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OU Pushed for Sholom Rubashkin Ouster

rubashkin3.gifIt is at the insistence of the Orthodox Union that Sholom Rubashkin is to be replaced as chief executive officer of Agriprocessors, the kosher meatpacking giant his father, Aaron Rubashkin, founded, The Jewish Star has learned.
“We have said that if there were criminal culpability that we would withdraw our supervision,” said Rabbinic Administrator Rabbi Menachem Genack in an interview Tuesday. “The OU spoke to the company to say that we would suggest –– for lots of reasons –– that they should look for professional management.”
No indictments of Agriprocessors, Inc. officers had been announced as of Tuesday afternoon.
Last Friday, after 270 of his employees were convicted of violating immigration law and sentenced to five months in prison, Aaron Rubashkin announced that his son would be replaced as chief executive.
“The best course of action for the company, its employees, the local community [in Postville, IA] and our customers is to bring new leadership to Agriprocessors,” Mr. Rubashkin said in a news release.
Several calls for boycotts of Rubashkin products –– including at least one by an Orthodox rabbi in Washington, D.C. –– have largely gone unheeded.
“They’re an important source of supply,” Rabbi Genack noted. “Without them on the market prices would go up significantly.

thejewishstar2.jpg(Meyer Fertig, The Jewish Star)

40 Responses

  1. Joseph –
    You’re okay with the company that makes your food being involved in criminal activities? The Torah says nothing about honest business practices???

  2. #1 because it is not alleged “Last Friday, after 270 of his employees were convicted of violating immigration law and sentenced to five months in prison”
    We put our trust in others to provide us with kosher food… I for one do not trust someone who does not adhere to the US laws to truly adhere to any laws. This is not a slander of the man, because he may well keep to all of the kosher laws, I just dont think that the klal should put their trust in him to be providing kosher food for almost all of the American Jewish Community.

  3. Al tadin es chavercho…

    How many of us are paying the goya on the books? Is she legal to work bechal?

    Do we have to even discuss issues like food stamps, section 8, medicaid etc?

    Who are the tzadikkim among us???

  4. Believe me, I support deporting every single illegal in this country, and I don’t buy the argument it isn’t feasible. And I support penalizing any employer who hires them.

    But as Yidden is it our business if the next Yid is following every law to the tee? Does he cross the street on red or jaywalk? Does he notify his State Tax Dep’t and pay sales tax when buying from out-of-state, like Do all of us judge him on these matters?

    Hiring illegals is a widely violated (by non-Jews) law. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it difficult to disassociate from anyone in violation of this law. If we did, we may have to stop buying from many more merchants than just this one.

  5. 5 & 6 so because you all break laws it is now OK? So a liitle bit of compromise on shabbos & kashrus is also OK? Like the Monsey chicken? It is a slippery slope – “mesachek bekuvya pasul le’edut” if you are a thief your not ne’eman for kashrus either.If you do not like the law speak to your representative to change it.

  6. #7….exactly….except that the OU felt they had a good reason to talk to the media about this.
    If you trust the OU hashgacha, then trust them on making this public too.
    if not, then don’t ever eat anything OU (which by the way, 99% of products rely on the OU somewhere along the road).

  7. In an era when local cops are PROHIBITED from enforcing immigration laws – and are at risk of Civil Rights legal defense for even asking someone they believe is probably not here legally if they are here legally – it doesn’t seem that the national leaders _want_ to enforce the laws that are on the books.

    If the company had asked more questions of their employees, being more stringent than other meat packaging plants, they might well be facing similar accusations of Civil Rights profiling.

    Therefore by the rules as they are enforced, it is not so clear that a business hiring illegal aliens as workers, is acting improperly.

    A business that technically violates no-parking rules to load a delivery vehicle in a bus stop, or pay a traffic ticket incured by the driver, may need to pay a fine now and then… we don’t see them as so illegal to question their ethics to the point of questioning their kashrus, do we?

  8. #1, #5, #6, #7:
    have any of you heard of choshen mishpat? bava kamma, bava metzia, bava basra? halacha does not exist in a vacuum. principles used in one mesechta apply (almost always) to other mesectos as well.
    just because others do it, that makes it ok?
    and what about dina d’malchusa dina?
    do we just ignore the klalim established by chazal because they are inconvenient? or because others ignore them? that makes it kosher v’yoshar?

  9. this is becoming a wonderful forum to hearing
    great mussar. you’re all right- there’s a lot of questionable practices going on. so what are we going to do about it? two wrongs don’t make anything right! this incident should serve as
    a reminder that we are the ‘mamleches kohanim v’goi kadosh’ – we need to be on a higher level
    than the rest of the world.

  10. YES – it is our business and our concern if a Jewish-owned company prospers from illegal business practices, especially when this company is entrusted to hold our values and laws above all else. I see how the fact that they broke the law (and got caught, and made a huge chillul Hashem) means nothing to you, so I’ll put it another way. It is a toeava to cheat in business. By hiring illegal workers, they have not only encouraged illegal immigrants to come work for them, cheated on taxes, and removed potential jobs from legal Americans, but they artificially lowered their operating expenses, giving them an unfair advantage against other potential competitors who followed fair business practices. It’s not dissimilar to having a fixed scale. How are you not outraged???

    It’s amazing how the attitude of “if it doesn’t hurt me directly, there’s nothing wrong with it” is so pervasive, especially when it comes to the law of the country.

    And yes, many of us have hired illegal immigrants as housekeepers and babysitters. That doesn’t make it right, nor is it an accurate comparison to say that it’s okay to do in business. If you hired an illegal alien and then ran for Congress, it would come back to you. Likewise if you hired not one illegal alien, but 300, and not in your home, but in your place of work.

  11. It’s not just illegal immigration. It’s running a shop that gets hit with 50% more IOSHA fines for dangerous worksite behavior (by dollars, which I assume correlate to magnitude of danger) than the rest of Iowa’s slaughterhouses combined! Picture it, things got so bad that illegal immigrants were willing to risk the noticeability of having their names listed on a union registration! (The UCFW believes that might not happen now that the raid heightened fears.) More amputations than in all Iowa slaughterhouses combined (another IOSHA statistic) for each of the past three years running.

    We’re talking 8 years of federal, state and municipal violations, of newspaper exposes, of the Conservative “rabbinate” review, etc… There was plenty of time to clean shop before this raid.

    The fact that other Jewish-owned business are guilty is not a defense of Agriprocessors. It is an indication that there is a system-wide failure, and we really need to see how we’re failing to teach choshein mishpat.

    But it does mean that a boycott is nonsensical until you check out the slaughterhouse you would be relying on instead. (And vegetarians: you think field workers are faring much better?) There is no reason to hold Agri to a higher standard than you are effectively holding everyone else.


  12. I’m not arguing that breaking the law is correct.
    I AM arguing that all of the *indignant* criticism is very disingenuous.

    Rubashkin is a corporate lawbreaker that got busted. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  13. the government makes it hard to do everything legaly there is a huge buracracy in b/t the lowest gov person and the white house

  14. Dear justajew, zayde36,abcdefg, etc…
    Has anyone @ the management level been convicted or even accused of any wrong-doing?

    Why act like a pack of starving wolfs and jump on a fellow jew in his time of trouble (no matter deserved or not?)
    At least give it some time… let things settle. There were all kinds of allegations (meat hooks, meth labs, pipe-bombs, etc.) that are absolutely wrong and untrue.

    Why not at least pretend to give this family an illusion of a benefit of a doubt?

  15. Is it right to employee people who are working illegally and thereby probably commiting identity theft? of course not. are you willing to accept the consequences of a reduced supply of meat and higher prices due to reduced work force size and higher hourly wages for those workers? to be consistent we must say yes, we accept those consequences.

    as to the OU, I would prefer they stick to kashrus and stay out of making legal arguments.

    And I would ask the OU how many of their supervisors/mashgichim have seen illegality, suspected illegal workers, improper working conditions, mistreated employees, in other locations, even in union shops? where does this end? will the OU then become interested in what types of benefits the companies provide their employees? what about executive salaries? are we to measure as a function of kashrus annual bonuses to executives? what about profit margins of the company?

    yes, Agriprocessors created a chillul HaShem. But whose failure was it? is it the kashrus agency’s job, the mashgiach’s job or the US Govt’s job to prevent or stop the hiring of illegal workers? if you are interested in kashrus agencies becoming an arm of the law, then expect the US govt to take over kashrus.

  16. This is a major hashkafa question.
    How come some hechsherim are given to stores that are mechalel shabbos (carvel) or to stores that sell both kosher and terif, a clear lifnei iver.
    More amazing is when only one particular store gets a hechsher but not the whole chain (ex. nathan’s, carvel and dunkin donuts). People are nichshol and the excuse is that we are food mashgichim not people mashgichim. Peleh.
    I don’t know if this is a major kiddush Hashem or chillul Hashem.
    I know that money talks in general and screams in the high priced, out of control and unregulated hechsher business, but is the ou doing this for political reasons or they are setting an example.
    May Hashem save us from any timtum halev and all nichsholos.


  18. I’m not a posek and I have no where near the Halachik knowledge to opine on the Halacha in this matter. But I seem to recall that minhag hashuk does play a role in such an instance, and Agriporcessors is not chayav to lose money in order to act differently than other meat packing plants.

    Joseph, I think you’re mistaken in your assertion that all illegals should be deported. Indeed doing so is not feasible, nor worth it. The government could theoretically spend billions upon billions of tax payer dollars and ferret out each and every illegal alien, most of whom live law abiding lives, but fort he fact that they work illegally, for deportation. The infeasibility comes after that takes place. Simply put, Americans are not going to do those jobs these illegal laborers do. And they certainly will not do them for the wages paid to the illegal aliens. I’d venture to say that almost every dish washer in almost every resteraunt in any big city is an illegal alien. Were those resteraunts to hire legal workers and pay them the mandatory minimum wage, the cost of dining out, even in cheaper low end resteraunts would become prohibitive. The domino effect of that should be obvious, people eat out less, the resteraunt orders less from its suppliers, who order less from the manufacturers etc. Similar illustrations can be drawn for every industry. Are you prepared to pay approximately $100.00 every time the gardner cuts your lawn? That’s what it probably would cost if it was cut by legal workers earning a union wage with benefits. Those $20.00 pants you bought your son at Wal Mart will cost $50.00 or $60.00 if made by union labor as opposed to in the sweat shops where thay are made. The fact of the matter is this nation cannot function without illegal aliens. The sadder fact of the matter is that life is so horrible and without any chance for betterment in the countries from which those illegals come, that they choose to be exploited in America. The most challenging fact of the matter is that things have been this way throughout history, which tells me that G-d created a difficult world in which we live.

  19. To SAMMYGOL,MICHA, ZEIDI36 and many others like them
    To 21 AYINTOV-
    ToThis is a major hashkafa question.
    How come some hechsherim are given to stores that are mechalel shabbos (carvel) or to stores that sell both kosher and terif, a clear lifnei iver

    **The mashgiach has the key to all the supplies and Friday afternoon he locks eveything that is kosher, On Motzoei Shabbos a mashgiach opens them. On Shabbos they have no (no need for) hashgocho. Thr leftovers are all put away and locked up in the other closets.

  20. Just a note regarding Dina D’Malchusa Dina. There are times when a particular person must do things that are outside the rules. Obvious example: Would you park at a fire hydrant in order to run in to a hospital with a child who has high fever? Yes. The ticket would be worth it, even if somehow the kids fever drops before any doctor can verify that he had a fever! And a person who circles looking for legal parking in that situation is a chossid shoteh. I have used this example since this is a no-brainer.

    There are time that people have to make legal decisions that seriously affect their own or someone else’s life. This is what a reliable, knowledgeable Rov is for. Questions regarding emes/sheker and choshen mishpat should be asked.

    Not all Rabbonim will answer such questions. They involve many factors, and the answer is often different for different people. Find a Rav who takes the question seriously, and ask. Am I allowed to… Am I allowed NOT to… and why. One time that I asked a particular shaila, the answer was not at all immediate. The teshuva might have been interpreted by me as a liberal regarding Dina D’Malchusa Dina. The Rav made sure to emphasize the complexity of the question, the investment it had taken to make this psak, and that the psak was not a “loophole” in halacha.

    However, it was a specific psak for me in a specific situation, which I also was told needed to be reviewed yearly. Were I to pass it on, and imply that there was no shaila I would be wrong, and I would be adding to the confusion that seems to abound about such halachos. But the psak that I received did broaden my concept of Dan L’kaf Zechus on other people’s actions. Perhaps they also asked? If they didn’t, they should have.

  21. I am responding on behalf of my brother Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, of blessed memory, who would usually respond in such situations but is not able to because he is with all of the Tzaddikim in the world of truth.

    I don’t know that hiring illegal aliens is against the sheva mitzvoth Bnei Noach.

    1. I believe that many of the people who have made those foolish statements above should return to Egypt and from the many countries that their ancestors have escaped illegally over the centuries.
    2. I question how does the Orthodox Union give a hechsher on anything that has vegetables in them, for it is known that all the farms across America hire millions of illegal immigrants.
    3. I question the kashrus of those thousands of homes and Mosdos that might have hired an illegal immigrant.

    One thing is for sure, that one of the head Rabbonim of the Orthodox Union has transgressed and insulted tens of thousands of Yidden B’rabim – even using supposedly a “frum magazine” for that purpose. That for sure is an Isur from the Torah and is a reason for the length of this Galus. He needs to ask Mechilah in public as he is required in Shulchan Aruch.

    Yitzchok Teitelbaum

  22. cantoresq – Following your argument to its conclusion, we sould throw open our borders to all who wish to come. Why should we give preference to those who break our laws and come here illegally, over those who apply for a visa and wait their turn.

    The point isn’t to close the borders, but to rather establishe the law.

  23. we are looking at this story very superficial, do you think it is just the illegals being the problem with rubashkin, there is other things going on too, remember kaj left them too, the ou knows about problems and cant just pull out the hashgacha which would look verybad on them as being the supervisor all these years, now there is an oppurtunity to blame the giving up on the hashgacha because of the legal issue with the mexicans, so they used it strategically , to have sholom out and maybe be able to be on top of the kashrus wuithout sholom doing hanky panky…
    it is not as simple as it seems…

  24. #27 – One of the sheva mitzvos bnei noach is to maintain (and follow) a system of laws and justice. In this blessed nation of ours the law is 1) that the illegals are not allowed to break into the country illegally and 2) if they do, it is illegal to hire them.

    Hence following that law (for a bnei noach) is maintaining the sheva mitzvos bnei noach.

  25. cantoresq – Following your argument to its logical conclusion, we should throw open our borders to all who wish to come.

    Why should we give preference to those who break our laws and come here illegally, over those who apply for a visa and wait their turn?

    BTW no one in the Wal Mart ”food chain” are illegals. Their workers are legally here and their supply chain is mostly coming from China and other foreign markets – nothing illegal.

  26. Joseph, indeed I think that opening the borders is a good idea. Bringing in lower priced labor might serve a stimulus to the economy, and might help stave off the increasing exportation of jobs out of this country. True that as a result, labor will earn less, but I think less is better than nothing. If I’m mistaken about Walmart, substitute Wal Mart with who ever buys the clothes manufactured in the sweatshops on Canal Street.

  27. to all especially #3 ,#14 see chulin 12a tosfos next to last, yorah dayeh simon 1 seuf 4…also, how far will we go, if no exit signs then one is breaking the law the kashres is not good? so this has nothing to do with the reliability of what is nogayah b’yorah dayah see first 2 lines

  28. to all… and what about to pay some workers “nit oif de bicher” some even almost everything and quite alot of other things like one mentioned, is everyone scrupulous about paying de steierin?,so accordinly no one is kosher…so like rabbi #27 hit it o the head..and we mentioned, see toisfos chulin 12a one before last toisfos, which is paskened yoreh dayeh simen 1 seuf this has nothing to do with kashros

  29. cantoresq – You must concede that it is implausible to throw open the borders to all comers. We would quickly be overrun by an unsustainable amout of migrants. I don’t think anyone is (seriously) currently advocating such an approach. Therefore we need to have a visa system. And with that you have still left unaddressed why those who have illegally ”jumped the line” and broke into this country illegally, should be given preference in residing here over those who have lawfully applied for entry and are waiting their turn for a visa.

  30. # 27 Rabbi Teitelbaum,
    May your brothers memory be blessed.
    I agree with you whole heartedly.

    I see many of the same names out here bashing Agri time and again. I cant fathom how one can have so much hate for a fellow Yid. We all have hired a goyta, a gardener or bought just about anything in almost any frum store (vhamayvin yovin) so stop getting frum af yenems cheshbon.

    The OU pays bochurim to be mashgichim in restaurants in NY OFF THE BOOKS!!!!

    Just as Aarons move to replace his son was PR, so was the OU’s move.

  31. to #38,illini07.. you have a point ,so where are we going to draw line…since “ain tzaddik baretzshe…v’lo yechto ” so how far are we going to be m’dakdek? on the other hand where there are indecent pictures, immodestly dressed waiters or waitreses is machshil es horabbim (histaclus etc..) its very understandable he shouldnt give hashgacha..he wont even be able to come in to check to protect his own rachnious ( im eika darkay achrina rasha hu…sannhedrin..) #37,,the establishment isnt illeagal, they hired illeagal immigrants, also how do you interpet that he has no respect for his creator..also we dont see how his hashgacha is causing chillil hashem, where does it state that the rav hamachshir has to check all workers and their status before givng hechsher? ..also, can you address the concerns of rabbi teitlebaum #27…like he said “ain l’dovor soif”

  32. Everybody here know’s that a hechsher has nothing to do with illegal’s. ’cause Alli and Empire, Globex,all have illegal worker’s and each and every butcher in the Try State area has illegal worker. so its just stupit to even coment about it.However if someone is VERY makpid to at food that just legals work, than maybe he should eat food made in U.S.A. he should move to europe….by the way there is nothing wrong to have illegal al pi halacha.according to leading Rabonim I asked

  33. to #41 mosh..another yid with saychal hayashor..just dont see how this should affect kashres of any place al pi halacha

  34. I don’t think anyone really believe that the kashrut of Agriprocessros meat is compromised because they hired illegal workers. After all the hashgocho is provided by an outside contractor who has no interest in who works on the packing floor. I think that in this instance, like in all other instances in which a prominent Jewish enterprise is caught up in a scandal due to illegal activity, the Jewish community is embarrassed and runs for cover in myrriad ways. But the fact of the matter is that when all the dust settles, there is probably no way for Agriprocessors to provide an affordable product unless it uses illegal workers. All the hand wringing liberals who assail them for the practice fail to provide an alternative which not be cost prohibitive. Glatt meat already costs almost triple that of non-kosher meat. Do we really expect kosher meat packing plants to employ only legal workers when all meat packing plants employ illegals? Think what that will do to prices.

  35. Actually I’ve been giving this more thought, and I think that given the astronomic prices for meat, it is time for serious rabbinic intervention. I believe it is now necessary to abandon the unwrittted communal policy of eating only glatt meat. Rather plain kosher meat should be brought back into the market. Additionally we should re-introduce the practice of nikkur hagid, which will allow us to eat the entire hind poriton of the cow, roughly one- third of its meat. Doing so will increase the supply of kosher meat, thereby reducing prices. There is no reason for the Jewish community to adhere to what amounts to a baseless chumra (Sephardim, who only eat Bet Yosef are of course excluded from that comment), when the cost of doing so is so high.

  36. jent… if you eat glatt Kosher meat, I would like to know if your saychal.. hayoshor let’s you eat meat from diffrent company’s

  37. #44
    i could be wrong, but i believe that “glatt” really does not mean “glatt” at all.
    i believe the word has been cheapened to have no specific and binding meaning, anyone is free to use it without promising anything.
    it really has come to mean “very”

    there is a famous kosher food company who has, to this day, “glatt” on the label of their gefilte fish!!!
    i would be surprised if any more than a very small percentage of glatt kosher meat today is actually glatt.

    if anyone knows, and i need correction, please do so

  38. Jent 1150 seems to be the only one that approached this from a halachic perspective not an emotional one. In fact, several posters have made statements showing they are clueless about halacha. If some one does not have ne’emones in choshen mishpat matters he still has ne’emonus in Yoreh deah (issur v’heter) matters until he is proven not to have such ne’emones. (Like if he’s caught eating treif) This is the halacha and it was unfortutely the reason that warning signs about Finkel were not taken more seriously, but nevertheless it remains the halacha. Contrary to what the OU writes. Lets take a look at what the armchair quarterbacks think Rubashkin could have done, instead of minimally just asking for the ID and SSN that he was required to. Participate in the voluntary ICE employment verification program? Lets say that explaining it to the applicant and filling out the necessary information takes no more than 5 minutes. 500 employees, 2500 minutes, 41.6 hours, more than weeks worth. If it takes 10 minutes? Two weeks work that you have to pay for an employee, that you are not reimbursed for. Anybody thats bad mouthing Rubashkin care to shell out two weeks pay to insure Rubashkin is compliant? And just for the record IOWA ICE raided Swift Beef and Pork in December 2006 and netted almost 1300 illegals. It’s on the ICE.GOV website.

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