Archive for the ‘agriprocessors’ Category

The Theological Impetus For Postville Cruelty

October 13, 2008

Ronald C. Kiener has written a piece on the raid of the Rubashkin kosher meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa which gets to the theological heart of the matter:

… The revulsion that non-Orthodox Jews in the Upper Midwest have for the Hasidim of Postville is visceral and undeniable. Over and over, while talking to non-Orthodox Jews in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area—arguably the Jewish community outside of Postville that has the most at stake in this story—I have heard one constant refrain. “How could this have happened?” they ask rhetorically. “I’ll tell you…,” and then their voices drop a register: “These Hasidim do not think their workers are human beings.”

What these Jews are saying is probably the deepest and darkest secret of the entire story.

This is a tale of Hasidic Jews who are utterly at odds with what most Americans understand as modernity. They learn from their most sacred text, the Tanya (published in 1797 by the founder of Chabad Hasidism, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) that “the souls of the nations of the world, the idol worshippers, derive from unclean husks and have no goodness in them whatsoever.”

This xenophobic teaching, an intolerant note hiding within the otherwise fetching melody of Chabad Hasidism, is spun differently for different audiences. But it indicates what can happen when business proprietors armed with a chauvinistic mystical theology that denies the humanity of non-Jews face off against the “laws of the land.” Such behavior might pass unnoticed in the cloistered brownstone neighborhoods of Crown Heights, but in the open light of the prairies, there will be an inevitable clash of civilizations.

Agriprocessors, a multimillion-dollar food manufacturer, defied the rule of state and federal law to wreak havoc on a group of workers and a town they cared nothing about. It provided the niche consumer with a needed product and along the way made a tarnished and now vulnerable fortune. (Ronald C. Kiener, RELIGION IN THE NEWS, Fall 2008)

http://caribou.cc.trincoll.edu/depts_csrpl/RINVol11No2/PostvilleRaid.htm

Ronald Kiener is making light of the matter however. The teaching referenced does not apply only to idol worshipers but to all gentiles. And this is not a just a matter of mysticism. The racist teachings of the Tanya and many other texts of Orthodox Judaism are entirely practical as evidenced in the behavior of the followers of Orthodox Judaism everywhere from the Postville plant to the “settlements” on Palestinian land. And racism is only one of many problems with Orthodox Judaism which are not circumscribed to Chabad Hasidism or Chasidism in general for that matter.

The racist Tanya and other Kabbalistic texts of genocidal racism are enjoying a revival in reform synagogues as documented here:

Reform Congregation Nostalgic for Genocidal Racist Texts

Pope Benedict’s synod rabbi, Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, upholds these texts of genocidal racism as divine writ. He speaks fondly of the Tanya here:

Pope Benedict’s Synod rabbi: Friend of Chabad

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The Theological Impetus For Postville Cruelty

October 13, 2008

Ronald C. Kiener has written a piece on the raid of the Rubashkin kosher meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa which gets to the theological heart of the matter:

… The revulsion that non-Orthodox Jews in the Upper Midwest have for the Hasidim of Postville is visceral and undeniable. Over and over, while talking to non-Orthodox Jews in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area—arguably the Jewish community outside of Postville that has the most at stake in this story—I have heard one constant refrain. “How could this have happened?” they ask rhetorically. “I’ll tell you…,” and then their voices drop a register: “These Hasidim do not think their workers are human beings.”

What these Jews are saying is probably the deepest and darkest secret of the entire story.

This is a tale of Hasidic Jews who are utterly at odds with what most Americans understand as modernity. They learn from their most sacred text, the Tanya (published in 1797 by the founder of Chabad Hasidism, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) that “the souls of the nations of the world, the idol worshippers, derive from unclean husks and have no goodness in them whatsoever.”

This xenophobic teaching, an intolerant note hiding within the otherwise fetching melody of Chabad Hasidism, is spun differently for different audiences. But it indicates what can happen when business proprietors armed with a chauvinistic mystical theology that denies the humanity of non-Jews face off against the “laws of the land.” Such behavior might pass unnoticed in the cloistered brownstone neighborhoods of Crown Heights, but in the open light of the prairies, there will be an inevitable clash of civilizations.

Agriprocessors, a multimillion-dollar food manufacturer, defied the rule of state and federal law to wreak havoc on a group of workers and a town they cared nothing about. It provided the niche consumer with a needed product and along the way made a tarnished and now vulnerable fortune. (Ronald C. Kiener, RELIGION IN THE NEWS, Fall 2008)

http://caribou.cc.trincoll.edu/depts_csrpl/RINVol11No2/PostvilleRaid.htm

Ronald Kiener is making light of the matter however. The teaching referenced does not apply only to idol worshipers but to all gentiles. And this is not a just a matter of mysticism. The racist teachings of the Tanya and many other texts of Orthodox Judaism are entirely practical as evidenced in the behavior of the followers of Orthodox Judaism everywhere from the Postville plant to the “settlements” on Palestinian land. And racism is only one of many problems with Orthodox Judaism which are not circumscribed to Chabad Hasidism or Chasidism in general for that matter.

The racist Tanya and other Kabbalistic texts of genocidal racism are enjoying a revival in reform synagogues as documented here:

Reform Congregation Nostalgic for Genocidal Racist Texts

Pope Benedict’s synod rabbi, Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, upholds these texts of genocidal racism as divine writ. He speaks fondly of the Tanya here:

Pope Benedict’s Synod rabbi: Friend of Chabad

Chabad Rabbis Kosher Certify Chabad-Run Slave Operation

August 7, 2008

Orthodox Leaders Say All Seems Well at Slaughterhouse

By Anthony Weiss
Tue. Aug 05, 2008

A group of Orthodox leaders returned from a company-sponsored tour of a kosher slaughterhouse that has been under fire for its working conditions. The rabbis reported that the plant was clean and the workers happy.

On July 31, a group of 25 Orthodox rabbis and community leaders visited the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, at the company’s expense. The visit was the first publicized tour of the plant by Jewish leaders since May 12, when federal immigration agents raided the slaughterhouse and arrested nearly 400 workers on charges related to their immigration status. Several rabbis who were on the tour told the Forward that the plant seemed clean and modern and that the workers they spoke to seemed satisfied.

“The responses were the responses of people there who were working hard, willing to work and satisfied with what was happening in the plant,” said Chaim Goldberg, a pulpit rabbi from Minneapolis. Goldberg added that out of convenience, he had driven to Postville at his own expense.

After the Forward published an investigation on working conditions at the Postville plant two years ago, rabbis from the Conservative movement visited the plant and criticized the company’s treatment of its workers. The government warrant that paved the way for the raid in May detailed numerous abuses inside the plant. Since the raid, press reports have given voice to workers complaining about the way the company has dealt with its employees.

These investigations have produced a long list of allegations against the company, including that it employed underage workers, that insufficient safety training led to workers being injured and maimed, and that workers were underpaid. Amid all this, a number of Orthodox rabbis and organizations have defended Agriprocessors from afar, saying that the allegations leveled against the company are unproved.

One of the trip’s lead organizers, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, said that the visit’s purpose was to provide participants with a firsthand look at conditions at the plant.

A statement released afterward by the group said that “the Rabbis marveled at how the media reports, which have traditionally placed a strong emphasis on statements from union officials and others who do not necessarily have personal knowledge of the situation, actually differ from the situation that they observed during their mission.”

The Orthodox leaders who visited Postville, including officers of several major Orthodox organizations, were given a plant tour, roughly three hours long, by Agriprocessors management. Several rabbis who went on the tour said that they were permitted to roam freely through the plant and to talk to workers without supervision by management.

“Everybody spoke to all kinds of people on line, in the lunchroom,” said Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie, a Chabad rabbi from Orange County, Calif. “What I saw there was not what I read Friday morning in O’Hare Airport, that it’s a kosher jungle. I saw a state-of-the-art plant.”

Agriprocessors is the largest producer of kosher meat in the United States, and the Postville plant is the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country.

In addition to a tour of the plant and of Postville, four rabbis on the trip met with a local religious leader and a social worker who have worked with many of the plant’s employees. At the meeting, the rabbis offered to help look into complaints of worker mistreatment and to set up a regular meeting with Agriprocessors management.

“I told these people I’m here to listen and to help,” Young Israel’s Lerner said. Paul Rael, director of the Hispanic ministry at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, attended the meeting. Rael said he was open to a dialogue but that he was troubled by his sense that the rabbis believed the stories of worker abuse to be fabrications.

“I was telling them that I sat at my desk on many occasions and heard this for many years. When you hear the same thing over and over again, you know it can’t be fabricated and there has to be some substance to it,” said Rael, who has worked at St. Bridget’s since 2003.

The statement from the rabbis said that, “as of this moment, the Rabbis are awaiting documentation of the alleged abuses to workers of the Agriprocessors plant.” Rael said that he had not visited the plant himself and that the plant might have been changed recently, but the descriptions from the rabbis didn’t jibe with what he had been hearing from his congregants for years.

“The plant they’re describing to me, and the plant I’ve had workers describe to me, is not same facility,” Rael said.

Some in the Orthodox community are calling for a more rigorous investigation. On July 30, one day before the Orthodox leaders visited the plant, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Washington’s Ohev Sholom — The National Synagogue, sent a letter to Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, which is the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis. Herzfeld demanded that the RCA commission “a transparent, independent investigation” into the charges against Agriprocessors.

“We need a commission with incredible stature and with rabbis of great merit who can spend a few weeks or a month [in Postville] and can make recommendations,” Herzfeld told the Forward. Herzfeld, who is a member of the RCA, said that the recent trip to Postville was too short and that Agriprocessors’ sponsorship of the trip compromised the findings.

Herring declined to comment on the letter specifically, saying that it was a private communication. He said that the RCA lacked the resources, expertise and powers to conduct an appropriate investigation into the allegations and that it made more sense to wait for federal investigations to run their course.

http://www.forward.com/articles/13905/

Chabad Rabbis Kosher Certify Chabad-Run Slave Operation

August 7, 2008

Orthodox Leaders Say All Seems Well at Slaughterhouse

By Anthony Weiss
Tue. Aug 05, 2008

A group of Orthodox leaders returned from a company-sponsored tour of a kosher slaughterhouse that has been under fire for its working conditions. The rabbis reported that the plant was clean and the workers happy.

On July 31, a group of 25 Orthodox rabbis and community leaders visited the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, at the company’s expense. The visit was the first publicized tour of the plant by Jewish leaders since May 12, when federal immigration agents raided the slaughterhouse and arrested nearly 400 workers on charges related to their immigration status. Several rabbis who were on the tour told the Forward that the plant seemed clean and modern and that the workers they spoke to seemed satisfied.

“The responses were the responses of people there who were working hard, willing to work and satisfied with what was happening in the plant,” said Chaim Goldberg, a pulpit rabbi from Minneapolis. Goldberg added that out of convenience, he had driven to Postville at his own expense.

After the Forward published an investigation on working conditions at the Postville plant two years ago, rabbis from the Conservative movement visited the plant and criticized the company’s treatment of its workers. The government warrant that paved the way for the raid in May detailed numerous abuses inside the plant. Since the raid, press reports have given voice to workers complaining about the way the company has dealt with its employees.

These investigations have produced a long list of allegations against the company, including that it employed underage workers, that insufficient safety training led to workers being injured and maimed, and that workers were underpaid. Amid all this, a number of Orthodox rabbis and organizations have defended Agriprocessors from afar, saying that the allegations leveled against the company are unproved.

One of the trip’s lead organizers, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, said that the visit’s purpose was to provide participants with a firsthand look at conditions at the plant.

A statement released afterward by the group said that “the Rabbis marveled at how the media reports, which have traditionally placed a strong emphasis on statements from union officials and others who do not necessarily have personal knowledge of the situation, actually differ from the situation that they observed during their mission.”

The Orthodox leaders who visited Postville, including officers of several major Orthodox organizations, were given a plant tour, roughly three hours long, by Agriprocessors management. Several rabbis who went on the tour said that they were permitted to roam freely through the plant and to talk to workers without supervision by management.

“Everybody spoke to all kinds of people on line, in the lunchroom,” said Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie, a Chabad rabbi from Orange County, Calif. “What I saw there was not what I read Friday morning in O’Hare Airport, that it’s a kosher jungle. I saw a state-of-the-art plant.”

Agriprocessors is the largest producer of kosher meat in the United States, and the Postville plant is the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country.

In addition to a tour of the plant and of Postville, four rabbis on the trip met with a local religious leader and a social worker who have worked with many of the plant’s employees. At the meeting, the rabbis offered to help look into complaints of worker mistreatment and to set up a regular meeting with Agriprocessors management.

“I told these people I’m here to listen and to help,” Young Israel’s Lerner said. Paul Rael, director of the Hispanic ministry at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, attended the meeting. Rael said he was open to a dialogue but that he was troubled by his sense that the rabbis believed the stories of worker abuse to be fabrications.

“I was telling them that I sat at my desk on many occasions and heard this for many years. When you hear the same thing over and over again, you know it can’t be fabricated and there has to be some substance to it,” said Rael, who has worked at St. Bridget’s since 2003.

The statement from the rabbis said that, “as of this moment, the Rabbis are awaiting documentation of the alleged abuses to workers of the Agriprocessors plant.” Rael said that he had not visited the plant himself and that the plant might have been changed recently, but the descriptions from the rabbis didn’t jibe with what he had been hearing from his congregants for years.

“The plant they’re describing to me, and the plant I’ve had workers describe to me, is not same facility,” Rael said.

Some in the Orthodox community are calling for a more rigorous investigation. On July 30, one day before the Orthodox leaders visited the plant, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Washington’s Ohev Sholom — The National Synagogue, sent a letter to Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, which is the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis. Herzfeld demanded that the RCA commission “a transparent, independent investigation” into the charges against Agriprocessors.

“We need a commission with incredible stature and with rabbis of great merit who can spend a few weeks or a month [in Postville] and can make recommendations,” Herzfeld told the Forward. Herzfeld, who is a member of the RCA, said that the recent trip to Postville was too short and that Agriprocessors’ sponsorship of the trip compromised the findings.

Herring declined to comment on the letter specifically, saying that it was a private communication. He said that the RCA lacked the resources, expertise and powers to conduct an appropriate investigation into the allegations and that it made more sense to wait for federal investigations to run their course.

http://www.forward.com/articles/13905/

Kosher Catholics participate in Farcical Rally at Postville

July 28, 2008

The rabbis and their Kosher-Catholic golem don’t care about the welfare of the illegal immigrant workers of the Chabad-run Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. If they did they would have been protesting the workers’ treatment by Chabad slave drivers before the raid took place. They’re not even protesting the horrid conditions they worked under even now. Instead, like the Kabbalists they are, they use the thesis of the Postville immigration raid as an occasion to push their antithesis–calling out for “immigration reform” which is to say, they want more of these poor people to flood into the United States, and not for humanitarian ends.

Like most corporations, U.S. Catholic bishops have based their business plan on a future U.S. where undereducated, poorly paid Hispanics form the majority of the population.

Rally supports Agriprocessors workers

07/28/2008 – JTA

An interfaith rally in support of undocumented workers arrested in a raid on a kosher slaughterhouse was held in Postville, Iowa.

More than 900 people, mainly Jews and Catholics, called for national immigration reform and support for the nearly 400 undocumented workers arrested in the massive immigration raid two months ago at Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meat plant.

Spearheaded by Jewish Community Action, a Jewish social action group headquartered in Minneapolis, Sunday’s event was co-sponsored by the local Catholic church along with the Chicago-based Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Jewish Labor Committee.

Seven busloads of Jewish activists from Chicago and the Twin Cities arrived in Postville to take part, including two busloads of teenagers from the Conservative movement’s Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

“We’re here because we care,” Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minneapolis said at an interfaith service that preceded the rally. Biblical heroes Abraham and Sarah were invoked as “the first immigrants” to an overflow crowd that included women arrested in the federal immigration raid for working without proper documents.

“The immigration system is broken, the way we enforce working standards is broken,” said Vic Rosenthal, the director of Jewish Community Action, which brought the largest contingent of out-of-state Jewish supporters.

Funds are being raised to help the families of detained and unemployed plant workers, most of them from Guatemala and Mexico. Leaders of the Catholic and Jewish groups met with a representative from Agriprocessors before the rally, the first of several such discussions.

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080728postvillerally.html

Kosher Catholics participate in Farcical Rally at Postville

July 28, 2008

The rabbis and their Kosher-Catholic golem don’t care about the welfare of the illegal immigrant workers of the Chabad-run Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. If they did they would have been protesting the workers’ treatment by Chabad slave drivers before the raid took place. They’re not even protesting the horrid conditions they worked under even now. Instead, like the Kabbalists they are, they use the thesis of the Postville immigration raid as an occasion to push their antithesis–calling out for “immigration reform” which is to say, they want more of these poor people to flood into the United States, and not for humanitarian ends.

Like most corporations, U.S. Catholic bishops have based their business plan on a future U.S. where undereducated, poorly paid Hispanics form the majority of the population.

Rally supports Agriprocessors workers

07/28/2008 – JTA

An interfaith rally in support of undocumented workers arrested in a raid on a kosher slaughterhouse was held in Postville, Iowa.

More than 900 people, mainly Jews and Catholics, called for national immigration reform and support for the nearly 400 undocumented workers arrested in the massive immigration raid two months ago at Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meat plant.

Spearheaded by Jewish Community Action, a Jewish social action group headquartered in Minneapolis, Sunday’s event was co-sponsored by the local Catholic church along with the Chicago-based Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Jewish Labor Committee.

Seven busloads of Jewish activists from Chicago and the Twin Cities arrived in Postville to take part, including two busloads of teenagers from the Conservative movement’s Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

“We’re here because we care,” Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minneapolis said at an interfaith service that preceded the rally. Biblical heroes Abraham and Sarah were invoked as “the first immigrants” to an overflow crowd that included women arrested in the federal immigration raid for working without proper documents.

“The immigration system is broken, the way we enforce working standards is broken,” said Vic Rosenthal, the director of Jewish Community Action, which brought the largest contingent of out-of-state Jewish supporters.

Funds are being raised to help the families of detained and unemployed plant workers, most of them from Guatemala and Mexico. Leaders of the Catholic and Jewish groups met with a representative from Agriprocessors before the rally, the first of several such discussions.

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080728postvillerally.html

"Elder Brothers" Caught Manufacturing Methamphetamine at their Kosher Slaughterhouse

May 14, 2008

Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse is Chabad Lubavitch-owned–yes, the same Chabad Lubavitch that G.W. Bush praised and celebrated Noahide “education day” with in the Oval Office only a few weeks ago; who also celebrated “education day” with the New York State legislature and NY Governor a week later; who are responsible for those 30′ tall menorahs on government property, whose member, Adin Steinsaltz is the head of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, Talmud mentor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and guest speaker at the Vatican in 2002 and in 2005.

Feds cite possible drugs, illegal workers at kosher plant

By Ben Harris 05/13/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — In laying the legal groundwork for a massive raid of the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, federal authorities cited claims that illegal narcotics production took place at the factory and hundreds of illegal immigrants were employed there, including several of the rabbis responsible for kosher supervision.

The charges were among the most explosive details to emerge following the raid Monday at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa.

Agents arrested 390 workers in what Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the largest raid of its kind in U.S. history.

The raid, which required federal authorities to rent an expansive fairground in nearby Waterloo to house detainees, prompted the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to temporarily relocate judges and court personnel to the site because the facilities in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City were inadequate.

“There have been other operations where more people have been arrested,” Tim Counts, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, told JTA. “But as far as we can determine, this is the largest single-site operation as far as number of arrests go.”

The raid follows a six-month investigation involving more than a dozen federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the departments of labor and agriculture.

Three Israelis and four Ukrainians were among the detainees held on charges of being in the country illegally, Counts said. Officials are expected to bring criminal charges against some of the detainees as well, most of whom are from Guatemala and Mexico.

Agriprocessors said in a statement Tuesday that it “takes the immigration laws seriously” and intended to “continue to cooperate with the government in its investigation.”

“Agriprocessors will also inquire further into the circumstances that led to these events,” the company said. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families whose lives were disrupted and wish them the best. We are deeply committed to meeting the needs of all of our customers and are operating again today.”

In the affidavit filed as part of the 60-page application for a search warrant, additional details were revealed of the government’s investigation of Agriprocessors, a company that has been beset by numerous allegations of health and safety violations, mistreating workers and using controversial slaughter practices.

According to the document, a former supervisor at the plant — identified only as Source #1 — told investigators that some 80 percent of the workforce was illegal.

The source also said he believed rabbis responsible for kosher supervision entered the United States from Canada without proper immigration documents. According to the affidavit, the source did not provide evidence for his suspicions about the rabbis.

Source #1 also claimed to have discovered active production of the drug methamphetamine at the plant and reported incidents of weapons being carried there.

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as crystal meth, is Illegal in the United States. The popular nightclub drug gives users a sense of energy and euphoria that can last for hours.

Agriprocessors employees told investigators that sometimes they were required to work nighttime shifts of 12 hours or more.

The affidavit says that 697 plant employees are believed to have violated federal laws.

With Agriprocessors producing more than half of the nation’s kosher meat, the raid has prompted fears of a disruption in supply. Though the plant was back in operation Tuesday, it was unclear if Agriprocessors could meet its normal production capacity with hundreds of its workers in federal custody.

Founded by Brooklyn butcher Aaron Rubashkin, Agriprocessors produces kosher meat and poultry marketed under the labels Aaron’s Best and Rubashkin’s.

The firm gained national attention in 2000 with the publication of the book “Postville,” which described the tensions between the company and the local community. The company has attracted a significant population of Orthodox Jews to a rural pocket of northeast Iowa.

Agriprocessors did not respond to requests for comment from JTA. Asked if there was slaughter taking place Tuesday, a woman who answered the phone at the plant said, “We’re trying.”

The Des Moines Register reported that more than 100 cars were in the company lot Tuesday morning, but quoted a nearby business owner who said that foot and vehicular traffic to the plant was much lower than usual.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, the head of the Orthodox Union’s kosher supervision department — the largest outfit certifying the kosher status of Agriprocessors’ meat — told JTA that other companies had assured him that they could make up for any shortfall from the Postville plant.

Genack reiterated the O.U.’s policy of leaving matters of immigration and labor standards to the government.

“No one else has the resources to do what the federal government can do,” he said.

If the company turns out to be criminally liable, Genack said, that could be grounds for losing its kosher certification.

Genack said he was told by the plant’s supervising rabbi that two foreign rabbis working at the plant had failed to renew their work permits when they expired a few weeks ago. He described the issue as a “technical” violation and insisted the two rabbis had not been detained.

Much of the information the government collected appears to have come from former employees of Agriprocessors who were detained by police on unrelated charges. Sources related similar stories of presenting fraudulent documents and Social Security numbers when seeking employment with the company.

Several said they were aware of undocumented workers employed at the plant that were paid by supervisors in cash.

The affidavit says the government has probable cause to believe that an Agriprocessors supervisor assisted workers in acquiring fake documents in exchange for a cut of the proceeds.

Federal investigators provided documentation for a former Agriprocessors employee, identified in the affidavit as Source #7, for the purpose of gaining employment at the plant. Once hired, the source reported on rabbis who insulted the workers and threw meat at them.

In one alleged instance, a “Hasidic Jew” duct-taped a worker’s eyes and then hit him with a meat hook, “apparently not causing serious injuries.”

Agriprocessors has come under fire before for its labor practices, as well as health and safety violations. In March, authorities fined the company $182,000 for violations at the plant.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has clandestinely videotaped a controversial slaughter practice used at the plant.

In addition, an investigation by the Forward weekly newspaper revealed allegations that employees were underpaid and exploited. Agriprocessors officials denied the allegations.

On Tuesday, members of the Conservative movement’s Hekhsher Tzedek Commission condemned the company, saying that keeping kosher requires more than just adherence to ritual matters, but also sensitivity to the environment and respect for workers and animals. The Hekhsher Tzedek initiative is in part a response to past allegations of misconduct at Agriprocessors.

“The actions of this company have brought shame upon the entire Jewish community,” the commission said. “Yesterday’s discovery, along with the other violations of the ethical standards set forth by our Torah and our tradition underscore the need for Hekhsher Tzedek. To be sure, halacha has never limited its concern to the ritual elements of kashrut alone.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/2008051320080513agriprocessorsraid.html

"Elder Brothers" Caught Manufacturing Methamphetamine at their Kosher Slaughterhouse

May 14, 2008

Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse is Chabad Lubavitch-owned–yes, the same Chabad Lubavitch that G.W. Bush praised and celebrated Noahide “education day” with in the Oval Office only a few weeks ago; who also celebrated “education day” with the New York State legislature and NY Governor a week later; who are responsible for those 30′ tall menorahs on government property, whose member, Adin Steinsaltz is the head of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, Talmud mentor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and guest speaker at the Vatican in 2002 and in 2005.

Feds cite possible drugs, illegal workers at kosher plant

By Ben Harris 05/13/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — In laying the legal groundwork for a massive raid of the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, federal authorities cited claims that illegal narcotics production took place at the factory and hundreds of illegal immigrants were employed there, including several of the rabbis responsible for kosher supervision.

The charges were among the most explosive details to emerge following the raid Monday at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa.

Agents arrested 390 workers in what Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the largest raid of its kind in U.S. history.

The raid, which required federal authorities to rent an expansive fairground in nearby Waterloo to house detainees, prompted the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to temporarily relocate judges and court personnel to the site because the facilities in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City were inadequate.

“There have been other operations where more people have been arrested,” Tim Counts, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, told JTA. “But as far as we can determine, this is the largest single-site operation as far as number of arrests go.”

The raid follows a six-month investigation involving more than a dozen federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the departments of labor and agriculture.

Three Israelis and four Ukrainians were among the detainees held on charges of being in the country illegally, Counts said. Officials are expected to bring criminal charges against some of the detainees as well, most of whom are from Guatemala and Mexico.

Agriprocessors said in a statement Tuesday that it “takes the immigration laws seriously” and intended to “continue to cooperate with the government in its investigation.”

“Agriprocessors will also inquire further into the circumstances that led to these events,” the company said. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families whose lives were disrupted and wish them the best. We are deeply committed to meeting the needs of all of our customers and are operating again today.”

In the affidavit filed as part of the 60-page application for a search warrant, additional details were revealed of the government’s investigation of Agriprocessors, a company that has been beset by numerous allegations of health and safety violations, mistreating workers and using controversial slaughter practices.

According to the document, a former supervisor at the plant — identified only as Source #1 — told investigators that some 80 percent of the workforce was illegal.

The source also said he believed rabbis responsible for kosher supervision entered the United States from Canada without proper immigration documents. According to the affidavit, the source did not provide evidence for his suspicions about the rabbis.

Source #1 also claimed to have discovered active production of the drug methamphetamine at the plant and reported incidents of weapons being carried there.

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as crystal meth, is Illegal in the United States. The popular nightclub drug gives users a sense of energy and euphoria that can last for hours.

Agriprocessors employees told investigators that sometimes they were required to work nighttime shifts of 12 hours or more.

The affidavit says that 697 plant employees are believed to have violated federal laws.

With Agriprocessors producing more than half of the nation’s kosher meat, the raid has prompted fears of a disruption in supply. Though the plant was back in operation Tuesday, it was unclear if Agriprocessors could meet its normal production capacity with hundreds of its workers in federal custody.

Founded by Brooklyn butcher Aaron Rubashkin, Agriprocessors produces kosher meat and poultry marketed under the labels Aaron’s Best and Rubashkin’s.

The firm gained national attention in 2000 with the publication of the book “Postville,” which described the tensions between the company and the local community. The company has attracted a significant population of Orthodox Jews to a rural pocket of northeast Iowa.

Agriprocessors did not respond to requests for comment from JTA. Asked if there was slaughter taking place Tuesday, a woman who answered the phone at the plant said, “We’re trying.”

The Des Moines Register reported that more than 100 cars were in the company lot Tuesday morning, but quoted a nearby business owner who said that foot and vehicular traffic to the plant was much lower than usual.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, the head of the Orthodox Union’s kosher supervision department — the largest outfit certifying the kosher status of Agriprocessors’ meat — told JTA that other companies had assured him that they could make up for any shortfall from the Postville plant.

Genack reiterated the O.U.’s policy of leaving matters of immigration and labor standards to the government.

“No one else has the resources to do what the federal government can do,” he said.

If the company turns out to be criminally liable, Genack said, that could be grounds for losing its kosher certification.

Genack said he was told by the plant’s supervising rabbi that two foreign rabbis working at the plant had failed to renew their work permits when they expired a few weeks ago. He described the issue as a “technical” violation and insisted the two rabbis had not been detained.

Much of the information the government collected appears to have come from former employees of Agriprocessors who were detained by police on unrelated charges. Sources related similar stories of presenting fraudulent documents and Social Security numbers when seeking employment with the company.

Several said they were aware of undocumented workers employed at the plant that were paid by supervisors in cash.

The affidavit says the government has probable cause to believe that an Agriprocessors supervisor assisted workers in acquiring fake documents in exchange for a cut of the proceeds.

Federal investigators provided documentation for a former Agriprocessors employee, identified in the affidavit as Source #7, for the purpose of gaining employment at the plant. Once hired, the source reported on rabbis who insulted the workers and threw meat at them.

In one alleged instance, a “Hasidic Jew” duct-taped a worker’s eyes and then hit him with a meat hook, “apparently not causing serious injuries.”

Agriprocessors has come under fire before for its labor practices, as well as health and safety violations. In March, authorities fined the company $182,000 for violations at the plant.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has clandestinely videotaped a controversial slaughter practice used at the plant.

In addition, an investigation by the Forward weekly newspaper revealed allegations that employees were underpaid and exploited. Agriprocessors officials denied the allegations.

On Tuesday, members of the Conservative movement’s Hekhsher Tzedek Commission condemned the company, saying that keeping kosher requires more than just adherence to ritual matters, but also sensitivity to the environment and respect for workers and animals. The Hekhsher Tzedek initiative is in part a response to past allegations of misconduct at Agriprocessors.

“The actions of this company have brought shame upon the entire Jewish community,” the commission said. “Yesterday’s discovery, along with the other violations of the ethical standards set forth by our Torah and our tradition underscore the need for Hekhsher Tzedek. To be sure, halacha has never limited its concern to the ritual elements of kashrut alone.”

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