Wednesday, September 10, 2008

9000 Violations

I’m trying. I really am. But it’s becoming more difficult with every passing day to be Dan L’Kaf Zechus to the Rubashkins. They are the owners of Agripprocessors, a huge meat packing house that supplies much of this country’s Kosher meat and poutry products. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that criminal charges were filed by Iowa’s Attorney General against Aaron Rubashkin, his son Sholom.,and three human resources employees.

There were allegedly 9000 violations of Iowa’s Child Labor laws. That’s a lot of violation.

I know, I know…. innocent until proven guilty. But it seems highly unlikely that all 9000 violations are false.

I am still willing to wait for a trial and verdict before I would urge a boycott of their products. But I may not have to wait that long. The OU may do it for me:

"Within the coming days, or lets say a week or two, we will suspend our supervision unless there's new management in place," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the O.U.'s head of kosher supervision.

News coming out of Postville since the May 12th raid by immigration officials has been embarrassing to all religious Jews. Images on television of long bearded men in big velvet Kipot while a reporter talks about this negative story is making Orthodoxy look bad. It may not be fair but many people will infer guilt by association to all of us. People who look like this are usually thought of as the most religious among us.

Being officially charged with breaking child labor laws 9000 different times gives succor to all those anti Semitic blood libelists. The rabid anti Semites whose goals are to make the world believe that all Jews – especially religious ones – are the reincarnation of the devil now have this to point to. It may not be slaughtering… yet - they will say - but it starts with the abuse of non Jewish children in the workplace.

They will say, ‘This is what Jews are really like only this time they were caught!’ They will use this to try an convince others that Christians are just objects to Jews - to be used at their disposal. And that we will do anything we can get away with - whether it hiring a child to do an adult’s dangerous work because it's cheaper - or kidnapping and killing them so we can use their blood for a religious ritual.

The truth is it won't work. I trust the American people. No one will condemn an entire people or their religion because of the actions of a few. Most Americans are good and decent people who see good and decent people when they see religious Jews. That’s why all these blood libels and books like Protocols of the Eders of Zion don’t gain much traction – at least not post holocaust.

We live in a new era where Judaism is highly respected by the non Jewish public. This was made clear during the 2000 Presidential Election when Joe Lieberman an identifiably observant Jew was chosen by Al Gore as a running mate to near universal approval. Before Joe Lieberman was selected, Al Gore was way behind George Bush in the polls. After he was selected he drew even and stayed even through the campaign - actually winning the popular vote!

But just because Jewry in this country is enjoying more respect than at any time in the history of the Diaspora - that does not make what the 9000 count criminal indictment against religious Jews any less of a Chilul HaShem. We should never take the friendship of the American people fore granted.

This incident may be a speck of dust in the overall number of the ways religious Jews are seen . But the name of God was certainly not honored by endangering innocent inexperienced children via their hire for dangerous jobs. It is an affront to God and to his creations to so abuse them.

I for one am glad to see the OU take this action. It makes a statement to the world that Orthodox leaders will not tolerate nor be apologetic for wrongdoing by a fellow Jew - no matter how religious they seem to be.