Jewish communal response to Human Trafficking

The organized Jewish community in the U.S. – as well as in other countries, including Israel — has taken on the challenge of responding to the scourge of Human Trafficking. For instance:
The 2004 Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis adopted a resolution which condemned Human Trafficking and urged each of us to engage in fighting the ongoing tragedy of human slavery.
Inspired by that document, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann of Kolot Chayeinu (a progressive Jewish congregration in Brooklyn), Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Associate Dean of HUC’s rab school, and Rabbi Ruth Gais, Director of HUC’s New York Kollel, decided to do something. With the co-sponsorship of the CCAR’s Women’s Rabbinic Network, the topic of 2005 Backman Symposium at HUC will be “Freeing the Captives: The Jewish Response to Human Trafficking.”
The symposium will be held at the Brookdale Campus, One West 4th St., NYC, on Wednesday, December 7 at 6:30 PM and is free and open to the public. (Please RSVP to Susan Shea to let them know if you will participate.)
On October 30th, in New York, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs received a powerful briefing from Dr. Laura J. Lederer, the Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons to the U.S. State Department’s Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. I’ve appended a summary among the comments to a previous Jewschool entry, Task Force on Human Trafficking Site Launches, which refers to an organization seeking to end human trafficking in Israel.
On March 4, 2005, The National Council of Jewish Women rallied at the United Nations to call for an end to human trafficking. Read all about it.
The American Jewish World Service has also expanded its fight against human trafficking. From their website:

AJWS has been funding local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that fight sex trafficking in Asia, where the problem is especially acute. AJWS is continuing one Cambodian NGO’s funding for a third year, and has just announced grants to two more in Thailand. The activities of these NGOs represent just a small sample of the anti-trafficking work supported by AJWS.
AJWS supports several interrelated approaches to empowering current and potential trafficking victims by funding local grassroots organizations that provide training, education and counseling. For example, our project partners implement livelihood training to provide sustainable economic alternatives to false promises of high-paying jobs abroad. In addition, they develop community awareness campaigns on the issue of trafficking, as well as clandestinely educating current trafficking victims about their rights to seek assistance. When possible, our project partners also provide legal, medical, and psychosocial help to victims.

Sometime in May 2005, Yossi Abromowitz’s SocialAction.com posted a message entitled “A Human Being is Not for Sale!” — apparently from a group called “Pidyon – the Rabbinic Coalition against Slavery in Israel.” Contact information is at the end of the message, which began:

We, the undersigned, represent a coalition of Rabbis and Rabbinical students of all denominations, deeply committed to Jewish moral values and to the State of Israel.
“And if your brother becomes impoverished beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not work him like a [bond]servant …For they are my [bond]servants, whom I brought out from the land of Mitzrayim; they shall not be sold as [bond]servants are sold. …You must not rule over him with harshness, and you shall fear God.” (Lev. 25:39-43)
We are appalled and outraged at the growing phenomenon of Human Trafficking in Israel. We consider it our responsibility to eradicate this modern phenomenon, just as we are obligated to remember our own slavery in ancient Egypt.
We call on Israel to declare its opposition to this horrific practice of sexually enslaving women. Israel must do everything in its power to abolish the imprisonment of women in the underworld of sexual slavery …

If you know of additional information on Jewish communal response in opposition to human trafficking, just add it via the comment [kvetch] tool, below.
[Ed’s note:] The Pidyon group is actually part of the Task Force on Human Trafficking whose site we launched yesterday.

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