By Yehuda Ceitlin, Editor of COLlive.com
Sioux Falls, SD — The Rubashkin family is widely credited with boosting Iowa’s economy with their former Agriprocessors meat plant, supplying jobs in various industries in Postville.
Now Sioux Falls, the rapidly growing South Dakota city, is getting a tiny taste of it – under less noble circumstances.
As Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin‘s 4-week trial continues, dozens of his family, friends and members of the Chassidic community have been buzzing around town.
The Sheraton, Super 8, Holiday Inn and Country Inn & Suites (where a “Rubashkin group” rate goes for $70 a night) are regularly seen hosting rabbis, activists and private individuals such as Lubavitch bochurim.
“We will miss them (when the trial ends),” said Lynelle Dick, front desk clerk at Country Inn. “It gets quiet in the winter and they liven the place.”
A member of the Christian Anabaptist’s Mennonites denomination, she told COLlive she admired that the Chassidim here “always eat together and are very lively and happy.”
While the Rubashkins are still raising funds for their own well being and legal fees, they enthusiastically welcome anyone who made their way to show support.
Over 200 supporters have arrived to date, Rubashkin told COLlive with a proud grin as a train tooted its horn in the background.
Only hours earlier, on Monday night, a group of 10 Lubavitch businessmen departed for Chicago, and as we spoke, a 15-passenger van pulled up with bochurim from the Postville Yeshiva.
I arrived with my father-in-law Rabbi Yossie Shemtov, spiritual leader of Congregation Young Israel and Director of Chabad of Tucson, AZ.
Rubashkin told us “it feels like everybody took this on as if it was their case.”
Along with supporting her husband, Leah Rubashkin, has the job of coordinating the hospitality and flow of Kosher food, a rarity in the state.
But she admits that most of the visiting supporters manage on their own.
“Some call us before to ask what to bring with them,” Leah Rubashkin told COLlive. “They bring bread, milk and other necessities. We also travel to Postville for Shabbos.”
“This has been so encouraging. We are getting through this with Hashem’s help and with the public’s support.
She said she feels like “the whole Jewish nation are invested spiritually and financially in this.”