Slavery is a constant companion at our seder tables each year.
At our seders this week we as a people reminded ourselves that our ancient ancestors were slaves, and idol worshippers, in Egypt. And we are bidden to see ourselves as if we are — or were — coming from slavery to freedom.
Today, in greater numbers, Jews are taking seriously the responsibility to concern ourselves with contemporary slavery, with the estimated 27 million people around the world who find themselves working as de facto or de jure slaves in factories and fields, in brothels and private homes.
In last week’s issue we reported on a New Jersey family that created a foundation to free young slaves in Ghana, and we also reported on the work of prominent organizations like American Jewish World Service and T’ruah (formerly known as Rabbis for Human Rights.)
On April 22, UJA-Federation of New York, along with The Jewish Week, will sponsor a day-long conference and evening discussion devoted to the problem of slavery, with an emphasis on women who are trafficked, against their will, into the sex trade. The conference, which will feature a speech by a Jewish woman recently freed from the exploitative sex trade, will be the start of an ongoing UJA-Federation series of community events that will raise the issue of slavery.
Even as we celebrate the Festival of Freedom this week we must ask ourselves if we have done enough to rid the world of slavery.
The Jewish Week wishes its readers, in the words of the traditional Hebrew blessing, a happy and kosher Pesach — in health, and above all, in freedom.