FORCED marriage and domestic servitude were among the ten “plagues” remembered at a special Seder organised by the Council of Christian and Jews (CCJ) this week.
The Freedom Seder, held at the Canary Wharf offices of Clifford Chance, on Monday, and sponsored by the United Reformed Church, incorporated reflections on human trafficking into the traditional Jewish ritual, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
It was facilitated by Maureen Kendler, lead tutor at the London School of Jewish Studies, who took more than 70 guests, from many faith backgrounds, through the rituals. The Four Cups of Wine were accompanied by four stories from victims of human trafficking; the ten plagues, remembered by placing drops of wine on a plate, where matched by ten elements of trafficking, read aloud by guests.
Participants who shared stories of work by their communities to tackle trafficking included a Fr Mark Odion, a Roman Catholic priest from Edo State, Nigeria. He described how boys and girls were lured by traffickers with the promise of jobs, and spoke about the work by the Vatican to address the problem.
The RC Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark, the Most Revd Kevin McDonald, read aloud advice on how to identify and report signs of trafficking. Testimonies included that of Hai, a 15-year-old tricked into travelling to England, where he was forced to water cannabis plants by his debtor, and eventually jailed and threatened with deportation.
There was an opportunity to learn traditional Jewish songs, taught by Joseph Finlay, including “Dayenu”, which recalls the good things that God did for his people, and guests were invited to “hunt the matzah”.
Elliot Steinberg, the programme manager at CCJ who conceived the event, said that it demonstrated that “far from being tokenistic or ineffective, interfaith engagement and action can achieve real social change”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was among contributors to the event’s Haggadah Companion, which can be downloaded for free at: http://www.ccj.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/CCJ-Haggadah-Companion-E-Version.pdf.