For two days in a row, the New York Times has run
articles exposing the dishonorable and enslaving working conditions of
a meat processor in Postville, Iowa. These labor practices are
positively hair-raising. The company that owns the plant is called
Agriprocessors, Inc., a family business that "dominate(s) the nation's
market for kosher meat and poultry" under the names of "Aaron's Best"
and "Rubashkin's." This is not the first we have heard of these
There are many rules and regulations to abide by to certify the
"kashrut" of any meat and poultry. A full-time "mashgiach" (basically
a judge) is employed to testify that the workers have met these picky
standards. But none of the standards seem to apply to how labor is
treated. So you can't beat a cow. But you can beat a person.
The ultra-orthodox men (no women allowed because they may be "unclean"
which means going through their "period") who usually oversee these
arrangements are typically self-righteous and haughty. (Sorry for the
generalization. But it's true.) As today's Times story points out,
Jewish leaders are calling for revisions to kosher food standards that
supposedly would extend explicit controls to the treatment of labor.
This is bound to be a long and intricate process. So, in the
meantime, the rabbinical guardians of kashrut should rule that meat
which is declared kosher should have been prepared for slaughter by
people who have themselves been treated humanely. And everyone knows
what that is, except the Rubashkin's and their enablers.