January 8, 2018

The Release of Rubashkin

It seemed surreal to watch the euphoria in many communities in the hours after the commutation of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin’s 27-year sentence by President Donald Trump. The community, and a host of legal, political and business leaders, rightfully felt that Mr. Rubashkin was the victim of an unjust and disproportionate sentence. The scenes of a smiling Sholom Mordechai brought joy to my heart as well. I recalled having organized a delegation of rabbis and community leaders in 2008 to see for ourselves the “cruelty and depraved conditions” at the Agriprocessor plant. What we found instead was a good example of what President Trump would call “fake news.” We saw a pristine plant with happy employees, a well-managed operation, animals being treated humanely, and all part of the Postville community (both Jewish and non-Jewish) with an abundance of benevolence, charity, caring and concern for a fellow human being.

The highly-publicized immigration raid turned out to be one of the last large-scale raids anywhere in the country. Rubashkin was never indicted on the immigration charges, albeit that the country as a whole had no real policy on immigration. The judge clearly colluded with prosecution and on and on. That is why the smile on Rubashkin’s face is so telling and so heartwarming. He lost eight years of his life, his business, his mentoring his large family, his emotional ties with an autistic child and the ability to help people in need. Welcome back Sholom Mordechai!