Every year before Pesach, my kids’ preschool teacher, Lillie Brandt, would remind the moms that the purpose of scrubbing our houses was to remind us what it was like to be worked as slaves.
Passover is the time when we celebrate our liberation from slavery and the beginning of our lives as free people, forming what was to become a great community dedicated to justice and responsibility for each other.
Hopefully, we will all celebrate joyous seders with family and friends, luxuriating in our freedom. This is also a time, however, to remember those who are not free: people enslaved by ignorance, by repression, by poverty, by fear, by greed, and many other problems.
This is especially a time to remember those enslaved in human trafficking—as many as 400,000 estimated in our own country and 40 million around the world. Recent headlines have focused on sex trafficking in massage parlors and day spas. Many of these victims are from other countries. In New Jersey, the majority of victims are US citizens, most enslaved in sex trafficking.
What can we do to observe the mitzvah of freeing the captive? It starts with educating ourselves. The next general meeting of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking addresses Human Trafficking and the Opioid Epidemic: A Compassionate Response. It will take place on Thursday April 11, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Overlook Hospital, 99 Beauvoir Avenue in Summit. We will hear from medical experts and a survivor speaker. Register at www.njhumantrafficking.org. It’s free and open to the public.
If you want to learn more specifically about healthcare issues, attend Human Trafficking and Healthcare Solutions, a symposium for healthcare providers and all other interested people, Tuesday, April 16, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Imperia, 1714 Easton Avenue in Somerset. Register at www.njhumantrafficking.org. The $25 fee includes breakfast snacks.
To take more direct action, we are partnering with the NCJW Essex and Bergen Sections to distribute human trafficking awareness posters in public places throughout Morris County. To help distribute the posters, please contact Susan Neigher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, save Tuesday, May 21 for Traffick Slam, the Coalition’s annual fund-raiser. More about that next month.
Wishing everyone a beautiful Passover.
—Susan Neigher, for the Presidents