Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kosher for the Goyim

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld has an op-ed at the NYT about a scandal in America's largest kosher meat-packing factory.

The substance of the story isn't that surprising. The people running the factory, catering to a reliegious clientele and probably orthodox Jews themselves, should be expected to have high ethical standards, yet it appears they don't. The leaders of the community can be expected to be the public guardians of these ethical standards, yet faced with the scandal, they're either trying to fix it behind the scenes or they're not even doing that; their public stance, in any case, leaves much to lament, if Herzfeld's depiction is accurate. I wouldn't know: this is the first I've heard of the matter.

And there-in lies the true tale. The willingness of an orthodox rabbi to air grievances from inside the community in the most important newspaper in the land bespeaks a level of comfort, of being at home, of self-confidence in his identity as an orthodox Jew who is fully a part of American society as such, not in spite of it. These all really are taken for granted in the United States, to the extent that some of you will be wondering what this post is even about. A situation inconceivable for thousands of years is, quite simply, boringly banal.


Michael P. said...

This has been a HUGE issue in the American Jewish community during the past few months. The leading muckraker is the blog Failed Messiah. Look at any recent issue of the Jewish Week or the Forward for articles. Maybe now people will realize what prize is being paid by human beings for their kosher meat (not that it is any different than the non-kosher meat industry).

Anonymous said...


In Kansas. The plant was one of those driven to dispair by a loss of business; and these schnooks came in.

Perhaps, in Kansas, they didn't know the attitude of the super-duper religious; where they care not a whit for those who aren't.

And, then the FEDS have snapped their teeth on this.

You think it's only the uber-religious that get to see "what's in play?" There will be kosher meals served in prisons, soon ... If these stinkers can't find a ticket to Israel. Where you're more than welcome in having them.

Sunshine brings the bleach.

Turns night into day.

And, leaves me very hopeful.

At least this scourge can't spread elsewhere. Nipped by the FBI. And, there's not just legal muscle at play; there's real contempt for the criminals that got caught.

Lydia McGrew said...

So, yes, I sort of am wondering what's so remarkable about his level of comfort to criticize his own community in the _Times_. Is the idea that if Jews didn't feel fully at home in America, they would bunch together and keep their internal disagreements from the light of day for fear of drawing unwanted attention to themselves?

Ain't America wonderful? :-)