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Postville, IA - Deceptive Jewish Rabbis, And Their "hechsher tzedek" Crap

Published on: June 4, 2008 02:09 PM
By: Sima Bensasson - lives in Postville and manages the real estate company owned by the Rubashkins
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Postville, IA - I need to preface this by saying that I am a Conservative Jew and currently affiliate with a Conservative synagogue in La Crosse, Wisconsin. 

I am embarrassed that someone who claims to be a religious leader of Conservative Jewry has the gall to urge his fellow Jews to stop buying kosher meat from Agriprocessors under the platform that unethical conditions existed at the plant. 

Morris Allen, who I’m not sure even deserves the privilege of the title rabbi, seems to be on a witch-hunt and will stop at nothing, especially if it means possibly seeking the truth.  Mr. Allen has been pushing to break the Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox monopoly on kashrut certification by creating what he calls the “hechsher tzedek”.  This is an attempt by both him and select members of the Conservative movement to break into the “hechsher” market.  And while I may not agree with all facets of Orthodoxy, my comfort level with Chabad Shlichim and their unwavering belief in all-encompassing Judaism and its perpetuity have made me a supporter of Chabad, Agriprocessors, and the Rubashkin family, whom I have known for 14 years.
Are any of the allegations that Mr. Allen and his group of union sympathizers claim actually true?  I am sure that issues brought to the attention of the appropriate personnel would have been investigated. 

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Mr. Allen and his group, which sad to say includes your rabbi, spoke with a select group of frightened people, who, in some cases, after working several years for this same company that “abused” them, were in danger of losing their families, facing jail terms and deportation.  No one at Agri ever held workers hostage; they were free to leave Agriprocessors’ employ whenever they wanted.  They CHOSE not to.  Apparently working conditions weren’t as miserable, dangerous, and at a pay scale so low that these workers had to flee once they had some money in their pocket.  Not mentioned were the many positive media accounts, such as in the Washington Post, where a worker lamented losing a good, well-paying job that he liked after 11 years, as he and his family were now being forced to leave.  Nowhere in the letter does it say that Mr. Allen, Rabbi Kravitz, et al, spoke with any representatives of Agriprocesors!  Did they speak with any of the Jewish families in town or did the fact that several Jewish men were also arrested escape them?

My side of the story?  Where is the Agriprocessors’ side of the story as told to Mr. Allen and the union workers?  There is none, because they were not interested in the other side of the story.  Plain and simple.  Take two disgruntled groups:  the union workers who were unsuccessful at establishing a foothold in the company, and “rabbis” who under the guise of “humanitarianism” and “righteousness” want to suggest that Jews switch brand loyalty from Glatt Kosher Aaron’s Best to non-glatt kosher Hebrew National.  Should I mention the fees Mr. Allen and his group would stand to collect from companies who will use his hechsher?  This is not the first attempt by Mr. Allen to malign Agirprocessors and its Chasidic owners.  I am now questioning the connection between Mr. Allen and the union with regards to Agriprocessors!

Better Mr. Allen should spend his time, and perhaps Rabbi Kravitz should do the same, in finding ways to assist the U.S. government in maintaining secure borders and helping to sponsor the DREAM Act which would have enabled the “undocumented” students in our school district to work towards citizenship, either by performing military service or attending college.  There is a fine young man who graduated with my nephew and whose future is now uncertain, as well as members of my son’s undefeated soccer team who will now be forced to return to countries with poverty, unemployment, and pitiful living conditions.  Here, many families had a chance to create a better future.  Where are Mr. Allen and your rabbi using their influence within the Conservative Movement in helping to create a quicker way for immigrants to achieve U.S. citizenship?  That is the spirit of Tikun Olam. 

Your rabbi is talking about Hillul Hashem?  The biggest Hillul Hashem is his inability to recognize that the current issue did not begin with Agriprocessors, but by the failure of Human Rights groups to advocate hard enough for legislation on work permits for potential immigrants seeking citizenship.  Instead, Agriprocessors is, in my opinion, being used as a scapegoat to cover up our government’s failure to provide us with safe and secure borders (that should be ICE’s job – not raiding plants and destroying families after the fact).

I not only find this inexcusable, but due to the high profile image of this company – Agriprocessors is the largest Glatt-kosher slaughterhouse and processing plant in the entire world, family-owned and operated by Chasidic Jews - I raise the possibility that this raid was actually caused by

anti-Semitism!  It reminds me of a book on Postville that I read years ago; the author now has company in his world of self-hating Jews.
Perhaps the Conservative constituency who is sponsoring this “hechsher tzedek” should check their own laundry baskets.  How many members have electronics in their homes?  Do they shop at Wal-Mart, Macys, and other top establishments?  Do they know where the goods come from?  Are they driving American cars (with foreign-made parts) or German cars (lest we forget the six million)?  Most off-shore manufacturing facilities provide standards way below what was alleged to be found here.  Yet, I am sure this new committee patronizes these stores and drives their cars without any fuss. Where does their ”hechsher tzedek” fit in here?  Why have they targeted only Agriprocessors’ meat?  What about fruits and vegetables that come from Florida and California?  Now let’s discuss price control.  Do we want to see $10 burgers at your favorite fast food eateries?  Yes, plenty of Conservative Jews eat at these places - they just don’t like to admit it.  After all, what do you think happens to the 70% percent slaughtered meat from Agri not considered “kosher”?

I truly hope that Mr. Allen and Rabbi Kravitz were not successful in brainwashing the members of your congregation by feeding them falsehoods. Your rabbi’s letter is filled with inaccurate and incomplete statements.  Hearsay is the best he could come up with, from a select group of displaced workers.  Where is the support of your congregation to make sure that the Jewish community worldwide will have Glatt Kosher Aaron’s meat available to them?  How many busloads of your members made the journey here to work the line to assist filling the temporary void formed by an overnight reduction in workers?  If this is an example of what Conservative Judaism is, it is no wonder why it is struggling hardest of Judaism’s three main branches and why it continues to lose popularity every day. 

Sounds to me like this was a good ol’fashioned LYNCHING!  That’s the truth.



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Read Comments (31)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 04, 2008 at 02:27 PM Anonymous Says:

I couldnt agree more with this article...i have friends & family workign in postville iowa at rubashkins, and if only you heard the good they ALWAYS had to say! they only spoke highly and respectfully of the mexicans...in fact, the mexicans were not only workers but neighbors and friends too. People dont like chabad, and they make it obvious and well known. they always want chabad to fail, and this is the perfect oppurtunity too. not only did rubashkin have this meat plant and support hundreds of families...its a shame no one knows what tzedokah they really gave, how many families they helped, how many people they supported that did NOT have anyting to do with Agriprocessors.
to all of you that are bad mouthing and wishing downfall and bad to rubashkins....jealousy is a horrible thing. what goes around comes around.
G-d knows the truth and at the end of the day, thats all that matters.

2

 Jun 04, 2008 at 02:28 PM Anonymous Says:

Typical conservative ignorant self righteous crap

3

 Jun 04, 2008 at 02:31 PM chaim, Says:

This lady apparently works for Agri.
Nu.
They probably could have done better

4

 Jun 04, 2008 at 02:35 PM Anonymous Says:

great spin, you really tried. but, well.........it won't work my friend. the door is closing on rubashkin and we all know it. anyway keep trying, think postitive. isn't that what they say? BE OPTIMISTIC! go down with a smile on your face. :-)

5

 Jun 04, 2008 at 02:43 PM Shimon Says:

In my opinion, In ths USA you can only get so big (in business) before you start stepping on the toes of a bigger business. At which time this other company will come after you, often indirectly, from well-camouflaged corners (animal rights groups, workers’ unions, Govt. Agencies, “Rabbinical” agencies,) and then you must either somehow fight back and overtake them, or they will crush you. Rubashkin’s meat has encroached on the turf of some other kosher-food supermarket giant owned by ... and their god-size parent company ... Despite Rubashkin’s success and quite substantial revenue (100s of millions a year) they are still being run, at least in mind set, like a small business. There is no way big meat business will let itself get slaughtered by a few guys from a corner Butchery. Who has financial gain from harming Rubashkin? I think that’s where this crisis is coming from. Rubashkin having bested the competition from within, Empire, Meal Mart etc... are now facing competition from without.

6

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:05 PM Anonymous Says:

"Do we want to see $10 burgers at your favorite fast food eateries?"

I already do. Which kosher place has it for less than $10?

7

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:07 PM Yossi G. Says:

The author of this missive is conservative? Sure, and also the Queen.

In any case, even though I do totally agree that it is premature to convict them before the courts do, a public pronouncement is important, to the effect that Judaism does NOT support criminality or abuse of workers. Just blaming every attack on anything Jewish on anti-semitism is non-productive. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?

8

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:11 PM Anonymous Says:

I think we have stop this madness right now...everyone know the EMES about Rubashkin,there is nothing to hide.And who is this hechsher tzedek anyway, since when to conservative jews need glatt kosher meats,we all have to stand behind Rubashkin in there hard time's,that is what WE stand for.Lets try to buy there meats and and get (free...)dinner in Crown restaurant 'till this all come's to a good end

9

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:15 PM Anonymus Says:

Just some food for thought:

A year ago there was a poll in honor of thanksgiving day which turkey in AMERICA is considered the BEST.

The top 5 contestants were the ones with the best taste, aside from cleanliness etc.

To #1 came none other than Rubashkin's Aron's Best turkey, with best in quality & sharp zesty taste.

#2-#3 - some treifa companies.

#4 reached Empire turkey. BOTH KOSHER.
The primary reason for putting empire on #4, was by the way, that the taste in the turkey was not as sharp as Rubashkins, since rubahkin's tasted SALTIER. (aside from cleanliness).

Talk about machmir (in this case - melicha).

10

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:19 PM Anonymous Says:

A wonderful well writen assesment of the situation. The answer as usual is follow the money
All those with an axe to grind are the ones that are salivating at the possibility that this insiduous pearl harbor type attack on Rubashkin will sink him. They are trying to blow this out of all proportion and insuating and extrapolating that the Kashrus there is not good.
This is a bilbul perpetrated by jealous hatemongers that want to eliminate the competition. All the snakes are coming out of their holes and hissing wildly with the venom dripping from their fangs. May Hashem who knows the emes save Rubashkin from their poison.

11

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:36 PM anan 1 Says:

Great article.... well said !!!
i have a friend that works for agri in florida ,he has only great things to say about the bosses and work place ... I pesonally know some of the rubashkins ,the finest people allways their to help another yid ....
every holy thing & every good thing their are allways people (that are called the yetzer h'orah) that TRY to bash it ,but by the end of the day hashem helps ..
so i say to the Rubashkins & all supporters KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK you guys have a big zcus you provide the most glatt kosher meat in america

12

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:38 PM Yid Says:

#4 reached Empire turkey. BOTH KOSHER.
The primary reason for putting empire on #4, was by the way, that the taste in the turkey was not as sharp as Rubashkins, since rubahkin's tasted SALTIER. (aside from cleanliness).

That would be because Rubashkin was later caught injecting those turkeys with extra sodium to enhance the flavor and make the birds more tender.

The birds had sodium rates many times greater than on the package label, and the sodium ran throughout the meat, even very deep in the birds. The only way to get this is by injecting the birds with a slat solution.

Think of all the Yidden on sodium-restricted diets who ate those turkeys.

Do you think any of those Yidden got sick as a result? Congestive hear failure, perhaps? A stroke?

13

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:43 PM Shor habor Says:

Anonymus Says:
Just some food for thought:

A year ago there was a poll in honor of thanksgiving day which turkey in AMERICA is considered the BEST.

The top 5 contestants were the ones with the best taste, aside from cleanliness etc.

To #1 came none other than Rubashkin's Aron's Best turkey, with best in quality & sharp zesty taste.

#2-#3 - some treifa companies.

#4 reached Empire turkey. BOTH KOSHER.
The primary reason for putting empire on #4, was by the way, that the taste in the turkey was not as sharp as Rubashkins, since rubahkin's tasted SALTIER. (aside from cleanliness).

Talk about machmir (in this case - melicha).
06-04-2008 - 3:15 PM
===============================================
May be you should do ur home work next time . The reason they won is because Rubashkin cheated by pumping extra salt into the turkey and thats why they won . But after they discovered the false reports due to the higher sodium they retracted the winner and Rubashkin was no longer the winer because they cheated. Talk about machmir in cheating EH??

14

 Jun 04, 2008 at 03:52 PM micha Says:

Incredible. How many wrong assumptions in one article....

1- The union DID succeed in getting a foothold in the company. They won majority vote, but Agri wouldn't let them in. They recently won the right in court. But 2 months later the ICE raids, and none of the illegals want their names on union rolls.

2- The gov't DID investigate. Repeatedly. Agri has racked up more IOSHA fines than the rest of Iowa's slaughterhouses combined, by a factor of 50%.

3- If the problems are fictional, why did Labor Ready back out of their contract this week to staff 150 people there? They put people in slaughterhouses before, and yet this violated expectation! They're clear that it wasn't a "one strike you're out" situation, and the issue is worker safety. (And that's AFTER gov't scrutiny and laying off R' Moshe Rubashkin from being CEO.)

The fact is that we all know people who are huge baalei chesed when it comes to our own community, but do little for anyone else. Even racists. (Actually, racism is embarrassingly commonplace.) Is it so surprising that the Rubashkins hired such people to manage their staff. Or that when gov't reports of the actions of their friends and co workers came out so negative, they couldn't believe the accusations -- given how the same people acted toward them?

Last, Hechsher Tzedek is a chilul Hashem for two reasons:

1- The word "hechsher", which confuses issues of kashrus with other mitzvos.
2- It should be us, the observant community, spearheading such efforts. How is it that a community that cares about glatt kosher has no expectations of glatt yosher?

Our culture needs fixing. You can attack the people who point it out. Or you can do something about it. Uvacharta bachayim.

-micha

PS: How is the opinion of a C Jew from Wisconsin "neis"? Simply because it agrees with what people want to hear?

15

 Jun 04, 2008 at 04:46 PM Babishka Says:

micha:

"1- The word "hechsher", which confuses issues of kashrus with other mitzvos.
2- It should be us, the observant community, spearheading such efforts. How is it that a community that cares about glatt kosher has no expectations of glatt yosher?"
-------------------------------------

The Conserv. & Reform do not care about "glatt kosher" or "glatt yosher." They made up this "Hechsher Tzedek" scam in order to give some "Hebrew flavor" to whatever is the latest political correctness craze. It has NOTHING, NOTHING to do with ehrlichkeit and everything to do with sinas hinom, and gaavah.

16

 Jun 04, 2008 at 05:07 PM wisdom Says:

all you people are nuts !!!!
RUBASHKIN WILL PREVAIL
RUBASHKIN IS THE BEST IN TASTE IN QUALITY AND IN SERVICE , OH I FORGOT TO METION ALSO THE CHEAPEST

17

 Jun 04, 2008 at 05:26 PM Anonymous Says:

micha, dont take Agri as your sample to fix when each and every company including meat packer's use illegal's.They get all the heat just because they are the only kosher plant in the U.S.A. just ask anyone that work's for them and you will find out the truth. I asked a friend of mine that work's there and he only god word's to say about them

18

 Jun 04, 2008 at 05:39 PM American Rabbi Says:

The Conservatives should be more concerned with the fact that half their members do NOT even keep a kosher home. Rubashkin has succeded in making kosher meat available all across the US. If this meat is not available than even less Conservatives will keep Kosher.

19

 Jun 04, 2008 at 05:42 PM Anonymous Says:

It seems that besides for a couple of imfarginers
the majority of people are supporting Rubashkin
in this attack against them.
Wheather you eat Rubashkin or not this was pure
set up for show knowing that it will generate
press and fool the public into thinking that there is a major crackdown on illegals etc.
Nebech Rubashkin was a korbon in this and his
enemies are rejoicing - Not for long iy'h.

20

 Jun 04, 2008 at 06:24 PM Mark Levin Says:

I hope you wakkos on here are willing to pay a whole heckuva lot more for meat b/c your anti rubashkin attitude is gonna get you just that.

Wait till this all comes out in court and you will see that aaron's didnt do anything more incorrect than any other company. How come no one said anything a few weeks earlier when the n/k chicken plant was "raided" by the govt.

I am convinced this was brought on by the unions etc.


21

 Jun 04, 2008 at 06:25 PM Anonymous Says:

This lady is the controller.

22

 Jun 05, 2008 at 12:13 AM balei chesed Says:

The fact is that we all know people who are huge baalei chesed when it comes to our own community>>>>>>


To the one who made this stupid comment, what does balei chesed have to do with the alledged health violations, government ciolations and price fixing within the jewish market?

Imagine a orthodox jew killing 20 people and you run to court to tell the judge to be more lenient because the defendant is such a balei chesed.

If someone tried posining your food and someone told you don't press charges because your still alive and the person who tried poisoning you is such a balei chesed!


If you want to defend Rubashkin go ahead but don't write stupid things and insult our intelligence with your stupidity.

I'm a balei chesed so please don't get upset at my response and write back.

23

 Jun 05, 2008 at 12:20 AM Anonymous Says:

Interesting how Conservative who complain about too much religious meddling in our lives now are advocating a new "religious" bureaucracy "Heksher Tzedek". I'm waiting for the "Heksher" on Shabbos cars, cellphones, and other goodies...

24

 Jun 05, 2008 at 07:23 AM Matzahlocal101 Says:

>>Imagine a orthodox jew killing 20 people and you run to court to tell the judge to be more lenient because the defendant is such a balei chesed

25

 Jun 05, 2008 at 09:21 AM Babishka Says:

"Imagine a orthodox jew killing 20 people and you run to court to tell the judge to be more lenient"

Rubashkin didn't kill anyone.

26

 Jun 05, 2008 at 11:59 AM Charlie Hall Says:

To those who keep blaming the unions:

Published reports in Iowa newspapers at the time of the raid said that the union had asked the government NOT to stage the raid. AFAIK, no information has become known that would contradict that.

27

 Jun 05, 2008 at 01:56 PM anonymous Says:

Babishka Says:
"Imagine a orthodox jew killing 20 people and you run to court to tell the judge to be more lenient"

Rubashkin didn't kill anyone.
06-05-2008 - 9:21 AM
==============================================
There were 2 product recalls from rubashkin. One was undercooked foods, the other was undeclaired allergans. Do you want to tell the mother of a child who is allergic to eggs and is now on life support that Rubashkin is a great Baal Chesed?

28

 Jun 05, 2008 at 03:50 PM A Says:

Anonymous Says:
Interesting how Conservative who complain about too much religious meddling in our lives now are advocating a new "religious" bureaucracy "Heksher Tzedek". I'm waiting for the "Heksher" on Shabbos cars, cellphones, and other goodies...
06-05-2008 - 12:20 AM
===============================================
Just for your info . Thee does exist a shabbos telphone a shabbos elevator among other items all with the hechsher of gedolei haposkim so dont put your foot in your fat trap next time.

29

 Jun 06, 2008 at 03:45 AM Matzahlocal101 Says:


My previous comment didn't post properly because of the arrows. Here we go again.

>>Imagine a orthodox jew killing 20 people and you run to court to tell the judge to be more lenient because the defendant is such a balei chesed>Just for your info . Thee does exist a shabbos telphone a shabbos elevator among other items all with the hechsher of gedolei haposkim so dont put your foot in your fat trap next time.<

The telephone uses grama to minimize chilul Shabbos and is for use by doctors and in emergencies only when you use a regular phone as well. A healthy person cannot use a shabbos elevator because his weight makes the elevator work harder and use more current. (from 12 grade physics, a long long time ago)
06-05-2008 - 3:50 PM

30

 Jun 08, 2008 at 09:55 AM anonymous Says:

i CAN CARRY MY SEFORIM ON SHABBAT BECAUSE THERE IS IN MY TOWN AN ERUV. IT IS APPROVED BY EVERY RAV IN MY TOWN. THE ONLY ONES THAT DO NOT HOLD FROM IT ARE 'GUESTS' FOR SHABBAT

I CAN READ A SEFER AT NIGHT BECAUSE OF MY SHABBAT LAMP, THAT HAS A HECHSHER.

WHAT WAS YOUR POINT AGAIN?

31

 Jun 09, 2008 at 04:28 AM Anonymous Says:

reposted with the article citations:

Ms. Bensasson makes some worthy-although inconsistent- points about immigration policy, but the rest was ridiculous! Orthodox Jews drive Audis too (not that that matters- the Nazi movement is no longer in control. We seem to all buy our oil from the Saudis who aren't exactly Israel's best friend)! And I don't/won't shop at WalMart! And I do care how the vegetable pickers are treated and I have boycotted grapes in support of migrant workers and I haven't eaten veal in 15 years, etc. And as horrible as all the human rights violations may be in China, etc they are not perpetuated by Jews!!! "Do they shop at Wal-Mart, Macys, and other top establishments?"

"Are any of the allegations that Mr. Allen and his group of union sympathizers claim actually true? I am sure that issues brought to the attention of the appropriate personnel would have been investigated.” Unfortunately, that premise didn't work in occupied Europe...

The Rubashkins are powerful people who can tell their story if they want-so far I haven't heard anything from them. Agriprocessors can afford to take out full page ads in the NY Times if they choose. The Conservative delegation may have only talked to the workers, but they are the ones without a voice-and without options (despite Sima's ill-informed claim that they have a choice.) "Where is the Agriprocessors’ side of the story as told to Mr. Allen and the union workers?” Actually this is very good question...why haven't they defended themselves?

Knowing Rabbi Allen, I am 100% confident that his motivation is not monetary, but why is it OK for the Orthodox and others to reap benefits but shame on Rabbi Allen for proposing something that threatens their monopoly! "Should I mention the fees Mr. Allen and his group would stand to collect from companies who will use his hechsher?”

FACT-Both congregations she refers to HAVE worked on immigration policy in conjunction with JCA. "Where are Mr. Allen and your rabbi using their influence within the Conservative Movement in helping to create a quicker way for immigrants to achieve U.S. citizenship?”

And to say that it is OK to abuse workers because our government has bad immigration policies is absurd! "The biggest Hillul Hashem is his inability to recognize that the current issue did not begin with Agriprocessors, but by the failure of Human Rights groups to advocate hard enough for legislation on work permits for potential immigrants seeking citizenship.”

Sorry-I don't buy it (or Rubashkin anymore!)

32

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