Sholom Rubashkin

Zman – Av Issue

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The Av issue of Zman has three great articles about Tisha B’av by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman and Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, Hy’d (leader of German Jewry until the Nazis murdered him and his congregation).

In addition, the cover story is about Nathan Lewin, Esq. Friend of Supreme Court justices, champion of Jewish causes for half a century – Nathan Lewin talks candidly about his rabbinic roots, the Rubashkin appeal (which he now leads) and his remarkable life.

Exclusive Interview with Nathan Lewin

When Zman Magazine traveled to Mr. Lewin’s office for this exclusive interview we expected to get the most up-to-date information on the heart-wrenching Rubashkin saga, which shook every fair-minded person to the core. We hoped, as well, to gain a possible glimpse about the future direction of the appeal. What we did not expect, was to obtain, at the same time, an incredibly and refreshingly candid interview about the personal life and mesiras nefesh of one of Torah Jewry’s leading legal minds, who also happens to be the grandson and great-grandson of renowned, chashuv rabbonim.

The rest of the issue shapes up as follows:

The Miracle at the Epic Battle of El Alamein

As the Final Solution raged in Europe in 1942, General Erwin Rommel, the invincible “Desert Fox,” bore down on the Jewish community in Palestine. Only a miracle could have saved them. And, indeed, the story of how the Allies finally stopped Rommel at El Alamein is not only the story of the turning point in World War II but the story of how spiritual causes are at the root of all of life’s physical effects.

North Korea

The construction of what was intended to be a glorious skyscraper turned out to be a debacle that sealed the country’s impoverished international image. An expose of the small, self-important but dangerous totalitarian state led by one of the world’s most villainous madmen.


Deep in the Catskill Mountains, near Hancock, NY, a terror training camp called Islamberg has set down roots. The camp is headed by a radical Islamic militant group that is alleged to have played a role in the assassination of Jewish American journalist Daniel Perl in Pakistan.

Bermuda Triangle

Nearly a millennium ago, Rashi described a locale in the sea where unusually strong magnetic forces present difficulties for ships that navigate its waters. Could this to be an allusion to the same forces that operate in the “Bermuda Triangle,” an area in the Atlantic Ocean between Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico famous for its mysterious and tragic history? Hundreds of ships and aircraft are said to have vanished in this region without leaving a trace, and compasses are known to fail there often. Of the survivors, many tell of frightening experiences they faced.

Michel Hollard and the V-1 Rockets

During the turbulent era of the Second World War, Frenchman Michel Hollard distinguished himself as one of the most outstanding figures in the world of espionage, the “man who literally saved London” by discovering and spying on Hitler’s V-1 rocket program, the secret, super-weapon of its day.


Rubashkin – The Continuation

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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.
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Zman – The Rubashkin Story from A-Z

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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
  • Chaos
  • 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.”

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