FORWARD: RUBASHKIN ABUSES WORKERS, SHORTS PAY CHECKS, ENDANGERS WORKER SAFETY, OTHER ABUSES – RABBIS: DOES NOT MATTER, PLANT STILL “KOSHER”

In a damning report by the Forward’s Nathaniel Popper, Rubashkin’s Iowa slaughterhouse stands accused of serious fraud and worker safety violations, as well as serious charges of other worker abuse. I can add that cattle growers have complained for years about alleged short weighing by Rubashkin, a fraudulant practice that costs them much money, and have echoed many of the charges made in the Forward articles.

The rub? Rabbis — including, it appears, the OU, KAJ, Crown Heights Beis Din and other kosher supervising agencies — have known about much of this abuse for years, and have done nothing. Why? Because, in their twisted understanding of halakha, meat obtained in whole or in part through fraud and exploitation is still kosher. Therefore, this rabbinic ‘logic’ goes, rabbis and kosher supervising agencies are not responsible to speak out against these abuses.

Many years ago, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein did speak out against less serious workers abuses, and refused to buy or consume produce raised and harvested through worker exploitation. We were once slaves in Egypt. Did God free us to exploit and abuse workers that provide our ‘kosher’ food?

Boycott Rubashkin, until this abuse is no more.

And, if you can do so, also stop consuming products produced under the many kosher supervisions Rubashkin employs, until the leadership of those agancies is replaced with a leadership that is committed to observing halakha in whole, and who refuses to endorse companies who exploit workers or tortue animals.

Judaism deserves no less.

[Note: I’m still blogging remotely, so my response to your emails and comments may be very slow.]

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11 Comments

Filed under Crime, Haredim, Jewish Leadership, Kosher Business?, Kosher Meat Scandal, Modern Orthodoxy

11 responses to “FORWARD: RUBASHKIN ABUSES WORKERS, SHORTS PAY CHECKS, ENDANGERS WORKER SAFETY, OTHER ABUSES – RABBIS: DOES NOT MATTER, PLANT STILL “KOSHER”

  1. Cloaking My Real Name

    I’m glad you brought this up. Here’s an e-mail exchange I had with this “Jewish” organization.

    From: cloaking.my.real.name@gmail.com [mailto:cloaking.my.real.name@gmail.com]
    Sent: Monday, August 22, 2005 4:10 PM
    To: Webbe Rebbe
    Subject:

    Email from:

    Sent at: 2005 08 22

    My OU certified store where I work, cheated me out of wages by falsing payroll documents and has further defamed me by falsifying other official documents. It’s not just me, this store treats all of it employees despicably.

    As an Orthodox Jew, I happen to know that the Torah mandates that you pay your Jewish worker on time and treat him fairly — why would the OU want to give a hechsher to such a place? I’ve noticed that Rabbi Menachem Genack has an article on your website stating that the Torah requires us to treat animals humanely. Why not humans too?

    Why should I or any person be asked to endure ill treatment? Please don’t tell me that since the employees here have volunteered to work at this store, management has carte blanche to mistreat us. We have signed on with this store for employment, not abuse.

    The OU’s response:

    Dear “Cloaking My Real Name”,

    Thank you for checking with the OU regarding your Kashruth question.

    We suggest that you discuss the matter with the department of Labor, as this probably falls out of the preview of the OU.

    If you would like, you can call OU Kosher at 212-613-8241 and ask to the speak to the Rabbinic Coordinator who supervises the establishment where you worked.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact us again should you have any further questions.

    With best wishes for an enjoyable, relaxing and cool summer,

    Sincerely,

    The Web (be) Rebbe

    For more information about Kosher, please visit http://oukosher.org.

  2. Nigritude Ultramarine

    In the kosher certification process, working conditions are not a factor, according to the largest certifying agency, the Orthodox Union.

    Working conditions don’t matter? Pathetic.

    OK, how about giving a הכשר to Hooter’s for their chicken wings?

  3. Moishe

    as my bubbie would say you are mixing kashe with botchvene.
    These are 2 issues which though you may morally think are connected, nevertheless are halachically separate. Both issues are important and but unfortunately not dependent one upon the other.By law jewish and secular as long as his factory meets the standards set by the supervisory agencies it is deemed kosher.
    It is up to the consumer to decide if they want to deal with a person like this and they have the right not to buy his products on a moral basis.But his morals do not tae away from the kashrut as long as the factory adheres to the standards of the hashgocho.
    IOW if the biggest gangster in the world or the biggest anti semite in the world adheres to the contract then the factory is kosher.
    Do not mix the issues and make them seem dependent on one another. If you have any complaints call 1-800-G-d-fair of G-d@yahoo.com

  4. Yochanan Lavie

    “OK, how about giving a הכשר to Hooter’s for their chicken wings?”

    As long as the Hooter’s girls don’t wear wigs made from Indian hair.

  5. Nigritude Ultramarine

    Do not mix the issues and make them seem dependent on one another.

    I like mustard with my bologna. Where would we be as a people if Moshe Rabbeinu had turned a blind eye to the Egyptian abusing the Hebrew slave?

    One is always obligated — שביתי ה’ לנגדי תמיד

  6. Ploni Ben Ploni

    The fact is OTHER Meet packing plants and Slaughter Houses all around Iowa, Dakotas, Minnstota and the Middwest ALL pay minimum wage salaries to thier workers.

  7. Nigritude Ultramarine

    ALL pay minimum wage salaries to thier workers.

    So religious Jews should have the same low standards of the non-Jews running those slaughter houses.

  8. Lawrence M. Reisman

    “The fact is OTHER Meet packing plants and Slaughter Houses all around Iowa, Dakotas, Minnstota and the Middwest ALL pay minimum wage salaries to thier workers”

    If I read correctly, there were also substandard safety conditions, below those of the other meat packing plants and slaughterhouses.

    Years ago, there was a brouhaha when the Kof-K pulled its hashgocha off Glatt Yacht because of mixed dancing. At that time, there were those who argued that kashrus only reflected the state of the food, and others who argued that kashrus was all-encompassing. I’d guess that those who argued one way years ago will argue the other now. FWIW, KAJ removed its hashgocha from Rubashkin’s poultry last year, when they went to Empire. They did so because of problems outside the purview of Yoreh Deah. While I don’t think working conditions had much to do with it, I’d like to dream… Working conditions raise serious questions of Chillul HaShem and eivah. I would like to see KAJ to a complete review of what goes on with the meat side. Let’s see if Rav Brueur’s “Better glatt yosher than glatt kosher stil holds water.”

  9. “FWIW, KAJ removed its hashgocha from Rubashkin’s poultry last year, when they went to Empire.”

    Not true.

  10. Lawrence M. Reisman

    “FWIW, KAJ removed its hashgocha from Rubashkin’s poultry last year, when they went to Empire.”

    Not true.

    Shmarya is right, and I stand corrected. However, my comment about seeing if “Better glatt yosher than glatt kosher” still applies at KAJ applies even more than ever.

  11. Neo-Conservaguy

    I’ll tell you this much about the Chabad/KAJ/Empire situation: I was recently told by a Chabad mashgiach that the OK (Chabad – not directly linked, but effectively) kashruth agency has banned the use of Empire chicken at any establishment they supervise. He couldn’t give a specific reason except to imply it had to do with an association with Satmar.

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