Agriprocessors Is Only A Pretext

I don’t know any rabbi who’s taken a public position on Agriprocessors who’s done much work verifying the facts of the case and conducting a thorough investigation.

Instead, Agriprocessors is a pretext.

For the chareidi, it is another example of the world’s anti-Semitism.

For the non-Orthodox and the Modern Orthodox, it shows that the chareidim are more concerned with ritual than ethics.

For young Modern Orthodox rabbis, it is an opportunity to be controversial and advance oneself by looking edgy and bold yet knowing you’ll have overwhelming congregational support (becuase the Modern Orthodox are tired of being intimidated and made to feel Jewishly inferior by the chareidim).

The funniest statement in the prayer book is that "Torah scholars increase peace in the world."

Jesus was more true to the rabbinate when he said he came to "bring not peace but a sword."

Anthony Weiss writes in the Forward:

One Conservative rabbi said that the Orthodox world seemed more concerned with kosher law than American law. An Orthodox rabbi argued that allegations surfacing about the Postville, Iowa, plant were giving Judaism a black eye — and he was publicly rebuked by one of his congregants. The debate spurred by labor conditions at Agriprocessors, the country’s largest processor of kosher meat, has exposed old fault lines, and some new ones, in the Jewish world — between Orthodox and non-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox and traditional, those who want Jews to close ranks and those who want to open up debate. After the Forward first wrote about the working conditions at Agriprocessors’ Iowa slaughterhouse in 2006, Asher Zeilingold, a Chabad rabbi, traveled to Postville, toured the plant, interviewed workers, and concluded that the Forward’s report was “completely unfounded.”

In 2007 interview with the trade publication Kosher Today, Zeilingold denounced Allen’s “deceptive behavior” and Allen, in turn, has questioned Zeilingold’s professional ties to Agriprocessors as a kosher certifier.

As new reports of worker mistreatment emerged, the main body of Conservative rabbis urged congregants to consider staying away from Agriprocessors products.

Mainstream Orthodox organizations, by contrast, urged caution. The Orthodox response led one prominent Conservative rabbi to turn a televised discussion about kashrut and ethics into a sweeping indictment of Orthodoxy.

“I think there’s a general feeling that in the Orthodox community, in many Orthodox communities, and especially in the more Haredi, more extreme Orthodox communities, there’s more concern for the strict rules of halacha, for how you cut the animal’s throat and how you examine the lungs,” said David Lincoln, rabbi emeritus of New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue, on a recently broadcast episode of the “Rabbis Roundtable” on The Jewish Channel television station. Many Orthodox rabbis responded with outrage, but debate has also been happening within denominational boundaries.

Anger has also been directed at Uri L’Tzedek, the liberal Orthodox group that organized an Agriprocessors boycott.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council for Young Israel, an umbrella group for Orthodox synagogues, publicly slammed one of his member congregations for inviting Uri L’Tzedek’s executive director to speak on “Ethical Issues and Kashrut in Jewish Law.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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