Photo: Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD.
Chabad's Rubashkin Defense Committee continues to try the case in the press, something the judge ordered both the prosecution and the defense to cease doing.
The legal issue is whether or not Rubashkin's attorneys are coordinating with Chabad's Rubashkin Defense Committee.
It would seem they could very well be coordinating. Why?
According to Rabbi Shea Hecht, who sits on the committee and has been its frequent spokesman, Chabad's Rubashkin Defense Committee selected and hired Rubashkin's attorneys, and pays for Rubashkin's legal defense, along with Rubashkin's food, housing and his family's food, housing and other expenses.
So, at bare minimum, the attorneys have regular contact with the Committee that pays their bills.
Hecht, speaking on Dov Hikind's radio show Saturday night, also told listeners there are two types of justice America – one for Jews and the other, normative and less strict one for gentiles.
Hecht also made much of potential jurors in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, saying they had never met a Jew before – as if this somehow means the jurors will be antisemitic.
Clearly, one of Rubashkin's potential appeals will be that the location of the trial prevented Rubashkin from getting a jury of his peers.
Much of Hecht's near-hour long appearance focused on the "antisemitism" inherent in the government's prosecution of Rubashkin.
Why A Kapote?
Past that, we have another issue: Rubashkin's dress.
More specifically, his odd choice to wear his kapote (long black religious frock coat) at the trial.
The custom in Chabad is to wear the kapote only on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays (and sometimes at the weddings of one's children) – unless one is a noted Torah scholar, the head of a religious court, or a rosh yeshiva. Rubashkin fits none of these categories. The Rebbe himself wore a regular in-style western European business suit during the week until he became rebbe in 1951.
Rubashkin's normal method of dress previous to this did not include daily kapote-wearing, and he has no real religious justification for wearing his kapote to the trial.
So why wear it?
I believe because the more "Jewish" he looks – the shorter his hair, the longer his payos (sidecurls), the longer and blacker his coat – the greater chance he has to claim antisemitic bias and an unrepresentative jury pool. After all, how many people in South Dakota dress like that? How many are hasidic Jews?
Chabad doesn't have a center in South Dakota, in part because the Jewish community there is tiny. (In larger part the reason is because South Dakota falls in the territory controlled by Rabbi Moshe Feller. and, as any honest shaliach will tell you, Feller is many things, most of them good. But competency is not his strong suit.)
So the defense seems prepared to claim this lack of Jews denied Rubashkin a fair trial.
Rubashkin also chooses not to wear a tie, even though he normally does wear a tie at weddings and other community functions held outside Postville or Crown Heights. Here are two pictures of Rubashkin, one with his father, wearing ties at large Chabad fundraising dinners held in NYC:
You can see Rubashkin wearing his kapote leaving the courthouse during the first days of the trial in the following video and in the screenshots posted above: