AJW Staff Report
A beit din, rabbinic court, in Brooklyn, N.Y., has issued a decree of excommunication for the executives of AER Services, Inc., a company that performs kosher slaughter under contract for Hebrew National.
The Bais Din Tzedek Umishpot rendered its decision on May 21, after Moshe Fyzakov and Shlomo Ben-David, the AER executives, refused to respond to three separate summonses to the Jewish court.
Three former AER employees, Menachem Felman, Roie Basil and Yosef Ben Aroya, petitioned the beit din to summon the AER principals, accusing them of fraud in the production of kosher meat. The former employees also contend that they incurred monetary losses, because they could not countenance the work that AER asked them to perform and quit their jobs.
The AJW sent a copy of the Bais Din Tzedek Umishpot decree to AER president Shlomo Ben-David, who said that the “opinion has no validity.” He said that he and Fyzakov were willing to appear before another beit din, as halacha (rabbinic law) allows.
Specifically, Ben-David mentioned the Beit Din of Agudath Harabonim, in Brooklyn, which is administered by Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, the owner of Triangle K, which certifies kosher meat for Hebrew National.
Since AER and Triangle K work together, this would seem to be a conflict of interest.
“The halacha clearly gives us the right to choose which beit din will adjudicate a case brought against us,” said Ben-David, in an e-mail sent to the AJW.
The Bais Din Tzedek Umishpot explicitly rejected that argument in its decree, which was signed by three rabbis.
The Jewish World reported last year on allegations of slipshod practices in the kosher slaughter and certification of beef for Hebrew National, the renowned hot dog brand (6-22-12 AJW).
The newspaper broke the story about a class action lawsuit against ConAgra Foods, the parent company of Hebrew National, in United States District Court in St. Paul, which alleged that employees of AER and Triangle K cut corners in their work in such a way that “rendered the meat being processed not kosher.”
Officials of AER and Triangle K denied the allegations; and AER officials also threatened to sue Mordecai Specktor, publisher and editor of the American Jewish World, for defamation in civil court, and publicized their attempt to bring Specktor before the Beit Din of America, a rabbinic court in New York City.
Specktor and the AJW have not been sued nor summoned to a beit din.
On Jan. 31, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank granted ConAgra Foods’ motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit brought by consumers. The plaintiffs are now appealing Frank’s decision.
(American Jewish World, 6.21.13)
Click here to read the beit din decree, which is in Hebrew.