September 17, 2021 •
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The NJ Coalition against Human Trafficking is raising awareness about a topic that we thought was a thing of the past: slavery.  The most widely observed Jewish holiday is Passover and no matter how long or short your Seder, the summary is the same. We were slaves; now we are free.  But are we really free?

What is human trafficking? It is defined as the recruitment and transportation of people within or across boundaries by force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of exploiting them economically. Force involves rape, beatings or confinement to control the victim. Fraud is false advertising such as a promise of a job. Coercion includes threats of serious harm.

Avadim hayinu—we were slaves now we are free. This is what we recite. We are told 36 times in the Torah to love and protect the stranger. Who is the stranger today? It may be individuals we don’t yet recognize are working in slave conditions. This may seem like an abstract concept but trafficking is a growing criminal industry, second only to drug dealing and equal to arms dealing.

The NJ Coalition against human trafficking organized a vigil in Morristown on Sunday, October 27. TBA was represented by Lisa Reisboard, Terri Friedman and myself, one of three rabbis who spoke. Next Friday, November 15,* is a training day to learn more about this issue in preparation for NJ Human Trafficking awareness day, January 11, 2014.

Also, with the Super Bowl in NJ this winter, there is a likely increase of trafficking. By learning more about the issue, we may be able to recognize a person in danger. As Rabbi Hillel taught, “It is not our duty to complete the task, but we are not free to avoid it.”

When others are in bondage, we are not free.

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