"Just over three and a half years ago, the friends and family of Sholom Rubashkin gathered in a courtroom in South Dakota to hear the verdict in his federal trial. Believe me when I tell you that we were expecting a complete vindication. Instead, we sat numbly for an eternity as the jury ruled “guilty” 86 times.…"
Getzel Rubashkin is a son of former Agriprocessors' VP Sholom Rubashkin, who was convicted on 86 bank fraud related counts and is now serving a 27-year prison sentence. Sholom Rubashkin standard appeals have all failed, and the US Supreme Court has refused to hear his case. Getzel Rubashkin reportedly delivered the following brief talk at the recent teleconference organized by Rubashkin's legal defense fund:
In the federal system, people convicted of crimes that call for decades-long sentences are almost never allowed to remain free on bond until the actual sentencing takes place. Those who are allowed to remain free on bond are almost always cooperating witnesses for the government and have pleaded guilty. Sholom Rubashkin was the opposite of a cooperating witness. He destroyed or secreted evidence, obstructed justice and refused to cooperate with federal or state authorities in any way. And he did not plead guilty. Instead, he was convicted on massive evidence that proved well beyond reasonable doubt that Rubashkin laundered money through Jewish charities he controlled to trick his lenders, who suffered more than $26 million in losses as a result.
My dear brothers and sisters, thank you for joining us tonight.
Just over three and a half years ago, the friends and family of Sholom Rubashkin gathered in a courtroom in South Dakota to hear the verdict in his federal trial. Believe me when I tell you that we were expecting a complete vindication. Instead, we sat numbly for an eternity as the jury ruled “guilty” 86 times.
My sister turned to me and asked, “Do you think they’ll arrest him right away?” I said no. Remember, this was a time when news outlets were gleefully calculating how many hundreds of years a guilty verdict would mean. I could not fathom the depths of cruelty that would deny a husband and father a few days with his family before putting him in a cage for the rest of his life.
Almost before the jury finished reciting their verdict, the prosecutor was on his feet insisting my father be immediately imprisoned. He was taken from that room in handcuffs by his jailers.
As we sat in the family van for the long ride back to Iowa, my head and heart spinning. I struggled with how to react to this catastrophe.
My thoughts turned to my father. I thought of his unshakeable faith. I thought of his sad but defiant smile, and the shouted words of encouragement as he was taken from that courtroom. I turned to my father, and I saw a man who had turned to his Father, to our Father.
He recognized that everything that was happening was Hashem’s will. He was not at the mercy of any system or power, but in the Hands of a loving Father. He trusted his Father and he didn’t despair. And that comforted me. His strength comforted me. If he was unshaken, I was unshaken.
It is not only sympathy or outrage that has made him a household name in Jewish homes across the world. It is the inspiration and encouragement he radiates.
We are scattered across the globe, facing physical threats we have so often faced before, and spiritual threats we have never faced before. Against the backdrop of these dramatic national crises, we each have our own challenges, our own personal crises.
In our moments of confusion, we can turn to my father and learn how a Yid should react in moments of crisis by turning to our father, to Hakadosh Boruch Hu. In this way, we can regain our balance, our clarity, and the internal peace and strength to rise above our crisis.
The Rayatz, Rav Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch, who was imprisoned and exiled in Communist Russia, stood on the train platform on his way to a far-flung town where he was to be exiled and addressed the crowd of Chassidim who had come to see him off.
In the presence of his Soviet captors, he insisted that while our bodies were sent into golus to be ruled over by the nations of the world, our neshamos remained free. No one can disrupt our connection to Hashem or interfere with our devotion to Him.
My father is truly in a golus betoch golus, exile within a deeper exile. Our limited time will not allow me to paint the full picture of the physical hardships and isolation he endures, so let me instead tell you one small story.
My brother Moishy was also visiting my father when I was last there. Moishy is 20 years old and autistic. He has difficulty communicating, but he has a powerful loving connection with my father that he tries to express when he goes for a visit at the prison.
I was sitting next to my father and talking when Moishy blurted out, “Love Tatty kisses!” I jumped up to give him my place, and he sat down next to my father. Beaming, he began listing all the things he had recently done that he thought my father would be proud of: “Tefillin! Slept! Washed dishes!” he rattled off, smiling from ear to ear as my father showered him with kisses.
One of the guards called out, “Rubashkin!” and sternly motioned for my father to come over.
When my father returned, he told us why he had been summoned. He had broken the rules by kissing his son more than once. “The rule,” the guard informed him, “is one appropriate kiss.”
Despite the imprisonment of his body and being torn from his loved ones, we see the awesome freedom of my father’s neshamah. His stubborn emunah, his unshakeable simcha and love of Hashem, his uncompromising dedication to Hashem. Behind steel fences and barbed wire, in a seven-foot cell, he is a true ben chorin, a free man.
The Baal HaTanya tells us that when we rise above our nisyonos, our crises, they have served their purpose and they are resolved. We will hear good news and we will all celebrate together. It is up to us to do everything we can to make this joyous occasion happen even sooner.
In my moment of confusion, I turned to my father and drew strength from his example. Let us together learn from his example and together turn to our father, Hakadosh Boruch Hu, and make an appeal to the true Supreme Court.