Even though Sholom Rubashkin’s 27-year sentence is ludicrous and unprecedented for the crimes he was charged with, it was not death by hanging given to Leo Frank. Even though many believe anti-Semitism influenced (and influences) the Rubashkin case, the proceedings were not conducted as a mob shouted, “Hang the Jew!”
Nevertheless, one is struck by this similarity between the cases: Each was a grave miscarriage of justice where the justice system itself was/is blind to its own shortcomings. (At least in the Leo Frank case, the State of Georgia eventually admitted its blindness, albeit 70 years later.)
I, like so many others, find it incredible that the judge whose judgment was being questioned in the recent appeal was a backup and had influence on the court that reviewed the appeal!
This was the same judge, Linda Reade, who was discovered to have had several secret meetings with law enforcement long before the arrests at Agriprocessors (for more details see Zman Sivan 5770/June 2010)! It was Judge Reade whom ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) memoranda indicated had taken an organizational role in the immigration raid; attended weekly meetings; personally requested a meeting with personnel from the many branches of law enforcement who would participate in the raid; and requested updates and final game plans.
How can a person work with law enforcement, which worked with the prosecution, and then serve a judge in that case?!?
Yet, Reade denied having performed any functions that fall within the executive branch (i.e. law enforcement) which may have reflected an irreconcilable stain on her impartiality.
I don’t claim to know American law. Maybe according to the US justice system this is perfectly legal. But, that’s the difference between a man-made law and a Divine one.
The Torah tells us: “Don’t take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous” (Devarim 16:19). The emphasis is on “the wise” and “the righteous.” Even they can be blinded by impartiality.
The Gemara offers several cases of Jewish judges who disqualified themselves for even the minutest influences. When Shmuel was walking on a bridge and a man lent him a hand, Shmuel disqualified himself from judging his case.
When Rebbi Yishmael b’Rebbi Yossi encountered a sharecropper who did him the tiny favor of bringing him his fruit a day earlier than usual he disqualified himself from judging his case. Indeed, as Rabbi Yishmael listened to the case (as an observer) he found himself conjuring up arguments in favor of the sharecropper.
“I didn’t take a bribe,” Rebbi Yishmael declared, “and had I taken the fruit, it would have been mine – yet I was biased!”
This issue of Zman comes out during the Yemei HaDin, “Days Judgment.” If we make an extra effort to painfully examine where we are being moreh heter on ourselves, maybe in that merit a measure of objectivity will descend upon those with power over Sholom Rubashkin’s life and help them come to their senses long before they did in the case of Leo Frank.
In the time since our first article of the Rubashkin case came out, Sholom Rubashkin has been found innocent of all 83 (down from 9,311) charges of violating child labor laws. This is significant, because it was the presumption of egregious violation of such laws that led to the unprecedented military-style action against the plant (detailed below), which, in turn, led to the inability of the company to meet its financial obligations, which, in turn, served as the foundation of the situation that led to the charges of bank fraud. In other words, it set up a chain reaction that should never have been set in motion.
Today, June 21, word has just come out that Sholom Rubashkin will be sentenced to 27 years, which is more than that recommended by the prosecution (although less than the outrageous life sentence originally suggested and subsequently withdrawn when, among other things, former attorney generals, including Janet Reno, denounced the sentence as unfathomable).
In any event, in light of today’s events, I wanted to post most of the rest of the Rubashkin article as it appeared in our June issue.
There are few states in the US where the unions possess the immense power that they do in Iowa. The politicians, aware of their significant influence on voters, are out to please them.
For years now, the unions have had their sights set on Agriprocessors, one of the only big businesses in Iowa to work out their own arrangements without completely deferring to the powerful unions, and they finally decided that the time has come to go to war against the enemy.
The unions were not alone in this venture. They had the full support and backing of many groups on the political left and right who all had one thing in common, a xenophobic hatred of outsiders… and Jews. The Rubashkins were the ones who broke the decades-strong barriers and self-imposed isolation of the Iowans. They were the first to establish a successful Jewish business in an area where outsiders were regarded with distrust. Postville residents did eventually learn to appreciate the economic bounty the Rubashkins brought to their neighborhood, but that was still not enough to suppress the latent anti-Semitism that pervaded.
Agriprocessors’ high profile success had struck a raw nerve, and there was no way they were going to be allowed to continue business as usual in Iowa.
An Al-Qaeda Terror Camp?
In the spring of 2008, things were relatively calm in Postville, but as it turned out, it was the calm that comes before the storm.
Read the rest of this entry »
The cover story in this month’s issue of Zman magazine is about Sholom Rubashkin. Although his story is ostensibly well-known in observant circles, the truth is that many people do not really know what went on and is going on. While other articles on the subject have typically ranged from 2,500-4,000 words, this story is almost 25,000 words! Yes, it’s a load. But it tells the story from A-Z, although in truth one would probably need 250,000 words to do it justice. The article in this month’s Zman was composed by a reporter who went to Iowa for a full week to meet with everyone from Rubashkin (in prison) to the mayor of Postville. The following is an excerpt starting at the beginning of the article, covering the history of the Rubashkins, and stopping just before the troubles begin. Before the excerpt, here is a list of the sub-headings just to give readers a feel of how much material there is to cover.
- The Whole Truth The Rubashkin Story
- The Nazis Arrive
- The Beginning of Rubashkin’s Meat
- The Tranquil Iowan Culture
- Postville – a Brief History
- Founding a Jewish Presence
- Run-ins with the Locals
- Working Out the Differences
- The Largest Slaughterhouse in the World
- Troubles Begin
- Jews Take Over from PETA
- The Unkosher Kashrus Organization
- A Systematic Campaign to Ruin Rubashkin’s Name
- An Al-Qaeda Terror Camp?
- “La Migra” Appears on the Scene
- The Unsubstantiated Immigration Accusations
- Sidebar: A Visit to the Linn County Jail
- The Military Invasion
- The Government Comes Down Hard
- The Demolition: A Thoroughly Planned Strategy
- $10 Million Becomes $26 Million
- Deliberate Destruction of Agriprocessors
- The Arrest
- The Raid on the Rubashkin Residence
- Imprisoned Again
- Bitachon in all Circumstances
- Mesiras Nefesh for Yiddishkeit
- Blaming the Victim
- No Way to Keep Track of Time
- Lobbying to be Released for Pesach
- The One who Came to Give Encouragement Receives it Himself
Aaron (Avrohom Aharon) Rubashkin is the patriarch who first planted the roots of the now well-respected Rubashkin family in the United States, the man who founded the famous Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. He lives in Boro Park and davens in the Kossoner Beis Medrash on 14th Avenue.
Mesiras nefesh runs in Reb Avrohom Aharon’s blood. His father, Reb Shneur Zalman Yissochor Getzel Rubashkin, lived during the worst of communist Russia’s anti-religious repression. He regularly risked his life to raise his two sons and two daughters as observant Jews.
Reb Avrohom Aharon was born in 1929 in the city of Neville, where his ancestors had dwelt for over 200 years. He remarks that the city once boasted 10,000 Jews, all of whom were Chassidim, mostly Lubavitch. The city was home to 16 shuls, but by the 1930s, the communists had closed all but three, one of which was barely a shack.
In Reb Avrohom Aharon’s office hangs a portrait of his father sporting a long white beard. Reb Avrohom Aharon points to the picture and proudly tells us, “Despite the constant danger, he wore that white beard with pride right through our last day in Russia.”