This Pesach, We Must Remember: Slavery is Not History

Dr. Charles Jacobs with Rabbi Joseph Polak witnessing the redemption of black Sudanese Christian slaves on Passover — March 23, 2011.

This Pesach, our own enslaved past is staring back at us from the present

Despite the surge of anti-Jewish hostility we now experience in America, we Jews are still free. Others, however, are not.

On Pesach in 2011, APT president Dr. Charles Jacobs and Rabbi Joseph Polak, then the director of Hillel at Boston University, flew to South Sudan to witness the liberation of black slaves.

Jacobs and Rabbi Polak participated in the redemption of 175 black Sudanese slaves. Through an interpreter, the rabbi told the freed slaves the story of Passover, gave them matzah to eat, and sang with them the song Dayenu.

All of the slaves had been kidnapped as part of the Arab north’s nearly 22-year jihad against the Christians and traditional believers of the south.

The slaves were captured in terrifying raids. The men were murdered and the women and children abducted. In captivity, the boys made goat-herds (often killed once they became too tall and strong to be controlled) and the girls concubines. Most were forcibly converted to Islam, and many girls and women were subjected to clitoridectomy.

The human rights group Christian Solidarity International raised money from donors in the U.S. and Europe to buy the slaves’ freedom.

Though the war in Sudan is long over, Arabs and Muslims still own hundreds of thousands of black slaves across North Africa, including those who remain in bondage in Sudan. In Mauritania, anywhere between 10 and 20% of the whole population of 3.4 million is owned as the property of the Arab-Berber minority. And in Algeria and Libya, blacks heading for Europe, fleeing the violence and poverty in central Africa, are enslaved by local Arab traffickers. CNN filmed an auction where two men sold for $400 apiece.

On Pesach, we should remember that none of this is history; nor is it politically correct — these slaves are owned by Arabs and Muslims. One is not supposed to mention that.

Jews are Jews because we break with the reigning orthodoxies of our times. To break with today’s canon, dare to think this thought: Today’s enslavers of blacks are the cousins of those who want to kill Jews in Israel and impose Islamic law on the West. And that is why the media and the human rights organizations don’t care. That is why you will be hearing about today’s black slaves from us, and not them.

As Jews, it is our duty to make sure that G-d is not the only one who knows about this, and that, with His help, the slaves are freed.

Watch the video, “Passover for Sudan’s Slaves,” here.

Passover for Sudan's slaves
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