Agriprocessors Raid Made Us, Briefly, Rethink Kashrut

Where We Are on Fifth Anniversary of Postville Raid

Kosher Scandal: On the anniversary of the raid that started the Agriprocessors kosher meat scandal, a look at what has changed, and what is still the same.
Kosher Scandal: On the anniversary of the raid that started the Agriprocessors kosher meat scandal, a look at what has changed, and what is still the same.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published May 12, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Reactions among Orthodox Jews were strong, too, but the Orthodox institutional response was muted. Some community leaders said they couldn’t link kosher certification with other issues that aren’t under the Jewish community’s control.

“Fair treatment of workers is an important issue,” one leading rabbi told me, “but it’s not our job to judge it. We have to trust the government to supervise it. As long as a company is observing the law, we can’t get involved.”

That was the situation in May 2008, when the government descended on Postville. When the feds showed up, though, it wasn’t to protect the workers but to round them up

Suddenly, Postville was all about immigration. It no longer represented a debate within the Jewish community about the meaning of Jewish ethics. Now it was an escalation of America’s border wars, with the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse as the poster child for abuse.

It didn’t help that, as some accounts emphasize, Agriprocessors CEO Sholom Rubashkin, a Lubavitch Hasid, had his immigration charges dropped, as if to say: The little guys get nailed while the big guys walk.

You wouldn’t know from these accounts, including some notices for the May 10 commemoration, that Rubashkin was convicted on 86 counts of financial fraud, based on material found during the raid, and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The immigration charges were dropped, along with child labor charges, because the feds figured they wouldn’t add to the already stiff punishment.

Four other plant officials were convicted on immigration and document fraud charges, and three faced child labor charges. Two managers indicted on document charges fled to Israel, but one, an Israeli Arab, was returned to Iowa to stand trial on May 3. In fact, the one major category of crime that wasn’t punished was the one that started all the fuss: labor abuse.

“The tragedy is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement did the raid and not the Department of Labor,” said Allen. “But that’s the way America operates.”

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • 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.