Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz: Why Do You Seek Extra Punishment for Sholom Rubashkin?

(This article originally appeared in Arutz Sheva.)

We have all read about Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, who calls himself the “Social Justice Rav”. Yanklowitz, who was recently referred to by the president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, where Yanklowitz was ordained, as “an inspiration” (see “We are trying to create more Rav Shmuly Yanklowitzes “– here), is known to many as the rabbi who endorses gay marriagereveres Spinoza and prays that the Temple not be rebuilt, among other unOrthodox declarations.

Yanklowitz began his very public rabbinical activity as a founder of Uri L’Tzedek, which refers to itself as an Orthodox social justice organization. One of Uri L’Tzedek’s initial endeavors was the launching of the Tav HaYosher “ethical kosher” certification program. Tav HaYosher does not focus on the kosher status of establishments’ food; instead, it focuses on treatment of workers and the like. While this is a noble goal, it is hard to understand how Tav HaYosher’s staff, which has no trained or licensed auditors or inspectors, takes upon itself the role of arbiters for compliance with immensely technical and intricate statutes, which are normatively in the jurisdiction of the government, and which require expertise that the Tav Hayosher staff lacks.

Uri L’Tzedek’s most well-known activity was its month-long international boycott of Agriprocessors, run by Sholom Rubashkin, in the summer of 2008. This boycott followed a federal raid on Agriprocessors’ Postville facility relating to allegations of various practices regarding illegal workers at the facility, including conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants, identity theft and document fraud. Immediately following the raid, Rubashkin was accused of bank fraud and related monetary offenses.

Although the charges against Rubashkin for immigration offenses were dismissed, and Rubashkin was acquitted of child labor law violations in Iowa state court – all in 2009 – Uri L’Tzedek was on the warpath, prejudging Rubashkin as guilty on immigration, child labor and other offenses well before the courts even heard the cases. Rubashkin was initially charged in October and November of 2008, but the Uri L’Tzedek boycott occurred in the summer of 2008, several months before the charges.

Rubashkin was convicted of bank fraud and related monetary crimes, for which he was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment, but he was not convicted for the charges which formed the basis for the Uri L’Tzedek boycott.

Many prominent jurists have argued that Rubashkin’s conviction for monetary crimes was the result of gross prosecutorial misconduct. Let us assume, perhaps quite wrongly, that Rubashkin’s conviction was fair and square.

Nonetheless, an overwhelming bipartisan call from innumerable members of Congress, attorneys general and law professors affirmed that the 27-year prison sentence was woefully excessive, for others who have committed similar offenses were sentenced to a small fraction of Rubashkin’s sentence, and killers, rapists and other violent criminals were quite often dealt sentences far lighter than that of Rubashkin.

Upon review of Rubashkin’s case, President Trump commuted Rubashkin’s sentence, citing the voices of the countless lawmakers and others whose expert opinions supported the commutation. The White House specified that the President’s action was not a pardon, and restitution requirements and supervised release are in place.

Rubashkin was sentenced to jail in June of 2010 and was released in December of 2017; despite the commutation, he had served far more time in prison than others who have been convicted for the same offenses.

It was thus shocking to read Shmuly Yanklowitz’ Dec. 22 Newsweek article entitled “A Step Backwards for the Ethical Prouction of Kosher Meat“, lamenting the commutation of Rubashkin’s sentence and in effect seeking for Rubashkin to remain imprisoned. Yanklowitz writes:

In May of 2008, Agriprocessors, the largest kosher slaughterhouse in America, was raided by I.C.E., in what was the largest immigration raid in U.S. history at that time.

It put a stain on the moral reputation of the kosher industry in America due to frequent citations for illegal practices including violating wage laws and child labor laws, the abuse of animals, food safety violations, and environmental laws.

On Wednesday, when word came that Mr. Sholom Rubashkin’s sentence was commuted, I was in shock…

Why is a community that is completely loyal to the Torah prohibitions against eating non-kosher food not loyal to the Torah prohibitions against oppressing workers (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15)? It is a question I fear I will wrestle with for the rest of my life.

Today, the family, friends, and supporters of Mr. Rubashkin will be celebrating, since their ordeal has been a deeply intense, personal matter.

The rest of us, however, should separate the personal dynamic here—the celebration of a man reunited with his family—from the larger ethical issues at play.

We should mourn that our kosher systems continue to be broken, that they are consumed with ritual detail but largely neglectful and unconcerned with the ethical dynamics…

The sposkesman for Ultra-Orthodox rabbis in America said on a panel we both spoke on at Yeshiva University a decade ago that “no one cares if the poet stinks” (i.e. people want kosher meat that tastes good and is cheap, but don’t care about the ethical route it took to the plate).

I spent the last decade trying to prove him wrong. On Wednesday, he was proven correct.

Aside from the immense misdeed of attacking Rubashkin and the kosher meat industry in a non-Jewish publication – something that an “Open Orthodox” colleague of Yanklowitz similarly did the week prior by accusing the Orthodox community of engaging in widespread harassment against women – please see here (and also herehere and here, for a few of the countless examples of Open Orthodox clergy taking to the non-Jewish press to attack Jewish interests), and aside from the fact that Yanklowitz dishonestly portrayed Rubashkin as guilty of practices for which he was acquitted/not convicted, and aside from Yanklowitz having grossly misrepresented the words of Rabbi Avi Shafran (“the spokesman for Ultra-Orthodox rabbis”, as Yanklowitz describes him), and aside from Yanklowitz broadly and unfairly smearing the kosher food industry and kosher consumers, I am incredibly dismayed by Yanklowitz’ lack of sympathy for a person who was sent to prison for a term of multiple times what it should have been.

One would expect that a social justice advocate who has lobbied for prison reform would be happy for a man who was released from a sentence of excessively unfair incareration.

But this is no surprise. For in 2013, again detailing the crimes of a Jewish man (whom he compared to a leper) in the pages of a very popular non-Jewish publication, Yanklowitz argued against all efforts to seek Jonathan Pollard’s release:

The Israeli government and the international Jewish community should not be spending its precious time, energy and resources rallying for Pollard’s release.

Yanklowitz’ sense of social justice apparently applies when the people asking for help are not Jewish. When it comes to Jews, it is fine to advertise their crimes in non-Jewish media and argue against helping them, in the world of Yanklowitz.

I am in no way exonerating wrongdoing, but for a “social justice rav” to lobby in global non-Jewish publications against the interests of imprisoned Jews smacks of something very wrong.

There are countless brazen, violent criminals who are set free on parole, and there are non-kosher slaughterhouses which are infamous for practices of animal cruelty. Why does Yanklowitz ignore these and turn his attention to Jewish cases, which he highlights in non-Jewish media, seeking harsh and negative consequences for these Jewish cases?

May Hashem save us from such internal foes.

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94 Responses

  1. Chochom b'mahnishtaneh says:

    And of course there is a huge amount of hypocrisy at play here. Which seems to be the common factor for YCT graduates, the greater the hypocrite, the more well regarded by YCT.

    Yanklowitz’ is bothered by the immigration claims? He who has a meltdown about President Trump’s immigration policies? He who wants sanctuary cities? So Mr. Rubashkin has employees who provided forged documentation and he is evil by Yanklowitz’ claim? So illegals should be here but the employers should be punished, the illegals should be supported on the public dole.

    The problem is he Yanklowitz, along with Morris Allen tried to strong arm Agriprocessors into hiring the two of them as a shakedown.

    Yanklowitz as well as Allen should have been arrested as extortionists.

    Vile disgusting phonies.

  2. Baruch says:

    Great article. Yasher koach.

  3. Aaron says:

    I am not a fan of Shmuly Yankelowitz but your claim that “Many prominent jurists have argued that Rubashkin’s conviction for monetary crimes was the result of gross prosecutorial misconduct” is simply not true. Rubashkin’s conviction was fair and square. The article that you linked to discusses “prosecutorial misconduct” regarding the sale of the company and the barring of Aaron – not Sholom – Rubashkin from running the company, which affected the sale price and the ultimate sentencing of Sholom Rubashkin. No prominent lawyer or jurist has ever denied that Sholom Rubashkin was guilty of financial crimes.

    Furthermore, Agriprocessors employed over 300 illegal immigrants and many underage workers. The fact that Sholom Rubashkin was not found guilty of these crimes does not mean that they should not be a concern to a frum consumer.

    While one can convincingly make the case that Yankelowitz venue for criticizing the frum community was wrong that should not absolve us from serious soul searching and questioning the propriety of the response that has gone on in our community since Rubashkin’s release.

    • Mycroft says:

      He was not found guilty of immigration charges because he had received a 27 year sentence for his multitude of financial crimes including bank fraud. The US attorney had no desire to have him serve more than 27 years . They had separated the charges . Thus, if he had Ben acquitted they could have tried on other charges. It is false to pretend dropping of charges was due to his not being guilty.

      • Aaron says:

        I totally agree with you. Not sure where you see anything otherwise in my comment above. My point is that a frum consumer should be bothered by the fact the hundreds of illegal immigrants and many underage youth were employed at Agriproccessers. The fact that he wasn’t found guilty – because charges of illegal workers were not pursued, and that SMR argued that he was not aware that many workers were underage – does not mean that the reality of what went on Agriproccessers should not be of concern to us.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        If the proof of violations of immigration law had been there do you think there would not have been a prosecution?

      • Aaron says:

        Close to 400 illegal workers were arrested on one shift. These people sat in jail for weeks or months. These people were deported back to Guatemala and Mexico. Do you think these people are all government actors?

        (The defense would probably have been that they provided fake ID and that nobody knew they were illegal.)

      • Mycroft says:

        There already was a 27 year sentence, didn’t need any more deterrent or punishment, why US attorney dropped charges.

    • Bob Miller says:

      If abuse of workers really did go on in the kosher meat industry, as seen by objective observers, that would demand attention from the customers as a group via their community leaders. Action by government should be the last resort after nothing else works. Patting ourselves on the back when we don’t have the big picture can go too far and invite trouble.

  4. dr. bill says:

    the hiring of illegal workers by Rubashkin was not tried given the lengthy sentence he received for his financial misdeeds. indeed he was not convicted, but the hiring of illegals was known far and wide. for a halakhically kosher establishment to violate dina de’malchutah is a chillul HaShem. Those celebrating Rubashkin’s release should at least be conscious of the violations he was known to have been engaged in. my sense is the rebbelach and others who celebrated his release care about American laws and worker’s rights, certainly non-Jewish workers rights, as deeply as he did.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Rubashkinnwas convicted soley on bank fraud and other white collar crimes. There was no prosecufion to verdict of any other charges and it is wrong fo sit as judge jury and prosecufor as if you know he or anyone else is guilty. Rubashkin served tome for beeaking law and was no tzadik worthy of pidyon shevuyim. The only question was whether his sentence was in excess forbanyone convicted of the same crime wgich a bipartisan coalition agreed was the case. Can only imagine what R Shmueli thinks re cop killers.

      • Mycroft says:

        Our legal system for criminal cases requires a conviction for a person to be criminally punished. However, it is fundamental that a lack of a conviction doesn’t mean the person didn’t do the actions. Thus, a civil action is perfectly appropriate after an acquittal and a fortiori after charges were dropped for a desire not to spend resources prosecuting someone who everyone believed was serving 27 years.
        See eg OJ Simpson being found civilly liable for wrongful death after acquittal on murder charges.
        I don’t see a requirement for conviction of a crime a necessity for discussion of appropriateness of behavior. Very few if any targets of discussion about OO etc have been convicted of any crime. Yet we have no difficulty in discussing actions.

      • Chochom b'mahnishtaneh says:

        So the concept of innocent until proven guilty is an utter fallacy. Accordingly, you are guilty of killing Schroedinger’s cat, but we are just not interested in spending the funds to prove it.

        According t you a person is never innocent, because there can never be an absolute proof thereof.

        I would warn people to stay far away from you.

      • dr. bill says:

        your black or white question is symptomatic of a large problem. as the Torah’s requirement for witnesses, our laws are about proving guilt or innocence, not about the reality of whether you committed the crime. Requiring two witnesses means many a murderer, seen only by your favorite rabbis as sole witness, will not be convicted.

        that Rubashkin violated immigration laws is not an issue of fact as much as of law; he is not proven guilty but is anything but a tzaddik or hero. in my view he remains a disgraced chillul haShem.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Who supplied the information about Rubashkin that you base your judgment on? The same prosecutors who have rightly come under fire for their improper behavior, and whose assertions would have been challenged in court had charges not been dropped?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Only a conviction followed by a sentence which is not disturbed on appeal is what thevlaw defines guilt. Wrongful death is a civil.tort for the benefit of the estate of the deceased and is irrelevant of any criminal finding or the absence thereof. What everyone believes as to guilt has no legal consequence other than to stir gossip.

      • dr. bill says:

        so if rav Shechter only warns someone before he commits murder in talmudic times, you would consider him innocent.

      • Mycroft says:

        Civil actions determine facts by a preponderance of the evidence, which is mor likely to be true.
        To be convicted crimally a jury has to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that every element of the crime happened. A test understandably far tougher to meet than the person did the activity.
        Believing he did the action is certainly reasonable, most things you comment about have not had a criminal conviction.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        An acquittal thus means nothing? I guess lynching and mob rule exists in tbe US regardless of whether someone is acquitted by a jury of his or her peers.

  5. Chochom b'mahnishtaneh says:


    Those charges were expunged. That is much more than they decided to be nice to him. (Nice, right). There were dozens of people who were referred to the authorities by Agriprocessors when they provided questionable identification. In fact, an applicant planted by the prosecutors with government supplied fake ID was turned away multiple times. All these are in the public record.
    So too was the fact that his employees liked working for him. Sure they worked hard, that is the nature of the industry. But he was fair and good to the employees.

    Further, looking at Obama’s comments on the immigration issue, it is clear that there was brazen hypocrisy here. Allow the immigrants here, provide them with benefits, but if you are a Jew who mistakenly employed them, bring in the helicopters, dogs and swat. Ruin the business and make sure to prosecute for a infraction that had not prosecuted in the 120 years that it had been on the books. There was at least one DOJ person who resigned in disgust at the travesty of the whole case.

    You have evil people like the low life’s at “tav yoshor” who do the exact opposite of yoshor create problems and be mosrim. When all they want is to extort payments.

    It is unconscionable, yet unfortunately not unexpected, that there would be people who would be so anti Chasidim that they would join with the most vile of anti-Semites in decrying the releAse of Sholom Rubashkin and in fact were gleeful when he went through all his Tzaros.

    You want to know why real hidden all over were so moved by Sholom Rubashkin’s release? Because we are not so far removed from whole populations of Jews being abused by government entities on obamaed up charges ( I didn’t want to used Trumped, because Mr. Trump once again acted more appropriately than his predecessor). I am not saying that the US ggovernment as whole is so corrupt, but theee are clearly more than just isolated instances of such misconduct. And apparently Linda Reade’s two ex husbands testfied that she was rabid anti Semite. Who was able to self determine that she can continue her sordid involvement in this sad tale of prosecution run amok in the US.

    • Aaron says:

      What does Obama have to do with this? The raid took place during the Bush administration while Michael Mukasey was attorney general. Judge Reade was appointed by George W. Bush.

      • Chochom b'mahnishtaneh says:

        I didn’t say he had to do with it. But Obama did make an issue of it during his campaign. And his AG was involved.

    • Aaron says:

      Judge Reade has a history of imposing draconian sentences. She sentenced Robert C. Sharp to 30 years in prison for possession and distribution of synthetic marijuana. His lawyer Shon Hopwood wrote in a Twitter post that “many defense lawyers in Iowa and Nebraska won’t practice before Judge Reade because she routinely grants upwards departures from the already draconian sentencing guidelines” There is no need to attribute her draconian sentencing of SMR to antisemitism.

    • dr. bill says:

      I know because someone I trust implicitly repeated to me his conversation on the matter with Rubashkin’s father. their violations were known for a long time. when the raid occurred they did not find just a few isolated illegals.

      • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

        Horse feathers.

      • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

        No one said that there were not illegals working at Agriproccesors. However, all the illegals provided documentation. The industry is rife with illegals. Go to most any agricultural business and you will see that that they are overwhelmingly staffed by immigrants, among them illegals with forged documents. There is a process for completing an I-9, nowhere does it say that the company has to, or even can, use the resources that the DOJ has to verify that documentation.

        There was multitudes of evidence that the documentation was checked and that numerous job applicants were turned away.

        There must be a reason why the charges were expunged. Which is much more than not prosecuted.

        And even with the fraud charges, there must be some reason why the financial institution never pressed charges. Presumably they were the one’s wronged, and yet, they did not press charges. It was the DOJ’s way of just throwing anything against the wall to see what sticks.

        the same with the charge of not paying cattle dealers the same day. These charges were not sought by the dealers, nor were such charges sought since the law has been on the books.

        Chillul Hashem is when there are those who do their utmost to bashmutz another Jew. Certainly when it is their knee jerk reaction and when they clearly know not a whit of the details. And this is very clearly typical for YCT and OO supporters as well as the typical oh so smart “centrist” bloggers.

      • dr. bill says:

        unfortunately, attorney-client privilege prevents revealing sources. but a family with 2-3 felons among sons and sons-in-law and a hero’s welcome speaks to the religiosity of the participating communities.

        there is one passuk in the torah that i am aware of, with three possible places for the esnachtah. our version of the trop is the most difficult to explain. if you know the passuk and the kotzker rebbe’s sharp vort explaing the trop jokingly, the relevance is too real. in a few weeks, it will come up in my shiur.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        This is legally inadmissible hearsay.

      • dr. bill says:

        much of what you believe, if not all, is legally inadmissible hearsay. are you going to enjoy a cheeseburger at noon tomorrow?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Not relevant. Legally inadmissible gossip remains that and no more.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        This is also legally inadmissible hearsay that has the aroma of a Shabbos morning conversation over lunch.

      • dr. bill says:

        i admit that my divrei torah at lunch on Shabbos are often hearsay as opposed to my original views.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        You call that a cheftza shel Torah

      • dr. bill says:

        repeating a midrash of tannaim, giving 5 ways yoducha was interpreted, explaining why an unkelos may be pshat as opposed to drash and repeating what bible critics say is an admixture of P and E texts but giving a more traditional reading were this weeks lunch topics. if i knew what was a cheftza shel torah, i could try to characterize; thankfully i do not. you can decide. btw, i think it is important to address bible criticism. in this week’s parsha, the midrash addresses an obvious “anachronism.”

      • Yossi says:

        Where do you give a shiur? I’d love to hear it

      • dr. bill says:

        the host of this site can give you my email. i give shiurim infrequently in 3-4 places and online.

  6. Chochom b'mahnishtaneh says:

    Yidden, not hidden. Sorry for that typo

  7. >Upon review of Rubashkin’s case, President Trump commuted Rubashkin’s sentence

    Please. It is more likely that “upon reviewing Jared Kushner’s request made on behalf of the Lubavich rav of the shul he attends, President Trump commuted Rubashkin’s sentence.

    Either that or this was just one arrogant, corrupt businessman pardoning another.

    • Chochom b'mahnishtaneh says:

      And how would you define the pardons and commutations Obama issued? Every single one a Black or hispanic? Mostly drug dealers. There were well over a thousand.

      How would YOU say that defines Mr. Obama?

    • Bob Miller says:

      Can we trust your claim about what is likely, given your political bias?

      • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

        I did not make any claim about a reason, as opposed to garnel, who assigned a reason for Mr. Trump. I was just pointing out the hypocrisy of garnel’s remark.

      • Bob Miller says:

        My comment was for Garnel.

      • And who says I liked Obama’s choices for pardons? Who a president releases from jail tells one a great deal about that president’s morals. Obama told us all a lot about what he really thinks of the US when he made his choices and it’s clear he’s not a fan of the red, white and blue.

      • Tal Benschar says:

        Except one major difference here is that Trump merely commuted the sentence. This was not a pardon of the crime. And in fact Rubashkin still has to pay the fine and restitution and is still subject to probation. And he remains a convicted felon.

        So the commutation, unlike a pardon, is only saying the sentence was excessive. That is very different from a full pardon, which implies the person was wrongfully convicted.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Actually the letters supporting commutation werevquite bipartisan in nature.

      • Mycroft says:

        Hearsay rules are made for public policy grounds, if we were interested in probative value, it would be admissible and probative value would depend on quality of evidence etc.
        In some respect it is similar to privileges where material is not admissible not for truth but other public policy grounds.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Hearsay rules operate and function because the proponent of the statement is not subject to cross examination.

  8. lacosta says:

    “It is a question I fear I will wrestle with for the rest of my life.”

    —- i don’t doubt that when the enemies of the jews , but they will be from the left, come to ban shechita , this Oto Ish will be amongst the leaders of the vanguard attacking the Jewish community and their interest– for this renegade, is a leftist first and a jew somewhere after. we need fervently to remember that ‘V’lamalshinim’ refers to the fifth column who had hebraic mothers and thus claimed they were of us, who betrayed us to the enemies. May Hashem protect us from him and the many more like him…

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Excellent point. Shechita has a long history of being attacked. I think that a lot of the attacks stem from.the fact yhat kashrus is a Chok designed to protect the Kedusha of Am Yisrael and Shechita is a Halacha LMoshe MiSinai which antinomian critics of TSBP whatever their label have rejected

  9. Yossi says:

    First, for all of you so worked up about him violating immigration laws – as someone who tightly and faithful he subscribes to the local laws of the government and is also pro immigration, it is quite obvious that the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country are working at jobs and I getting paid by somebody. For all the cities fighting to be sanctuary cities and the people protesting the administration’s immigration policies, it is very clear that large part of this country feels that it is OK to hire illegal immigrants as workers.

    In fact, the Wall Street Journal had article after article speaking of how many industries such as construction, meatpacking, and others would not be able to find workers if the illegal immigrants are not the ones taking that job. And if you remember nanny gate, we couldn’t find an attorney general who didn’t have an illegal nanny.

    So Dr. Bill, I’m not sure if I see this one as a violation of dina demalchusa cause it was understood in previous administrations that the government was well aware of all the immigrants working, and would not prosecute and that this was a vital part of our economy.

    I can’t stand seeing all the liberal Jews on this blog, and I’m pretty liberal myself, yelling they should’ve hired illegal immigrants and Dr. Bella, I bet you’re pro sanctuary cities.

    This Shmuley Guy finds Himself on the other side of the fence of the majority of the community on so many issues, and it is well hi iview open orthodoxy as so far on the outside- not just because their theology is so far out, but they seem to separate themselves from the general community of the Jewish people. I don’t know if they qualify for the Rambam’s being poreish midarchei tzibur, but they’re truly repugnant- quislings and traitors who will go bash their brothers in the non-Jewish press to get 15 minutes of fame.

    I’m so tired of their nonsense- of Ysoscher Katz’s kefira, of Linzer’s “dorshin b’arayos” podcast “Joy of Text” podcast with two females, of Farber’s kefira- all their “biggest” guns exhibit no yiras shamayim, no gravitas, no gadlus- just a one directional descent into permitting more and more things.

    If I had my druthers, I’d ignore them and hope they go away or find real Talmidei Chachamim who can lead and inspire them בדרך ישראל סבא.

    I don’t need proclamation and articles against them; as the Supreme Court said, I know it when I see it, and one knows it.

    Dr. Bill,
    Do these guys inspire you? Because you’re a pretty intelligent and sophisticated guy, yet you sometimes seem to have a knee jerk reaction to agree with them, which seems so discordant with your level of intelligence and eloquence.

    • dr. bill says:

      they do not inspire me. but nor do most people. I was not even inspired by my thesis adviser who received a Ph.D. from Princeton in 18 months – he was the “dirty Jew” referred to by John Nash in “a Beautiful Mind.”

      Inspiring – the Rav, the Grash, Jacob Katz, von Neumann, Jack Schwartz, RAL, etc. of a previous generation, some of whom i had the honor of interacting with. there are also people of great moral courage, action and/or achievement that i find inspiring.

      i find a few contemporaries inspiring, but my biases are directed towards intellectual giants and tend to find inspiration in figures from the past.

    • Bob Miller says:

      “it is very clear that large part of this country feels that it is OK to hire illegal immigrants as workers.” A large part of the country feels traditional religion and morality are passe. A large part is OK with unlimited abortion. Should that influence us? Obviously not. Why then this?

  10. moishe says:

    Shmuly Yanklowitz claims to be a ger tzedek. His mother is Christian but he claims that he has undergone “Orthodox conversion”.

  11. joel rich says:

    Ok. But are public celebrations in order – especially those which imply to the outside world that the orthodox community believes the individual in question was totally righteous ?


    • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

      There are several things at play here.

      1) He was targeted because he is an Hasidic Jew. Started by the low-lifes noted above.

      2) He received an inane sentence for acts that in almost every other case resulted in a fine and there was clear injustice here.

      3) He was and is a person woi first and foremost cared about others, doing chesed for anyone, including his non-Jewish employees.

      4) Halacha he.

      • Aaron says:

        How do you know he was targeted for being a Hasidic Jew? Also we get your point and obviously many here disagree with you and your assesement of the case. No need to keep on restating the same thing over and over again.

      • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

        Why do you think Yanklowitz and his ilk at “Uri L’tzedek” even approached Mr. Rubashkin, seeking a payoff? They did not approach the people at Conagra.

        This is not just my assessment., it is supported by much information in court documents.

      • joel rich says:

        All these could be true but don’t address the perception issue of public celebration

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Absolutely not. But the celebrations which IMO are over the top and way outvof hand can only be undetstood on the context that those who are celebrating viewed the prosecution as loking for a conviction on any violation of the law and then hoping for an excessive sentence by a judge whose Midas HaDin clearly overshadowed any sense of discretion to the contrary.

    • RAM says:

      Joel, you make a good point. This whole drawn-out Agriprocessors saga has many details and nuances, and the same person could have been a victim or a perpetrator, or both, depending on what parts of the timeline we look at. Rejoicing in the commutation of an overly long sentence is in order.

  12. Chaim Eliezer says:

    R. Gordimer should be reminded that Rubashkin was forced out of business not by prosecutors, but by KAJ withdrawing its hashgocha and the OU threatening to do so. If he thinks 8 years is excessive for financial fraud, I hope he is busy protesting the 22-year sentence given to Eliyahu Weinstein, the Ponzi schemer from Lakewood.

    • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

      You really do not think the two cases are remotely the same do you? That you try to conflate the two shows how out of touch you are.

      I wonder what you even think the “financial fraud’ that Mr. Rubashkin perpetrated even was? It was certainly less than what Bernie Sanders’ wife did when preparing her mortgage application.

      And your assumption that he was put out of business by KAJ is completely incorrect. And the loss to the bank was certainly cased by the DOJ.

      • Chaim Eliezer says:

        Rubashkin’s principal financial fraud wasn’t a single loan application. He submitted forged accounts receivable each month for well over a year as collateral for a line of credit. Each would constitute a major felony even if the bank suffered no loss at all.

      • So this has come up a few times and I’d like some clarification from Rubashkin’s defenders: there is no question that bank fraud was committed. Yes, there have been the usual justifications – it was a small amount, he was going to pay it back, etc. I’m aware of the halacha that all theft is forbidden, even if your intention is to get convicted and pay back double to help out a friend who won’t accept a financial gift.
        So please enlighten me: what is the justification for saying Rubashkin’s fraud doesn’t count as theft?

      • nt says:

        No one says that. Just that the sentence was excessive. Why are so many people here wasting time trying to establish the guilt of Rubashkin when the only really relevant point is that the sentence was excessive and President Trump was right to commute it, as even Nancy Pelosi urged?

        There is an unfortunate tendency for some people on this forum to rush to condemn all chariedi activity and defend those who attack chareidim by saying in effect, “Maybe the attack was not correct but chareidim deserve it anyway because of this, that, or the other.” Chazal said that one who is kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind, and a social-justice “Rabbi” going after Rubashkin fits the bill perfectly.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Wait a minute. If a person recognized that Rubashkin really did commit some crime but the sentence was too long, could he believe Rubashkin was a tzaddik? If not, how do we explain those who indeed treat Rubashkin as a tzaddik?

  13. Yehudah says:

    Weinstien was a repeat offender. That’s a huge difference traditionally when it comes to sentencing.

    • Chaim Eliezer says:

      Weinstein’s first offense landed him the 22 years, which was extended to 24 years on his second. In her 54-page sentencing document, Judge Reade showed how Rubashkin’s case differed from others, where the defendants admitted wrongdoing, cooperated with prosecutors, tried to make restitution, and didn’t accuse the Court of antisemitism. Appeals courts up to and including the Supreme Court found no grounds for appeal.

      • Chochom B'mah Nishtaneh says:

        So the issue was that Rubashkin called Reade out on Anti-Semitism. That is why thius case wqas so different?

        Proof of the serious misconduct on this case. And attested to by multitudes of legal professionals.

      • dr. bill says:

        rubashkin lied to the judge during the trial, which led her to impose the maximum sentence.; that is what she claimed and is why all appeals failed.

        unless of course, you feel they are all just anti-semites. he is lucky there was not a Rico charge alleging membership in a criminal family.

  14. David z says:

    What did Yanklowitz say about Bradley Manning’s commutation? Nuff said.

  15. simon says:

    matir Asurim is gay marriage to this dubious rabbinator

    • dr. bill says:

      the phrase is matir issurim, a play on the word asurim. when you or a close friend have a child or grandchild who is gay or transgender, i wonder if that might give you the good sense not to treat the issue with such disdain.

      • tzippi says:

        I have thought about just that and I would encourage the close friend or relative to find the rabbanim out there – because I have heard that they are out there – who will help guide them in living authentic Jewish lives with integrity. Not easy but I would be there on the sides cheering them on in this courageous endeavor.

        Back to the regularly scheduled program. This whole episode can’t be reduced to black and white, but I am glad Mr. Rubashkin was released, this was completely disproportionate, and yes, we need to learn from this whole debacle, most importantly how to navigate our lives through galus with (I’ll use this essential word again) integrity. And we can be thoughtful as to where we decide to discuss this.

      • dr. bill says:

        i agree with you. there are rabbonim who are well-respected who deal privately and sympathetically with such cases. the rebbitzen of one such Rav told me about her meeting a young, beautiful, blond 7-year-old girl, whose first words were “i am a boy.”

        i am happy rubashkin was released, but shocked/dismayed by his victory march through chareidi society. i am proud he has not been seen at Landers, YU or YCT.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        R Genack appeated at rallies protesting the sentence together with R Lipshitx the editor of the Yated and the OU Agudah Satmar and the Chabad affiliated Alef Society all signed a joint statement praising the commutation of the sentence.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Maybe he should appear and discuss how he became such a Baal Bitachon.

      • dr. bill says:

        yes, very prominent people were outraged by the sentence and spoke at rallies. but please tell me where my classmate attended a rubashkin victory tour event; i would rather be disheartened if he did.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Do we all now have a pass to indulge our Yetzer Hara?

      • Yossi says:

        Many people have close relatives and children who may not be frum and while they treat them compassionately, they don’t pray that chilul Shabbos should be relaxed. I know this is different, but not completely.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Manning committed acts that were like Stocktons_-treasonous.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Meaning: You could only disdain transgenderism if you looked at it dispassionately, but would not if you had a personal bias in favor of a family member.

  16. Yehudah says:

    It was a spontaneous celebration by yidden whose jewish feelings haven’t been dulled by being modern and orthodox as apperent from above comments.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Feelings have to be tempered by knowledge, in this case, knowledge that not all victims of the judicial system are perfect tzaddikim. We can rejoice in their liberation without losing all sense of proportion.

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr. Bill buy this weeks Yated. R Genack criticized the means enployed with respect to the raid in the plant called the sentence quite harsh and appeared at rallies calling for Rubashkins release.

    • dr. bill says:

      i explained above, but it appears you did not understand. so, i will try again with only one syllable words. i know what he did; many others did the same. BUT, did he show up at a stop as this tour went from right wing place to right wing place?

      i admit to taking yated to the men’s room if i see it lying around at someone’s house; but i would rather buy other reading material.

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Again R Genack condemned the raid and the sentence and appeared with the publisher if the Yated as part of the campaign to free Rubashkin.

  19. Dov says:

    Alan Dershowitz who helped advocate for Rubashkin was quoted in Mishpacha as saying something along of the lines of there might have been antisemitism here.

    Also you can find online the letters from 107 justice officials who wrote to presidents in Rubashkin’s favor. Most of them not religious or not even Jewish are somehow able to give Rubashkin more benefit of the doubt than many commenting here.

    Even if he did something wrong the sentence he got was outrageous.

  20. Dov says:

    I am not saying he was innocent (i don’t know enough about the case), but am saddened by comments here that seem to be the stereotyping of a Jew because he has a big beard and is supported by others in the Yeshivish/Chassidish community.

    • Mycroft says:

      What is outrageous is ” Even if he did something wrong”

      • Bob Miller says:

        You’re not so outraged at a ridiculous sentence?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Read tve letters that were the part of the petition. All focus on the raid the desrttruction of a working busines by DOJ which was searching in vein for immigration law violations the abuse of discretion by the trial judge in her helping facilitate the raid and thr rubber stamping of her opinion by an appellate court and a very harsh sentence.These were disturbing facts rhat would have provided for learned commentary in any law school journal.

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