Never people to admit their mistakes (intentional or otherwise), the Rubashkin family has launched a concerted effort to smear people involved in trying to stop the abuses at the Rubashkins' Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa.
…crudest example of this so far is the following piece by an Agriprocessors executive posted on VosIzNeias:
Deceptive Jewish Rabbis, And Their “hechsher tzedek” Crap
By Sima Bensasson
[Sima Bensasson lives in Postville and manages the real estate company owned by the Rubashkins]
Postville, IA - I need to preface this by saying that I am a Conservative Jew and currently affiliate with a Conservative synagogue in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
I am embarrassed that someone who claims to be a religious leader of Conservative Jewry has the gall to urge his fellow Jews to stop buying kosher meat from Agriprocessors under the platform that unethical conditions existed at the plant. Morris Allen, who I’m not sure even deserves the privilege of the title rabbi, seems to be on a witch-hunt and will stop at nothing, especially if it means possibly seeking the truth. Mr. Allen has been pushing to break the Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox monopoly on kashrut certification by creating what he calls the “hechsher tzedek”. This is an attempt by both him and select members of the Conservative movement to break into the “hechsher” market. And while I may not agree with all facets of Orthodoxy, my comfort level with Chabad Shlichim and their unwavering belief in all-encompassing Judaism and its perpetuity have made me a supporter of Chabad, Agriprocessors, and the Rubashkin family, whom I have known for 14 years.
Are any of the allegations that Mr. Allen and his group of union sympathizers claim actually true? I am sure that issues brought to the attention of the appropriate personnel would have been investigated.
Mr. Allen and his group, which sad to say includes your rabbi, spoke with a select group of frightened people, who, in some cases, after working several years for this same company that “abused” them, were in danger of losing their families, facing jail terms and deportation. No one at Agri ever held workers hostage; they were free to leave Agriprocessors’ employ whenever they wanted. They CHOSE not to. Apparently working conditions weren’t as miserable, dangerous, and at a pay scale so low that these workers had to flee once they had some money in their pocket. Not mentioned were the many positive media accounts, such as in the Washington Post, where a worker lamented losing a good, well-paying job that he liked after 11 years, as he and his family were now being forced to leave. Nowhere in the letter does it say that Mr. Allen, Rabbi Kravitz, et al, spoke with any representatives of Agriprocesors! Did they speak with any of the Jewish families in town or did the fact that several Jewish men were also arrested escape them?
My side of the story? Where is the Agriprocessors’ side of the story as told to Mr. Allen and the union workers? There is none, because they were not interested in the other side of the story. Plain and simple. [The Conservative Movement is still waiting for Sholom M. Rubashkin to respond to the concerns voiced to him in early December 2006 by the movement, which included many aspects of how Agriprocessors treats its workers. Rubashkin was, he claimed then, preparing to respond. He never has. –– Shmarya.] Take two disgruntled groups: the union workers who were unsuccessful at establishing a foothold in the company, and “rabbis” who under the guise of “humanitarianism” and “righteousness” want to suggest that Jews switch brand loyalty from Glatt Kosher Aaron’s Best to non-glatt kosher Hebrew National. Should I mention the fees Mr. Allen and his group would stand to collect from companies who will use his hechsher? This is not the first attempt by Mr. Allen to malign Agirprocessors and its Chasidic owners. I am now questioning the connection between Mr. Allen and the union with regards to Agriprocessors!
Better Mr. Allen should spend his time, and perhaps Rabbi Kravitz should do the same, in finding ways to assist the U.S. government in maintaining secure borders and helping to sponsor the DREAM Act which would have enabled the “undocumented” students in our school district to work towards citizenship, either by performing military service or attending college. There is a fine young man who graduated with my nephew and whose future is now uncertain, as well as members of my son’s undefeated soccer team who will now be forced to return to countries with poverty, unemployment, and pitiful living conditions. Here, many families had a chance to create a better future. Where are Mr. Allen and your rabbi using their influence within the Conservative Movement in helping to create a quicker way for immigrants to achieve U.S. citizenship? That is the spirit of Tikun Olam.
Your rabbi is talking about Hillul Hashem? The biggest Hillul Hashem is his inability to recognize that the current issue did not begin with Agriprocessors, but by the failure of Human Rights groups to advocate hard enough for legislation on work permits for potential immigrants seeking citizenship. Instead, Agriprocessors is, in my opinion, being used as a scapegoat to cover up our government’s failure to provide us with safe and secure borders (that should be ICE’s job – not raiding plants and destroying families after the fact).
I not only find this inexcusable, but due to the high profile image of this company – Agriprocessors is the largest Glatt-kosher slaughterhouse and processing plant in the entire world, family-owned and operated by Chasidic Jews - I raise the possibility that this raid was actually caused by anti-Semitism! It reminds me of a book on Postville that I read years ago; the author now has company in his world of self-hating Jews.
Perhaps the Conservative constituency who is sponsoring this “hechsher tzedek” should check their own laundry baskets. How many members have electronics in their homes? Do they shop at Wal-Mart, Macys, and other top establishments? Do they know where the goods come from? Are they driving American cars (with foreign-made parts) or German cars (lest we forget the six million)? Most off-shore manufacturing facilities provide standards way below what was alleged to be found here. Yet, I am sure this new committee patronizes these stores and drives their cars without any fuss. Where does their ”hechsher tzedek” fit in here? Why have they targeted only Agriprocessors’ meat? What about fruits and vegetables that come from Florida and California? Now let’s discuss price control. Do we want to see $10 burgers at your favorite fast food eateries? Yes, plenty of Conservative Jews eat at these places - they just don’t like to admit it. After all, what do you think happens to the 70% percent slaughtered meat from Agri not considered “kosher”?
I truly hope that Mr. Allen and Rabbi Kravitz were not successful in brainwashing the members of your congregation by feeding them falsehoods. Your rabbi’s letter is filled with inaccurate and incomplete statements. Hearsay is the best he could come up with, from a select group of displaced workers. Where is the support of your congregation to make sure that the Jewish community worldwide will have Glatt Kosher Aaron’s meat available to them? How many busloads of your members made the journey here to work the line to assist filling the temporary void formed by an overnight reduction in workers? If this is an example of what Conservative Judaism is, it is no wonder why it is struggling hardest of Judaism’s three main branches and why it continues to lose popularity every day.
Sounds to me like this was a good ol’fashioned LYNCHING! That’s the truth.
Sima Bensasson lives in Postville and manages the real estate company owned by the Rubashkins
The truth seems to be that the Rubashkins, their rabbis and their paid spokespeople all no longer understand what the word truth means.