 

The Workers Circle protests as part of a coalition together with CIW and T'ruah for Wendy's to join the Fair Food Program. 

CIW had won another campaign. Since that day, the number of major food retailers committed to the human rights of farmworkers in the supply chain has grown to 14. And T’ruah has been CIW’s committed ally every step of the way. 

At the end of the day, these human rights wins happen not when we focus on problems, but when we focus on building relationships and community.

That's what T'ruah has done for the last 20 years, and with your support, that is what it will do for decades to come.


Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
Former Deputy Director, T'ruah

P.S. If you’re wondering which corporations have joined the Fair Food Program, you can see a list here


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