By COLlive reporter
R’ Avraham Aaron Rubashkin, who survived Communist oppression and built the large kosher meatplant and slaughterhouse in the United States, passed away on the eve of Friday, 9 Nissan 5780.
He was 92 and was infected by coronavirus.
He was born in the late 1920s in Nevel, a Russian town known for its sizable Jewish population and home to illustrious Chassidic figures. His parents, R’ Getzel and Rosa Rubashkin raised him and his siblings as frum Jews in spite of the anti-religious repression in the Soviet Union.
When the Germans occupied Nevel in July 1941, the Rubashkin family fled east, eventually reaching the Uzbek city of Samarkand, where he married Rivka Chazanov of the Chein family of Nevel.
After the Second World War, the Rubashkin family left the Soviet Union via Lemberg and spent time in Austria, before they settled in Paris in 1947. In Paris, his father ran a grocery shop and his mother served as a cook at a Jewish girls school, and he became a butcher.
In 1953, the family moved to New York City, where he and his partner R’ Alter Lieberman opened Lieberman & Rubashkin Glatt Kosher Butchers on 14th Avenue in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn. It was later named Rubashkin’s.
His also owned Crown Deli, on 13th Avenue in Brooklyn, a restaurant run by his wife Rivka since the 1960s, was described by some as more of a soup kitchen than a business.
But he was best known for the slaughterhouse and meat-packaging factory Agriprocessors, that he founded in 1987 in Postville, Iowa. Managed by two of his sons and a son-in-law, it was the largest kosher meat operation in the country with distribution centers in Brooklyn and Miami, Florida.
The New York Times dubbed the family a “kosher meat dynasty.” With the operation of the plant, Rubashkin employed many Jews who moved with their families to the remote city, a 90-minute drive from the nearest shopping malls. He and his family built for there a vibrant Jewish community with a shul, schools and a host of institutions.
“He was a true legend,” his grandson Sholom Rubashkin of Crown Heights told COLlive.com. “He was a chossid in every way possible, who loved and felt another person’s heart. I saw this every day that I worked with him.”
The Rubashkin family was also known for their generosity, giving tzedaka to many Jewish institutions and causes. This was in addition to the steep discounts he gave to families in need and shuls around the country.
Although best known for his role in the kosher meat business, Rubashkin also invested in the textile industry and in real estate. Three generations, including in-laws, have been involved in the tight-knit family’s business ventures.
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Rivka Rubashkin (who needs a speedy recovery), their children Mrs. Gutol Goldman – Miami Beach, FL; Mrs. Sara Balkany – Boro Park; Mrs. Rochel Leah Rosenfeld – Tzfas, Israel; R’ Yossi Rubashkin – Crown Heights; R’ Moshe Rubashkin – Crown Heights; R’ Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin – Monsey, NY; Mrs. Chayala Gourarie – Postville, Iowa; R’ Heshy Rubashkin – Postville, IA; and Mrs. Chana Zelda Minkowicz – Crown Heights; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He is also survived by his siblings, Mrs. Rochel Duchman, Mr. Gavriel Rubashkin, and Mrs. Dania Raskin, all of Crown Heights.
The levaya will be held on Friday, leaving at 9:15 am from his home – 5500 15th Avenue, Brooklyn and will be passing 770 Eastern Parkway at 10:30 am.
Baruch Dayan Haemes: Avraham Aaron Halevi ben Shneur Zalman Yissachar Getzel.