04 Apr

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap presents Fair Trade Organic Olive Oil from the Holy Land

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps is pleased to announce that our program to use Fair Trade and organic sources for all major ingredients has reached a major milestone with the shipment in February of the first order of more than 80 metric tons of Fair Trade and certified organic olive oil from Palestine and Israel. The olive oil will be in Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps by this summer.

Of our various Fair Trade projects, including coconut oil in Sri Lanka, palm oil in Ghana and mint oils in India, our olive oil project in Palestine and Israel has special significance for us. Dr. Emanuel Bronner was a third generation master soap-maker from an orthodox Jewish family in Heilbron, Germany, where he was certified as a master soap-maker under the rigorous guild system of the time. He was heir to the family’s soap factory and business, but came to the United States in the late 1920’s. After the Nazis nationalized the soap factory in 1938, his parents and most of his family perished in the Holocaust. One sister, Lotte Reches, emigrated to the Ein Gev kibbutz in 1936 on the eastern shore of Lake Kinneret by the Golan Heights, while the other, Luise Bronner, Ph.D., came to the U.S. and worked as a chemist and then became a professor of German at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Lotte lives in Haifa now, and the current family members of Dr. Bronner who run the company in the U.S.

See a video overview with interviews of our Palestinian and Israeli partners.
Dr. Bronner’s essential vision and philosophy were born out of the fate of his family and the Holocaust, and are emphatic that we are all children of the same divine source: people must realize our transcendent unity against the relatively trivial differences that divide us, that we are “All-One!” or we will destroy ourselves. Dr. Bronner felt that the prophets and spiritual giants of the world’s various faith traditions all realized and said this, which he referred to as the “Moral ABC.” Our soap labels are filled with Dr. Bronner’s quotes from and interpretation of Israel, Moses, Mohammed, Hillel, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, etc. While Dr. Bronner rejected the orthodoxy he was raised within, he considered himself a rabbi of sorts within the Essene tradition.

Dr. Bronner died in 1997 but would be quite pleased with our olive oil projects. The olive tree originated in the Holy Land, where it has been a primary agricultural crop since biblical times. The olive branch signifies peace, and while we are not naive about the depth and scale of the problems and divisions in the Holy Land, our project represents in a small way a vision of coexistence based on economic opportunity and cooperation.

For the approximately 80 metric tons of olive oil we use annually, we are sourcing 90% from Palestinian Fair Trade producers near Jenin in the West Bank, where the Canaan_Fair_Trade organization is run by Palestinians who support peaceful coexistence with Israel. Up to 5% of the Fair Trade organic olive oil will come from Sindyanna, a Jewish and Arab women-run Fair Trade Israeli source supporting Arab-Israeli producers. The purchase of oil and contribution of a Fair Trade premium will help improve economic conditions and provide additional funds for public services such as healthcare and education in the olive producing region. And in light of the vision of peace that the olive branch symbolizes, for the maximum 5% non-Fair Trade organic olive oil we are allowed to use under Fair Trade rules, we are sourcing that from the Jewish Israeli Strauss family farm in Israel.

David and Mike Bronner, President and Vice President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, recently visited Germany and their family’s personal and soap-making history, getting a brick from the old factory which will be a cornerstone for our new factory, and then traveled to Israel and the West Bank to visit family and meet with our olive oil partners and farmers. In a special synchronistic development, the Strauss family realized they are related to the Bronner family through a great-grandfather. For more in-depth information about this wonderful project, we highly recommend reading the translated article from Haaretz’s Israeli news magazine, Colbo, as well as viewing the related video.

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