Menu JTA Search

“racketeering War” Leads to Arrest of Yeshiva Dean; Police Apologize; Dismiss Charges

The bombing of the Danches Poultry Market in a racketeering war against kosher butcher shops, last week, led to the arrest of Rabbi Yehuda H. Levenberg, Dean of the Cleveland Yeshiva.

Rabbi Levenberg was arrested at three A. M. and held in custody all day before he was released.

The arrest of the rabbi led to a mass meeting of protest attended by 2,500 people and resulted in an apology from the Director of Public Safety, Frank J. Merrick.

Director Merrick declared, “There has been evidence of racketeering among kosher meat dealers. The police are doing everything in their power to break it up. After the bombing of the Danches place we had to work fast on any tips we could get. The police did not mean to insult the rabbi and we are sorry to have caused any unpleasantness. If we seemed to have acted too hastily, it was because of the emergency.”

The charges against Rabbi Levenberg were dismissed by the police. The Federation of Orthodox Congregations maintains that the incident arose during Rabbi Levenberg’s exercise of his duties in the interests of Kashruth and had no connection with the racketeering that has been prevailing.

According to Nathan Schoenfeld, secretary of the Federation of Orthodox Congregations, the trouble started over the fact that various complaints were coming to the rabbis that meat was not being prepared in the kosher manner in many of the kosher shops.

In some shops, it was said, proprietors were charging the “Schochtim fee” after killing chickens themselves and in some instances hiring colored help for the killing.

In agreement with the Association of Shochtim, a committee of rabbis succeeded in righting the condition except in the case of the Danches poultry market, Schoenfeld said.

Police questioned the rabbi after Danches, proprietor of the shop, reported that the rabbi had called on him the week before demanding that the fowl be killed by a registered Shochet. The rabbi was later released by the police.

According to Edward Schweid, legal counsel for the rabbi, the recently organized Federation of Orthodox Congregations have requested jurisdiction of kosher meat shops by the city government. An ordinance has been drawn up by the federation which will soon be presented before the city council urging the issuing of “kosher shop licenses” and strict supervision under a commission of rabbis appointed by the mayor. The ordinance proposes enforcement of the tax, voluntarily recommended by the Shochtim organization of the city, of two cents on each chicken killed, merely to provide for the expenses of the supervisors. The ordinance, Mr. Schweid stated, will reenforce the state law prohibiting the selling of non-kosher meat as kosher which has never been enforced. It will follow the state law and will be made more workable in curbing the “Kosher meat racket.”

Further investigation is being made of the alleged racketeer “Independent Meat Organization” that has been demanding tribute of many local butchers, and in some instances breaking windows, and throwing stench bombs to enforce their demand.

The bombing of the Danches market is believed to have been instigated by competitive poultry shops that have been resenting against the Danches cut rate price of 5 cents for the killing of chickens instead of 10 cents, the regulation fee.

NEXT STORY