We Were Slaves In The Land Of Egypt

Today is the 23rd day of the omer, the period of counting that Jews engage in from Passover to Shavuot.  The omer has come to be a period of self-reflection, a spiritual journey from slavery to freedom that culminates in the giving of Torah on Shavuot.  Yet there is one thing that I can’t seem to get off my mind this year: the state of slavery in our world is worse than ever.

If we are to take the Passover rituals seriously and answer the call of freedom, we must acknowledge that in most of our towns across America, there are slaves.  I do not use the term ‘slave’ figuratively; there are slaves, people held against their will and used, treated like a commodity.  According to the U.N., there are up to 27 million people worldwide who are in slavery.  This number is greater than at any other time in history.  Attorney General Eric Holder notes this statistic in his recent address at the Clinton Library.

There are many organizations working to end slavery around the world and here in the United States.  Especially during this time of the omer, as we prepare to once again receive Torah and shed our slave mentality, let us work for the freedom of all people around the world.  Visit Free The Slaves and the Not For Sale Campaign, get involved, and help make freedom real, maybe even for someone in your neighborhood.

Rabbi Josh Whinston of Temple Beth David of Cheshire, CT, is a 2012-2013 Brickner Fellow. Photo at top right courtesy of Free the Slaves. Photo at left courtesy of Temple Beth David.

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