Below is the text of the letter published by the New York Times on August 13, 2008, in response to an Op-Ed piece, “Dark Meat” published by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld that criticized the RCA and Orthodox Union.
To the editor:
We take strong issue with Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s suggestions that the Orthodox American rabbinate, including the Rabbinical Council of America, has been indifferent to the accusations against Agriprocessors. The council issued a lengthy public statement on June 3, expressing our concern about the allegations and calling for a full investigation of the facts.
Unlike Rabbi Herzfeld, we believe that no rabbinic body — expert or otherwise — can do a better investigation than the federal and state authorities now engaged in such a review of the legal, non-kashrut aspects of Agriprocessors’ operations.
We are indeed greatly concerned about the ethical implications of the allegations, but they are still allegations — unproved and unverified.
We believe that it is also unethical to rush to judgment and deny due process to Agriprocessors. Jewish law — and the norms of American justice — requires no less than that.
By all accounts, current operations at the plant are in substantial conformity with the law and all applicable regulatory statutes.
(Rabbi) Shlomo Hochberg
(Rabbi) Basil Herring
New York, Aug. 6, 2008
The writers are, respectively, president and executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America.