The Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ is heading into the final lap of its race to raise awareness of human trafficking ahead of the Super Bowl, taking place Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
Human trafficking is a rapidly growing criminal industry, with New Jersey, a major national and international transportation and shipping corridor, serving as a prime location. Since 2004, when officials began collecting statistics on the issue at international sporting events, efforts to raise awareness of and deter trafficking have become a regular part of preparations for the Super Bowl by law enforcement, attorneys general, the interfaith community, and community advocates.
In partnership with the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey, an advisory council of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the CRC helped launch and facilitates the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, comprising 90 diverse organizations.
During January, National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the CRC is a cosponsor of a number of events and campaigns. A NJ Human Trafficking Awareness Day observance was held Jan. 15 at Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood; upcoming events include:
• End Human Trafficking Shabbat — Area synagogues have been asked to devote one Shabbat in January to raising awareness among their congregants, using a program “tool kit” sent by the CRC. As of press time the following congregations have participated or plan to participate:
Adath Shalom, Morris Plains; Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah, Clark; B’nai Keshet, Montclair; Congregation Agudath Israel, Caldwell; Congregation Anshe Chesed, Linden; Congregation Beth El, South Orange; Congregation B’nai Israel, Millburn; Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills; Jewish Center of Northwest NJ, Washington; Marlboro Jewish Center; Morristown Jewish Center Beit Yisrael; Oheb Shalom Congregation, South Orange; Summit Jewish Community Center; Temple B’nai Abraham, Livingston; Temple Hatikvah, Flanders; Temple Ner Tamid, Bloomfield; Temple Shalom, Succasunna; White Meadow Temple, Rockaway.
• Fighting Modern-Day Slavery: A Training for Rabbis and Jewish Leaders — Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., UJA-Federation of NY, Manhattan, sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
• S.O.A.P. UP New Jersey — Jan. 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Jewish Federation of Northern NJ, Paramus. The NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking is partnering with S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) to recruit volunteers for a one-day training and mobilization effort to offer area motels free bars of soap in wrappers imprinted with the Human Trafficking Hotline phone number.
• The #HTchallenge — A social media campaign that will take place leading up to and on the day of the Super Bowl to spread the message of abolishing modern-day slavery.
• We Were Slaves: The Jewish Community Unites Against Sex Trafficking — Friday, March 28, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus, Whippany. This conference will explore Jewish history and the community’s obligation to combat sex-trafficking (including the white slave trade), the issue in Israel to day, and modern-day efforts to create an abolitionist movement.
Those wishing to become advocates in the fight against human trafficking or obtain more information and resources available in New Jersey, visit njhumantrafficking.org or jfedgmw.org/humantrafficking.