Faith leaders and community members gathered Thursday for a workshop called Responding to Human Trafficking: Faith Responses.
They gathered to study religious texts and share ideas on how to respond to human trafficking, said one of the event coordinators, Rabbi Beth Schwartz of Temple Israel in Columbus, Georgia.
Schwartz also said they met “to work on developing a way to speak to our congregations . . . to say these are our values, we value every human being, every human being is a reflection of the Holy, every human being is worthwhile.
“. . . we have a covenant in our religious traditions. Exploitation is not part of the covenant that we have, however we express it,” she said.
Schwartz spoke to the Ledger-Enquirer after the workshop, which was held in partnership with the Pastoral Institute and the Columbus Community Coalition to End Human Trafficking.
Here are excerpts from that interview.
Q: Can you explain what human trafficking is?
A: In simple terms, human trafficking is the buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of labor. That labor can be household labor, it can be agricultural farm labor, it can be sex work.
Q: What are some of the joint efforts to stop trafficking, but also stop the demand for it?
Q: How has the faith community been involved with that?
Q: Do you think you all will be meeting more regularly like this?
A: I hope there will be a regular meeting. I hope that we will do more programming like this . . . Many of our seminaries do not provide this kind of pastoral training, and even if they do it helps to have contact with your colleagues and to work together. So, a lot of respect for one another’s traditions, and out of that respect we can, I think, do something important here.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect that someone is being trafficked, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888, text 233733, or go to their website https://humantraffickinghotline.org.