When Sinners Become Saints: The cases of Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin

In congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, for decades they have made a prayer every Shabbat on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, who is called a prisoner of Zion. There is justification in the minds of those who approve of praying for a man imprisoned for espionage against the US. They think Pollard is a hero because he spied for Israel. They think Pollard is a victim of anti-Semitic injustice endemic to the government of the United States.

The underlying narrative -- we saints against them bigots -- supports the tribal isolationism of the Orthodox. So sure it makes sense for the Orthodox doctors and lawyers and businessmen in Teaneck to continually clamor in prayer against the terrible wrong inflicted on the saintly Jonathan Pollard. Listen God. Pollard helped Israel and he was given an unjust punishment. Free him, O Lord.

Welcome to chapter two back in 2010 when Orthodox Jews embraced the convicted Russian Hassidic gangster of Iowa, Sholom Rubashkin. He too was doing holy work for the Jewish people, they cried out. He provided "kosher" meat. Never mind that we have no way of knowing that even one piece of meat from his plant was kosher. Never mind that the greedy Rubashkin constantly raised prices on his "kosher" meat and continually gouged the pious public.

But they said, Rubashkin was given an unjust sentence. 27 years is too much. Others who did worse got fewer years. Logic alerts us to ask, Is this a good idea to demand that gangsters guilty of federal financial offenses and much much more corruption be let off to go free? To have a just society would it not be better to insist that all those other gangsters who got off too lightly be brought back to prison?

And they said, Rubashkin was the victim here. Not the gouged consumers, or the banks that he cheated. Not the 300+ exploited under aged illegal alien Iowa workers.

It's obvious that Rubashkin is a saint and a victim. Just like Pollard. Yes. Let's add him to the list of the Prisoners of Zion and make a prayer for him in our synagogue in Teaneck every week for the next 27 years.

Rabbis are calling to us, instructing us in what is right and virtuous. Let's get the tribe together and stand against all those evil federal officials who are out to get those epitomes of both victimhood and virtue, Pollard and Rubashkin.

Sinners become saints. Gangsters become gedolim. Up is down, and black is white. And many simple, sincere and honest people look and listen, shrug their shoulders, shake their heads, and walk away.

/recast from 2010/


Reb Yudel said...

I'm unclear. Are they saying a misheberach for Rubashkin, or do you think that's the next logical step?

tzvee said...

I expect it will be the next step.