The OU has mandated at least three changes at the Rubashkin-owned AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.
- No more trachea-pulling/throat-ripping.
- A second cut to slash the arteries only. (I.e., no more #1.)
- Stunning or killing animals still walking after slaughter.
I was told in confidence last week about the changes, but the senior-level OU rabbinic official who told me asked me not to make the changes public. He feared publicity would cause Jews to think the following:
If Rubshkin was doing all these things incorrectly right under the noses of the OU, KAJ, UMK, Crown Heights Beit Din, Kehilla Kosher (LA), Margareten, and several other kosher supervisions, then why should I trust them now? Why keep kosher?
Stupidly, I agreed to his request.
Little did I (and, perhaps, little did that senior-level OU rabbinic official) realize that, as we were speaking the OU was dishing most of this information to the New York Times.
Yesterday I received a phone call from Steven Steiner, the OU's director of public relations, promising me that today or tomorrow there would be a statement issued by the OU, after Rabbis Genack and Belsky (and Rabbi Chaim Kohn from KAJ) returned to New York from Postville. When Steiner did not call me with or e-mail me the statement, I assumed the OU would issue it tomorrow morning.
Instead, the OU was dishing it to the JTA (and, I would expect, the New York Times).
In other words, I got scooped on my own story because I allowed myself to have sympathy for an important rabbinic figure and for the Jewish community.
Live and learn.
Most Jewish newspapers are sent to the printer ("put to bed", in newspaper lingo) on Tuesday night. By dishing to the JTA (whose coverage of this scandal has been weak) late Tuesday afternoon, the OU guarantees one more week of insipid coverage in the Jewish press. How's that for honest, Torah-based behavior from our rabbinic leaders?
I should also add that the senior OU rabbinic figure told me that from now on the second cut would be made by shochtim (Jewish ritual slaughterers, commonly thought of as rabbis) and not by untrained workers. Let's hope that turns out to be true.