Students at Manhattan’s YCT have initiated a boycott of Agriprocessors AKA Rubashkins. Already gone from the shelves of the Trader Joes in our Long Beach hood, Rubashkin’s and David’s are no longer being served at this Rabbi’s home. JTA reports:

A Modern Orthodox social justice group launched a boycott of the kosher slaughterhouse Agriprocessors.

Uri L’tzedek, an initiative started by students at the liberal Orthodox rabbinical seminary Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York City, set Monday as the date it would stop patronizing Agriprocessors if the company did not agree to abide by certain ethical labor standards.

Organizers say some 1,300 people, including several leading Jewish figures, have signed the group’s petition asking the company to establish a transparent department to ensure compliance with both Jewish and U.S. legal requirements regarding worker treatment.

Representatives of Uri L’tzedek met last week with several company officials in New York, including members of the extended Rubashkin family, which owns the company. The group was promised a statement of the company’s position on worker rights within 48 hours, but the document had not materialized as of Tuesday morning.

According to Uri L’tzedek’s own website, they are not reporting the start of the boycott yet.

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Rabbi Yonah

38 Comments

  • Even a partially-upheld boycott can be very effective given that the target market is so small and tightly focused

  • what a bunch of self righteous rabble rousers.
    if they are rabbinical students why dont they offer help and solutions instead of publicity seeking boycotts?

  • Here’s my problem. In New York there may very well be different options besides Rubashkin’s. In the rest of the country, that is not the case: it’s either Rubashkin’s or treif. For boycotters, how do they deal with that problem?

  • it seems theese uri guys do anything for a poho op and their name in the paper

    if they are “working with the company” why all the boy cott and petition emails? wheres the tzedek in that? why is protests and boycotts and rallies the answer to everything???

  • Losing Trader Joes as a vendor is going to hurt them badly.

    It is very unfortunate for those that want to keep kosher can’t trust Rabbinic overseers to make sure their meat is healthy, sanitary, kosher and in compliance with US regulations.

    As for “solutions”… how ’bout this: management should COMPLY with USDA, FDA and ICE regulations like the rest of the Corporations in the U.S. are supposed to. Duh!

    The problems boil down to GREED and thinking they are above the laws of the U.S. If they can’t cut a profit while complying with Labor and Food Safety laws then they shouldn’t be in business.

    Obviously there is a niche for some ethical entrepreneurs to start up some new Kosher meat processing plants and do it right. That’s the beauty of capitalism.

  • its a shame that people beelive all the negatives about something without ever knowing what they are talking about.

    ” can’t trust Rabbinic overseers to make sure their meat is healthy, sanitary, kosher and in compliance with US regulations”

    um yeah, ok.

  • AgriProcessors and Rubashkins have done a great job of feeding my family for over 19 years. I have no intention of changing my supplier of meats and chickens over what your accurate or inaccurate information says. I read about this company, and they have a long good record in employee safety, with no violations, no child labor or sexual harassment issues. Someone has to be trying to attack them for one reason or another. A supplier that represents the greater part of the kosher meat industry needs to continue doing what they do best, and not have people writing petitions against them.

  • BS”D

    There is an alternative to choosing between Rubashkin’s and treif for those of us in smaller Jewish communities. It’s called meatless. With meat consumption contributing to global warming and the diversion of grains that could better be used to feed humans directly, a reduction in meat consumption by Jews would be an enormous kiddush HaShem.

  • Anon…did you see the pictures and read the articles from the Des Moines Register? The media didn’t make up those pictures and the facts that the Rubaskin’s have been sited for numerous labor and safety regulations.

    The Mashgiachs (Yeshiva drop-outs from Brooklyn) must have had their heads buried in their porn, uh, I mean Gemarrahs, to have missed all the sanitary and labor violations going on there.

    Luckily the Govt. officials couldn’t be paid-off any longer to avoid cracking down on it plants, and you can be sure the Rubashkin’s had plenty of government inspectors in their pockets for years.

  • What anon is saying is that YCT, the school that produces the Uri group, is not recognized by any mainstream Orthodox institutions. Their rabbis are not going into hashgacha work because they cannot be accepted with that level of ordination.

    Its a very good point indeed Anon. In other words their are many possible ulterior motives for the boycott – not all good ones.

  • I think the pictures of the raid are valid motive enough for anyone to boycott Agri, whether they are angry about being rejected by the “mainstream” or not.

    The “mainstream” has not always been the correct stream throughout history. For example, there was a time when the mainstream of Americans did not want to let women or blacks have the right to vote.

  • My point was theses uri ltzedek people seem more intensly involved in their publicity and noise making then thay are in genuinely pursuing repair , “tikun” if you will.

    Im sorry for making the Uri and YCT synonmous, but that was the way people perceive it. good to know they are not.
    But the other question still stands and is a valid one. But i find Rabbi Yonahs response curious. I havent heard of any YCT musmach who actually attempted to go into kashrus or shechita that was not accepted.

    oh an ulterior motives for a boycott at such an expnse and extreme do not justify silliness of it all.

  • I think that it is time for us to stop believing everything that we hear and take on the resposibilty of recognizing the virtues that have set the Rubashkins apart from other Jewish business owners. We are aware that they have gone from rags to riches, creating an abundance of Kosher meat where there was never one. We know that they have greatly contributed to the Jewish community, given gifts of meat, and gave Postville, Iowa a good name. We know, likewise, that in the midst of crisis, of rumors, they have even taken on hiring a new CEO for the company.

    I believe that this company is doing everything in its power to create a good, honest life, and save their reputation from unwarranted loshon horah. My family and I have trusted the Rubashkins with our Kosher meat for many years, and we will continue to purchase from them, regardless of the nasty rumors.

  • I agree with mister greenberg. however the rabble rousers would rather make noise than help the matter.
    what good does the ur zedek email petition and boycott accomplish? whats their alternative?

  • What nasty rumors? The videos showing how cows were slaughtered were verified. The only issue for this company appeared to be whether they could keep the hechsher approval from the powers-that-be in the Orthodox world. Nothing about Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim or anything like that was going to stop these people.

    But even if that’s acceptable to you, how can you call this raid and the information that has come forth “nasty rumors?” Perhaps the Rubashkins need to focus on the issues that have been raised instead of ignoring them or having shills on blogs advocate eating more of their meat?

    I, for one, buy Wise Ranch, Empire and Hebrew National. If it’s a Rubashkin product, I run away as fast as I can. I’d rather not eat meat.

  • Hey…let’s start a nasty rumor that the Greenberg’s cholent has pieces of Guatamalean children in it!

  • ooh hebrew national. thats some real kosher meat there.

    BTW wheres the video form their slauighter house?

  • Oy…abuses in the U.S. Meat Processing Industry have been well-documented since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle. “Kosher” , “Kosher yet rejected by the mainstream Orthodox” such as Hebrew National, and Non-Kosher Meat processors have NO EXC– USES for using cheap labor , unsanitary conditions or conditions that are overly cruel to animals.

    The point is, anyone is entitled to boycott a product if they don’t like the practices of it’s manufacturer…many Jews still won’t by a Mercedes, many will.

    Oh, and I heard a rumor that Stephen Mendelson’s cholent has meth in it….party at the Mendelson’s next Shabbat!

  • Oy, sorry if I’ve offended your gourmet tendencies. A hot dog every once in a while is fine. If it’s your frumminess I’ve offended, I don’t see what is so kosher about defending a company that has allegedly acted as the Rubashkin’s company has.

    You should realize that it’s you causing the offense by shilling for a company that should be putting out a public apology and changing its ways instead of playing defense. But you’re right that on the day a video appears showing a company slaughtering cows for beef like what was shown of the Rubashkin plant, that company will go on my personal boycott list as well.

    In the meantime, I encourage all of you to go to Wise Organic Pastures’ website to find the nearest store where their products are sold.

  • To: ‘letters@jewishpress.com’
    Subject: Letter to the Editor:

    Dear Editor,

    Re: “Here we Go,” 7/5/06: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigates both kosher and non-kosher slaughterhouses and notifies authorities whenever we witness gross mistreatment of animals and violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

    Our most popular vegetarian video by far, titled “Meet Your Meat,” documents exclusively non-kosher plants (see http://www.Meat.org), and our late-2004 investigation of Agriprocessors was our very first kosher investigation, in our 24 year history. Had Agriprocessors agreed, when we asked them in 2003, to allow Dr. Grandin to come in, we would never have investigated. Mr. Nathan Lewin’s condescending letter (available at http://www.goveg.com/feat/agriprocessors/) left us no choice but to investigate the whistleblower reports of cruelty in the plant.

    We blew the whistle on AgriProcessors, not because of concerns about the principles of shechitah, but because employees were shocking animals in the face with electric prods, ripping out their tracheas while they were still fully conscious, and dumping them in their own blood to die slow and painful deaths – some animals even struggled to their feet in agony over three minutes after they were dismembered. Dr. Temple Grandin, now recognized by Agriprocessors as an authority, called what we found “The worst thing [she] had ever seen,” declaring that AgriProcessors “is doing everything wrong they can do wrong.”

    It is a black eye for kosher certification that the Orthodox Union continues to declare that the kosher status at AgriProcessors was never in question. As long as that remains the OU’s stance, the kosher public will not be able to feel secure that the OU hechsher has anything at all to do with the strong Jewish tradition of kindness toward G-d’s other animals.

    Jewish law mandates that animals should be treated with compassion and respect. It is this principle that we need to defend, not those companies who so cruelly abuse animals.

    Sincerely,

    Bruce G. Friedrich
    Vice President for International Grassroots Campaigns
    PETA
    501 Front St.
    Norfolk, VA 23510

  • shilling? wow. talk about taking leaps and jumping to conclusions. I thought we were discussing a pointless boycott?
    And what is “fruminess” ?
    And What do German cars have to do with anything?
    Have you ever seen videos from any slaughterhouse in this country besides rubashkins?

  • Why is a boycott pointless in this case? This company won’t change their behavior if people resist shopping there until the company demonstrably changes its ways?

    Is there only one M in frumminess?

    Have you seen or eaten Wise Organic Pastures products?

  • TM, that company looks pretty intriguing. The only question I have is whether Lubavitchers or other Chasidim will buy from that (and I think that’s the major market for Rubashkin’s, unless someone wants to correct me on that). For one, it’s probably not at the local kosher market (and thus would necessitate Internet ordering). For another, while it looks to have the CHK certification, I’m not sure if it’s chassidishe shechita. Third, they may just buy Rubashkin’s anyways in an attempt to “rally round the family”.

  • The Mercedes example was meant to to illustrate that people VOTE with their spending dollars . Not purchasing certain products is a small yet effective way to make a statement of approval or disapproval.

    I could have used any example of a Company which people may or may not approve of the values of their founders. Most people are aware that Mercedes-Benz manufactured equipment which was used against the Jews during WWII. Likewise, Henry T. Ford was no Jew-lover.

    I’d be careful/skeptical before touting the virtues of ANY company, Jewish or Non-Jewish, including “Wise Organic Pastures” in any heavily regulated industry. For example, people used to think ENRON was run by ethical and responsible people.

    Re: Agri…this involved not just questionable methods of treating animals, it involved unethical treatment of employees in a country whose Labor Laws are very clear.

  • Joshua, Wise products are in most (all?) Whole Paycheck Foods stores. They list their slaughter house by name on their website and a cursory search didn’t bring up links to any negative press or materials about that company.

    I don’t know what Orthodox Jews will end up doing. As this post shows, some are serious about a boycott to change the way things are. I believe most don’t care because kashrut is the key priority for them and the OU has stood behind Rubashkin.

  • Bottom Line: the State and Federal Government and the Media are up their asses now, so they will have to come into compliance on all valid complaints against them within a set amount of time. If and when that happens, the boycott can and should end. It’s just a matter of spending alot of money and enforcing alot rules, (read: being responsible) then all is forgiven.

  • I meant to say, I’ve been boycotting it for 38 years. Not eating meat affects your memory — you can’t remember the last time you’ve sinned.

  • The RUBASHKINS have been in trouble for TOO LONG now with the government, back taxes, bringing in undocumented workers and paying them nothing so to pass THEIR expenses on to the tax payer here which is another task RUBASHKIN fails to do, PAY his taxes!

    He has an organized business running out of his plant including a meth lab!? He’s running an organized business in a kosher skaughterhouse THE NERVE!! Just goes to show you how corrupt our government truly is as it’s skanks like him along with all the politicians who take bribes from big corps and turn a blind eye that’s leading this country to its demise.

    This parasite has profited NICELY off what I call ‘blood money’ from the brutal suffering of his victims which he guarantees the consumer is humane kosher slaughter when it’s merely sadistic barbaric murder and all the profits go straight back to Israel!

    Once again a parasite feeding off us (the host) like the illegal aliens he hires and leaves destruction where ever he sets foot steps! I prey to God since he’s gone a stray from his religion that his next locale will be OUTTA this country, ride someone else’s coat tail for a while!

    Do you see how money talks and BS walks in this country? He’s paid/bribed quite a HEFTY gift to republican officials in IA in exchange for them to leave him alone inclufing the USDA in the mean time manufacturing drugs, the exploitation of children, cheap labor and WORST OF ALL the animals AND selling visas it’s documented it’s ALL documented including a video depicting barbaric ritual slaughter as it SURE in hell wasn’t humane kosher THAT’S for sure!!

    The problem here is Mexicans are about the ONLY ones WILLING to work in the Jungle as Spain and Mexico are HIGH on the list for animal abuse via their sports also. Raised to consider animals as merely a tool for entertainment and food, plain objectified! Many of ’em find amusement in inflicting pain onto them (bull fighting, horse rodeos, etc) all barbaric acts because of no morals or ethics and complete lack of respect and compassion, you can’t love a stick, can ya?

    They fit right in and will work CHEAP for their masters taking jobs form union workers of this country along with hurting competition just like Walmart has done (another parasite that needs to be boycotted)) yeap the illegal aliens gotta go too we can’t afford them we have enough debt!

    and you too RUBASHKIN your free ride is over time for you to make an exit! Pay up OR get the hell OUTTA here…

    The Exterminator has spoken ‘)

    That’s the problem with the GREEDY Corp world they are deceiving criminals and you’ll NEVER know what you’re REALLY getting, how it was processed OR its content unless you are there! I think ALL ritual/kosher slaughtering should be banned, it’s barbaric ad there’s NO place or time for it in today’s modern CORP world of MASS production/meat consumption… otherwise convert to vegetarianism for the assurance of no animal suffering/dirty meat/etc. simple as that
    The ONLY solution…CASE CLOSED

  • How can one trust the OU after giving its Hashgucha the whole time that these crimes were committed. If someone is so willing to break the laws of the Medinah then they can easily turn around and break the laws of Hashem. I proposed further look into the workings of the Orthodox Union, until then I boycott both the OU and Rubashkins.

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