Hershey Friedman: Rubashkins Won’t Run Meat Plant But May Work There


hershey-friedmanHershey Friedman of Montreal, who is poised to buy the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, vowed on Erev Shabbos that the former owners would have no roles in ownership or in upper management. Mr. Friedman said that a few members of the Rubashkin family might continue to work at the Postville plant, but he said they would not be investors, and they would have no say in the plant’s direction. “They are not part of it, and they never will be part of it,” he said.

The Rubashkin family built the Postville business into the nation’s leading kosher-meat supplier before seeing it collapse into bankruptcy last year. Reb Shslom Mordechai Rubashkin, who used to run the plant, faces federal and state criminal charges for allegedly using illegal immigrants as workers. Gedolim have come out in support of raising funds to assist Reb Shalom Mordechai.

Friedman had been quiet since his name surfaced a few weeks ago as a likely buyer of the plant. But he recently said that the Rubashkins are “wonderful people” who were “victims of a massive witch hunt.”

In a phone interview with The Des Moines Register , he said he was only referring to some of the Rubashkins. “It’s a very large family,” he said. “There are nice people in it and not-nice people.”

Matzav.com has been working on clarifying exactly what Mr. Friedman had in mind.

Mr. Friedman said the new company would be a positive member of the Postville community, supporting both Jewish and non-Jewish causes. He declined to comment on how it would be different from the old company. “Whatever it was before is not relevant to me,” he said.

Mr. Friedman said he did not previously know the Rubashkins, who are based in Brooklyn. He acknowledged that Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin’s brother Heshy has continued to work at the plant, but he said Heshy no longer is in upper management and never will be again. He said a couple of younger members of the family might continue to work in low-level jobs.

Mr. Friedman said he plans to continue using plant managers brought in by the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, and he might also hire new executives from outside. He said he does not plan to move to Iowa, but he would visit regularly.

Mr. Friedman declined to discuss his other businesses, which include a plastics plant. He said he decided to buy Agriprocessors because he wants to help Jewish families obtain affordable kosher food.

The sale was expected to go through this past week, but it was held up by technical issues in bankruptcy court in Cedar Rapids. Mr. Friedman said those issues should be cleared up quickly, and his company could take possession of the plant as soon as tomorrow Monday. He said he plans to rebuild production as quickly as possible, including the resumption of beef processing. That would be good news for northeast-Iowa cattle farmers, who used to sell their livestock to Agriprocessors.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter/Des Moines Register}