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E-Newsletter, Zissen Passover!
April 19, 2016

A Zissen Pesach!

In this newsletter, we are making it easy to make a real difference. Improve your seders. Save a life.

In This Issue:

"Under-Kill" - A message from Rabbi Debra.

Craig’s Corner - Notes from the rebbetzin.

Updated Passover Resources - Enhance your seders and the whole holiday week.

Freeing Slaves in the News - Current articles about combatting slavery.

Have 10 Seconds? - You can help free slaves.

Guest Columnists - Emmett & Hannah Mathilda Weisz on Fashion for Freedom.

Calendar & Staying in Touch - New dates and appearances.

Thank You - With gratitude to our subscribers.

"Under-Kill" - A Message from Rabbi Debra Orenstein

My husband, reading all my notes, articles, and updates about Passover, accused me of “overkill.” Moi?! Well, now that you mention it, I can see how folks not as immersed as I in the subject of Passover and modern slavery might find one or two articles to be enough.

So, I decided for this column to peddle some “under-kill.” Having invented this word, I can tell you that it has two definitions:
1) Whatever is easy, simple, and takes little time or effort
2) Whatever leads to the least possible loss of life and suffering for slaves today

For the first definition, I have selected my top five high impact, low effort suggestions from among my updated Seder Solutions - 72 (I see your point, Craig) Ideas for Making Your Seders More Fun and Meaningful. Increase meaning and lower stress this Passover!

1. Consider serving the salad course or other vegetables in addition to parsley for karpas. This prevents people from getting too hungry and lets them concentrate on the telling.

2. Set out one extra place setting and leave it empty. Discuss who and what it might represent: Jews who are not connected to their heritage and don’t attend a Seder; slaves in the world today, who are not free to rest – or to celebrate; hungry people who do not have enough to eat on the night when we declare, “let all who are hungry come and eat.”

3. Download and print Passover Prep, a single page handout. Read aloud the side of the page that describes the causes and cures for modern slavery. Discuss how some of the suggestions on the reverse side might be practiced beyond the Seders and after Passover, as well.

4. Place additional items on your Seder plate to spark discussion. Add an orange, tomato, padlock, or personal items that represent slavery, freedom, or both (e.g., cell phones, keys).

5. Give a meaningful afkiomen gift to promote freedom in the world, such as a goat from to help a farmer in a poor area become self-sustaining; a loan through – you supply the funds and the prize winner gets to choose from among deserving applicants; books about slavery; and/or tzedakah in honor of each child/participant.

As to the second definition of “under-kill,” I can only say: give. Give as much as you can to Free the Slaves. With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, God lifted us up out of bondage. Now, it’s our turn to extend a hand to others.

Craig's Corner, notes from the rebbetzin

I’m finally beginning to get in touch with my ancient Hebrew ancestors. As I prep for Passover, schlepping, cleaning, and re-writing web pages under my wife/rabbi’s yoke (and braving the grocery on behalf of my (lovely, generous) mother-in-law, who will be hosting the seders), I’m feeling the urgency to answer G-d’s call. It’s now Tuesday; the first seder is Friday. So I’m not quite under the equivalent pressure to prepare “the self same day” (Exodus 12:51), but I’m busy. I’ve got to get going.

Soon I will be seated with family, performing rituals and taking in the warmth of tradition. In some ways that feels like a destination, but, like arriving at Sinai, the seders really should only be a beginning of great change. What I’m heading for, if I’m doing it right amidst all this chaos, is really the launch, the launch into something new.

Change is inevitable, and the pace picks up as we age. I guess the question is not Will there be change? but How much can I be in control of change? Can I use the seder and the themes of the Passover holiday to help me steer my life in a positive direction? Is all this work and activity actually for something? If I’m free of bondage, perhaps the bondage of bad habits, what is it I’m free to actually do?

I have my goals: get some good writing done, prepare my upcoming photography shows, create a new course for my university teaching, help my wife and kids free some slaves. Will you use the seders for more than nostalgia and obligation this year? Make the holiday count. Come out of Passover this year embracing that feeling of freedom, freedom now to do something great!

Updated Passover Resources - Enhance your seders and the whole holiday week.

The Passover and Freeing Slaves pages have been updated at

Debra has published four newspaper columns in the last six weeks – all about Passover and freeing slaves.

Freeing Slaves in the News - Current articles about combatting slavery.

Several stories have been published about Debra's efforts to free slaves, including in the Jewish press of New York, New Jersey, South Florida, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Baltimore, as well as the general media, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pascack Valley Press, and CNN. Visit our Freeing Slaves page and review the links there.

Have 10 Seconds? - You Can Help Free Slaves!

If you can sign your name, you can help. If you can hit print on your computer, you can help some more.

SIGN a petition, asking all 2016 Presidential candidates to fund anti-trafficking efforts. Join Free the Slaves, the Rabbinical Assembly, Jewish Women International, National Council of Jewish Women, and Jewish Federations, among others, and back the petition at

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 then we spend fighting them in a year. If we will make a reasonable investment - just two cents for every dollar in profits that traffickers earn off the backs of slaves - then we can meet the U.N. goal of ending slavery by 2030.

PRINT out Seder Coupons and distribute them at your Seders, synagogue, school, workplace, and anywhere else you go where there are Jews, throughout the holiday.

Guest Columnists - Emmett and Hannah Mathilda Weisz on Fashion for Freedom

From Hannah Mathilda, age 9: When I was 8, I wanted to sell online all of the clothes that were either too small for me, or that just didn’t look good on me, personally. Then, my mom wanted to free 18 slaves, but I convinced her to free 100. When we did (finally!), we continued to learn about slaves, and that was one of the most important problems in the world for us. So, I decided to donate a lot of money to freeing slaves, but I didn’t know how. Then I realized: “Of course! I can donate money from a fashion website.” And so, I’ve started Fashion for Freedom. Dazzleberry! And now I will introduce my brother, the man without whose help all our computers would explode: Emmett Weisz.

From Emmett, age 11: I am the tech guy for Fashion for Freedom. I love technology, and I wanted to help my mother and my sister launch this idea in order to free slaves. I hope that you will check out, especially if you or someone you know is a girl aged 6-12 who loves clothes. Right now, we only have a small amount of clothing, but soon we will have much more. On our website, you can also make a donation to Free the Slaves. Free the Slaves is an organization that not only frees slaves but helps them stay free. It also prevents free people from getting enslaved. All of the money that we make on Fashion for Freedom goes to Free the Slaves, so please check it out!

Remember: our URL does not include the word “for” – just

Thank you!

Calendar & Staying in Touch - New dates and appearances.

In late summer/early fall (date TBD) Debra will be speaking at Jewish Federation in New Haven, Connecticut on the topic "Leaving a Legacy: The Conversation Project." Stay in touch for more details.

October 21-22, 2016 - Marlboro, NJ - Scholar-in-Residence weekend with Rabbi Debra at Marlboro Jewish Center. For more information, please contact (732)536-2300.

March 9-11, 2018 - Chapel Hill, NC - Scholar-in-Residence weekend with Rabbi Debra at Kehillah Synagogue. For more information, please contact

If you would like to book Rabbi Debra for a speaking engagement (whether for one talk or a longer commitment), please contact us.

Thank You - With gratitude to our subscribers.

Please be in touch via e-mail with any comments or questions about the newsletter, the teaching CD's, issues of salvery & human trafficking, or any resources on the website.

We always appreciate your reviews on iTunes, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. Thank you for all your interest and support.

A Sweet and Freeing Passover to All!

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