Passover is a holiday centered on our freedom from Egypt, while also ensuring
that we do not forget the bitterness of slavery. The holiday
unifies the Jewish people, as each person who sits down at their Seder knows
that Jews around the world are participating in the same celebrating, remembering,
retelling and commemorating. The Passover story is of course,
deeply connected to the themes of slavery and freedom. The Torah
instructs in Deuteronomy, "Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and
that the Lord redeemed you from there. Therefore, I command you to do
justice." The enslavement of Jews during biblical times - and
their subsequent exodus- is a central narrative not only for the Jewish
people, but for others who have found hope in the biblical story.
Celebrating Passover connects us as Jews, but it also unites us with humanity. There are people across our country and our world who have experienced oppression and persecution. Although we were once slaves, we are now free. But there are too many in the world who are not free and are enslaved either literally or by their circumstances. Tragically, slavery remains a modern day reality for an estimated twenty-seven million people worldwide- more than any other time in our history. Each day men, women, and children are forced and coerced into a labor or sexual exploitation. Though the number of trafficking victims in the United States is not known, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of American minors are threatened by commercial sexual exploitation. According to the Department of Justice, 300,000 children are at risk for becoming victims of trafficking in the United States each year.
Hadassah has been a staunch advocate for the prevention of all forms of violence against women and children, including support for anti-human trafficking legislation, and collaboration with the National Council of Jewish Women, to raise a collective Jewish voice both nationwide and as a way to energize grassroots involvement. Hadassah urges all Chapters to educate our members and encourages us to join in coalitions with other advocacy groups to combat human trafficking. Unfortunately, on March 17, 2015, the Senate failed to pass the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, and it is critical that new legislation be introduced immediately. Please visit the Hadassah National Action Center, and urge your Congressional representatives to continue the momentum on Anti-Human Trafficking legislation.
At Passover we say together:
This year we are here. Next year may we all be in the land of Israel.
This year we are still slaves. Next year may we all be free.
Wishing everyone a joyous Passover.
Rachel and Stephanie
Rachel Belenker and Stephanie Elliott
Columbus Chapter Co-Presidents