A reader, Chaim Yankel, took Rubashkin mouthpiece Menachem Lubinsky to task for not coming clean on his financial relationship with the Rubashkin family and Agriprocessors. As many of you know, Lubinsky is often quoted by media without any disclosure being made.
Lubinsky also runs Kosher Today, the kosher food industry's newsletter, which is now published by Diversified Business Communications.
Here is what happened:
From: Chaim Yankel
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 1:09 PM
To: Bill Springer
Subject: Re: A Personal Note -
"A Personal Note: In my last column on Agriprocessors, I neglected
to repeat what I have done on many occasions: Although my views
always have been and always will be colored by concern over supply
to the kosher market, my agency LUBICOM Marketing Consulting does
occasionally do consulting work for Agri to help them get their
side of the story out."
–– Menachem Lubinsky
Well, I guess this is better than most weeks, but still this
doesn't give the readers the full, true story.
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, that..."my agency is currently
contracted to handle the crisis management associated with the ICE
raid on May 12."? That may have clued-in the reader to take the
information with a grain of salt. If may also have alerted the
readership to beware that many pieces of actual news have been left
out of this report - such as the AP story of 150 temporary
employees leaving Agri last Weds, citing unsafe working conditions.
What about quoting a retailer or "a source close to...." (BTW--
loads of sources, very few names) that has actually seen product
shortages, such as the ones reported on Thursday in the Houston
Chronicle, where the availability of Kosher meat in Houston is
extremely tight, and when available has doubled in price. http://
How is it that the only quotes are from people that say all just
great, but the reports of "... few reported shortages," are based
on hearsay, which lends much less creditably? Or are the calls on
who/what to quote based on "sources cloes to Agriprocessors" ?
According to KT all is rosy on the Kosher meat front, yet consumers
are having a hard time finding Aaron's products at retailers such
as Shoprite in Metro NY.
Agri's current output is less than 50%, I would think that is an
important fact executives across the country would want to know. If
Mr. Lubinsky is truly "concerned with supply to the kosher market"
he would better serve the industry with real-time information that
can help distributors, retailers and consumers with their
expectations and how to properly navigate what is a tough time.
If I recall, the Titanic sunk with the music playing, giving false
hope and comfort to many doomed passengers.
If "Kosher Today is the leading source of news and information for
the kosher found and beverage industry..." then it should be more
than a weekly newsletter "colored by concern over supply to the
kosher market" and more concerned with the facts.
On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 2:52 PM, Bill Springer wrote:
Thank you for your letter—we have been running news from other
sources about the Agri situation on the Kosher Today web site
www.koshertoday.com, but that hasn't been clear to our
subscribers. We've amended this week's newsletter, adding a link
to these other stories. That will give our readers a chance to get
more information than provided in the weekly newsletter.
Thanks again for your comments
Diversified Business Communications
121 Free Street
Portland, ME 04101
From: Chaim Yankel
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 4:28 PM
To: Bill Springer
Cc: Sarah Russell; Brian Randall; Menachem Lubinsky
Subject: Re: A Personal Note -
Mr. Springer - While I appreciate your updating of this week's
newsletter, I still find it odd that you feel the need to send
readers of the "leading source of news and information for the
kosher food and beverage industry" to the very same publications/
sites that Mr. Lubinsky has labled as "disgruntled" when they
report about Agri. Shouldn't KT be the source for this type of
information? While I do understand the difference between a weekly
newsletter vs a daily paper or website, shouldn't KT be a source on
So which way is it? Are these other media outlets, disgruntled and
'out-to-get' the Rubashkins, or are the valid sources that may have
more unbiased and researched information about a story that is very
close to Mr. Lubinsky's heart?
On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:02 PM, Menachem Lubinsky wrote:
Dear Mr. Chaim Yankel:
As the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Kosher Today, I found your
exchange most interesting. A bit of history might help in
explaining the position of Kosher Today in the coverage of
Agriprocessors. Kosher Today was founded in 1996 as a newspaper (it
was a printed tabloid at that time) in support of Kosherfest, the
world's only kosher food trade show that I owned exclusively at the
time. Its purpose was much like other newsletters and periodicals
published by associations and independent owners that support
industry trade shows. It was designed to keep people in the
industry abreast of developments in the industry in between shows.
As the newspaper eventually evolved into on-line edition in 2003,
its purpose remained as it was from day one. Throughout its
history, Kosher Today was always true to its mission of being an
industry mouthpiece much like all industry newsletters. It afforded
our exhibitors an opportunity to share new products and
developments throughout the year, covered industry trends and other
information, and extensively covered the development of the food
industry in Israel and other parts of the world. Fundamentally, its
mission never changed: promote Kosherfest, cover the growth of
kosher, and serve as an advocate for the supply of kosher foods
wherever there are people that desire kosher.
Even preceding my development of Kosherfest and Kosher Today was my
role in my primary business, LUBICOM Marketing Consulting. With
time many in the food industry retained the firm to help in the
branding of their kosher products. Since it fit neatly into my
overall goal of promoting kosher, the two complimented each other
well. I have been consistent in only selecting clients that effect
the supply side of kosher foods.
As time evolved, many non-industry people began to subscribe to
Kosher Today, primarily because they enjoyed learning about the
industry. For those who expected an independent news vehicle for
everything that involves kosher, that certainly did not fit the
mission of Kosher Today. Our editorial view was always and
continues to be to support the industry, including our exhibitors
at Kosherfest, and to protect the supply of kosher foods.
With today's wealth of information, anyone can get the broad range
of views on kosher just by googling. But in Kosher Today they will
find a loyal and steadfast advocacy of our kosher food
manufacturers and comprehensive coverage of developments in kosher
food manufacturing, distribution, foodservice and retail. If any
manufacturer or retailer finds themselves in trouble, Kosher Today
will give them a platform to tell their side of the story. If any
reader is looking for a "balanced" and multi-dimensional view of
kosher, it will not be Kosher Today.
As a result, with respect to Agriprocessors, we will first and
foremost cover the supply of kosher meat and will afford them a
platform to tell their side of the story, which is very much
consistent with the original mission of Kosher Today and the life
mission of Menachem Lubinsky.
Interestingly enough, I cannot recall the last time we received a
letter of complaint from an industry representative, which would
seem to indicate that as far as the industry is concerned, we have
been true to our mission.
On Jun 2, 2008, at 6:35 PM, Chaim Yankel wrote:
Mr. Lubinsky -
Now it is much clearer -- Kosher Today is not a "leading source of
news and information for the kosher food and beverage industry" but
rather a "platform" for Kosher companies to "tell their side of the
story". I'm sure that is not what the dozens of journalists -
Jewish and general media - that have quoted you and Kosher Today
over the years were thinking. They surely didn't think that if a
"reader is looking for a "balanced" and multi-dimensional view of
kosher, it will not be Kosher Today."
The opportunities you've had to promote Kosher have precisely been
because people assumed they were getting unbiased information. I
highly doubt the NY Times would have called if they knew your
positions were biased and paid for.
Also, to say that Kosher Today is promoting the supply of Kosher
foods is disingenuous. Promoting Kosher in today's day and age is
much more than one company and their view of the world. Imagine
being the distributor waiting for the Agri truck to arrive, having
not ordered from others, because after all, "there is no shortage,
the crisis is behind us." What does he tell his customers when
there is no meat for Shabbos or hotdogs for a BBQ? "Mr. Lubinsky
said the truck was coming....."
Protecting the supply side of Kosher means giving real, truthful
information that an industry can use to be sure that Kosher
consumers have what to eat, not some fanciful tale on how all is
well in Kosher-land.
I do hope that next week's Kosher Today is updated not to reflect
the realities of the Agri story or the Kosher industry at large,
but that Kosher Today is not a newsletter for an industry, but part
of Menachem Lubinsky's life mission and a platform for paying