I wrote two weeks ago that the claim made by Kosher Today that OSHA had inspected Rubashkin's Postville, Iowa plant and given the plant a clean bill of health, was most likely false. I pointed out that the man who made that claim, Rabbi Asher Zeilingold, was unreliable, and that he has a close business relationship with Rubashkin. I called OSHA and Iowa state officials and reported that no official visit was made by Federal or State Plan OSHA, and that the only possible "inspection" that could have taken place would been a consult done through the state's consultancy program, which is not an inspection and has no bearing on what plant practices were before it or after it, but even this seemed unlikely.
The Forward has picked up this story (although it did not bother to give this blog a hat tip), and it did the one thing that I could not do – ask Rabbi Asher Zeilingold what the truth is. Here is what Rabbi Zeilingold told the Forward this week:
…Zeilingold, who is paid to provide kosher certification for the meat at AgriProcessors, was an early defender of the company when the original allegations appeared in the Forward. In Kosher Today, Zeilingold said that the Conservative task force was “delighted to accept all the lies and slander of the Forward article as absolute truth because it gave them a pretext by which they could gain entry into AgriProcessors and other plants positing as the champions of ‘kashrut’ and the rights of workers.”
Zeilingold’s Conservative counterpart, Rabbi Morris Allen, was not contacted for the Kosher Today article, but Allen’s synagogue did write a letter to the publication, defending their religious leader.
“That Rabbi Allen’s efforts — which are of no financial benefit to him — are attacked by fellow Jews who also believe in the sanctity of kosher laws is unfair and misguided,” the letter said.
In addition to the criticism of Allen, Zeilingold told Kosher Today that an official for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had visited AgriProcessors and gave him a report praising the company’s labor practices.
Reached this week, Zeilingold said he could not release the OSHA report; however, he did say that the OSHA official was not working in an official capacity when he made his visit, but rather as a “private consultant.”
My understanding is OSHA would like to find this "OSHA official" and discipline him. OSHA regional head Charles "Chuck" Adkins told me he wanted to find the man because no one has the right to represent OSHA unless he is on official business. "I want to put the hammer down on him," Adkins said.
Rabbi Asher Zeilingold's veracity can further be determined by reading the data posted here.
[I should also note that Rabbi Zeilingold is the rabbi who excommunicated me.]
UPDATE: 2-8-07– I have now confirmed the "OSHA inspection" was done by an employee of Federal OSHA on his own time. It was not a full inspection, was not sanctioned or approved by OSHA, and was arranged by Rabbi Zeilingold's friend Carlos Carbonera (this "inspector" is a friend of Carbonera's). OSHA's regional head Chuck Adkins told me again today that he will "bring the hammer down" on anyone, this inspector included, who uses OSHA's name without permission. He also pointed out that what this inspector did was a violation of OSHA's "internal rules and regulations."