Melanie Roth Gorelick, director of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, offered advice to Jewish groups in Arizona as they launch a campaign against human trafficking.
Gorelick, who organized a similar campaign before the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, spoke in separate meetings Oct. 14 to leaders of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and its Jewish Community Relations Council.
The Phoenix area is hosting the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, 2015. Activists contend that the revels surrounding the championship game attract prostitution and other forms of trafficking.
“I shared with them the strong interfaith and interethnic community programming that goes along with working on trafficking issues,” said Gorelick. “We raised awareness with both men and women to ensure that laws are strong enough to prosecute perpetrators and help survivors. We want to make sure that the groups that are working together are linked together. It helps them with resources and networking.”
The Greater MetroWest CRC is a founding member of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking. The coalition backed NJ legislation that increased penalties on those who recruit men or women into slavery, forced labor, or prostitution as well as those who patronize such practices.
“Our involvement in creating a coalition was extremely effective,” Gorelick said she told the Arizona leaders. “We helped pass a very strong law against trafficking that is now a model across the United States, and we worked with more that 600 hotels in the areas near the Meadowlands to ensure there were protocols in place to fight trafficking and the management knew that the community was watching.”
Gorelick said she reminded the Arizonans of the “Jewish values” involved in the fight against trafficking.
“Every year on Passover we remember what it was like to be slaves and what it is like to be free. We still are both advocates and victims, and it is something we need to speak out about,” she said.
Attending the meetings with Gorelick was Roberta Elliott, who divides her time between South Orange and Tucson. The meetings included the first presentation on the topic to the Southern Arizona federation’s Women’s Philanthropy division.
“I cannot tell you how many women came up afterward and told us they had no idea this was going on and that they as activists needed to get involved fighting it,” said Elliot, who is cochair of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater MetroWest.