Mishloach manot is one of the most unexpected of Jewish traditions. Derived from the Book of Esther and literally translated as “sending of portions,” they are the gifts of food we give to friends and family on the holiday of Purim.

Here’s an curious fact about mishloach manot: you HAVE to give food preferably two different items that the recipient of your gift can eat right away. (Hamantashen are a popular item, so are granola bars, raisins, juice boxes, and other edible goodies.)

So why food? Why not money or flowers or a good book? Mishloach manot are given to ensure that every person, wealthy or not, has enough food to enjoy their Purim celebration. In other words, it’s a bit of food justice and equality built right into the holiday! We at Repair the World love the idea of mishloach manot, and were inspired to take this spirit of giving even further. Below, we’ve listed ways to infuse your Purim baskets with the spirit of service even more!

  • Make your own gift basket out of recycled materials – like old cereal boxes – and store your goodies in eco-style.
  • Use fair traded sugar in your hamantashen. The folks at Equal Exchange offer fair trade-certified sugar grown by three co-operatives of small-scale farmers in Paraguay. Make sure to slip in a link to this video about the farmers with your cookies!
  • Make a donation to Mazon: A Jewish response to hunger or your favorite food justice organization or other charity. Include a note telling the recipients that you donated in their honor.
  • Make extra mishloach manot and deliver some to friends and family, and the rest to a local Jewish senior center or hospital. The commandment only requires each person to deliver one Purim basket, but the more you give, the more you spread Purim’s happiness!

How do you add the spirit of service and justice to your mishloach manot? Let us know your creative ideas in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld.