SHOCKING: Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin Denied Basic Rights

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rubashkin-bitachon3SHOCKING: Thursday evening, after sitting through an hour-long recitation of the jury’s verdicts in Sioux Falls, Iowa, Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin was detained pending a bail hearing at the insistence of Peter Deegan. If that were not shocking enough, the ordeal he was subsequently put through is positively offensive, contemptible, and a black mark on the justice system of the United States.

Reb Shalom Mordechai was taken by the US Marshals service to South Dakota State penitentiary in Sioux Falls pending transfer to Iowa. He was not allowed to make a phone call to inform his lawyers or his family of his location. One of the Marshals, upon learning of this, was nice enough to call the family. They would have otherwise not known where he was.

As part of the entry process into the jail, Reb Shalom Mordechai was asked to disrobe and change into the prison uniform. He complied, but stopped short of removing his tzitzis and yarmulka, explaining that, as a religious Jew, he was required to wear these garments at all times, that it is permitted under federal law, and that he would not take them off.

The staff immediately conferred with their superiors and confirmed that they would not allow him to wear his religious clothing. At this point, six burly, intimidating prison guards entered with riot shields. They took a video of this interaction.

The warden at the prison then decided that he would be allowed to wear his yarmulka, but not his tzitzis. Reb Shalom Mordechai explained that although he had no interest in making trouble, he would not remove his tzitzis for religious reasons and his religion does not allow him to even walk around without tzitzis.

The prison staff belligerently insisted that he nevertheless remove them or they would be removed by force and he would be placed in a disciplinary area alone.

Reb Shalom Mordechai explained that he was not fighting with them, but he would not remove them himself. He was not trying to give them a hard time, but he was insisting on his religious rights. He also took the opportunity to inform them of his other religious needs, namely, the tallis and tefillin required for davening Shacharis, before which he would be unable to eat. They responded by yelling at him for threatening a hunger strike. “Do you know where you are?!” they shouted

They then removed his tzitzis. He was given only a thin sheet to cover himself and they brought a wheelchair to move him, since he had said that he would not be allowed to walk without his tzitzis.

The staff took him to the disciplinary area, where a woman asked him questions from a form, and then disregarded his answers, writing in whatever she wanted to over his objections.

They left him to sleep with no clothes – only the thin sheet and his yarmulka and another sheet to cover himself.

In the morning, they brought him papers to sign, which he would not do without his lawyers.

 The US Marshals arrived to transport him to Iowa, and they confirmed that he was allowed to wear tzitzis, which were then returned to him.

Due to his commitment to strict kashrus, food was purchased by his family that met those standards, but the food was not allowed into the Iowa prison because it wasn’t packaged correctly. He did not eat at all from Thursday lunch until Motzoei Shabbos when he was finally given a small bottle of grape juice for Havdalah, a package of rolls, and a pareve matzoh ball soup mix, which he ate cold.

Reb Shalom Mordechai is currently in county jail in Sioux City, which has been a lot more respectful of his rights and religious freedom.

The bail hearing has been set for Wednesday, at 9:15 a.m., in Cedar Rapids.

The family asks that everyone daven and say Tehillim, as that is what Reb Shalom Mordechai feels is really important.

Please continue to daven for Shalom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivkah.

The need for financial support is still very strong. Anyone who can help out and can lend support should take a moment to send a donation to the Pidyon Shvuyim Fund. The help of Yidden across the globe is severely needed.

You can easily donate by clicking on one of the following links:

Alternatively, you can mail contributions to:

Pidyon Shvuyim Fund

53 Olympia Lane

Monsey NY 10952

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  1. Where is this country headed to? The laborers were the first to suffer wide-scale, as jobs are outsourced.

    And wide scale, the modernized Jews may be the first to suffer as well

  2. Shocking? I expected this, because there is massive anti-semitism here, regardless of what some of the young people who post, think.
    I feel terrible for R’SMR, and the only thing we can do is daven, daven and daven some more. What baffles my mind: where is the Agudah? Where is it he OU? Why is everyone so quiet???? A yid is suffering! Why is it only Matzav and R’ Pinny who come out publicly? Why? What is going on here?
    Nebach, they are treating R’SMR, who is an oisgearbete yid, like a real criminal. But then, they are allowing Gutanamo Bay prisoners to go free? And they are not calling Rosha Nidal a terrorist? A farkerte velt!

  3. A real tzaddik. Sheyirbu komohu b’yisrael. Everyone should be so pious, I am speechless. I am sure that his devotion to mitzvos under such duress is a result of his devotion to cheating, lying and stealing. That is the message that this piece is sending.

  4. In England, the prisons know exactly how to treat orthodox prisoners. There are Jewish Chaplains to prisons who are informed when new prisoners are admitted. I do not understand the American system and it falls very short of the British system. This man needs help and there seems to be no outcry from American Yidden in his hour of need. Tehillim are certainly important but he needs practical help. The prison should have been prepared in advance for an orthodox prisoner.

  5. #4: Cheating, lying, stealing. Rinse your mouth out with soap. Are you telling me that you are believing what happened here? Are you telling me that a jury of 10 who probably drink every night, and couldn’t care less about a good man, are you telling me they are right???? Wake up young person. This is golus. You want to agree with the umos haolam?Then, at least,keep it to yourself. shame on you.

  6. Where are our organizations to demand access to inservice prison employees how to treat Jewish prisioners imagine if sme sneezed on a quran?

  7. Unfortunately most of the above are foolish and ignorant comments. I have done a thorough study of Jews in the prison systems and here are some points to ponder. First let me remark, I assume Reb Shalom Mordechai is innocent and my comments should not be taken that I am impugning him.
    1. He did not have to have a jury trial. Indeed, with a jury a lot is dependent on luck. A court trial in which only the judge decides is usually less biased. Lawyers recommend a jury trial when impugning evidence is strong because they fel they can sway a jury more easily than a judge who knows the rules of evidence.
    2. the prison system is geared for real criminals, Reb Shalom Mordechai is not a criminal, only is one of the tiny minority who unfortunately wind up in the system. Prison personnel, form wardens to guards are tough and often mean because 99% of the prisoners they deal with need to be handled like that.
    3. A “prison” is different from a “jail”. Jail usually refers to a local detention lockup where arrested individuals are held for trial or determination of where the sentence will be carried out. “Prison” or “correctional institution” is where a prison sentence is carried out. the inmates remain there for the duration of the sentence. It houses many peoples, often thousands. It has a strict regiment for every phase of prison life, and strict rules to maintain order.
    4. I’m not saying for certain tha Reb Shalom Mordechai was not a victim of antisemitism,but I assure you, those federal marshals would have handled a black muslim, or some fanatical christian who was making religious demands exactly the same way. all they know is that the person was found guilty and is a criminal. They don’t make Cheshbonos of the individuals midos and true character. 99% of the time, they are right.

  8. Welcome to the new America where Obama’s Nazi’s make Golus loud and clear.

    Yawn. Wake me when they start building the crematoria.

  9. Number 5 is correct that in England the Jewish Chaplain is informed AND HE IS GIVEN 3 GLATT KOSHER MEALS A DAY. He would be given the right to wear his cappel and zizit and be able to daven with his tallit and tefilin, and have his religious books with him. What a nebech that the kashrut world are sitting by and doing NOTHING to help an erlicher yid, whose kashrut was the top in the world. Now, meat and chickens are sky high and Jewish people all over the world are suffering. May ther judge have a misa meshina and suffer like R’SMR is suffering and how the 6 million kedoshim H’YD had to suffer. We should demonstrate at every Federal court and phone the White House to intervene, for his basic rights according to the Constitution and Bill of Rights! May H’KBH have much rachmunus on all the Rubashkin family. May we hear besuros tovos.

  10. Shawshank still happens in 2009.

    Incidentally, The Shawshank Redemption is a work of fiction. You might want to come back to reality.

  11. I fail to see the logic in slandering jury members. Did it ever occur to any of you that some people may want to do jury service? It’s called being a good citizen.
    I agree that R’ Sholom has been badly treated at the jail…. this should be fixed up speedily. There is no reason for him to be abused whilst he is locked up.
    may Hashem have mercy on everyone.

  12. “and his religion does not allow him to even walk around without tzitzis.”
    “he had said that he would not be allowed to walk without his tzitzis.”
    Where in Halacha does it say it is prohibited to walk around without tzitzis? It may be a pious act not to walk daled amos without tzitzis. But there is absolutely no prohibition to do so. Most frum men probably do walk daled amos in their houses without tzitzis in the morning or after showers.

  13. People, get this straight. If R’SMR were a Muslim, he would never have been denied any religious things. Do you know why? Because 1. eysav soneh es Yaakov and 2. Obama is also a Mulsmim. So yes, don’t be silly, you young punks! this is the way it all started in 1939. Now, the Yemach Shemoh of the time is our commander in chief.

  14. Its truly a wonder here, that there are understandably very upset Jews who hear the reports as to how Mr Rubashkin is being treated in incarceration and or confinement. I too, am truly disgusted and appalled. However, there are more severe issues at stake than the burly gaurds treatment towards a falsly convicted criminal.
    Firstly the overall legal system reeks of socialism and unfair biases.
    The devious and corrupt agendas of the big banks of America were paid in full and the CEO’s are scott free with the Governments consent and approval. However, an individual who meant well, but obviously severely missmanaged his business and has wound up serving a potential life sentence is simply incredulous.
    If there is any appropriate penalty for mismanagement of businesses, it is to suspend the manager’s licence to trade. I have first hand seen how company managers who have had too much on their plate have been dealt with by the law, albeit not in the United States of America.
    I can only conclude from what I read and that this case has been taken out of proportion and used to serve the corrupt agendas of the deeply flawed legal system of the United States of America. It is truly a terrible travesty to see the convicted at the mercy of the deeply corrupt.

  15. Courtesy Flush (#12): With that attitude, you’d be the first to go into it, not believing it possible.

    1. Crematoria is plural

    2. Thanks for the “????” — Hashem must be pleased that you are so “religious.”

  16. I would urge everyone, especially the Matzav editors, to start an immediate Taanis Dibbur with regard to the Rubashkin case. By fanning everyone’s passions, you are creating feelings of outrage, anger, and possibly more, which are counterproductive to Rubashkin’s ultimate appeal. We need to regroup with Daas Torah and come up with a much more effective strategy than a media war between the Jewish community and the Justice System. It is time to get some bright Jewish lawyers involved who know how to work the system in a non-confrontational manner.I would be happy to try to spearhead such an effort.

  17. The verdict was accorded at the start of the Kinus and the sentencing is at the end of the Kinus.
    Are there really Shluchim sitting around tonight and drinking wine at a banquet while there brother is suffering like this?

    The wonder isn’t so much on Aguda and the OU (with the latter’s silence being extremely defeaning) but with Lubavitch themselves.
    It has only taken 15 years for the basic element of the Chassidus to disintegrate?

  18. Are you telling me that a jury of 10 who probably drink every night, and couldn’t care less about a good man, are you telling me they are right????

    ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ????

    Hypocrite much?

  19. A Yid who can act with such steadfast emunah under such horrific circumstances,deserves our full support and any help we can give,worldwide.Shame that nobody tried to get a pre emptive presidential pardon from Bush,while he was still in office…The eibeshter,who sees and knows everything this yid is going through,will certainly grant him a Yeshua Bekarov.And all the people that could have helped,and still could help,and are not bothering…..Hashem sees that too.May we hear good news immediatly.AD MOSAI.

  20. He should have told them he was a muslim he would have gotten whatever he needs plus
    That’s the problem with the justice system in this country
    Shame on them

  21. To Mrs. “Bubby” in comment #2: Yes, a holy saint of Mr. Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, Sh’lita, they are ramming him through the floor for these alledged “crimes” of making a few errors on some bank slips and being tricked by a bunch of wicked illegal aliens. Yet, severely evil men, who already assisted in horrific attacks upon our country and who would gladly do anything they could to, Chas V’Shalom, totally destroy our country, are freed from the Gutanamo Bay prison to be given “more humane” treatment in our American citizen’s detention centers.

    The host Mr. Michael Savage of the radio talk show “The Savage Nation” very often exclaims that we are living in an “Alice in Wonderland –Upside Down World”!!!!

  22. This article was written by chabad .com and has no validiy to it .


    The article was actually written by and republished elsewhere. We are happy that it has been republished and reposted, even without credit being given, because it is a mitzvah to be mefarseim the insutices taking place. This was written based on firsthand knowledge, not based on hearsay or anything of the sort. So once again, mitzvah lefarseim.

  23. Perhaps we can all call the South Dakota authorities and let them know we feel the treatment Sholom received in their state prison was absolutely unjust and not acceptable! We cannot allow these horrific incidents to go by in silence. Please Contact the following: Governor Rounds: 605.773.3212. Attorney General Marty Jackley @ (605) 773-3215. Representative Marc Feinstein @ 605-335-6266. South Dakota Department of Corrections: (605) 773-3478. South Dakota State Penitentiary: (605) 367-5051. May we hear Good news soon!

  24. Please send in a neatly written fax to the honourable judge Reade. Requesting bail that Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin is not a flight risk and therefore should be let out on bail.
    fax to: 336-458-2338 or email to
    May Sholom Mordechai merit the ultimate geulah shleima bchodesh hageulah mamash NOW!!!!

  25. I’m a “B”T”, now resident in Boro Park, but originally from southern Indiana, close to Iowa. What Rav Rubashkin encountered was not anti-Semitism, but ignorance. These guards had most likely never before set eyes on someone like Rav Rubashkin; since they are lied to all the time by other prisoners, they didn’t know what to believe. Police, etc. in this part of the country are very conservative and generally have a deep contempt for those whom they see as criminals.

    I think we should keep this in mind in evaluating this incident. Rav Rubashkin certainly should not have been treated in this fashion, but most likely it had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

  26. I was stationed in SD for several years & personally tasted some of their antisemitism. the protocols of zion are still accepted doctrine in many places in that state. Rabbi Shalom Mordechai couldn’t have been sent to a worse place.

    As far as I am concerned SMR is a tzaddik. The Rashi Tefilin I wear every day were given to me by him. There is a yid in Milwaukee that swears that putting on those tefillin changed his life, he was chozer b’teshuva, Baruch Hashem. I was privileged to be SMR’s guest at his house many times. He had an open house and I felt so uniquely at home there that it’s hard to describe… mommosh like family. It breaks my heart to hear what’s happening to him. PETA started this travesty, and it has nothing to do with justice. Ad Mosai!



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