Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi YY Schochet


Dear Rabbi

I was absolutely amazed and disappointed and dismayed that you wrote a whole page in praise of S. Rubashkin in last week’s Jewish Weekly. What he did was a Chilul Hashem and what you are doing is defending a man who treated his fellow men and the country he lived in with distain. Having received a pardon he should have gone to shul, benched Gomel and gone home. His sentence may have been harsh but that is no reason for him to treated as either a hero or a martyr. I have always enjoyed and appreciated reading your column but after last week s page of praise for an unrepentant criminal who has caused endless damage to the reputation of our community which all over the world has maintained the good reputation of kosher meat production and all that that entails. , it will take me a little while to restore my 81 year old faith in your beliefs as espoused in your column.

Yours very sorrowfully,


Dear Frank

I was absolutely amazed and disappointed and dismayed that you wrote such a lengthy letter attacking S. Rubashkin, insisting he committed a Chilul Hashem without being aware of the hard facts. I thought I made it quite clear in my “whole page” column but since it was clearly lost on you let me reiterate the two keywords: “Prosecutorial Misconduct.” In jurisprudence, prosecutorial misconduct is “an illegal act or failing to act, on the part of a prosecutor, especially an attempt to sway the jury to wrongly convict a defendant…” Those two words are the choice words of Alan Dershowitz – one of America’s most prominent lawyers, who wasn’t being paid and had no bone to pick in this matter. He called it as he saw it. You say it was a “chilul Hashem.” To give context to that statement, consider the vast amount of non-Jews, including Christians and others who collectively cried foul on this case. 

Here’s but a smidgen of insight to understand why an unprecedented, bipartisan diverse group of people were pursuing justice in this case: 

Everyone likes to cite how on May 12, 2008 the Federal government conducted the largest immigration raid in American history at Agriprocessors. The raid included Black Hawk helicopters and was covered extensively nationally. In the end, the government didn’t have a single significant conviction. Rubashkin was charged with 9,311 counts of Iowa child labour law violations. Ultimately a jury acquitted him on all charges. 

The prosecutors knowingly put on perjured testimony in court by denying that the prosecutors wrongfully interfered in the sale of Agriprocessors.

Evidence was found through Freedom of Information efforts that proved the judge, Linda Reade, had colluded with the prosecutors ex-parte, without the knowledge of the defendant or his attorneys, in preparing and planning the case. She should have been recused from the case. 

The government charged Rubashkin with violating the Packers and Stockyard Act, a law passed in 1921 requiring buyers to pay cattle sellers in full within 48 hours of the sale. Rubashkin was the first person in American history to be charged with this crime, though he at most had only been 11 days late in paying his bills.  

This and more is all documented and substantiated fact which is why every living Attorney General weighed in, again, unprecedented in American history. This wasn’t just about harsh sentencing. This was about a very questionable conviction in the first instance with clear evidence pointing to the blatant attempt to hang someone out to dry.

Now let’s get to the rub: S. Rubashkin has been speaking in various parts of America and elsewhere with no one airing concerns, mostly because they are familiar with the deeper facts of the case. Moreover, he is not being hailed a hero and has a powerful message to communicate that has inspired audiences across the world. Anglo-Jewry true to its narrow-minded mean-spirited style decided to act as judge and jury, oblivious to the details and simply opted to issue a boycott, make headlines and just simply embarrass themselves in the eyes of the wider Jewish world. 

For me the most telling part is the fact that one so-called UK Rabbi decided to be the voice of supposed moral calling, advocating for the ban on Rubashkin. He even went so far as to sign a petition calling for the ban. The media cited both the rabbi and the petition. I did my homework. The individual who launched the petition is a fictitious character. Setting up the petition about Rubashkin being a fraudster with a fraudulent name is just ironic. It says everything about those who initiated, signed and cited the petition. Corbyn says that we Jews don’t understand irony. In this instance, he might be right. 

 As for you Frank, I greatly respect a man of your age and experience. I am however a little surprised that you didn’t embrace the rabbinic dictum: “Don’t judge another until you are in their stead.” It’s easy to shoot from the hip but we always need to be better informed before passing judgement. That wasn’t the case in the Rubaskin trial. We ought not be guilty of the same.