* Was it hard for you to buy the company that was the subject of so much hurt? What role will the Rubashkin family play, if any, in this company?
He waves away the question. "That is not for now. I will say this. Whatever the Rubashkin family did or did not do, they were victims of a massive witch hunt.
"They are wonderful people and sincerely motivated by a desire to provide Yidden with kosher meat, and they did us a valuable service.
"The last few months were very rough. The huge facility was shut down, the infrastructure of the Postville kehillah [was] seriously affected, and most of all, the kosher meat consumer was made to suffer. There was a monopoly situation, and that’s never a good thing.
"Ultimately, it is the consumers who are being forced to pay higher prices for quality meat. Can a Jewish family live without meat for Shabbos, Yom Tov, simchahs? The only solution was to recreate an open market and make it affordable to everyone.
"I also love a challenge. Believe me, I don’t need this for my parnassah [income], baruch Hashem, but the potential is tremendous. It’s a remarkable place, efficient and state of the art, and we hope to have it operating again soon."
* How soon?
"Ideally, before the Yamim Tovim."
* Will there be changes?
"Maybe at the top level, but not on the ground. They have great personnel in place — shochtim, mashgichim, and we hope that they can resume doing what they do best."
* Will the hashgachah [kosher supervision] remain the same?
"We are still working that out, but we are committed to giving all kosher consumers a product that they can trust."
Reb Hershey knows that it will be a tremendous amount of work to win the public relations battle and convince the locals of his good intentions. "The natives up in Iowa are very wary of us, and we will have to do our best to be a good neighbor."
So Agriprocessors' buyer thinks that, no matter what the Rubashkins did – how many workers were abused, how many were ripped off, how many were treated like literal slaves – the Rubashkins are "wonderful people" who are victims of a "massive witch hunt."
This speaks very poorly for Hershey Friedman and for his ability to follow US law and treat non-Jewish employees like people instead of chattel.
I would also suspect Friedman is trying to replace the OU as the Agriprocessors name brand kosher supervision.
The fact that he will allow current schochtim (kosher slaughterers) and mashgichim (kosher line supervisors) to stay means he is not troubled by the large number of Chabad messianists that fill those positions.
I would also think Friedman will leave Rubashkin family members like Heshy Rubashkin and Yossie Gourarie in place, running the plant, with a newly-named figurehead CEO as their boss.
And, worst of all, I think the US Attorney will allow this.
[Hat Tips: Pablo Faird, FGBA.]