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Freedom Seder (and the CCJ Haggadah Companion) – CCJ

April 4, 2017

Many liberal Jews (including Jesus!) have adapted the Passover meal to suit their own contexts. There’s even a muslim in this one. According to the UN office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is the fastest growing international crime, the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved and the fastest growing source of income for organised crime.

The Freedom Seder brings together elements of a traditional Jewish Seder and modern reflections on social justice. It uses the Seder as a springboard for thought and reflection on the issues of human trafficking and modern slavery, comprising respect for the traditional ceremonies and flexibility in the rituals.  It includes the stories of real people, e.g. a victim of human tricking during the  4 cups ritual. There are also accounts opf Victim Support work.

In addition to blood, lice and frogs of the 10 plagues of Egypt, participants spill wine for modern evils, such as sexual exploitation, warfare and conflict, and domestic servitude.

CCJ Programme Manager Elliot Steinberg said “This seder marks the beginning of an interfaith movement to make a real difference against trafficking and slavery. It shows that far from being tokenistic or ineffective, interfaith engagement and action can achieve real social change. We are really looking forward to seeing how the Haggadah Companion and its action points are taken up by faith communities across the country and continuing this vital work with Stop The Traffik and other faith partners.”

David Mason, Rabbi of Muswell Hill United Synagogue, said the seder “was able to draw a connection to the depths of time, to our exodus from Egypt and bring it to life today, and use that as an incredible bond between us as a people and other faiths.”

Sam Grant of Jewish Human Rights group René Cassin, said: “The seder can be used both as a history lesson and for what we can learn for today’s society”.

Onjali Rauf, a Muslim guest, who is Founder & CEO of Making Herstory, an anti-human trafficking campaign, said: “The fact it was on human trafficking is revolutionary. It has the power to enlighten and bring together a lot of people”.

It’s a bit didactic, but then so is the traditional haggadah.


The Seder is a ritual which takes place at the beginning of the Jewish festival of Passover. At its most basic form, the Seder (Hebrew for “Order” referring to the specific order to the rituals involved) is designed to remind people of the story of the Exodus from Egypt through various retellings and symbolic foods, and includes a ceremonial meal at its centre.

To highlight the issue of human trafficking to Jews, Christians and people of all faiths and none.

The trafficking of human beings is documented long before bible and can be found for example in the code of Hammurabi (Babylon 1800 BCE) with, for example the provision for failing to pay debt meaning that one can sell oneself or one’s family into bonded labour for a period of years, and one can sell a slave for forced labour (law 118).

A certain ‘pentakakos’ (five time sinner/habitual sinner) appeared before Rabbi Abbahu [in a dream]. If he [the sinner] would pray, then rain would fall. R Abbahu sent for him and asked him “what is your trade?”. He replied “I work in the theatre. I commit 5 transgressions a day….R. Abbahu said to him “what good have you done?” He replied “I was working in the theatre and a woman came by and wept. I asked her what was wrong and she responded that her husband was imprisoned and she wanted to release him [raising funds by means of prostituting herself]. I sold my goods and gave her the money saying “this is for you, release your husband and do not sin” R. Abbahu said to him, “Indeed you are worthy that your prayers will be answered” (JT Taanit 64b)

It is online here

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From → Inter Faith

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