A Jewish social justice organization is encouraging members to send a message to the new owners of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville in conjunction with the holiday Rosh Hashanah.
Jewish Community Action, an organization that has remained involved in Postville in the wake of the May 2008 immigration raid at the plant, has developed a home-printed card to be sent to Daniel Hirsch of Agri Star for the Jewish New Year.
The card, which when folded is pre-addressed to Agri Star in Postville, is intended to be mailed prior to Sukkot, which is in early October.
“As the Jewish community prepares for the holiest of days of the year — a time for reflection, renewal and fresh starts — we invite you to join us in expressing our hopes for improved conditions and better practices under the new owners’ leadership,” Jewish Community Action notes in a prepared statement.
The Postville Community Benefits Alliance is comprised of several groups within and outside of the immediate community. Representatives from local religious congregations, various civic organizations and larger interested parties, including Jewish Community Action, play a role. It was formed in hopes that with better communication mistakes of the past will not repeat themselves.
The Agriprocessors meatpacking plant was the site of one of the nation’s largest single-site immigration enforcement efforts. A total of 389 workers, most from Guatemala and Mexico, were detained by federal authorities. Most faced criminal prosecution for identity theft-related charges and served five months in federal prison prior to deportation to their home countries.
The Agriprocessors plant was owned and operated by the Rubashkin family. The company founder was A. Aaron Rubashkin of Brooklyn, N.Y., and two of his sons, Sholom M. Rubashkin and Tzvi “Heshy” Rubashkin, lived in Postville and oversaw the plant operations on a day-to-day basis. The plant never fully recovered after the May 2008 raid. Shortly after Sholom was arrested by federal authorities in November 2008 on immigration-related charges, the company filed bankruptcy.
The physical plant and most of the fully owned equipment within was purchased by SHF Industries, run by chief executive Daniel Hirsh, and the company has been reborn as Agri Star.
Federal charges against Sholom Rubashkin and three other former supervisors remain pending, the trial set to begin on Oct. 13 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Sholom as well as Aaron Rubashkin and other former plant officials also face state charges for alleged violations of child labor laws. That trial is scheduled to begin next year.