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December 05, 2012

Non-Jewish Judge In Hebrew National Lawsuit Minored In Judaism

Hebrew-National-logo-2Judge Donovan Frank offered a bit of personal history. As a college junior studying abroad in England, Frank toured the sites of concentration camps on the European continent. “Preoccupied with the Holocaust and what I had seen there,” Frank decided to minor in Judaism. In his final comment, Frank said that visitors to his office often notice his collection of books about Judaism and Jewish history. He mentioned having a copy of Night by Elie Wiesel. He said that it “doesn’t have anything to do with this case,” but there is “some kind of irony” that the ConAgra/Hebrew National lawsuit is before a “farm boy from southern Minnesota” with a special interest in Jewish matters.

Hebrew-National-logo-2

The American Jewish World has a report on a federal court hearing in the class action lawsuit against Con Agra-Hebrew National.

Con Agra wants the lawsuit dropped for First Amendment issues, primarily that it isn't Constitutional for the government or a secular court to rule on what is and what is not kosher.

The plaintiffs claim this is a simple consumer protection matter and the court, they claim, has complete jurisdiction.

Nothing presented by the plaintiffs and reported by the AJW appears to weaken Con Agra's case.

In fact, the plaintiffs again show that they do not understand how kosher supervision works. They make much out of Rabbi Ralbag's infrequent visits to these slaughterhouses, but do not mention that Ralbag's approved rosh hashoctim for each plant is there on a daily basis.

In fact, before the era of big kosher, a town's shochet (or a shul's shochet) would slaughter the animals. If he saw something in an animal that caused him to question its kosher status, he send a message to the town's rabbi (or the shul's rabbi) with his question. The rabbi would rule, often from his home or the study hall, and send the ruling by messenger to the shochet. Sometimes the rabbi came to look at the animal; in cases of smaller animals like birds, the animals were often brought to the rabbi for inspection.

Following the logic of the plaintiffs, the slaughter done in those towns and communities would be non-kosher or less than optimally kosher – but nothing could be further from the truth.

The real news out of the hearing is as follows.

First of all, Judge Donovan Frank noted that

“kosher is the new organic,” in the eyes of many consumers, who think that kosher-certified meats mean that the animals are treated well, and the food is of higher quality.

This supports the possibility of a consumer protection claim against Con Agra-Hebrew National – but it also supports the exact same claim against Agri Star, Empire and every other mainstream kosher slaughter in the world.

The second issue of importance is this statement from the judge:

Judge Donovan Frank offered a bit of personal history. As a college junior studying abroad in England, Frank toured the sites of concentration camps on the European continent. “Preoccupied with the Holocaust and what I had seen there,” Frank decided to minor in Judaism.

In his final comment, Frank said that visitors to his office often notice his collection of books about Judaism and Jewish history. He mentioned having a copy of Night by Elie Wiesel. He said that it “doesn’t have anything to do with this case,” but there is “some kind of irony” that the ConAgra/Hebrew National lawsuit is before a “farm boy from southern Minnesota” with a special interest in Jewish matters.

This might mean that Frank's interest in matters Jewish might sway him to allow this lawsuit to proceed a bit further than it otherwise would.

It might also cause him to be shocked by the claims made by the haredi and Orthodox rabbis in this case about how Jewish law and the halakhas of kosher actually work.

That's because the what Jewish law is presented to ba'al teshuvas and outsiders is often different from how it actually works on the inside.

And that, too, would work in the plaintiffs' favor.

Comments

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Not glatt so I don't give a crap.

i want to know if they are kosher or not.

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