Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kosher meat shortage II

YNet reports:

A recent criminal affair threatens to cause a great shortage in kosher meat in the United States, as Agriprocessors, the country's number one kosher meat provider filed for bankruptcy last week and is expected to shut down.

The Iowa-based slaughterhouse, which have been run by a family of Lubavitch hassidism for many years, was raided last month by immigration police, who allege the owners 80-year-old Aaron Rubashkin, and his son Sholom (49) were personally involved in the large scale forgery of identification cards for hundreds of illegal workers in the factory.

The company provides some 60% of American Jews' kosher meat and in many small communities is the sole meat provider.

An investigation revealed that the Rubashkins employed over 400 illegal immigrants from Guatemala, and a production line manager at the factory told detectives that he received cash from Rubashkin that he distributed among a few dozen workers to purchase their fake IDs.

It was also revealed that the Rubashkins illegally employed minors in abusive conditions including excessive hours and poor wages. The under-age workers were allegedly exposed to dangerous chemicals and were required to operate dangerous machinery without the proper protection.[...]

The Agriprocessors affair has not only left American Jews with a damaged image, but could also pose a threat to many isolated Jewish communities that depended solely on the factory for their kosher meat, and will now have to do without.

Rabbis across the United States warned that if the factory closes, hundreds of thousands of traditional Jews will be left without a meat supply.

The state of Iowa has already given the company a $10 million fine for illegally employing under-age workers, and barring any last minute changes, the factory will go bankrupt and shut down.

If Sholom Rubashkin is convicted of the line of offenses he has been charged with, he is expected to spend up to 22 years in prison.


  1. Yu didn't mention their OSHA and IOSHA record, exposing all the laborers to risks not taken elsewhere, not providing training, 12 hour night shifts, cleaning equipment without powering down, etc.... To the tune of multiples of the average number of severe injuries per year per 100 employees. Financially: not always paying promised overtime (repeatedly losing suits to employees for it), withholding $400/paycheck as rent on a mattress on a floor in 1/3 of a room (bathroom down the hall), making them pay for their own safety equipment, etc...

    And Alle lost one of its slaughterhouses to arson. Meanwhile, Empire is going into the beef business.

    I am bothered by our distress over not having meat. What happened to histapkus? Do we really want meat if that's what it takes to put it on our table affordably?


  2. Micha see dvarim 12:15
    Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh within all thy gates, after all the desire of thy soul, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee;

    Perhaps we are preprogrammed?
    Joel Rich

  3. 1- There are people pre-programmed with a desire for downright assur things, so I'm not sure what I would make of it.

    2- See the Sifri. That pasuq is about redeemed invalidated sacred meats (pesulei muqdashim sheyifdu).

    3- In any case, the pasuq in a naive read would be more like "anything you happen to desire", not "you will desire meat".

    4- A pointer to a very useful resource:
    Wikisource on our pasuq. From there you can wander around to the rest of Tanakh. It has links to crossreferences in shas, to peirushim, to a grammatical analysis (like a tree, but in a different layout) based on trop, and much more.



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