Report: Rubashkin Draws a Loyal Following, Closing Arguments to Begin Tomorrow


rubashkinThe following is from a report by Grant Schulte in the Des Moines Register: Sholom Rubashkin awakens early in his downtown Sioux Falls motel, prays at 6:45 a.m., chats with his lawyers and heads four blocks south for the legal fight of his life.

Behind him, in a wood-paneled federal courtroom, throngs of Orthodox Jews with beards and skullcaps gather to watch his trial.

The unusual scene has repeated itself for almost a month now, as Agriprocessors Inc.’s former vice president stands trial on 91 financial fraud charges.

Supporters have come to Sioux Falls, S.D. – a quiet Midwestern city of about 142,400, with one synagogue listed in its phone book – from Australia, England, New York and other Midwestern cities. The stream of well-wishers has filled hotel rooms and turned heads on the street.

The supporters mostly keep to themselves, praying every morning. Many have brought their own kosher food from New York, Minneapolis and other locales to adhere to their strict religious diet.

“It is a sacrifice,” said Shmuel Raices, a rabbinical student from New York. “This is a very busy time for me. But you know what? Sholom would do this for me in a second.”

Rubashkin’s son, Getzel, 25, said his father has earned the support through years of charity work and other good deeds. The Orthodox Jewish community has followed the case closely, he said.

“All these people feel that supporting him is worth the trip to Sioux Falls,” the younger Rubashkin said. “My father is loved and respected by many people, only a minute percentage of whom have been physically able to attend the trial.”

Rubashkin, 50,  faces a maximum 1,280-year prison sentence if convicted of all counts. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin tomorrow.

A second federal trial for Rubashkin on 72 immigration charges is set to begin in Sioux Falls in December.

Federal immigration agents raided Agriprocessors in May 2008 in an unprecedented crackdown that destabilized the local economy.

The raid, code-named “Operation Cedar Valley Junction,” was based on evidence and tips – yet to be proven – collected over two years.

Some supporters expressed anger at what they view as an unfair crackdown on Rubashkin and the plant he managed for years. Orthodox Jewish supporters point to the industry practice of hiring immigrant workers and ask why Agriprocessors was targeted.

“This is a witch hunt,” said David Moskovitz, an Orthodox Jew from Chicago. “And you can quote me.”

The supporters range in age from teenagers to men with white beards hanging over their chests. They squeeze into rows of wooden courtroom benches, muttering prayers and listening to testimony. Some sway back and forth – “shuckling” in Yiddish – while reading psalms.

At one point during testimony, U.S. District Judge Linda Reade admonished one supporter for sleeping in the courtroom. Reade warned the group again Thursday when a few spoke out loud during Rubashkin’s turn on the witness stand.

Rubashkin has embraced supporters during down time at the courthouse. One well-wisher from Chicago was talking to a reporter from The Des Moines Register during a break last week when Rubashkin walked up, patted the man’s back, grinned, and looked at the reporter.

“This is a good man,” Rubashkin said, then turned and walked off.

Please continue to daven for Shalom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivkah.

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{Des Moines Register/ Newscenter}


  1. May H’KBH see that Shalom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivkah is free on all counts and is a free man to be his with his wonderful family to do chesed and the avodah of Hashem.