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Slavery Didn't End in Egypt: Human Trafficking Passover Resources and Legislative Update

Slavery Didn't End in Egypt: Human Trafficking Passover Resources and Legislative Update

Earlier this year, the United States took meaningful action to further prohibit products made by slave labor to enter our country. For 85 years, there was a loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930, that allowed companies to import goods that were derived from forced, child or prison labor as long as the United States could not produce enough of the product to meet domestic demand. With the passage of an amendment, this “consumptive demand” exemption was eliminated from law, and companies will no longer be able to import these goods.

Oftentimes, this exemption was being used by companies in the food industry. For example, before the law was passed, the United States was knowingly importing fish that were caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia. Further, there have been several cases of cocoa being produced on plantations in West Africa using slave labor, but the product was still allowed to enter the country because the U.S could not produce enough of it to meet consumers’ demand. Closing this loophole is a step towards eliminating these labor practices around the world, and is especially important as we look towards Passover.

Although Passover is a festival that recounts a story of our ancestors, its messages hold a very modern significance. Jews gather on Passover to tell the story of our slavery and journey towards freedom. From Moses to today, there are people seeking freedom in national all over the world that have experiences similar to that of our Exodus.

During the seder, there are many opportunities to add additional readings or elaborate on messages of social justice that are already present in the haggadah. You can use the RAC’s modern day slavery haggadah insert during your seder to reflect on the far too many people who continue to be victims of human trafficking. It contains several readings and poems corresponding with different parts of the seder. If you would like to dedicate your entire seder to learning about modern day slavery, consider using our complete modern day slavery haggadah.  

To learn more about issues of human trafficking, visit our issue page. To learn more about Passover and its many themes of social justice, read our holiday guide

Tracy Wolf was a 2015-2016 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), and currently serves as the RAC's Leadership Development Associate. Originally from Syosset, N.Y., she is a member of North Shore Synagogue and a graduate of Dickinson College.

Tracy Wolf

Published: 4/05/2016