Judaism Jews Worry As Slaughterhouse Chief Faces Jail Time

Tejwant Singh

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Jews Worry As Slaughterhouse Chief Faces Jail Time

Jews Worry As Slaughterhouse Chief Faces Jail Time

As Sholom Rubashkin sits in an Iowa jail awaiting a possible life sentence on fraud charges related to his now-defunct kosher meat business, his ultra-Orthodox Jewish support base has ramped up protests over his case.

Through an online petition, media outreach, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, some rabbis have called it a "sacred obligation" for Jews to contact the Justice Department before Rubashkin's April 28 sentencing.

While their grassroots efforts stop short of claiming anti-Semitism against the former CEO of Agriprocessors--the Postville, Iowa plant where a 2008 government raid found hundreds of undocumented workers--they believe some discrimination has occurred.

The now infamous raid led to a financial investigation and Rubashkin's conviction last November on 86 counts of money laundering and mail, wire and bank fraud charges. Prosecutors later dropped the immigrant labor charges; Rubashkin and several former Agriprocessors managers still face misdemeanor state charges of child labor violations.

"He looks different, and he's being treated differently," argues Rabbi Menachem M. Katz, of the Aleph Institute, a nonprofit organization that serves Jewish inmates. "No one called him a dirty Jew or painted a swastika anywhere, but he's an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jew dealing with the justice system in a place that doesn't have Jews, in a jury pool that doesn't have Jews, in a state with very, very few Jewish residents."

The "Justice for Sholom" Web site (Equal and Fair Justice for Sholom Rubashkin) lists eight major complaints, ranging from how the government conducted the raid to the denial of Rubashkin's request to spend Passover under house arrest while awaiting sentencing.
 
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