The recent federal raid at the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, and the accompanying allegations brought against the Rubashkin family and brand, represent a particularly sorry and damaging episode in the cause of religious Judaism in this country.
Tikkun olam,” the powerful Jewish concept of repairing the world, has long been heralded as the rallying cry of Conservative and Reform Jewry. But a growing number of Orthodox 20- and 30-year-olds are trying to revive social justice responsibilities among their Orthodox peers — not as a liberal, humanistic-driven concept, but as one steeped in Jewish tradition and halacha.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, a local shochet provides a sharp contrast to the big slaughterhouses.
Special to the Jewish Week
Walton, N.Y. — Andy Kastner rarely eats meat and wishes others would eat less, too.
So why, you might ask, was this man slaughtering kosher turkeys this week for Thanksgiving?
Kastner is a shochet, the fellow ordained to kill livestock according to Jewish law. But he also considers himself an educator. It’s his job, he explained, to remind the public about the cost of meat beyond the sticker price: in blood and emotion.
“It’s a profound experience that is generally written off as disgusting or brutal,” he said.
The world’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and several other major kosher meat suppliers have been served with federal subpoenas in connection with a criminal antitrust investigation, The Jewish Week has learned.
AgriProcessors of Postville, Iowa, received its subpoena from a federal grand jury several weeks ago. At least two other kosher meat suppliers have also received subpoenas in connection with the probe, according to Washington, D.C., attorney Nathan Lewin, who represents the Iowa slaughterhouse.
If answers aren’t exactly forthcoming from Postville, well then, people are going to Postville to try and seek them out.
A veritable parade of Jews — busloads from the Midwest last Sunday for a rally on behalf of immigrant rights, and this week a group of Orthodox rabbis traveling at Agriprocessors’s expense on what is being called “a fact-finding mission” — went looking for answers about the conditions in which their kosher meat is produced.
The main organization urging a boycott against the embattled kosher meat giant Agriprocessors reversed course this week, issuing a statement praising “significant steps” taken by the manufacturer and lauding “early signs of reform.”
In announcing the end of its boycott, Shmuly Yanklowitz, director of Uri L’Tzedek (Awaken to Justice), told The Jewish Week, “There has been a victory in the last week.”
Fearing an onslaught of protestors, kosher meat giant Agriprocessors hastily changed a meeting planned for Tuesday afternoon in Midtown into a conference call.
Agriprocessors’ attorney, Nathan Lewin, and the company’s newly hired compliance officer, former U.S. attorney Jim Martin, spoke to about 20 listeners who had been invited to participate.
They included “distributors and community leaders,” said Juda Engelmayer, senior vice president of the public relations firm 5WPR, which was recently hired by the embattled kosher meat giant.
Jason Herman, a Manhattan Orthodox rabbi and kosher meat consumer, has stopped buying the beef and poultry sold by AgriProcessors. Now, when he shops at the Upper West Side’s Kosher Marketplace, he takes care to choose only products from its competitors.