& Other Ways You Can
Help Repair the World
וְכִֽי־תְשַׁלְּחֶ֥נּוּ חָפְשִׁ֖י מֵֽעִמָּ֑ךְ לֹ֥א תְשַׁלְּחֶ֖נּוּ רֵיקָֽם׃ הַעֲנֵ֤יק תַּעֲנִיק֙ ל֔וֹ מִצֹּ֣אנְךָ֔ וּמִֽגָּרְנְךָ֖ וּמִיִּקְבֶ֑ךָ אֲשֶׁ֧ר בֵּרַכְךָ֛ יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ תִּתֶּן־לֽוֹ׃ וְזָכַרְתָּ֗ כִּ֣י עֶ֤בֶד הָיִ֙יתָ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֖ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ עַל־כֵּ֞ן אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּךָ֛ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּ֖ה הַיּֽוֹם׃
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
Help Through Advocacy
Synagogues, Jewish schools, and other non-profits in the Jewish world can join Passover Project , a year-round effort by over 60 Jewish organizations, to end slavery by the year 2030. Learn more here.
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.
For current information on advocating for legislation and funding, follow the Free The Slaves Blog.
Help Through 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. Liberating a human being and providing health care, rehabilitation, education, and job training, can run as low as $950 per person in developing countries.
DONATE to organizations with proven track records in fighting human trafficking, including:
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.
"I do not wish to think, to speak, or to write with moderation. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate - I will not excuse –I will not retreat a single inch – and I will be heard.”
- Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel
quoting abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in his famous "Religion and Race" speech, January 14, 1963
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 been working with its leadership to help connect Jews to the organization – and vice versa.
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 - from their time of liberation. through adulthood. 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.
Help Through Everyday Purchases
View the most recent Passover Project Annual Handout for tips and best practices for keeping slavery out of your shopping cart.
If you own stock, use annual meetings or simple emails to ask the board of directors and C.E.O. to protect against slavery in the supply chain of the company. Work with your human resources department or mutual fund family to advocate for fair trade portfolios.
Help During Shabbat
Even if you don't 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.
Download the latest version of Free Your Shabbat! prepared by Rabbi Debra and published by Free the Slaves.
Help During Hanukah
Free Your Hanukah! - One side concisely concisely describes the scope - and solutions - to the scourge of slavery in the world today. The other side of the page outlines what you can do on this Hanukah in 10 hours, 10 minutes, or even 10 seconds to raise awareness and help the 40 million people now enslaved.
Help During Passover
To remember slaves on the Jewish Festival of Freedom, please go to the Passover Section of the Holidays page which is full of readings and activities to enhance your Seders and holiday - and to help put an end, finally, to 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.
Chutzpah This Passover - How a rabbi met with the head of the World Bank – and how Jews can free slaves this Passover.
Do One Thing Different - Making simple changes – in Your Seders and in life – can make all the difference.
If You Were A Slave - Deploying dollars and imagination can 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 Person - Amazing individuals – including children – 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 spring 2014 newsletter about finding partners to free slaves.
Slavery Here and Now - Originally published in The Jewish Standard, this article grapples with human trafficking that came to town with the Superbowl - and how to respond to the crisis of modern slavery.
Upping the Ante - What happens when you commit to saving 18 slaves, and your child asks, “Why only 18?”
Slavery and the Four Sons/Children of the Passover Seder - Imagine the four sons/children as four responses to human trafficking.
Got Mitzvah? - What is your mission?
Loving the Stranger - Ways to think about and act against modern slavery during Passover.
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.
A 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.
Jessica Baer, a Fair Lawn, NJ, tween has helped to free and educate 30 slaves. This is what a 12-year-old has done to stop slavery. Now, imagine if we all did our parts.
Articles About Slavery in the General Press
by Maurice Middleberg
Empowering Partnerships to Tackle Modern Slavery by Lean Alfred Santos
17 articles in a ground-breaking series in the Christian Science Monitor on slavery around the world today.
A series of AP articles 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.
Bloomberg article on lawyers seeking protection through slavery warnings on food labels, closing loopholes.
“Human Trafficking, Corporate Liability, and the Courts” by Sharon Samuel.
Help the Jewish community respond to modern slavery!
Addressing Slavery in the Worst Hotspots around the Globe:
- The Joint Distribution Committee's Center for International Migration and Integration.
Addressing Human Trafficking in Israel:
Addressing Human Trafficking in the United States:
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:
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 FreeTheSlaves.net for lots of user-friendly text and video.
CAUSES & CHARITIES:
American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world.
The Fistula Foundation helps prevent and cure obstetrical fistulas, holes that develop during childbirth between a woman’s birth passage and one or more of her internal organs. While we see very few fistulas in the West, they are rampant in the poor countries of Africa and Asia, due to malnutrition and inadequate obstetrical care. The results are catastrophic: women suffer infertility, incontinence, infections, foul smells, and, most seriously, abandonment by their families and communities. The good news is that the cure rate for a relatively simple, low-cost surgery is 90%. Even better news: prevention also improves other health outcomes - and costs pennies.
Good People Fund, founded by some of the same folks who worked on Danny Siegel’s Ziv Tzedakah Fund, is named for the good people who do grass-roots charitable work, the good people who need those services, and the good people who lend their financial support. The fund identifies and supports "mitzvah heroes," social entrepreneurs who leverage small amounts of money to make a big difference in the lives of people in need.
Hadassah, the world’s largest Jewish women’s organization, does ground-breaking work in medicine and community-building, both in Israel and in the Diaspora. Hannah Mathilda Weisz, Rabbi Debra's daughter, is the fourth-generation in the family to be a lifetime member of Hadassah.
Jewish World Watch (JWW) is a coalition of over 70 synagogues dedicated to advocating for the prevention of genocide and the proper care for its victims.
The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the overseas arm of the American Jewish community, providing support to Jews and non-Jews across the globe. I grew up hearing about “the Joint,” and couldn’t initially figure out how some speakeasy was able to do so much good, world-wide.
The New Israel Fund (NIF) supports the vision of the Israeli declaration of independence: social justice and equality for all people in the Jewish State, without regard to religion, race, or gender. To date, NIF has supported close to 1,000 organizations with over $300 million in grants.