Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Rubashkin's Raid and the Reform Jew

First, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can get up to speed by reading the details of the raid at the the Heksher Tzedek blog.

I've kept an eye on Rubashkin's ever since reading Postville. The latest is just another event in a long string of issues that have included kashrut violations (caught on tape by PETA) and food safety violations.

But I'm Reform, and I don't seek a Heksher on my meat. As long as it comes from a healthy animal, killed under controlled circumstances for human consumption in a manner that ensures rapid brain death, I'm fine. So why should I care about what happens in Postville? They're not part of my food stream, so what's my dog in this fight?

It's simple - what is happening there is a chillul haShem, a desecration of the divine name. When Jews are seen to be exploiting workers for profit, or breaking rules of the land, it often has implications for all of us, it can feed stereotypes that lead to problems. Moreover, despite the fact that I do not require a heksher on my meat there are other Reform Jews who do - after all, Reform theology, taken at its word, admits of a very wide scope of praxis. Finally, for the sake of klal Yisrael, the Jewish community as a whole, it is incumbent on me to do what I can to ensure that the Jew who does keep heksher-kosher has the freedom to do so. The chillul haShem in Postville has the capacity to endanger this freedom by creating the impression that kosher slaughter is linked with cruelty or corrupt business practices.

These are the stakes that a Reform Jew, regardless of whether or not he seeks a heksher, has in this issue.

To those ends I support Rabbi Allen's efforts with respect to making heksher tzedek into a reality.

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