Contemporary Slavery and Seder Hosts:
Making Your Seder More Meaningful, Relevant, and
What To Do, Read,
and Change at Your Seder
Because There Are
Still Slaves in the World Today
Set the table – and
the mood – to provoke great conversations.
People who host the seders spend a lot of time preparing. Between
cleaning, cooking, setting the table, managing the guest list (not to mention
the guests!), there is a lot to be done. Below are some ideas for enhancing the
conversation around the table. These are very simple, quick steps you can take
that will make a real difference – both in the quality of your seder and in the
lives of people who still suffer enslavement throughout the world today.
On Your Seder Table
- Add a tomato to your seder plate. When someone
asks, “why a tomato?” be ready with the answer. Immokalee, Florida, a center
for tomato farming, was also called “ground zero” for human trafficking in the
United States by a federal official. Immokalee was home not just to agriculture
but to massive abuse, including both slavery and scandalous mistreatment of
paid workers. In 2008, Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders reported about farm
workers: “the norm is a disaster, and the extreme is slavery.” The situation
has improved a great deal in a short time, but clean-up is far from complete
and wages are far from fair. Visit truah.org to
learn more about this seder plate custom and the farm workers.
- Remember twinning with Soviet refusniks? Jews
used to place an empty chair on the bimah (pulpit) at Bar and Bat Mitzvah
ceremonies, in solidarity with Soviet Jews who were not yet free. Add an empty place
setting and chair at your seder table. The vacancy is sure to spark questions
(a main goal of the seders), creating an opportunity start a conversation about
“invisible” contemporary slaves.
- A Padlock on the Seder Plate: This simple idea from Free
the Slaves can
transform your seder plate – and conversation. Put a padlock on the seder
plate to show support for Free
the Slaves and to represent your commitment to ending modern slavery. When
you open the door for Elijah, open the lock. End the seder by going
around the table and stating one way that you will contribute to ending slavery
Materials to Distribute To Guests
NEW! Passover Prep is just two sides of a single page. It includes causes – and cures – for modern
slavery on one side. The reverse side suggestions ideas for what you can
do in ten hours, ten minutes, or even ten seconds to remember and help
slaves this Passover.
a wonderful, user-friendly information sheet about contemporary slavery (two sides
of a single page) that
you can hand out. The numbers and graphs are large and simple enough for even young
children to understand.
UPDATED! “Coupons” for the Seder Table Choose
the two-sided option on your printer, and you will have two double-sided,
beautifully calligraphed coupons per page. Distribute coupons at your
seder to encourage discussion and action about modern slavery.
- Confronting Slavery on
the Festival of Freedom: Discussion Starters, Activities, and Readings is
a downloadable handout which you can print and distribute to raise awareness about contemporary
slavery and to enhance your seder. The suggestions are listed in the order of the
Hagaddah, to make it easy for you to integrate them into the evening.