Maggid, which, like Haggadah, originates from the Hebrew root word fortell, has been designated as the official storytelling part of the Seder. We share the story of the Israelites’ escape from bondage after 400 years of oppression in Egypt each year to remind us that though we may be free at present, there are others who are not. By participating in a Seder we become deeply aware of the injustice of slavery, and so it is our responsibility to stay informed and educated and to loudly prevent continued human rights violations and slavery in our times. Unfortunately, some 2,000 years after the time of Moses, slavery has not been eradicated in the world. The trafficking of women and children within domestic, agricultural and sex industries is an enduring reality. Anti-Slavery International estimates that there are currently 20 million people being held as slaves throughout the world. Even this number is largely conjecture, since the voices of the oppressed are not easily heard. What is even more shocking is how prevalent this practice continues to be. The most common form of modern slavery is debt bondage, in which a person is made to give their body as a condition of their loan repayment. Frequently, in order to afford the journey to “freedom,” these people pay with their life savings and go into debt to individuals who make promises they have no intention of keeping. Instead of opportunity, what the immigrants find when they arrive is bondage. This is probably the least-known form of slavery, and yet it is the most widely used. These modern-day slaves live in all 50 states, working as farm hands, domestic servants, sweatshop and factory laborers, gardeners, restaurant and construction workers and prostitutes. Upwards of 50,000 women and children are forced into sexual exploitation every year. But there is hope. Several organizations are committed to eradicating slavery by finding long-term solutions and creating systemic change, including advocating for stronger federal and state laws against human trafficking. “…we are living in the midst of a tragic paradox: no longer is there an underground network to guide slaves to freedom, but rather, there is an underground criminal network to entrap people and sell them into slavery. Until we unite to confront this grave violation of human rights, it will continue to plague the world and feed off vulnerable men, women and children.” — The Freedom Center As we retell the story of the Israelites’ oppression so many generations ago, we must remain committed to helping those who are still enslaved today, and speak out for the freedom of all whenever it is compromised.
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