It’s Our Turn to Help

The Rubashkin’s raid made big news earlier in the week, and we were angry. We were furious, filled with righteous indignation, ready to destroy the kosher meat industry, to throw out kashrut, to bash Orthodoxy until the last black hat disappeared from Iowa. But, now, it’s time to help. With hundreds of worker’s arrested, thousands of their family members are now in limbo. They have no money, no income, and no resources. They are frightened to apply for work, frightened to go shopping, and their kids aren’t going to school. Charities in Postville are pitching and do what they can to help these people, and unfortunately not-surprisingly, Agriprocessors isn’t helping out. I don’t often ask people to give tzedakah, and if I do, it’s a casual request. This is different. Anyone who has ever eaten kosher meat in this country has benefited from the hard, poorly compensated work these people have done, and now that they are in desperate need it is our turn to help.

Ari Hart, one of the leaders of Uri L’Tzedek, has been in contact with people on the ground, and he found this church, St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, which is working very hard with the families in town. However, the church’s resources are stretched thin, and they need donations.

Please, send money to:
St. Bridget’s Hispanic Fund
c/o Sister Mary McCauley
POB 369
Postville, IA 52162

Agriprocessors might be a large, unscrupulous company, but to these people, it represents one thing – Judaism. Please give. Please write a letter thanking them. Please let them know that you care.

25 Responses to “It’s Our Turn to Help”

  1. I’m Jewschool reader who has yet to comment however, as someone who can be classified as currently working on the ground I feel the need to speak-up without disclosing confidential information. Some financial support is needed however the majority of the families involved are working with immigration attorneys to help them obtain legal status. What most people do not know is that usually before and after an ICE raid, ICE notifies pre-selected immigration attorneys to help with the aftermath.

    In this case there are visas for agriculture employees that immigration attorneys are working hard to help these families obtain. I would say that couple of months majority of the employees will be back at work without any problems.

    Please remember the good old fashion media advice of don’t believe everything that you read, especially with the media’s tendency to over-dramatize human interest stories.


    lonib · May 15th, 2008 at 4:06 pm
  2. Call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern district in Cedar Rapids

    As of now, public defenders are telling detainees that it is in their best interest to plead guilty without consulting with an immigration attorney. The detainees are not informed that when they are not allowed to receive legal advise from an immigration attorney, the consequences this could have on any pending or future imigration relief could be huge!

    We have been asked by attorneys in the Waterloo detention center to ask everyone to call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern district in Cedar Rapids (319) 363-6333 and The Sioux City offices of Iowa’s government officials (712) 233-3900 and ask them to:

    “Allow detainees with criminal charges to first consult with an immigration attorney before they agree to any plea of guilt or agreement with their public defenders”

    This is urgent! Your help is much apprecitaed.

    Contact Numbers:

    * Senator Harkin (202) 224-3254
    * Senator Grassley (202) 224-3744
    * Representative Bruce Braley (202) 225-2911
    * Governor Culver (515) 281-5211


    Matt · May 15th, 2008 at 4:38 pm
  3. Great post, Josh. And Matt, thanks for chiming in.


    Ruby K · May 15th, 2008 at 11:12 pm
  4. Thanks for the post. This is definitely where my tzedaka is going this month.


    Chorus of Apes · May 15th, 2008 at 11:31 pm
  5. I find it interesting that you say that “unfortunately not-surprisingly Agriprocessors isn’t helping out…” First of all, how do you know this? just because it wasn’t reported?! whats with all the hatred? do you have any idea what the Rubashkin family did to that town economically? they have been very supportive of the town for all the years that I have been following them… $15,000 donation to the towns volunteer fire department… when I read the title of your post I thought you were asking ppl. to get up and go to Postville to help work to keep from a shortage = skyrocketing price -Me-


    Me · May 15th, 2008 at 11:38 pm
  6. I don’t get it.

    Rubashkin trinity of swindling brothers broke the law. The immigrants broke the law. Why on earth should I support them? They came in this country illegally. Many of them deal drugs and illegal firearms, there is no security nor heaalth screening. Instead of every illegal immigrant, there’s one American lying in the street in a pool of beer, getting free medicaid, welfare, unemployment, sec8 (or HUD), foodstamps, WIC, what not. Who pays for this? I do. Hospitals are going bankrupt, I have a big copay and can’t choose any doctor I want. Medicaid pays for full taxi fare even for very remot elocations even if you have a similar doctor in your area.

    It is also very dishonest IMHO to support a racist organization and the Catholic church, which is generally hated by the left. And no, the fact that someone is here illegally doesn;t justify treating them like you know what. But it certainly doesn’t justify treating me as such.

    Above commenter: Rubashkin brought economic disaster to the area. Don’t let your eyes be blinded with a few superficialities. The immigrants brought crime, disease, filth and ransacking the treasury. The only reason the population didn’t rise up is because they are corrupt too and live off uncle Sam (or uncle Joe, more precisely) and fear being labelled anti-semites. Interestingly, when David Brooks was arrested, the left-wing wasn’t so vocal about it.


    Yossi (Joe) Izrael · May 16th, 2008 at 7:20 am
  7. Me

    As I wrote in the post, my source is not the media, but a friend who is a social justice activist who has been working the phones constnatly for the pat two days trying to find out what’s going n there. He’s called the company, he’s called charities, he’s called the newspapers.

    And, yes, a supply shortage would result in high meat prices. As would paying minimum wage and benefits to meat industry workers. But, you know – myself, and you, can live without meat, or with epensive meat. Raising a family with less than minimum wage, or for that matter no income at all. well, that’s considerably tougher.

    That being said, if anyone wants to fly out to Iowa to work for 40 bucks a day so that I can have a nice roast this shabbos. Gezent te heit.


    Josh Frankel · May 16th, 2008 at 8:02 am
  8. I remain fascinated by the left’s love affair with illegal immigration. It might be that no human being is illegal, but actions they commit certainly are. Crossing the border with Mexico at night is not a form of civil disobedience against NAFTA, it’s not a protest against poverty, it is state policy of alleviating social tension in Mexico through the export of poor and uneducated people.

    Why would the left support this strategy? It’s an example of how long term interests absolutely collide with short term interests. Our long term interests are that every person working in this country be legal, able to organize, and willing to defend their rights. The undocumented are an army whose job is to keep wages low and make sure workers are too scared to defend themselves, lest they be replaced.

    If all undocumented workers in just one state were to disappear – say, in California – why the savings in water alone would make it worthwhile.

    (Because all those landscaping people working for sub-minimum wage would disappear, and only the truly rich would have people watering lawns for them.)

    The left should not only support a ‘living wage’ it should also do everything in it’s power to eliminate sub-minimum wage labor markets. Keeping those markets alive (by supporting illegal immigration) is more like supporting slavery than tzedakah.

    Prevent a man from fishing at slave wages, and you prevent him from being a slave fisherman for life. Slavery is not some kind of middle ground between justice and starvation.


    jew guevara · May 16th, 2008 at 8:39 am
  9. Yes, you are right, Josh. But you leave out a very important variable out out of the equation. Paying a respectable wage (I’d say in the $12-$14/HR range plus benefits) would probably lower prices, not inflate them. No, not immediately, and yes the “chain of command” is long. But once you get all of the dishonest, immoral “social” ( or welfare) services, it will be cheaper for everyone.

    Helping these former workers is like spitting in the ocean. There are millions more, and many of them in fact even more unfortunate than these workers, as they never had a job in the USA, and don’t get all of those benefits out of my pocket. Wouldn’t it be more moral -and isn’t it more urgent- to help those first?

    Add to this the dishonesty of the people who caused these employees to lose their jobs. So what’s worse now? Two wrongs don’t make a right.


    Yossi (Joe) Izrael · May 16th, 2008 at 8:40 am
  10. Sorry – end of 1st para should read “But once you get all of the dishonest, immoral “social” ( or welfare) services out of the way, it will be cheaper for everyone.

    And triple dittos for what “jew guevara” said. 100% agree.


    Yossi (Joe) Izrael · May 16th, 2008 at 8:46 am
  11. This whole situation makes me really sad. It highlights–among other things–how much our communities seem to view the world as us vs. them, Jews vs. non-Jews, that the rights of the employees don’t matter. And it’s a reminder of how little personal responsibility people take unless they absolutely have to.


    Alisha · May 16th, 2008 at 9:00 am
  12. So where does “the left’s love affair” end and “the right’s obsession” begin? The fact of the matter is, no matter how you think of The Brothers Rubashkin or immigrant workers in general, human beings with families have been affected by the raid.

    And bashing a charity for being associated with the “racist” Catholic Church is pretty low. Unless I see examples of this charity being discriminatory against non-Catholics or certain ethnic groups, that argument has no merit.


    B.BarNavi · May 16th, 2008 at 9:35 am
  13. Hey, if you don’t want to help out don’t. But get off your high horse when chastising others for pursuing justice, trying to help out innocents (yes, the children of these families ARE), and daring to uphold the dignity of all people.


    Matt · May 16th, 2008 at 10:16 am
  14. Hmm…looking at my comment again, it reads in a way that perhaps I didn’t intend. I meant to say that most people don’t personally interact with the employees at Rabushkin’s, so it’s sort of like the employees are a faceless “them”, and it’s difficult to consider the rights of a group or people if you see them in that way. As for personal responsibility, I was referring to consumers.


    Alisha · May 16th, 2008 at 10:47 am
  15. So how come when American citizens lose their jobs no one starts a charity?

    Second, it’s all balloney: they get LOTS of money in many different social benefits as I mentioned.

    Third, why help just them – how about the even poorer people being exploited in Mexico and all over the third world – they don’t get medicaid welfare sec 8 WIC foodstamps uneployment etc etc etc etc ad infinitum and ad nausem. (everyone with a SSN, real or fake, can get all these. Just ask the hassidic parasites, they’ll teach you how to make $120K with little work.) The charity went off my paycheck without asking me whether I want to give it or not.

    Good shabbos all.


    Yossi (Joe) Izrael · May 16th, 2008 at 11:30 am
  16. “So how come when American citizens lose their jobs no one starts a charity?”

    People do all the time. Just because YOU are not interested in helping fellow human beings doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t interested and don’t act.

    You mentioned that they get all kinds of social benefits. It’s possible, but you have no more proof than I do in saying they aren’t. Have you got names or something?

    YOU are getting the benefit of cheap kosher meat. Take some personal responsibility. Jews are committing illegal and immoral acts in the name of Kashrut and Judaism. This isn’t good any way you want to look at it.

    The argument about why helping ‘just them’ and not every other exploited person on the planet is false, and it’s not Jewish custom. We’re all expected to help out to the best we can, even if we can’t personally help everyone.


    Matt · May 16th, 2008 at 11:40 am
  17. i keep reading all these posts about who was wrong and who should be blamed, and a whole lot of other intellectual self righteous mumbo jumbo. Who cares who’s to blame and who is relaly at fault and who is taking advantage of who? we can spend our time on that when there is not an immediate crisis. when people who do not know english, who do not have connections or anyone to fall back on are in trouble you help. You ask questions and over-analyze all the political social repercussions and inconsistencies later. I cant understand any argument made against helping people feel safe and secure when they need it. no questions asked.


    rebeccah · May 16th, 2008 at 1:43 pm
  18. “Take some personal responsibility. Jews are committing illegal and immoral acts in the name of Kashrut and Judaism. This isn’t good any way you want to look at it.”

    DINGDINGDING!


    Ruby K · May 16th, 2008 at 1:47 pm
  19. As a Jew who grew up in Iowa, I’m sending a check (and telling other Iowan Jews I know to do so as well). I’m not doing it to support illegal immigration or because I feel like the families of these folks are necessarily more needy than any number of other families around the world.

    I’m doing it because a group of Jews (who are very visibly Jewish) chose to exploit these people for profit. While the illegal immigrants may have broken the law, it is employers like Agriprocessors that create the incentives for illegal immigrants to break the law and (more importantly) take unfair advantage of their illegal status. And that’s not a very Jewish thing to do.

    As Josh said in his appeal: Agriprocessors might be a large, unscrupulous company, but to these people, it represents one thing – Judaism.

    I’m interested in making it clear to the people whose lives were adversely affected that the bad behavior of this company has nothing to do with who Jews are or what we as a people stand for. And a little tzedakah (even if it’s not that much) sends a very powerful message in that regard.

    As for any concern about the charity being Catholic, in my experience local Catholic charities (at least the ones I’ve been exposed to in Iowa) do some of the best social work there is. While I often disagree with the Pope’s politics, I’ve come into contact with Iowa nuns on a number of occasions and have been blown away by their dedication to, and compassion for, the people they help. I’m pretty confident that if you send money to this fund with a letter about wanting to help the people who were victimized by Agriprocessors, your money will be put to good use.


    themicah · May 16th, 2008 at 2:18 pm
  20. To the Amnesty folks: Rubashkin is fulfilling the dreams of the illegals who broke into our country to make money. They are not slaves and work because they desire to.

    I am torn, personally. Because on one hand I am disgusted by the bad press, dirty tricks and bias constantly bestowed upon Agri.
    Still I am glad that ICE is doing this and sending a message to companies and illegals that this will not be tolerated.


    Merliner · May 16th, 2008 at 2:57 pm
  21. I have been to Postville twice and will be there again next week. Yes, Agri has done some good for Postville. It is an economic engine driving the economy of the entire northeast corner of Iowa with sales of approx $85+Million. But the amount they spend on good and welfare is a pittance compared to what they take out of peoplpes pockets.
    Example, Agri charges its own workers $2.00 per pay period for a company required clean smock. No on else in this industry – to my knowledge – does this. During the height of the sweatshop movement in the US manufacturers used to charge the Jewish women and girls who sewed the clothes for the needles they used. Same idea different century. How much does Agri make with this little scheme? About $40,000 a year. So $15,000 taken from workers was given back to the fire department. Az ma? Where did the rest go? Probably as tzedaka to Chabad.
    The real issue here is the fact that ICE picked up 18 children working in the plant during the raid from age 13 to age 17.
    Can we really call meat and or poultry produced by children kosher?
    Or how about the Rabbi who provides a hechsher for Rubashkin who is legally blind. He brings his boxes of plumba’s (metal wing tags) to the office, drops them on the conference room table, picks up a check and walks out. He hasn’t stepped foot in the plant in years. He couldn’t see what was happening if he wanted to. But Rubashkin is such a saint — look at the mitzvah he is doing providing this guy w a parnasah.
    And this we call kosher?
    And now we learn from the ICE affidavit that there was a meth lab operating inside the plant!
    Such saints these Rubashkins.
    If you haven’t read the ICE affidavit I suggest you do so. People at this plant have been involved in everything from drugs, bribery, subborning public officials (school counselor), you name it.
    Such saints.
    And who takes the fall? The poor undocumented workers who were told in newspaper ads in Guatemala and Mexico paid for by Rubashkin that “good jobs” were waiting for them in Postville.
    Such saints.
    I’ve been to Saint Bridget’s several times. They are wonderful folks and the more we can help them the better. Problem is once ICE picks these people up there is little we can do. But I will donate to the church when I get there.


    state of the Jews · May 16th, 2008 at 3:24 pm
  22. @ Yossi (Joe) Israel: ” Rubashkin brought economic disaster to the area” How can you just throw such a blanket statement out like that? have you any idea of what your talking about?! when the Rubashkins came to Iowa in the 80s they purchased the run down Hygrade factory and turned it in to a workplace that supports the local population tremendously. did you know that cattle prices fell today in iowa because Agri wasn’t buying! local farmers earn a lot of their livelihood from crops and cattle that they grow…in what way did they causeEconomic Disaster?! -Me-


    Me · May 16th, 2008 at 5:21 pm
  23. RE a few comments here:

    - Racism: the Catholic church is known to be harboring illegal immigrants because their churches are empty and they need to suck the money from somewhere. The Hispanic groups are by and large racists and in alliance with the Catholic churches. Not all, of course. But many do.

    - “Riding a high horse”. I am not riding a high horse. over 20% of my paycheck is being robbed before I see it. The roads I use to make that money are broken. My school district refuses to give anything for my daughter with special needs, yet illegal immigrants get ALL the services they ask for, even when they clearly don’t need it. I have personally verified and looked into this. Blacks and HIspanics are systematically being treated better than others, and orthodox Jews are systematically discriminated against. (it’s not bc racism per se but bc there is a big feud b/w the school district and many ortho orgs. But they still have no right to take out their anger on TAXPAYING individuals.

    - illegal immigrants cost BILLIONS of dollars to taxpayers. LA county alone in 2006 (that’s ONE county and ONE year!) spent $216M only on illegals.

    - The anti-orthodox left waged a legthy campaign against Rubashkin. (FTR: I don’t eat rubashkin, I don’t like habadskers and am against hassidim.) They used many pretexts, workers’ rights among them – now they ask ME to fix the problem they created? &#%@ ‘em all. You broke it you own it. I already pay for them with my taxes.

    The only thing I agree with is the chilul hashem factor. That is not solved by gigng charity to people but by trying to prevent Jewish employers from employing illegal immigrants and doing bad things. Interestingly enough, when David Brooks was arrested this author didn’t scream bloody murder. Why? bc Brooks is not orthodox.

    - “Still I am glad that ICE is doing this and sending a message to companies and illegals that this will not be tolerated.” It’s all a charade my friend. All meat packers and plants that rely on manual labor do this. The ICE is just a show to fool the people into thinking our corrupt politicians actually do something. If they were serious, the border would be sealed first, free-for-all “social services” withdrawn from the public, forcing the lazy Americans and hassidim to take jobs, and deporting anyone here illegally. SImple and effective. 30 years ago you could make a decent living here mopping floors or stocking shelves in ShopRite. Today every moron gets a BS degree in moronology, and waits ’till he gets a million bucks job. But in the meantime they collect every imaginable benefit under the sun, and illegals do jobs college students should.

    Of course, anyone insisting can throw their money at the problem. Go cure colon cancer with a band-aid, and make yourself look reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal compassionate.

    - to “me”: there is a book entitled “Postville: A Clash Of Cultures In Heartland America” by Stephen G. Bloom. It detailed the impact of Rubashkin on the area. It’s not all rosy as you pretend. Come back to me when you’re done reading it.


    Yossi (Joe) Izrael · May 18th, 2008 at 8:03 am
  24. [...] our call for donations, St. Bridget’s has received approximately forty thousand dollars. That’s real money. [...]


    Jewschool » Blog Archive » Rubashkin’s: Update and Next Steps · May 22nd, 2008 at 9:29 am
  25. B”H

    Bloom’s book about POstville is completely dishonest and anyone who has spent any time there can attest to that. Even the cover photo is a deliberate lie- he set out to show a divide between the Jews, mostly Chabad, in Postville and the non-Jews there- but guess what? the Jews in the photo are not Chabad, the picture is really 2 photos spliced together, and neither were taken in Postville. Why? because an honest picture of the town would show the Jews and non-Jews getting along. and Bloom wants to believe that Hassidim an’t get along with anyone else and do no good at all in this world. and he wants you to believe that.

    BTW- I spoke recently to my (reform) rabbi back home in Iowa and so far, the Iowa community as a whole, including the supposedly racist nuns certain posts kvetched about, is not reacting with Anti-Semitism. They are disgusted by Rubashkin, but not by Jews in general.


    chana · May 26th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

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