Candle Lighting time 7:55 PM
Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745–1796) was only 11 years old when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He made the harrowing journey from West Africa to the West Indies, then to the colony of Virginia, and then to England. By the age of 20 he purchased his own freedom, still bearing the emotional and physical scars of the inhumane treatment he had experienced. Unable to enjoy his own freedom while others were still enslaved, Equiano became active in the movement to abolish slavery in England. He wrote his autobiography (an unheard of achievement for a former slave in that era) in which he described the horrific treatment of the enslaved.
In its own way the Torah tried to mitigate the institution of slavery. In this week’s Torah portion, Behar, our ancestors were commanded to free all the Israelite slaves on Yom Kippur at the onset of the Jubilee year. “… The Day of Atonement-you shall have the horn sounded throughout your land and you shall hallow the 50th year. You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land for all of its inhabitants…” (Leviticus 25:9-10) “You shall proclaim liberty…” is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
The institution of slavery has always been pernicious both to the slave and slave owner. The Etz Hayim commentary below the line comments, “The Jubilee year brings freedom not only to the slaves but also to the slave owners, freeing them from the dehumanization situation of having such power over other human beings (P’nei Y’hoshua).” (Page 470)
Unfortunately slavery even in the United States still exists today. Estimates of the number of slaves today range from around 21 million to 46 million, depending on the method used to form the estimate and the definition of slavery being used. People may be enticed to migrate with the promise of work, only to have their documents seized and be forced to work under the threat of violence to them or their families. Undocumented immigrants may also be taken advantage of; as without legal residency, they often have no legal recourse. Along with migrant slavery, forced prostitution is the form of slavery most often encountered in wealthy regions such as the United States, in Western Europe, and in the Middle East. It is the primary form of slavery in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, particularly in Moldova and Laos. Many child sex slaves are trafficked from these areas to the West and the Middle East. An estimated 20% of slaves to date are active in the sex industry. Sexual exploitation can also become a form of debt bondage when enslavers insist that victims work in the sex industry to pay for basic needs and transportation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_21st_century)
Be God’s partner in freeing today’s slaves because we know what it’s like because once we were slaves in Egypt.
Save the Date!
May 23, Annual sisterhood mah-jongg party. Make your reservations now.
Sunday, June 2 Celebrate Israel Parade
Saturday night, June 8, Erev Shavuot, 7 PM, join us for our annualTikun L'al Shavuot. We shall study the topic"Building Character and Building Society: Messages from Sinai and Learnings from Auschwitz." We shall read and discuss selections from Israeli pros and prose and poetry.
Sunday, June 9, 10 AM, due to security concerns a renewal Shavuot service will be held inside in our ballroom. Using guided imagery, song, and movement we shall accept the Torah in our lives.
Monday, June 10, 9:30 AM, Shavuot services with Yizkor at approximately 11 AM.