When I think of Rosh Hashanah, I think of community and honey cake and apple picking with my family. I think of my children fidgeting in temple but reciting the prayers with comfort in their familiarity. I think of round challah and noodle kugel – always sweet – with cinnamon and raisins. But until recently, I never thought about human trafficking. I never thought about those who spend their days in chains – figuratively or literally – trapped in the bondage of modern-day slavery. As Jews, slavery is part of our history – but unfortunately it isn’t just a part of the past. More people are enslaved today than in any other time in history. On any given day there are an estimated 16,000-24,000 women and girls involved in prostitution-related activities in Chicagoland alone (http://caase.org/fact-sheets). How can we not take any day and every day as an opportunity to support trafficking victims and help those at risk.
Although a number of laws have been passed in recent years which support trafficking survivors (see graphic on right), there is more that needs to be done. Contact your local officials – police and government – and make sure they enforce these laws. Sample letters are available on the JCAST Chicago Resources page – www.jcastchicago.org/trafficking-resources.
As we reflect upon these Days of Awe and as we celebrate Yom Kippur, we can also think about Tikkun Olam – how we can work to repair the world through social action and social justice. Become a member of JCAST Chicago. Membership is free through 2016. Individual and organizational memberships are available as well as organizational partnerships. Visit www.jcastchicago.org/membership for an application and be sure to sign up for the JCAST Chicago listserv as well as sex trafficking action alerts on www.jcastchicago.org/action. Help organize a collection of toiletries for the Dreamcatcher Foundation which travels Chicago streets 4 nights a week to make contact with and offer support to sex trafficking victims. Visit www.jcastchicago.org/trafficking-resources for information on needed items as well as donation drop off locations. Attend the JCAST Chicago Coalition Meeting on Thursday, October 15at Curt’s Café in Evanston. Visit www.formsmarts.com/form/1n02 to RSVP.
G’mar Chatimah Tova. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for good.
~ Melissa Prober, NCJW Chicago North Shore; JCAST Chicago