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Slavery exists today

April 17, 2014
Passover is an eight day holiday beginning on the 15th of Nissan, corresponding this year to April 14.

For thousands of years the people of Israel have not forgotten their ancestors were slaves in the land of Egypt.

The passage from slavery into freedom became the chief event of Israelite history. Classical Hebrew writings lay stress on the fact the external liberation was not an end in itself but the necessary precondition for the receiving of the Law on Mount Sinai — the sublime climax of Israel's liberation which took place approximately 32 centuries ago.

"In every generation let each man look on himself as if he came forth out of Egypt." (The Haggadah-the story of the Passover).

This tenet strove to make the exodus from slavery into freedom a living personal experience.

It was in this spirit the story of the liberation was told and handed down from father to son.

The Seder (the Passover meal which means "order" in Hebrew) became the symbol of the bond between the individual and the family, and between them and the people, all united in the telling of the old, but ever renewed story. The Passover meal was probably, and considered by most, to have been the Last Supper of Jesus.

In this modern age, it is difficult to imagine there is slavery today. Yet, there are, indeed, more people in slavery and bondage today than at any other time in the world's history.

Yes, there are several countries in the world in which slavery is still a legal institution, but mostly it exists as what we now call "human trafficking."

According to the office of Michigan State Sen. Judy Emmons, there are 27 million people in slavery today. Most of these slaves are victims of the forced labor and sexual trafficking underground that produces child prostitution and child pornography.

After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing, according the Department of Health and Human Services.

Even more disturbing is that it exists in the United States and occurs here in Michigan. Cities in Michigan with the most calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and reported by the Polaris Project include Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Mackinac Island.

Soroptimist International Grosse Pointe and Soroptimist International Greater Macomb present a symposium at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at Lake Shore High School in St. Clair Shores.

For more information and a reservation to the free event, visit grossepointesoroptomist@gmail.com. The evening's panel includes Emmons, Prof. E. Christopher Johnson Jr. and FBI agent Nicole McGee.

There needs to be more attention to the institution of human slavery in the modern world.

Toward the end of the Haggadah, it says, "From Egypt Thou has redeemed us, O Lord our God, and from the house of slaves ransomed us, in famine fed us, and in plenty provided, us, from the sword saved us, and from the pest delivered us, and from evil and serious illnesses lifted us."

These words have been repeated for centuries and must continue to be a part of our celebration of the Passover season.

We should recognize and give the force of law and civil commitment to these holidays of freedom.

Amen and Amen.

Skully is cantor with the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and is president of the Grosse Pointe Ministerial Association.

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