“Delicious Peace Grows Here”

Hey Peace People,

Here’s a sneak preview of our upcoming “Delicious Peace Grows Here” photo campaign. Why is Ben posting pictures of himself and his beloved 9’6″ Christenson single-fin longboard, you might be asking? And why is there a sign on his surfboard? And what does it all mean?

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And hey, check out Holly. What’s she doing sitting on her bike in her office?

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It’s about community, about the community that we all are building. It’s about who you all are. Across the country, people of many different backgrounds, political persuasions, faiths, and lifestyles are coming together in a common effort. Together, this eclectic community is working to build a market for “Delicious Peace” coffee, thereby supporting the Peace Kawomera farmer’s efforts to build peace.

In the coming months, we’ll be gathering and posting pictures of people like you, who, in their own communities, are planting seeds of peace…We’re trying to draw the map of Delicious Peace— and show that it grows here, and here, and here, and hopefully, everywhere. It’s a kind of constellation of peace that’s just beginning to form. We want to tell your story—so take a look at these pictures, as examples, and send us your own portrait. Make a little sign (but not so little that it can’t be read!), take a self portrait that you feel really shows us who you are, and send it to Holly at the email below (make sure to correct the address)

holly(at)thanksgivingcoffee.com

And stay tuned for upcoming website updates, exciting new news from the farmers, and a chance to meet communities like yours who are making the dream of peace real.

The BIG Screen!

Wow. Big news from the land of glamour and glitz; the land of tall canvas folding chairs, fuzzy microphones, and ACTION!

Ellen and Curt’s beautiful documentary Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean has been accepted to both the New York and Los Angeles Independent Film Festivals! These are the premier independent film festivals in the world, and needless to say, competition for screenings is intense. A big congratulation to Curt and Ellen, and their non-profit production company JemGlo. For those of you who haven’t yet seen the trailer, you can watch it online on YouTube. It’s a beautiful telling of the story of “delicious peace” and a testament to the skill, art, and passion of our dear friends Ellen and Curt. As they say in Uganda…webaale nno!

(See the festival’s ad on their website)

Wrappin’ it up

It’s been a week since JJ left for Uganda, and Ben and I returned to the Mendocino Coast. This year’s tour was very different for me than last year’s. First off, Ben and JJ spent the first week traveling together, while I stayed behind to plan an event here at home. It’s really hard touring; sleeping every night in an unfamiliar bed (actually, who am I kidding – I have so many sleep issues I don’t even sleep in my own bed…nevertheless), managing your life around other people’s schedules, and I must mention that vegetables simply seem to disappear from our diets. For however awesome and rewarding it is to be on the road, it is exhausting. So I did not have to deal with that bit of it from the get-go, which made the second half of the tour less stressful.

On Feb 28th, my grandfather past away. As soon as I found out he wasn’t doing well I booked a flight home. Unfortunately, he passed away an hour before I landed in Philadelphia. He was my best friend.

After spending a few days with my family, I met up with Ben and JJ in San Francisco. We had a phenomenal time traveling the West Coast. We were welcomed with open arms by so many wonderful people who support the Mirembe Project. Their enthusiasm inspires and rejuvenates my spirit.

I find myself torn between two emotional poles. I am still very sad about my grandfather, and will be for some time to come. Yet my struggle to find inner solace is lightened by my work. Over the last three weeks I have often felt alone, yet I have been blessed by those who are motivated and push forward in meaningful and significant ways. Although my biological family is core to my life, since last year’s tour my extended family has grown exponentially. From the fields in Uganda to communities all across America, we are all connected. I sincerely thank you for your support on so many levels.

San Francisco Chronicle: MUSIC, SPIRIT, IDENTITY

MUSIC, SPIRIT, IDENTITY

Young Jews from Fort Bragg to Uganda gather

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Lisa Alcalay Klug, Special to The Chronicle

Sunday, March 18, 2007

When J.J. Keki began leading classic Hebrew songs at a traditional Jewish Sabbath meal in Long Beach last weekend, his 400 lunch companions were transfixed. An African Jew and Grammy-nominated musician, Keki attended Jewlicious 3.0 @ the Beach, self-described as the largest Jewish youth festival. And whether he was singing or discussing his work directing the fair trade Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative for Jewish, Christian and Muslim coffee farmers in his homeland, Uganda, Keki had found his audience.

“I use singing and coffee to promote peace,” said Keki, a member of the Abuyudaya community in Uganda, whose ancestors converted to Judaism in the early 20th century. “Today, the world is in pain. We want to prove that a better way is to be proud of who you are, respect each other and make something great together. That is my work.”

It is also the work of the Thanksgiving Coffee Co. of Fort Bragg, which partners with Mirembe Kawomera (“Delicious Peace”) to bring its product to American synagogues, churches, mosques, youth groups and other grassroots organizations, including the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

Two representatives of Thanksgiving Coffee, Ben Corey-Moran and Holly Moskowitz, joined Keki and more than 30 Northern Californians at the Alpert Jewish Community Center for the third annual Jewlicious Festival.

Designed as an exploration of Jewish culture, innovation and spirituality, organizers call it “a celebration of “Jewnity: part music festival, part spiritual gathering, part international youth conference and totally unlike any other weekend in human history.”

“Young Jews are seeking unity, spirituality and new ways to celebrate their identity,” says Festival Director Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, whose mother lives in Berkeley. “Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Bu-Jews (Jewish Buddhists), feminists, Democrats, Republicans, agnostics, anarchists … anyone with any connection to this tribe of wandering, creative, passionate and uniquely Jewlicious people belongs at this festival.”

Indeed, the annual gathering attracts Jews from every denomination and political affiliation for 60 hours of workshops, festive meals, conference sessions, concerts and other expressions of Jewish creativity and vitality. From its beginnings in 2005, the Jewlicious Festival has grown from 100 attendees to more than 350 participants and some 30 volunteers and several dozen presenters who work in a variety of fields, from Hollywood screenwriting to activists working to stop the genocide in Darfur.

“We believe with all our soul and all our might in creating unifying events to celebrate Jewishness,” says Rachel Bookstein, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz who grew up in San Anselmo and Fairfax. The wife of Yonah Bookstein, she serves as director of Beach Hillel, which locally hosts and co-produces the event. “We are committed to celebrating life and diversity, learning from different people and experiencing different things that enrich and fulfill our Jewish lives.”

Participants from more than 40 colleges and universities were represented, including several score from Sonoma State University who made the trip together with local young professionals like Tomer Altman. The founder of an extensive online resource, Altman teamed up with Sonoma Hillel to contract the bus. After attending Jewlicious 2.0 last year, Altman was inspired to create his blog, Oy Bay, the Jewish Blog-by-the-Bay. “I had such a great time last year that I had to come again,” Altman said.

Other Bay Area attendees included musician Ayal Nistor, who recently relocated to San Francisco from Tel Aviv. His one-man band, A Second Surprise, performed Sunday night, and was just one among an extensive lineup of artists appearing at two peak Jewlicious elements, the Saturday and Sunday night concerts. Both shows were packaged in the festival’s student ticket price of $36, and $54 for nonstudents younger than 27. The cost includes indoor, sleeping-bag-friendly space to crash for several nights, generous kosher meals and snacks and nearly all-night programming.

The concert lineup featured cutting-edge special guests, klezmer-punk band Golem and New York folk-rocker Rav Shmuel, who teamed up with dance-fusion band the Bloodsugars to perform his signature song, “Protocols,” a spoof of anti-Semitism that appears in an animated video on MySpace.com and YouTube. Additional performers included actor-rapper-comedian Smooth E, Israeli indie band missFlag, the unique sounds of Tel Aviv-based Soulico Crew, Jewish heavy metal rockers the Makkabees, Rabbi Bookstein’s own Shankbone and DJ Eric Rosen & the Twelve Tribes Live Percussion Ensemble.

The festival grew out of the of the popular blog Jewlicious.com.

“The ultimate point of the Jewish Internet is to nurture and inspire Jewish life in the real world,” says Jewlicious.com’s co-founder, Laya Millman, a writer and photographer who lives in Israel and flew in for the festival. “Through the Jewlicious/Beach Hillel partnership, we’ve all been able to translate online inspiration into a high-impact, real-life experience. The energy is intoxicating.”

Cecile Merrin, 18, a junior majoring in business accounting and financial economics at Sonoma State and a first-time attendee, agreed. “I like the diversity, because (I haven’t met) any students who are Orthodox at Sonoma State. And I really like all the people I met.”

As a result of the conversations she enjoyed over the weekend, Merrin is resolute about her plan to join Birthright Israel, a free trip to the Holy Land for young Jewish adults. “I heard what a life-changing experience it was, and I really want to go and see what it does for me in terms of my Jewish identity and my faith.”

Her classmate Jordan Speizer, 20, a music major from Napa, is also considering a future Birthright trip. He also plans to return to Long Beach for Jewlicious 4.0. “Three hundred Jews in one room is an experience. If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s hard to explain, but there’s a contagious energy. It’s hard not to be uplifted, especially for someone who went to high school with one or two other Jews.”

For Keki and his Fort Bragg colleagues, it is this dynamism they are looking to attract. As Corey-Moran explained, “These are people who want to be a part of this project, and that for us is the market we’re trying to connect with: young people, inspired, motivated and pursuing social justice. Our purpose in coming to Jewlicious is to share this beautiful story and meet these wonderful people and invite them to become part of our work.”

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/18/LVG5SOMDRM1.DTL

A message from JJ Keki

I’m now speaking to my people, who read this blog. For those people who took care of me here, who received me here, that I have had a wonderful time here. Talking to people who are very welcoming, and who are responding positively. I only request that those friends who we met from interfaith, fair trade, and others, to remain friends, to be bound to what we reached out with, so that it becomes a reality, our dream of bringing peace in the world. That you would now become good ambassaders for promoting peace in the world. That is it.

We have sown the seeds, and I request that these seeds be multiplied by you who have received them, so that they can be spread to every corner of the world. This is what we are seeking.

The relationship between us has been very good, and I only pray that this relationship goes forward, from strength to strength. So that our seeds grow ever more fertile, so that we have, like our coffee, healthy, productive, and beautiful blossoming, so that we yield many sweet fruits for our children.

Thank you, I would invite everbody, all of my friends to come and witness, and not only to witness, but by visiting to encourage our cooperation and our efforts. Goodbye. Be well,

Yours,

J J

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The chairman waves goodbye. San Francisco International Airport, March 14, 2007.

Jewlicious 3.0

On Friday morning we flew to Long Beach for 60 + hours of Yiddishkeit at the 3rd annual Jewlicious Festival. So what is Yiddishkeit you ask? Sit back, relax, and I’ll tell you. Yiddishkeit is everything and anything having to do with things relating to Jewish culture of course.

We were greeted at the airport and shuttled to the Jewish Community Center where all events took place. As the sun set, we welcomed the symbolic Sabbath Queen by lighting candles. Then we participated in Friday evening prayers, which were led in Carlebach fashion infused with dancing and singing.

We had a lovely traditional multi-course Shabbat dinner where JJ was honored by sitting at the head of the table. After dinner, JJ, Ben and I led a panel discussion on Fair Trade, the Cooperative, and our work in the world. Everyone was receptive to our message of social justice and interfaith cooperation. JJ made clear the 2 things that will bring long-term peace: 1) Being proud of who you are. Regardless if you are a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Christian, you should be proud of what you are. 2) Respect. Be proud of who you are and respect your neighbor of who they are. Rabbi Carlebach once wrote, “When Moshiach (The Messiah) comes, every religion in the world will begin to accept the differences and uniqueness of the other religions.” I believe that JJ is leading us closer to Moshiach.

The weekend was packed with amazing discussion groups. After the Sabbath, music bands from all over the world played until the early morning. On Sunday night JJ took the stage in true rock star fashion.

Big Toda Rabas (thank you-s) to Rabbi Yonah – Director Jewlicious Festival, Rachel Bookstein – Community educator, Director, Beach Hillel, Hartley Wynberg – Production Coordinator, and everyone else who made the festival truly fabulous!!

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Who’s the rockstar?

JJ comes to our home town

by Paul Katzeff, Co-founder and CEO, Thanksgiving Coffee Co.

You throw a party and wonder…will anyone come? Well Town Hall was packed and no one was disappointed . Ft. Bragg’s Town Hall is on Main Street in the center of town. It has been there for 100 years and the site of citizens fighting government and government consultants for decades. When the hippies came in the early 70’s the town devided along class lines. Old timers vs. Urban youth , loggers vs. Environmentalists, and no growthers vs. the real estate pro growth lobby. City Hall has not been a place of peace in all the years that I have been here. But on March 7th it was very different. People came to hear first hand about peace in a far away place . They came to learn how JJ Keki got Jews, Muslims and Christians together to build a better life in their shared community.

The peace movement activists came, the interfaith people came, and our friends came to the party . We did our “dog and pony show” for about 90 minutes. I sat so I could see the audience of about 85 people (2 % of the local populous). They were mesmerized by the concept which I framed as “The Greatest Coffee Story Ever Told”. I was surprised at a spontaneous applause that happenned when at the evenings close I reminded people that this beautiful story was nothing but a story until the Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative sold enough coffee to become sustainable and that peace and economic justice were intimately related . “We are fund raisers for this revolution of peace and that is a noble cause…to sell coffee so peace can reign” I said. ” Hope breeds determination and we have enabled hope to exist in their community and they are determined because we are on their team and also determined to show that interfaith cooperation coupled with economic development can lead to a better life for all. JJ became living proof of this possibility and the people who came to our party felt it and loved the feeling.

And then we saw some parrots…

It’s Sunday night, after a long, and action packed weekend in San Francisco. Today, JJ and I attended morning services at Grace Cathedral, a beautiful, and welcoming Episcopal Church in the heart of San Francisco. Following services, we were introduced to the community by Reverend Alan Jones at a coffee hour and reception. Grace is one of the San Francisco Interfaith Council’s leading communities, and they’ve mobilized a strong and enthusiastic group of their members to join us, form a buying club, and make the dream of the SFIC campaign a reality. JJ and I had the honor of introducing our dear Rita Semel to the assembled congregants, and gave our shortest presentation to date—I think it was less than ten minutes between the two of us. Many thanks to the Grace Community, and in particular, Will Scott, for organizing this wonderful event. We look forward to working together in the future!

We broke for lunch, JJ and I joined by Curt and Ellen of Jem/Glo fame (see below “On the Silver Screen), David Funkhouser of TransfairUSA, my wonderful girlfriend Hayley Ross, and our art director and website designer extraordinaire Sven “long limbs” Sandberg. After a tasty meal at San Francisco’s hip and eco-conscious Ferry Building we returned to our car, only to be diverted by a flock of…you guessed it, parrots. The famed Parrots of Telegraph Hill. So there we were, an eclectic group of friends, watching a bunch of parrots in San Francisco. Thanks to Curt for the great picture!
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We made our way to Congregation Emanu-El, where two days before, we had been hosted for a beautiful Friday night Shabbat service. There surrounded by hundreds of young folks, we hawked our wares at their fair trade gift fair, and Purim celebration. Thanks to Mollie Schneider, Director of Young Adult Programming at Emanu-El for organizing the great event, and for making sure that JJ had a slot in the talent show. As usual, JJ brought the house down with his words and music. I only wish that I’d been better able to explain the J-Date skit to my friend from Uganda, there are some things that just don’t make sense unless you’re an American (or maybe even if you are!).

Friday Prayers

I hadn’t been inside a mosque since Uganda, where I visited with Elias Hasalube, the cooperative’s chief agricultural extensionist, a board member, and a Muslim. I thought of that Friday afternoon as I walked down the street, downtown San Francisco, with JJ, to meet Souleiman Ghali, one of the leaders of the San Francisco Islamic Society, and a member of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. Souleiman and I have spent a lot of time together in the past few months, discussing the project, and building our program of interfaith mobilization in San Francisco. He was very much looking forward to meeting JJ, and I was looking forward to introducing them to each other.

Greeted by Souleiman, Iftekhar Hai, and other leaders from the Muslim community, we sat down for coffee, juice, and sweet pastries. While we chatted Iftekhar and Souleiman compared notes on hospitality: who should serve the guests, and when. You see, Souleiman is from the Shuf mountains of Lebanon, where you first greet your guests, sit down, talk, and then sometime later, serve them food and drink. To serve them first would be to suggest that you wanted their visit to be short, that they should leave as soon as possible. Iftekhar was shocked. In his native Pakistan, it would be an offense to not serve your guests immediately, how else would they know that they are welcome, and perhaps they are tired, and in need of energy for conversation?

JJ and I laughed, and JJ said that in Uganda it is different still. You serve your guests immediately, and then leave them. If, when you return, there is still food, you join them, but you should be sure to give them all that you can.

Soon we made our way upstairs, removed our shoes, and joined the congregation. JJ and I sat in the back, and watched as the men prayed. Behind us, and on our right, the women prayed with the children. The Imam gave a sermon mixing English with Arabic. He talked of the sanctity of worship, and especially of places of worship. He talked of the obligation of everyone to protect not only their own place of worship, but every place of worship. JJ nodded approvingly, and I thought of the many people of faith who like JJ, are deeply committed to their religion, who boast proudly of it, and who respect others who do the same. As his sermon came to a close, the Imam introduced JJ, and welcomed him as a brother of the Muslim community in San Francisco. On our way out into the street, we were greeted by dozens of community members, who thanked us for our visit, and for our work to build peace. In the coming months, Inshallah, this community will become one of the dozens of communities in San Francisco who mobilize and join the Interfaith Council’s campaign of support.

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