Kosher Updates: A New Arrest and More

By Nathaniel Popper

Published November 20, 2008, issue of November 28, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The troubles at what was once the nation’s largest kosher meat producer, Agriprocessors, have continued to beset the company six months after a massive immigration raid at its Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse and a few weeks after the company declared bankruptcy.

In the midst of its efforts to stay alive in the wake of the bankruptcy filing, the company has been hit with a number of new and independent developments that do not bode well for the company, the people who rely on it or the kosher meat industry at large.


Former CEO Arrested Again. On November 14, Sholom Rubashkin, former CEO of the Iowa operations, was arrested for the second time in a month. The first time, it was on charges that he helped immigrants procure false identification. This time, Rubashkin was hit with charges that he had committed bank fraud with a $35 million loan that the company had taken out. While Rubashkin was quickly let out on bail after the first arrest, the prosecutor this time labeled Rubashkin a “flight risk” and requested that he be kept in jail.

Supreme Court Petition Denied. The United States Supreme Court said on November 17 that it would not hear an appeal that Agriprocessors lawyers had made on a controversial immigration case. In 2005, Agriprocessors declined to recognize a union at the company’s Brooklyn warehouse, arguing that the workers who had voted to unionize were undocumented immigrants. While a number of courts have said the company must recognize the union, the company hoped higher courts would overturn those decisions. If the company manages to stay in business, the new Supreme Court decision means it will have to enter into bargaining with the union.

Production Stops in Iowa. Agriprocessors shut down its Nebraska slaughterhouse in October and was slowly halting various sectors of production in Iowa. But during the week of November 17, all production in Iowa was stopped, a company spokesman told The Des Moines Register. While the company’s bankruptcy proceedings have moved forward, a lawyer for the Rubashkins said in court that the company would likely be sold soon.

Another Kosher Line Ends. Sarah Lee announced on November 19 that it would discontinue its kosher lines, which include Best’s and Sinai Kosher. These products are all labeled under the less rigorous non-glatt kosher certification. Sarah Lee’s decision follows the closure of both Agriprocessors slaughterhouses as well as another leading kosher slaughterhouse in Minnesota.

Scrambling for Food and Electricity. Disaster relief efforts have been launched to help the Agriprocessors employees who are still living in Postville, Iowa without paychecks. The direst concern was that electricity might be cut off in local housing just as winter hits. The companies that own much of the real estate in town have not paid utility bills recently, but some fast thinking by Jeff Abbas, who runs the local radio station, got people registered so that their electricity would not be cut off. There also have been a number of separate food-relief efforts. Morris Allen, a Minnesota rabbi who has been a leading critic of Agriprocessors, led a drive to bring kosher food to the many Jewish families associated with the company. Abbas said that through the food drives he has run, “we’re going through 800 to 900 pounds of food a day.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.