This week, Sholom Rubashkin, who was the vice-president of what was once the largest kosher meat processing supplier in the world, was sentenced to 27 years federal prison for "financial fraud." Prosecutors had asked for 25 years, and this is essentially a life sentence for Rubashkin, who is 51. However, a lot of other people, including a number of former U.S. attorneys general, called for leniency and are outraged by this sentence that was motivated more by politics and not by the law.
I will go against all of them. Sholom Rubashkin, in my view, does not need "leniency." He needs to be freed, period, for the man is not a criminal, which is more than I can say for the people who hounded and prosecuted him and destroyed his business, Glatt kosher Agriprocessors of Postville, Iowa. Let me begin.
Rubashkin is a Hasidic Jew, his family having fled the U.S.S.R. after the Nazi invasion. They came to the United States and set up a butcher shop in New York City. After marriage in 1989, he and his new bride moved to Atlanta on shlihut to do kiruv (Jewish outreach). That same year, Rubashkin’s father started a kosher meat processing business in Postville to better enable Jews living outside of main Jewish centers to be able to obtain kosher meat.
Before Glatt kosher Agriprocessors began to expand its business, Jewish families could only purchase kosher meat from small butchers and specialty stores that catered to Jews. This made things more difficult for Jewish families who did not leave near these kinds of stores, but by expanding the amount of kosher meat for sale, the firm was able to bring kosher meat to regular grocery stores, which was not a small development for jewish families.