It was announced last week that Agriprocessors is to hold an “urgent public meeting” on Tuesday in New York City. The meeting will be held at 4:45 at Bnai Zion on East 39th Street and will feature presentations by Orthodox superlawyer Nat Lewin, company spokesperson Menachem Lubinsky, and Rabbi Menachem Weissmandel, the Postville plant’s chief kosher supervisor. Also on the bill are unnamed Postville community activists and kosher industry leaders. According to the invitation, the event will be a chance to “learn the TRUTH about Agriprocessors” (emphasis in the original) and to learn “what can be done to stop the slander and vilifications against Agriprocessors.” Those wishing to attend are instructed to RSVP to Lubinsky’s firm, Lubicom.
But here’s the catch – late Friday we learned from Lubinsky that press will not be admitted. When asked, he declined to tell us why. The truth will apparently only be shared with invited guests.
The Tuesday meeting comes, as the Forward noted last week, as the company appears to be gearing up for a big public relations push. They have retained the services of PR powerhouse 5WPR (after being turned down as a client by another prominent firm), and they have lately been uncharacteristically quick in responding to the media. Lubinsky e-mailed me a statement last week responding to allegations related to the company’s decision to hire homeless workers from Texas – before I even asked him for one.
But the company and kosher supervision agencies also seem intent on closely controlling the message that they are putting out to the Jewish community. Last week, we blogged about Rabbi Seth Mandel, the OU’s head of kosher supervision. Mandel met in Hartford recently with a group of rabbis and insisted that the contents of the meeting remain private. He later sent a lengthy e-mail explaining his view of the situation, and when we asked him about it, he said the e-mail was private and should not be reported (you can read the e-mail here).
Who was it who said the truth will you set you free? Oh, right.