My mother wrote this to the American Jewish World in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), then sent it to the New York Times. I was taken with it and wanted to share it with you.

And you may want to look at this information about the hechsher tzedek that the Conservative community is creating — a further certification for kosher food that it is also produced in an ethical fashion. We’re going to look into it as we begin production of our goat cheese. Morris Allen, the rabbi who’s the director of the project, is from the Twin Cities and my parents attend his shul sometimes. Many good things come from Minnesota …

And here is how American Reform Rabbis endorse the concept

My mother wrote:

Dear friends,

As a reader of AJW for many, many years I know you cover all the issues in the Upper Midwest area. You have not flinched in your coverage of the scandal at Agriprocessors in Postville, IA.

For many of us this is a source of huge embarrassment, if you will, “a shanda far de goyim” or a shame in front of others. I’m 71 years old and I finally understand what that term really means: something so shameful it’s even shameful in the eyes of Jews. And I am ashamed in front of my many non-Jewish friends as well.

The New York Times of Sunday, July 27, carries an article by Julia Preston which provides details of just how shameful Agriprocessors has been in the exploitation of children–not just with work unlawful for them to do under either Iowa or Federal law–but with hours and working conditions unsuited for a child, much less any working person. Immigration laws notwithstanding, their flouting of those does not excuse their flouting of child labor laws.

I happen to think the law is in error, and that the U.S. desperately needs a humane guest worker law to allow people to provide labor for jobs Americans are unwilling to do. But even that does not excuse the exploitation of children–or adults, either.

Kashrut has always meant a great deal to me, a non-Orthodox Jew: care for animals, cleanliness and, I assumed, decent working conditions under the law. When I lived in Boston I once went into a meat market advertised as kosher only to find it so unkempt and dirty it turned my stomach. I never returned. That was not kosher to me. The whole mess with Agriprocessors has the same taint about it.

Not long ago we needed some meat, and since kosher meat is not sold in Eau Claire we took advantage of the fact that we were in the Twin Cities. We went out of our way to buy nothing that could be traced to Agriprocessors. Yes, that limited our choices. But I sleep better because we did that and feel better about what I eat. I thought about throwing out some things we purchased previous to the exposure of the scandal, but after all, that won’t hurt Rubashkins, only me.

Perhaps the Rubashkins did not understand that in the midwest we are American Jews as they are, and we also adhere to U.S. law. We certainly are not “country bumpkins” who can be toyed with in the name of making money–much less in the name of Kashrut.

I call on every agency and private entity that provides Hashgacha to decertify Agriprocessors unless and until they clean up their act and pay all penalties exacted by the law.

Suzon R. Gordon

(my mom asked me to include this: (c) Suzon R. Gordon)