Contemporary Slavery and Seder Hosts:
Making Your Seder More Meaningful, Relevant, and Truly Freeing

  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 this year. 


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. 
  • FreeTheSlaves.net has 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.