Uri Zedek is a burgeoning Orthodox social action group paralleling Maagalei Zedek in Israel. It insists that kashrut and yashrut, ritual concern and ethical sensitivity, go hand in hand. I am proud to say that one of the group’s leaders, Shmuly Yanklowitz, is a beloved student of mine; and in the classes that I give on Yoreh Deah to our Ohr Torah Stone rabbinical students I constantly stress the biblical emphasis on compassion as a major source for the laws of kashrut ("Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk," "For the soul is the blood of the animal," etc.), as well as the teachings of Rav Kook in his Sefer Hazon regarding the moral ambiguity in eating meat.
Hence when Shmuly informed me of the findings concerning Agriprocessors, and when I could not find a clear denial by the leaders of the company, I gave him the right to sign me on to his petition (I did not actually sign it myself). When a leading rabbi, whom I deeply respect, then told me he felt Agriprocessors were being maligned, I asked him to please supply me with corroborating facts, and I would publish a retraction.
I am pleased to report that before I received those facts, Shmuly found the leadership of Agriprocessors cooperating and attempting to right whatever wrongs were going on in the plant. For that reason Uri Zedek removed the boycott and is granting Agriprocessors every possibility of correcting the situation.
It is certainly to the credit of Agriprocessors that it is behaving in such a forthright manner. A meatpacking plant that is strengthened – in every area of halachic concern – can only result in a true sanctification of God’s name and a heightened appreciation of the all-encompassing quality of Jewish Law.