Let our meat producer go

Shmuley Boteach, writing in the Jerusalem Post, wants to know why Sholom Rubashkin is languishing in an Iowa jail while Bernard Madoff gets to confined to his Park Avenue pad. Both men are accused of serious crimes, but a federal judge ruled that Rubashkin, by virtue of Israel’s Law of Return, is a flight risk and ordered him detained. Where is the Jewish outrage, Botech wonders:

It is possible that there are uncharitable motives behind the absence of any Jewish outrage to a ruling with potentially devastating consequences to our community’s basic rights. Until he imploded, Bernie Madoff was in a business Jews consider sophisticated and noble, finance. He was a secular Jew who made good on Wall Street and even brought the community pride by becoming chairman of Nasdaq. Rubashkin, by contrast, was essentially a glorified shochet and butcher, the country’s largest producer of kosher meat. Rubashkin’s beard and black hat were enough to unnerve many Jews. But that his missteps at Agriprocessors highlighted what others consider the unsavory sight of Jewish ritual slaughter all but guaranteed Rubashkin’s total abandonment at the hands of American Jewry.

This explains why, in sharp contrast to what is developing in the kosher meat industry, there has been no move afoot to establish something akin to "Hechsher Tzedek," a rabbinic certificate of ethical excellence, for financial institutions. After all, how is it that when so many of the people going to jail on Wall Street turn out to be Jewish, the Modern Orthodox and Conservative movements have not immediately launched a campaign, as they are doing with kosher meat, to evaluate firms that invest Jewish money to ensure that they conform to the highest ethical norms in terms of treatment of employees and overcompensation of dead-beat executives?

Why is it that only kosher meat is being singled out as being in need of ethical reform? I suggest it is because the Jewish community has an obvious sense of discomfort with ritual observances that the non-Jewish world finds confusing or distasteful rather than the Jewish money machine which, when it works soundly, everyone rather enjoys.

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