Berkeley preschool offering green Purim care packages

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Gan Shalom Preschool in Berkeley has organized its first ecoconscious “green” mishloach manot, the traditional gifts of ready-to-eat treats sent to family, friends and acquaintances as a mitzvah for the Purim holiday — and an annual parent-led fundraiser for the school.

Gan Shalom parent Sara Bearman, with (from left) Amitai, 4, Seanai, 2, and Shaya, 1, spearheaded the Purim packages.

Building on values of tikkun olam, ethical responsibility and respect for the environment, the mishloach manot feature fair trade, organic, sustainably grown and kosher products. All contents are vegan and gluten-free, use minimal materials and are produced by socially responsible companies.

The baskets include such foods as chocolate, trail mix, lollipops, and “Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs,” a new, organic version of the Israeli snack Bamba. Also included in the package are an artisan mask project, an organic cotton tote bag and a family day pass to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

The greening of the Gan Shalom mishloach manot, an annual fundraiser led by parents for 15 years, was spearheaded by preschool parent Sara Bearman, mother of three young children. All of the companies whose products she chose have a social justice mission: Equal Exchange, which participates in a fair trade project with American Jewish World Service; Kopali Organics, started by a former Berkeley resident to support indigenous farmers in Costa Rica; and EcoTeas, which sponsors a reforestation program in Argentina.

 “The essence of Purim teaches us how to navigate through a world where everything is turned upside down and it’s hard to tell the difference between good and evil. Our challenge is to cleave to all that is good, just and aligned with holiness,” Bearman said. “Purim is the perfect holiday for us to take more responsibility for our consumer habits and how they affect the rest of the world.”

The mishloach manot packages cost $28, with an additional $10.50 charge for orders shipped anywhere in the United States. (Delivery is free in Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington and Oakland.) Feb. 9 is the deadline for delivery by Purim, which is March 8. Last year, some 700 were sold. For information, visit www.ganshalomberkeley.blogspot.com or call Congregation Beth Israel at (510) 843-5246.