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E-Newsletter, Zissen Passover!
March 28, 2018

A Zissen Pesach!

Dear Friends, With Rabbi Debra’s sabbatical, and with her work at her home congregation and as a speaker and scholar-in-residence, we took a hiatus on the newsletter and on refreshing the website Now, we are back in touch, to bring you this E-newsletter with lots of great new content on Passover. Wishing you a sweet, freeing and meaningful Pesach, -- Craig Weisz, editor

In This Issue:

"Festival of Freedom" - Greetings and Passover resources from Rabbi Debra.

Craig’s Corner - Notes from the rebbetzin.

Thank You - With gratitude to our subscribers.

"Festival of Freedom" - Greetings and Passover resource from Rabbi Debra Orenstein

As our Festival of Freedom comes around again, I am inspired by the work I share with many of you and with Free the Slaves for liberating people around the world.

1. Here is a brand new article: When Your Child Speaks: Passover, Kids, and Slavery.

2. If your synagogue or school is not already a Passover Project Partner, please consider inviting your community to join. This is a year-round Project! Passover Project Partnership simply means making a contribution – in any amount – to education, advocacy, and fundraising on behalf of today’s slaves. Share this one-page invitation with your board, principal, rabbi, or other leaders. Or contact Narit Gessler at to request more information or a consultation by phone.

3. Please download readings and activities for your Seder about modern slavery and our mission as Jews to end it.

Passover Prep: What can Jews do in 10 hours, 10 minutes or even 10 seconds to remember and help slaves this Passover? This one-page handout has suggestions for action. It outlines root causes of slavery and solutions developed by Free the Slaves. 

Seder Coupons: These postcard-sized “coupons” can be printed and distributed at your Seder to inspire conversation and tzedakah (charity) during—and beyond—the holiday. 

Seder Starters: This curated collection of online resources offers easily accessible links for every part of the Seder. Here are just a few of the suggestions in Seder Starters: add a padlock to the Seder plate to inspire conversation, share the testimony of a freed slave, ask a fifth question (about slaves), serve Fair-Trade coffee with dessert and explain why, give “an afikoman gift that matters,” take your “slavery footprint,” sing a song about the supply chain set to the tune of Dayenu, or choose from dozens of other songs, prayers, activities, and readings.

Below, Craig shares some thoughts from both of us on “inner slavery” and psychological and spiritual liberation. These are, unquestionably, important Passover topics. However, I am focusing in this brief greeting on alerting you to resources and ideas to help people who are literally enslaved. Our need for “liberation” from overwork, or even from addictions, selfishness, or other deeply serious matters, is what people refer to as a “first world problem.” Unfortunately, the trafficking of human beings persists in the “first world” – and throughout the world. Until that issue is solved, it is my top priority. I hope you will also put it high on your list.

Of course, inner and outer work are more than a bit related. They can be windows – and supports – to one another. As the Hasidic masters taught, another human being’s physical need becomes my spiritual need - and mission. May your soul be freer because you freed another’s body.

Wishing you a joyous and liberating holiday!
Rabbi Debra

Craig's Corner, notes from the rebbetzin

What to Leave Behind
My wife as always helps clarify Jewish values in discussing what is important to take with you when you make an urgent change in life. (See her recent CBI Newsletter on Passover .) Be prepared to meet a crisis, and be also prepared for success and celebration. Take with you what cannot be replaced, what fulfills a promise, and what will sustain you physically as well as spiritually. These moments are also instructive in telling us what is okay - and even advantageous - to leave behind.

Eight years ago before we moved from California to New Jersey, we had two garage sales, gave gifts to friends and neighbors, and then donated two full van-loads of stuff to Good Will. Then, on the day the movers came, we put perhaps another van-load worth of stuff out on the curb. And when we arrived in New Jersey, the first thing we ended up doing was taking yet another van-load of stuff to Good Will. Only then could we feel we really were ready to make a fresh start in a new home. We don’t miss - or even remember what we gave away, but much of it, I’m sure is being put to use by someone else. The furniture and gear we had put on the curb in Los Angeles disappeared before the moving van even departed. What was old and weighing us down became new and dear to someone else. And thank goodness.

We collect and hold on to things that prevent us from having new experiences and new inspirations. This is true of material things, and it is true spiritually as well. Debra likes to say that on the High Holidays we do a spiritual accounting so that our material lives will improve. At Pesach time, as we celebrate the transition from slavery to freedom, we do a material accounting, getting rid of chametz, so that our spiritual lives will improve. A friend of ours, professional organizer June Saruwatari, says that you should require each object in your life to have “truth, love, meaning, and purpose” - or you should get rid of it. You can really clear some shelves if hold to this rule. And consider this spiritually and emotionally too. What hatreds, obsessions, grudges, fears, temptations, self- criticisms, and even indolent pleasures are preventing you from being your best self? This year, as you clear out your shelves and imagine what our ancestors left behind as they fled slavery for freedom, consider what you can leave behind, and be a lighter and loftier soul for doing so.

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 slavery & human trafficking, or any resources on the website.

We always appreciate your reviews on iTunes, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

You can also invite Rabbi Debra to your community to speak. Please consult the Scholar-in-Residence page for more information.

Thank you for all your interest and support.

A Sweet and Freeing Passover to All!

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