Video, Photos: Sholom Across America


sholom-across-americaBy M. Lowinger

[Video and photos below.] Meir Simcha Rubashkin is a man on a mission. He is also a man who does not rest. When I speak to him, he has just returned from a whirlwind trip to Australia dedicated to promoting his cause. Instead of sitting back and basking in the glow of that successful endeavor, he is already on his way upstate to the Catskill Mountains. Although he must be exhausted, he sounds incredibly upbeat. He will not stop moving, it seems, until he spreads his message of hope and achdus across the country and around the world.

In their continuous efforts to assist their father in his fight for justice, the Rubashkin family has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Sholom Across America is their latest venture, spearheaded by Meir Simcha and dedicated to educating our community about their father’s plight.

Meir Simcha is nothing if not ambitious. “We will be visiting,” he says, “every city that has a major Jewish population. Our goal is to both educate people and to raise funds. The underlying principle is to reach out to as many people as possible. The ultimate purpose is to unite us all in this common goal.”

The way Meir Simcha sees it, the Jewish community at large is sympathetic to their cause and is even passionate about helping out. But many people are not well informed about the details of the story and are only vaguely aware of the consistent and shocking injustices that have been meted out in this particular case.

“That’s why,” he says, “we put together a DVD which goes through the whole story in relative detail from the infamous raid until today.”

The DVD includes all the facts from the indictments to the court records to the reaction of some of our country’s greatest legal minds.

“We want the average individual, who lives in Baltimore, in Cleveland, in L.A., in Miami, and in every city outside the New York area, to know the facts,” says Meir Simcha. “We want them to know what to answer when their Congressman asks them, ‘But what about this or that charge against Rubashkin?’ We want them to know how the prosecutors turned this nothing case into a 27-year sentence.” As singer Benny Friedman says, “Knowledge is power.”

In addition, Meir Simcha points out that people may be sympathetic but may not be in the position to help financially with major donations on his father’s behalf. He figured out that if every family would donate just $36 to the cause, “we can raise two million dollars across America!”

Meir Simcha says that a common response to his family’s fundraising efforts is, “Will my small donation really make a difference?” His answer is, “Yes it does. If we make it universal and cross community lines, it can make a huge difference.”

A huge difference for Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, of course. And a huge difference for the rest of America as well.

“In my opinion,” says Meir Simcha, “this story is already so far reaching. It’s not just about my father anymore. It has ramifications that affect the entire justice system in this country.”

Which explains why forty-six Congressmen have already voiced their concern by writing letters to protest the injustice. And many more, according to Meir Simcha, will follow suit.

Sholom Across America had its first test-run in Crown Heights, where bochurim were asked to volunteer an hour or two to go door to door asking for support. They raised a very impressive $70,000 dollars in that one area. Now the campaign is headed towards upstate New York, where Meir Simcha is planning to travel from camp to camp and colony to colony in a customized, personally outfitted RV, spreading the good word.

Those of us who shop upstate in the Catskills may soon be introduced to a new Rubashkin-inspired fashion statement.

“We have designed our own shopping bags,” says Meir Simcha, “which will be used in stores instead of their standard ones. It’s part of the ongoing effort to familiarize people with our logo and our concept and to create a buzz.”

The response, so far, he says, is incredibly enthusiastic.

Meir Simcha is especially excited about spreading the word upstate, because he considers it a unique opportunity to reach a large and diverse cross-section of our community vacationing in the area. He is eager to reach out to the quarter of a million members of Klal Yisroel who have made these towns and villages their summer home. Already, he is being asked to speak to children in various camps and to organize a mass ladies’ rally.

“This thing,” he says with a smile, “is taking on a life of its own.”

I ask Meir Simcha how his father is holding up, and he says, “Boruch Hashem, he’s very, very, busy. In fact, he’s probably the only person in prison who doesn’t have time.”

Meir Simcha says that his father wakes up at 5:30 in the morning, davens early and says Tehillim. As gabbai of the chapel in prison, he has access to other Yidden who are incarcerated and has scheduled shiurim and daily sedorim. He also writes a weekly publication filled with divrei Torah on the weekly parsha called “Min Hameitzar.” It can be downloaded from the family’s website.

Aside from all this, Sholom Mordechai receives mail and emails from around the world and spends a lot of time corresponding with people.

“His spirits are up,” says Meir Simcha. “He really believes that it’s all in the Aibishter’s Hands. As soon as Hashem is ready for this nisayon to end, it will end. But while he’s there, he will continue to do what he’s doing.”

The overwhelming response to Sholom Across America is a tremendous source of chizuk to the Rubashkins. And Meir Simcha is optimistic about what can be achieved through the unity of Yidden.

“After the tragic events in Boro Park two weeks ago,” says Meir Simcha, “Klal Yisroel really deserves a simcha. Of course nothing can alleviate the pain that touched all of us, but this would be the perfect time for the Aibishter to orchestrate a wonderful simcha that would unite all of Klal Yisroel.”

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Click below for a video:

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See below for photos:

The above article was originally published in Yated Ne’eman and was submitted to by Meir Simcha Rubashkin.

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