Asked about the allegation that some of the undocumented workers at Agri were rabbis, Rabbi Genack said two foreign rabbis there had failed to renew their work permits when they expired several weeks before the raid. He described it as a "technical"- violation and denied that the two had been detained.
The Jewish community has expressed concern about events at the Agri plant, but, like so much in contemporary Jewish life, those weighing in on the issue are separated by left-wing and right-wing politics and religious outlooks.
For example, the Conservative movement's new "Hekhsher Tzedek,"- which some say is that movement's attempt to mimic the OU, did not wait for charges to be officially filed before condemning the company. The Conservative group, which is promoting its own "ethical kashruth certification,"- said Agri's "actions"- had "brought shame upon the entire Jewish community."-
Hekhsher Tzedek's statement seemed to indicate that the group is using the Agri incident as a raison d'être for its very existence, saying the issue of illegal alien workers "along with the other [undefined] violations of the ethical standards set forth by our Torah and our tradition underscore the need for Hekhsher Tzedek."-
Possible, Not Likely
According to Rabbi Genack, the OU is reserving judgment, especially because there have been no judicial decisions or even indictments.
"If a court of law finds that Agri is criminally liable, the OU would have no choice. We would have to remove our hechsher,"- said Rabbi Genack, making clear that he does not consider it to be a likely scenario.
"It may be fun to knock them if you don't like the idea of slaughtering meat or kashruth in the first place, but, fundamentally, the Rubashkins are good people who really care about kashruth,"- he said.
Chabad through Meat
Many observers have said that Agri has been intent on putting Lubavitch philosophy into practice via kosher meat.
Rabbi Genack pointed out that the company "has made it its business to produce kosher meat at relatively inexpensive prices and make it available throughout the US."-
In many places, Agri products are the only glatt kosher meat available.
"And it is available in such places because Agri markets and ships to any supermarket or store that has any interest. There is absolutely no question that there are many Jews who are eating kosher meat today only due to Agri,"- he said.
A Generic Phrase?
Whatever other problems Agri and the Rubashkins might face, Rabbis Genack and Mandel said the kashruth of their products is not one of them.