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Freeing Slaves

When you let the slave go free, don't send him forth from you empty-handed or bereft.... From what God has given you, bless him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that Adonai your God redeemed you. Therefore, I command you this thing today. --  Deuteronomy 15:13-15

Did you know that there are approximately 42 million slaves working in the world today? Jews are banding together to do something about it. You can help rescue slaves and keep them free. Read articles on this topic by Debra and others below and click below on the orange logo to contribute.

Listen now to an address by Maurice Middleberg, Executive Director of Free the Slaves, given at Congregation B'nai Israel in Emerson, NJ, Rabbi Debra's home synagogue.

Listen now to a stirring Hymn to Freedom, sung by Dione Taylor.


- Help Through Advocacy
- Help With Tzedakah
- Help Through Everyday Purchases
- Help During Shabbat
- Help During Passover
- Articles By Rabbi Debra On Modern Slavery
- Timeless Articles from Other Sources
- Timely Articles:Recent Developments & Media Coverage
- Articles About Jews Freeing Slaves
- Links to Effective Organizations
- For Further Study

Help Through Advocacy

·      If you suspect a case of human trafficking or want to get help for a known victim, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888 or

·     Click here to sign on to a petition at The petition simply asks all U.S. Presidential candidates for 2016 to fund anti-trafficking efforts. Among the 44 organizations sponsoring this petition are Free the Slaves, the Rabbinical Assembly, Jewish Women International, the Jewish Federations, and The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (the umbrella organizations of JCRC’s – Jewish Community Relations Councils).

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, yet the U.S. government only invests $150 million a year to fight it. Traffickers make 1,000 times more in profits off this heinous crime than we spend fighting them in a year.

If we were to commit just two cents for every dollar in profits traffickers make, that would yield a $3 billion annual budget. We could then make real headway in ending slavery, by investing in programs that have proven to prevent human trafficking, punish offenders, and provide support and services to survivors.

Help With Tzedakah

Even small donations make a big difference. It costs, on average, just $1,220 to safeguard an entire village against slavery for a year. Rescuing a human being and helping them re-enter society, with rehabilitation, health care, and job training, can run as low as $950 per person in developing countries.

For what the pooled resources of the Jewish community might do, read Do One Thing Different and Chutzpah This Passover by Rabbi Debra.

DONATE to organizations with proven track records in fighting human trafficking, including:

      o  Free the Slaves FTS is among the most influential and effective abolitionist organizations working today. Serving on the frontlines, in partnership with local activists, it uncovers slavery and liberates men, women, and children. It also partners with businesses, n.g.o.’s, governments, and people like you and me to change the policies and practices that allow slavery to flourish.

If you donate through the links or buttons for Free the Slaves that appear on this website, your gift will go directly to this premier organization and will be attributed as a gift that came from the Jewish community. Rabbi Debra endorses Free the Slaves and has begun working with its leadership to help connect Jews to the organization – and vice versa.

      o  Breaking the Chain Through Education ( is a grass-roots, volunteer-based charity that helps to liberate child slaves in Ghana and to ensure their ongoing freedom. BTCTE was founded in 2006 by Evan Robbins, a social studies teacher from Metuchen, NJ, who read about child slaves in the New York Times one day and made it his mission to make a difference.

BTCTE frees boys as young as six and provides former slaves with education, food, and health care. Though it does not have the reach or scope of Free the Slaves, BTCTE does masterful work on a shoe-string budget to  help children and families in the Lake Volta region of Ghana.

Evan Robbins spoke at Congregation B’nai Israel in Emerson in April of 2014, at Rabbi Debra’s invitation. His family and the Baer family raised both awareness and funds with their touching stories. 

You can read more about their work in Helping to Break the Chain.  Please contribute and help Evan Robbins, a true mitzvah hero, to make a difference.


Help Through Everyday Purchases

·      Buy Fair Trade products. Voting with your dollars can and will make a difference.

·      Visit Fair Trade Judaica and Equal Exchange and read labels where you shop. 

·      If you own stock, make your ideas about fair trade known to the board of directors and C.E.O. of the companies of which you are part owner. 

·      Work with your human resources department or mutual fund family to advocate for fair trade portfolios.

·      Visit and to learn about the supply chain of products you use every day and to support manufacturers who engage in fair trade. 

Help During Shabbat

·      Study the link between the Sabbath and the Exodus from Egypt. Click on Slavery Here and Now or turn straight to the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:6-18

·      Before sunset on Friday, empty your pockets and give what you find to a charity that frees slaves - like Free the Slaves or BTCTE, listed above.

·      If you don’t have a traditional Shabbat observance, avoid commerce on Shabbat and donate money you might have spent to freeing slaves. 

·      Serve marror (bitter herbs) to acknowledge contemporary slavery at your Shabbat table, year-round (not just on Passover), until we have eliminated slavery in our lifetimes.

Help During Passover

To Remember Slaves on our Festival of Freedom, please go to our dedicated PASSOVER PAGE, which is full of articles and exercises to enhance your seders and the holiday while bringing action and attention to modern slavery.


Articles By Rabbi Debra On Modern Slavery

Involving and Empowering Kids for Tikkun Olam An interview with Evan Robbins, co-founder of Breaking the Chain Through Education.

Let's commit to eradicating modern slavery by the next Seder - An article in the Jerusalem Post acknowledging a newly announced mission of the Rabbinic Assembly of Conservative Judaism.

Chutzpah This PassoverHow a rabbi met with the head of the World Bank – and how Jews can free slaves this Passover.

Do One Thing DifferentMaking simple changes – in Your Seders and in life – can make all the difference.

If You Were A Slave - Deploying dollars and imagination to refine our souls and bring healing to others.

For All We Are Worth - How do we calculate the value of a human being? What price will we pay to save a life?

See One Person, Be One PersonAmazing individuals – including children – who are making a difference in the fight against slavery. You can, too.

Angels on the Path - Debra's column in the Congregation B'nai Israel Menorah newsletter about finding partners to free slaves.

Slavery Here and Now - published in The New Jersey Jewish Standard.

Upping the Ante - What happens when you commit to saving 18 slaves, and your child asks, “Why only 18?”  A column in the Congregation B'nai Israel Menorah newsletter.

Slavery and the Four Sons/Children of the Passover Seder - Imagine the four sons/children as four responses to human trafficking today.

Got Mitzvah? - What is your mission? A column in the Congregation B'nai Israel Menorah newsletter.

Loving the Stranger - Ways to think about and act against modern slavery at Passover. A column in the Congregation B'nai Israel Menorah newsletter.

Timeless Articles from Other Sources

Six Solutions that Are Working in Fighting Human Trafficking

Beyond Hashtags and Resolutions: What It Will Take to End Slavery by Maurice Middleberg

Empowering Partnerships to Tackle Modern Slavery by Lean Alfred Santos

Former SEALS, Green Berets, and CIA take action against slavery

Gloria Steinem in Oprah Magazine discusses her trips to Ghana to investigate sex trafficking.

This is what a 12-year-old has done to stop slavery. Now, imagine if we all did our parts. Jessica Baer, a Fair Lawn, NJ, tween has helped to free and educate 30 slaves.  

Timely Articles: Recent Developments & Media Coverage

Times of Israel/NJ Standard article on freeing slaves and Passover, featuring an interview with Debra.

The Passover Project, an article on Debra's work published in the Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper.

17 articles in a ground-breaking series in the Christian Science Monitor on slavery around the world today.

A series of AP articles in 2015 on slavery in the fishing industry.

The New York Times series on slavery and fishing.

Huffington Post article on the legal ban on importing to the U.S. some goods produced by slave labor.

The Wall Street Journal Frontiers blog tracks child labor in an industry where slavery is common.

The Guardian reports on dangerous child labor and outright slavery in the chocolate industry.

Bloomberg article on lawyers seeking protection through slavery warnings on food labels, closing loopholes.

New York Times articles on ISIS and sexual slavery:  The Theology of Rape, and Sex Slaves and Birth Control.

Human Trafficking, Corporate Liability, and the Courts by Sharon Samuel.

Articles About Jews Freeing Slaves

The New Jersey Jewish Standard: Freeing The Slaves

The Sun Sentinel & Florida Jewish Journal:  Passover Project Seeks South Florida Participants

The New Jersey Jewish News: A Father’s Memory Is An Inspiration to Serve and to Smile

The Los Angeles Jewish Journal: Jews Combatting Modern Slavery, and An Anti-Trafficking Bill That Stalls In the Senate

 The New Jersey Jewish Standard: Talking About Liberation

Links to Effective Organizations

Help The Jewish Community Respond To Modern Slavery

Addressing Slavery in the Worst Hotspots around the

Addressing Human Trafficking in Israel:


- The Joint Distribution Committee's Center for International Migration and Integration.

Addressing Human Trafficking in the United States:


Jewish Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking/Chicago

Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking


For Further Study

In addition to the articles and links above, below are my top recommendations of books and websites:

·      Read the harrowing and inspirational books by Kevin Bales: The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America TodayDisposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, and Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves.

·      A Crime So Monstrous: Face-To-Face with Modern-Day Slavery by E. Benjamin Skinner was the book that originally inspired – and, frankly, sickened – me. It is difficult to read and well worth reading, as well.

·      Visit the Building Awareness tab at for lots of user-friendly text and video.