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Op-Ed: Reacting to the Rubashkin Imbroglio

By Yanky

The scandal is all over the Jewish blogosphere and it’s the word in streets and shops in Jewish neighborhoods throughout the country: the Rubashkin “animal house of horrors” has finally been exposed. After a raid by customs enforcement officials over two weeks ago, allegations and rumors abound about the country’s largest Kosher meat plant, forcing the Jewish community to think captiously about the food they’re eating. Responding to the allegations, certain elements and groups are calling for an outright boycott of all Rubashkin products based on their violation of “American and Torah law.” On ethical grounds these groups claim that we should not eat meat which was produced under unlawful and dangerous conditions- especially because the owners are Orthodox Jews and the meat Kosher, an icon of humaneness and justice.

In this situation, we are not qualified to be prosecution or the defense. We cannot judge the situation well enough to decide what did or did not take place, or how grave the crimes committed actually were. We should not outright condemn a company on hearsay alone, threatening to withhold our business until they make amends – or even sit in jail – for horrendous crimes. I say that we continue eating Rubashkin meat and supporting the hard work that they do to supply Kosher meat to our communities. Being, however, that we eat Rubashkin meat and that ostensibly as Jews we all believe in some form of social justice, it is imperative that we consider the possibility of some substantiation to the allegations and think about what our ethical response will be then. Until then, let’s bear in mind the American and Torah presumption of innocence.

It’s hard for me to believe all the allegations against Rubashkin. It seems just a bit sensationalist to believe that a company that knew they were under scrutiny would allow all of this to happen. There were always secret cameras filming what happened in the plant and they have been under investigation for a while. How likely is it that the company just allowed every code, regulation or crime to be broken? Besides hiring illegal immigrants, they’re being accused of knowingly: having a meth lab, physically abusing workers, extortion, hazardous working conditions, animal abuse, environmental waste, forging documentation, underpaying, overworking, defaulting on debts, and the list continues and grows daily. It sounds like every possible allegation that could come out to destroy a company is just being thrown out there, perhaps by unionists, Conservative Jewish activists via the media, former workers looking for a plea bargain, vegetarian groups or other people with a stake in destroying the company.

I highly doubt most of the allegations are true and firmly believe that these stories are surfacing in an attempt to further besmirch the company. If some of the events did in fact happen, they were isolated incidents that have nothing to do with the corporation (or Orthodox Judaism for that matter). In any industry there are occupational hazards and, sadly, injuries happen by accident and negligence. Safety codes are necessary because there is heavy machinery and saws being used, but not every accident is preventable or foreseeable.

No one forces illegal immigrants to take jobs, and certainly not to keep jobs where they’re being abused. Rubashkin wasn’t keeping slaves and the fact that so many workers remained for so long and moved their families out to Iowa indicates that conditions weren’t as bad as the media would have the public believe. The point in hiring illegal workers is that you can pay them a lesser wage, and that they are willing to work for that. There is no need for unionization and collective bargaining. It is a happy agreement between employer and employee, and being that they don’t have legal contracts, employees are free to up and leave whenever they please.

Time, investigations and legal action will tell what really happened at the Agri plant. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue enjoying Rubashkin meat just like I always have- or at least for as long as the prices don’t skyrocket. I’m not bothered by the fact that the company hired illegal immigrants, because that’s the order of business in the meat industry and everyone does it. It is a “harmless” crime that everyone in America is guilty of, even if it is technically illegal and hurts our economy. In this day and age, not engaging in that sort of underhandedness puts businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Besides, we should recognize that Rubashkin is chiefly a business, and Jewishness and lawful practice are really asides. It is naive to look up to a business as a spiritual or ethical icon. Organizations that make a boycott based on the religiosity and piety (or lack thereof) of a company’s owner, are utilizing a cheap irrelevant ploy that detracts from the real issue.

Until actual abuse is proven – which may happen – we must not stop purchasing Rubashkin meat.

This Op-Ed reflects the views of its author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of nor of its Editors.

A reader that wishes to make his or her voice heard on any topic of their desire is welcome to submit his or her Op-Ed to


  • 2. Meat Eater wrote:

    I must ask…why do you feel the need to add fuel to the fire? Let it be. As you say, we all eat Rubashkin’s meat & I certainly only wish them well. So why do we have to read yet more opinions & posturings on yet another blog?

    It’s about time that those who have the power to publish subscribe to the view that if you can’t say anything positive…say NOTHING. Less IS more.

  • 3. Florida resident wrote:

    If it weren’t for the fact that Idefinitely know of unethical business practices of Agri Processors in Florida, maybe I would also defend them. Having worked with Agri for the last three years I know for a fact that they will do anything to get ahead, with no regard to ethics or halacha for that matter. We all need to make decisions based on our knowledge of the truth, enough has been exposed here in Florida for me not to believe that at least most of the allegations might indeed be true.

  • 4. PeopleEatingTastyAnimals wrote:


    There is your answer. The unions are mob influenced. As the mob weakened (thanks to Giuliani when he was Attorney General), Rubashkin basically busted what was a mob ridden kosher meat industry by running his own trucks etc. Now, the mob is getting back at him through their grip on the unions. PETA is a sideshow but who knows what their real agenda is – they are stam meshugge but could be corrupt as well.

    I’m not in the US anymore, but I sure miss Rubashkin steaks from Crown Kosher and the tongue I used to buy from the tzadekes Mrs Rubashkin shetichye at Crown Deli in BP.

    If worse comes to worse, the Rubashkins will move their production out of the US the way Alle (Meal Mart) did and Postville will go right down the tubes again.

  • 5. In my own opinion wrote:

    If it is in fact true that there was a meth lab, extortion etc.. the plant would not be able to run as it does now. They would have boarded up the place and locked it up forever. Rumors are rumors. We also have to realize that rubashkin meat is pretty much the only meat (besides meal mart, which some don’t eat) that is readily available in rural towns. They have my support and I hope they make it through for the sake of them supplying kosher meat for Jewish communities everywhere. oppinion

  • 6. MG wrote:

    GREAT OP-ED!!!!!! You are 100% right. Yidden who believe in these allegations are guilty of not giving their fellow Jews the benefit of the doubt, and they are guilty of believing in loshon hora.

    I personally will continue to eat Rubashkin meat.

    May Ha-shem continue to bless the Rubashkin family, and may HE expose the liars and haters who are responsible for the tzoros that the Rubashkin family are going through.

  • 7. Rivkah wrote:

    Thank you for your article.
    It was surprising to see Chabad media sources publishing news before the facts were verified.
    It seems to me like this case is a public lynching of “the Jew”, and sadly by the Frum world of “The Chassid”.
    We must unite and support our own, and not allow this slander to break us apart.

  • 8. Cincinnati Anash wrote:

    To all people!

    On behalf of Anash and Mosdos in Cincinnati, OH. I proclaim our thanks to the Rubashkin family for all their help and support. May they only have brachos and hatzlacha!!

  • 9. me myself and i wrote:

    well said. i have to agree with you all the way but id like to further comment on what you said.

    “The point in hiring illegal workers is that you can pay them a lesser wage”

    Let it be known that all these workers were being paid the US minimum wage, so please do understand that this bar minimum wage is what illegals were and are ready to work for. they are not slave laborers.
    “It is a “harmless” crime that everyone in America is guilty of,”

    yes your right. i am too
    lets look at C.H. from 7:30 – 10:00 every morning watch the people flooding off of the 3 train at kingston and eastern.
    all of them are working in our comunnity as cleaning ladys , store cleks and buildiers.

    botom line its a mixture of
    unions petas, and jelos people who all of them havent worked hard a day in thier life.

    union – created b/c the police and government cut out the mafia.

    so the mafia guys turned into union heads they meet with the lobbiest who in turn leck officials in washinton… you getthe drift

    Peta – according to them they these guinoses, brilliant men and woman say that halacha – animal may not feel pain when being shechted. – is not good enough.
    these same guys who poor paint on people with Fur coats.

    and last jelos peopla – need i explain…
    just look at rabbi shain they guy that got his hechsher idea turned down by Rubashkin BC he wanted to be in partnership with the prfits.

    a conflict of intrest when it comes to halacha.

  • 10. Common_sense wrote:

    I’m pretty sure there is now way for someone to check if a prospect employee as actually legal. If they show you a green card that looks legit (and the fake ones are really good this days) there is nowhere you could turn to verify it. You actually might get sued for discrimination if you ask too many questions. If the government really wanted to make sure illegals don’t work in the country they would give the tools to help check before hiring. This raid was nothing more than a show, or worse, a deliberate attempt to hurt a jewish business.

  • 11. Yosef Kohen wrote:

    I agree with the spirit of this op-ed. I am also praying for the success of Rubashkin to come out a winner and back on top to continue their good deeds, which will only increase with G-d’s help.

    I just want to respond to the “hiring of illegal immigrant” charge.

    First of all, this very government that busted Rubashkin, is guilty of the biggest obstacle to introducing and enforcing the law on this issue. Go back to the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill, which was introduced with thee cooperation and full backing of the Bush administration. This was a full amnesty bill without any laws to enforce at least future border enforcement. It was only the firestorm cooked up by talk radio that stopped it from passing. Otherwise it would pass by an overwhelming majority in the Senate and Congress with the full support of the courts.

    So who is encouraging the hiring of illegal immigrants? The US government, with all the branches and all the party’s.

    A Second point, how much longer will we throw around the claim that illegals take away jobs from US citizens? Look at the unemployment statistics of today. In this miserable economy that we find ourselves in, when the first thing companies do, is to fire the workers. The numbers are (after a huge increase in unemployment sats) 5%. This is far less than any other western economy anywhere.

    So, why bring up a fallacy of us losing jobs to illegals. We have known 12 million illegals in this country (and who knows how many unknown) and they made no dent in the unemployment stats.

    Third of all, there isn’t a business in this country, nor is there a government agency in this country or a kosher certifying (like the holier than thou O-U) agency, that is not guilty of hiring “illegals”, israeli of hispanic. As is any store in every decent neighborhood and every jewish school or shul, wherever you turn.

    So all of you holier than thou, self righteous Rubashkin haters, beware, you may lose it all because of the domestic help you have to help you clean for Shabbos, for who you pay no taxes and is most likely an illegal as well.

    In addition, it is a fact that americans refuse to do these jobs. Americans only believe in the service and technological economy, as a place of employment. No more butchers, bakers or shoemakers. Walk in to any labor intense shop, store, factory or construction company, and find me more than 10% americans employed in managerial positions only.

    Finally, the unions are the biggest Mafioso’s in this universe. They are the ones behind this ridicules witch hunt against Rubashkin. Even more than PETA. Thank G-d that Rubashkin stood up to them, and will hopefully succeed to break once and for all.

    Just think what you will pay for a pond of chopped meat if the union G-d forbid has their way. Forget about ever having a steak.

    In conclusion, let’s all unite in prayer for the success and vindication of the Rubashkin’s and their business. And in this Zechus we will merit the delicious “Shor Habor” with the coming of Moshiach speedily.

  • 12. Mummy wrote:

    I agree with Meat Eater’s post. And I personally find this op-ed to be more of lashon hara and fuel to that ugly fire. It didn’t need to be said/written. And I find it appauling to read these accusations on Crown Heights News. Bad call to post this. Pretty sad.

  • 13. USED TO LIVE THERE wrote:

    We used to live in Postville, my husband worked in the plant. Whoever made up these stories has a boring imagination. But i could think of a few people who are insecure and are therefor ready to do anything to build their ego, albeit an unhealthy one.

  • 14. shturem wrote:

    Last night, I posted a comment on, and they hadn’t publish it, as if it was a comment of obscene nature. I posted as follows:

    “I wonder if Mr. Rubashkin wasn’t a Chabad chossid, whether he would have been subject to such an assault on his and his company’s integrity, just based on unsubstantiated allegations. I personally doubt it. I wonder if all these indignant sanctimonious commenters on blogs only pay their employees on the books, and never bought a item without paying taxes.”

    It is a shame that they would censor out comments such as mine because it violates the cardinal rule of “don’t defend Lubavitch, just swallow the attacks with dignity”. Especially since all the scathing attacks on the Rubashkins made it past the YW (yeshivaworld) censorship Bureau. I would voice my complaint directly to them, but when I’ve done so in the past, they just ignore my emails. So I post this frustration here.

  • 15. Concerned wrote:

    “I’m pretty sure there is now way for someone to check if a prospect employee as actually legal. If they show you a green card that looks legit (and the fake ones are really good this days) there is nowhere you could turn to verify it. You actually might get sued for discrimination if you ask too many questions.”

    Yeah? So how do you then under-pay them? When somebody comes to me with a fake green card, I don’t check it, but on what grounds would I pay him less than a minimum wage? So, either way, they are breaking a law.

  • 16. Yanky wrote:

    This had to be said, because outside of the firm walls of Crown Heights – where I daresay that people aren’t so “ethically concerned” – there are grassroots campaigns taking off to stop suppliers from carrying Rubashkin meat. If you care about Rubashkin, or the price and quality of the kosher meat available, I recommend you start thinking about the situation. It might be time before these groups accomplish their goals, but the boycotts are beginning in many communities around the country.

    What I’ve said cannot feasibly be called Loshon Harah. Everything that I’ve said has been said in the media and on some of the influential Jewish blogs. The accusations are publicly known. A poll on the Jewish Press website has shown that a gross majority of Kosher consumers would expect the Kashrus to be taken away if indictments are made. This problem is exploding and it will affect you.

    I have no direct knowledge of the situation, nor am I employed, related to an employee, related to the plant owners or benefit from their generous largess. Thank G-d, I have no personal worries about the result of this fiasco – save for as a Kosher consumer. I would suggest that we band together and not let anything happen, to use our influence and purchasing power to ensure that the company survives through hard times.

  • 17. Concerned wrote:

    I agree with everything except this:

    “Besides, we should recognize that Rubashkin is chiefly a business, and Jewishness and lawful practice are really asides.”

    Why? I am chiefly, primarily and exclusively a Jew and must chiefly and primarily concerned with Rubashkins as shochets, who must see themselves primarily as shochets and frum yidden (not to mention, Chassidim) and not businessmen. Also, while I believe in not spreading loshon ha’rah, I also believe in calling things what they are.

    First of all, although in some ethereal “general” ethical sense, hiring illegal immigrants is OK, it is NOT in Torah sense — it is a clear violation of dina d’malchusah dina. You might say, so is speeding or not paying a parking meter. True, that too. I will let you and your rabbi figure out whether you should pay your parking meters — it’s between you and Eibeshter and the end of the day. I am not going to discuss your speeding in public either or judge you; I am not a tzaddik or a beinoni for that matter either.

    When, however, a kosher slaughterhouse violates Torah, even in such “trifles” (kivyachol) as dina d’malchusa dina, labor law, etc., etc., it raises two issues. First, if you violate Halacha in private, that’s between you and Eibeshter. When you violate Halachah in public, it’s Hillul Hashem, especially if you’re a rabbi or a schochet. If you know some of your practices will put a negative light on Jews, on frum Jews, on Chabad or on Torah, even though it’s idiotic public reaction, it is still Hillul Hashem. You need to take precaution that idiots don’t think bad about Torah and Jews (of course, within understandable limits… “those who want to err, let them err”, but we shouldn’t help them err). In this case, it feels like a care could be taken to prevent the situation (especially with all the warnings) and it was not.

    Second, to trust his shchitah, we have to trust a schochet’s yiras shomayim. According to Tzemach Tzedek, a shochet, who moves to Germany from Russia and starts shaving a beard like his fellow German Jews do, may not be bought meet from. How much more so somebody who does Hillul Hashem? Lubavitch community stopped trusting Satmars’ shchitah when a Chabad rabbi was attacked by Satmar youth and their rabbis did not speak out. If these rabbis don’t speak out against this, was the argument, how can we trust their yiras shomayim to check shchitah carefully? Using the same logic, if someone is not careful enough about Hillul Hashem or dina d’malchusa dina (in public), can we trust his shchitah? (This has nothing to do with Reform and Modern Orthodox ridiculous statements that “rabbis pay more attention to ritual aspects of shchitah than to ethical ones. Also, I am not advocating boycotting Rubashkin shchitah, chv”sh, I am just point out seriousness of this issues, which should not be brushed aside as a no big deal.)

    Finally, while it is true that owners of the factory are great baalei chesed and probably wonderful Jews and Chassidim, it has nothing to do with what happened. There are wonderful baalei chesed among Reform Jews, but I don’t eat their meat. There are wonderful baalei chesed amongst Jews who go to prison for tax violations — what they are doing is still Hillul Hashem.

    I agree that Agriprocessors and its owners were made into scapegoats here and we should give them all our support. We should also understand, however, that all things happen by hashgachah protis. Oftentimes things happen in our communities that we wave aside but which are actually Hillul Hashem (or a lost opportunity for Kiddush Hashem). A Jew, especially a chossid, should always be aware that the rest of the world (both Jewish and not) is watching him and that of course, Eibeshter is waching every second. Every action is either kavod to Hashem, the Rebbe and the Torah or is hillul Hashem and hillul Lubavitch.

  • 18. shalom wrote:

    As I recall, Yehoshua refused to revoke Bnei Yisroel’s promise to the Givonim, though he had every right to, because of the possible Chillul Hashem it would cause. He was concerned that if he attacked them after the treaty they had made, there would be Goyim that would not know the circumstances of their deception and would think that the Jews had broken their promises.

    Whatever exactly happened at Agri, let’s not fool ourselves and think that it’s all some conspiracy to sink the company. Obviously, some shady things were going, probably to save a buck or two. BUT AT WHAT COST!!! All hysterical them-against-us rhetoric aside, a massive Chillul Hashem has occurred that made national news. Yes, the meat may be technically kosher, but the management and owners certainly aren’t. And if a boycott is the way to bring about change , it should certainly be considered.

    One final thought: silence on this matter – or defensiveness – from the Orthodox and Chabad company will only add to the Chillul Hashem. If the Conservative movement wants to add a “Hechsher Tzedek,” the Orthodox community is not obligated to follow, but some response is needed, not just silence and stonewalling.

    I believe that the Orthodox community needs to make strong condemnations of any possible violations and let it be known that further infractions will come at a severe cost. Otherwise, we are all complicit, and G-d help us all.

  • 19. Yitz wrote:

    I support the message of this article.

    What you have in the broader world out there is nothing less than a lynch-mob. After all, this company has many people who would just love to hate it and hope that it goes down (G-d forbid): First and foremost the mob-style unions, the PETA wackos (chicken holocaust), anti-semites, non-orthodox establishment (such as reform and conservative) who would love to see glatt-kosher tarnished, and furthermore, are looking to create their own “Hekhsher Tsedek”, and finally, and very sadly, the frum knee-jerk Chabad haters (reminder to those: loshon hora, rechilus, motzi shem ra, and at the very least, binfoil oivech al tismach).

  • 20. jew wrote:

    Don’t bother with; they stopped posting my comments after I tried to defend Chabad from other posts (irrelevant to kashrus).
    I tried to ask them for the reasons, and was ignored like you.

  • 21. Ex Postville resident wrote:

    Reb Aron, Yossi, Sholom Mordechai, Heshy and the son in laws gave a lot of people changes, myself included.
    I don’t agree with there business ethics in the marketplace, but you can find dirt on any corporation in America.
    That is capitalism.
    It is a ugly and greedy fight to get to the top and stay there.
    But Agriprocessors is a place where the Rubashkin’s gave you a change, regardless of your status or where you came from, all that was required was hard work and dedication.
    Yes we could all be nice Law abiding citizens, laws that are made by corrupt polititians with only their own greed in mind.
    Or we can be like the Rubashkin’s and go out their and take a change and give other people changes and make a difference.
    Good Shabbos everyone.

  • 22. I know, I was there wrote:

    alot of these “allegations” are true. I have first hand knowledge of a lot of them.

    Yes, the rubashkins did do things wrong and where well aware of the fact but do not forget about the jewish workers there now that are trying to make a living for their famalies. boycotting the meat is not going to help the situation.

  • 23. what do you expect? wrote:

    Shturem, G-d bless you, you are really naive. I agree with what you wrote, but I too have had posts ignored…ESPECIALLY on if they don’t agree with the Shita of the moderators.

    That too is the nature of the world. If you dare to disagree, you don’t have a voice. A democracy? No.

    Hope this time, this is posted…without editing!! But you’ll never know, will you!

  • 25. dont believe everything you hear wrote:

    To Concerned:

    What you are saying is absolutely wrong. When someone buys rubashkins meat he can’t say that I am eating the meat because the owner is a Jew, rather the reason he is eating it is because of the hechsher it has. This means that you trust the rabbis which belong to the respected hashgacha, and not the rubashkin family personally, even though they are nice people.
    That is why the rubashkin family pays tens of thousands of dollars a year to the OU, and other hechsherim.

    Therefore it is the responsibility of the OU, or the other Hechsheirim to red flag any issues and not someone writing an article, or any other activist for that matter.
    And if you don’t trust the OU which are the ones giving the Hechsher then am afraid that you probably cant eat 80% of the items in any respected grocery store.

  • 26. Yanky wrote:

    Concerned- What relevance does a company’s Yiras Shomayim have to its trustworthiness and Kashrus, if there is an independent Kashrus organization inspecting? It isn’t Rubashkin who put their guarantee behind the Kashrus, it is in the purview of the Rav Hamachshir.

    Shalom- Do you have any “proof” that something shady was going on at the company?

  • 27. Leah wrote:






  • 28. I-m really confuse wrote:

    When article were posted to put down the Rubashkin family, no one said that it was a shame that such a content would be posted on our honorable website! But now that finally someone takes the defense of this fantastic family, you are so many to say:“Oh, we don’t need to speak about Rubashkin again!!!”
    Where is the fairness? And still, in these comments, people continue to criticze them! Even if you know first hand that some of the accusations may be true, are you working in the justice departement of the government???
    Now is the time for support! After all they have done for our community, this is the least we could give them!!!
    May Hashem bensh everyone of us with revealed goodness,
    Have a good Shabbos

  • 29. Josh wrote:

    I think you’re being a little naive when you say that they wouldn’t allow bad things to go on in the plant while they knew they were being watched. Incompetence is more universal then you might like to believe. Think of our government, as an example.

  • 30. Economy wrote:

    I didnt read all the comments so i dont know if this point was brought up. At the end you note its hurting our economy i presume you are reffering to the lost jobs for “real” americans. Agriprocceser lost close to 700 employees acording to your cheshbon since there are so many americans dieing for jobs all those spots ahould be takin almost instantly.
    WRONG they are still scrambaling weeks later fill job spots!! so whos economy is being ruined?
    btw all those “illeagel” workers where paying taxes on their weekly paychecks,
    You do the math.

  • 31. personally wrote:

    Personally, I wish Sholom Rubashkin only good as he is a man of good and has done only good to my family, I don’t care what anybody says

  • 32. shnukky wrote:

    yasher koach for having the guts to put this article up!
    pretty sadly it’s the nature of people to critisize and condemn pretty fast’ and that gets all over town! but when it proves to be invalid- somehow that part never really reaches quite as many.
    The rubashkins are really really hard workers and they don’t just do it for themselves, so i say we go out there and support them when they can use some
    May hashem bench them with all the brachos and this whole mess be cleared up really soon
    moshiach now!

  • 33. Where there is smoke, there is fire wrote:

    Are we saying that we will continue to eat Rubashkin because we assume he is innocent and doubt if the allegations are true?

    I don’t think that is true.

    I have yet to hear anyone here say that if Rubashkin top management is convicted on most of the charges against them that anyone would THEN stop using Rubashkins meat.

    Just say you are HUNGRY and could care less about Kashrus.

    Say the truth.

    Or put your reputation on the line that if Rubashkin is indicted and convicted that you will finally agree that you ate traif until NOW too.

  • 34. Benney Sorfe wrote:

    The burden in assessment of guilt or blame lies within the legal system. No one is guilty until proven so, not because guilty people are not to be held to account for alleged crimes but rather the innocent are not held to account for crimes they did not commit. I don’t know about Jewish law, not my business, but that is rule of law here. In terms of business practices, these are subjective and when known legal or not are rightfully in play for disclosure and discussion. My father told me never do anything you wouldn’t want to be seen on the front page of the newspaper. It is not legal advice, necessarily good business advice, just good moral advice. I think


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