Rabbis call for Rubashkin’s release


NEW YORK (JTA) — A coalition of rabbis called for the pre-sentencing release of a convicted kosher meat executive. 

The coalition of seven Orthodox rabbis, including representatives of the National Council of Young Israel and Agudath Israel of America, issued the call Tuesday in Washington on behalf of Sholom Rubashkin, the former manager of the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. The rabbis also delivered a signed letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking reconsideration of the case. 

Rubashkin was convicted in November on 86 counts of financial fraud and is being held in detention in Iowa pending sentencing. His bail request was denied. 

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president, said prosecutors had been "extraordinarily inflexible and harsh" in their treatment of Rubashkin, saying the calls for his release on bail are a "humanitarian issue."

Absent from the coalition was the Orthodox Union, the umbrella group whose kosher supervisory arm certified Agriprocessors. OU officials told JTA that they were asked to participate but, while they support the effort, have decided to pursue the matter quietly. 

"In our situation, we felt that we wanted to respond in a different fashion, but that doesn’t mean we don’t support the cause of having Sholom Rubashkin out of prison during the appeals process," OU President Stephen Savitsky said in a statement. "He has the same right to be free as anyone else does in this situation."

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