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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rabbi Ari Weiss Speaks about Uri L'Tzedek

We were privileged to have Rabbi Ari Weiss, the Director of Uri L'Tzedek, the orthodox social action organization, speak at the shul this past Shabbos. He discussed the work the Uri L'Tzedek is doing such as the Tav Yosher, the certificate that confirms that a particular business treats it employees in an ethical fashion, and how people in general can get involved. This was all interesting enough, but what was fascinating was a discussion that developed about the case against Sholom Rubashkin (the kosher meat producer in Postville, Iowa, who was convicted for many counts of abusing his often undocumented and underage workers). Without naming the parties several important questions were raised: 1) Was the Rubashkin case an example of being singled out (because he is a Jew) or was he one of a number of investigations that the government was conducting of meat producing industry, 2) Rubashkin himself is apparent a big baal tzedekah (a generous donor to Jewish charities). Should the Jewish community support him in his case account and because he is one of ours? Let me add that the person who asked this question is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. One of the ways that the Nazis and other antisemites thoughout history have done their evil deeds was by having Jews turn against fellow Jews. So Jewish solidarity has to be an important value, but are there not other important values which may trump this one? It is a question worthy of ongoing consideration. We are grateful to Rabbi Weiss for bringing these issues to our attention and encouraging us to think about them.

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