Rubashkin to share ‘The Inside Story’ in Baltimore

Sholom Rubashkin (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

In 2010, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, then the CEO of Agriprocessors — at one time the largest kosher meat producer in the nation — was sentenced to 27 years in prison for financial fraud. In 2017, his sentence was commuted by former President Donald Trump.

Now, Rubashkin is coming to Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion in Baltimore on Monday, Dec. 20, for a lecture and book signing of “The Inside Story,” where he shares his perspective of what transpired and tells what it was like to be an Orthodox Jew in prison. The lecture and book signing is open to both men and women. It will be followed by a farbrengen for men only at Yeshivas Lubavitch of Baltimore at 9:30 p.m.

Rebbetzin Rochel Kaplan, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Maryland and director of the Aleph Learning Institute, invited Rubashkin to speak in Baltimore because, she explained, his story of faith and resilience can inspire others going through difficult times right now.

“People are looking for answers,” Kaplan said. “We are living in a difficult time, with COVID, during which no one has been spared, and this man brings some light. His response — via his book — speaks to all groups. He addresses Jews of all faith levels.”

Kaplan said she was touched by Rubashkin’s story.

“I read his book, all 600 pages, cover to cover,” she said. “When I finished it, I said, ‘I am bringing him out to Baltimore.’ It impacted me in such a way that it impacted my life. His story was so powerful; it spoke so loudly to me. I felt that it truly did something life altering for me.”

The book, said Kaplan, covers the legal proceedings, as well as the personal aspects of his time in jail.

Kaplan said that she doesn’t get involved in politics, as the focus of her work is education.

“At the same time,” she noted, “this was a well-known, riveting case. You couldn’t ignore the legal aspects.

“The other part, something I relate to more, a place called prison, and what he experienced, something so unique. Many of us are trying our best to live a life that follows Judaic life. We want to live with purpose and fulfilled as much as we can.”

Rubashkin’s life in prison was anathema to the observant religious life he lived, Kaplan noted.

And yet, Kaplan said, “The beauty is as an individual, he carried his religious and his personal God just like Abraham. He found God in prison. He really lived above it. To be able to in the face of so much opposition, to be able to stick with all the details of your belief system, respecting others, it’s so commendable and awe-inspiring.”

Kaplan acknowledged that no one denies what happened with the Agriprocessors plant, but, she explained, at the end of the day, the book’s biggest message for her is about a Jew living in a non-Jewish environment, in prison, and how to “persevere and be true to yourself, for every Jew has a soul and a soul purpose.

“People are looking for answers, and I am looking to respond to what the people need,” she said. “I haven’t done a community event in a while, because of COVID, and this is a great opportunity. We’ll have the books available, and I know the community will get so much out of his story.”

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