Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hechsher Tzedek On Wikipedia

Today has been an interesting day. As I was doing my usual look around the net to see if there was any new talk about Hechsher Tzedek I found an addition to the Hechsher Tzedek page on Wikipedia. Since most of the additional 'information' was personal speculation about Rabbi Allen's motivations and connections, I read the rules for removing such material by reverting back to the article prior to new revisions. Personal attack was listed as a valid reason for reversion and so I set the page back. But, it seems that even very basic factual information about Hechsher Tzedek is not going to be allowed to stand. Rather than letting readers form their own opinions after reading all the press that has been generated by Hechsher Tzedek, C. Carbonera, who you will remember wrote an article on his trip to Postville last summer, has decided it is his right to include his own opinions in what is supposed to be a purely factual encyclopedia and has accused me of vandalizing the site.

You can read for yourselves since it's online for all to see anyway:


The idea of a Tzedek Hechsher has been criticized by many. There are various debates that remain open:

1.There is a big question on the need for a religious certification on Social Justice. One of the main points against the certification is that there are Governmental Agencies that supervise all matters of labors: OSHA, Department of Labor, etc. These Governmental Agencies have been empowered by the Government of the United States of America to enforce all matters of law. [3]

2.Some people have the opinion that the Group lead by Rabbi Morris Allen has a particular antipathy towards Agriprocessors. In particular, the group stated that they have serious concerns with Agriprocessor in matters of safety, but not on Empire Poultry. A search in the OSHA database indicates that Empire Poultry has more citations than Agriprocessors in a similar period of time. A consultant to Agriprocessors who works for OSHA, visited Agriprocessors and did not find the plant to have any issues out of the ordinary relative to the meat industry. As a matter of fact, quite the contrary, he found that Agriprocessors has a very positive attitude towards the safety of employees, and is constantly improving the working conditions of its employees. [4]

3.The means used by Rabbi Morris Allen to infiltrate into Agriprocessors has been deemed as “decietful” and “dishonest” by Rabbi A. Zeilingold. In an interview, Rabbi Zeilingold stated that he was promised by Rabbi Morris Allen to visit Agriprocessors with the sole purpose to determine whether the allegations against Agriprocessors by the Forward in an article written in May 2006 were true or false. Although in a recent interview, Rabbi Morris Allen admitted that he could not validate the claims of the article published by the Forward, he has not made a clear point on the pitfalls of the article as he promised Rabbi Zeilingold. [5]

The qualifications of the Group Lead by Rabbi Morris Allen has been greatly questioned because of the reasons given above. In summary, many questions remain open:
1.What business has a religious group of unqualified individuals with labor issues?
2.Is Rabbi Morris Allen working for Unions or PETA?
3.If there is an accident in a meat plant certified by Rabbi Morris Allen as safe, will his rabbinical group that certified the plant be liable to a lawsuit?
4. How is Rabbi Morris Allen going to oversee that a plant is fair to workers or not?
5. How will Rabbi Morris Allen determine what is fair or not fair in matters of labor?

On the discussion page for Hechsher Tzedek:

I have added the section titled CONTROVERSY to present a second view of the Hechsher Tzedek. I am surprised to find out that some people are so intolerant that would remove the section. I hope we are all open minded enough to allow every party express their ideas.

C. Carbonera
My response:

The Controversy section added is merely a personal attack on the character of Rabbi Allen, not new information on Hechsher Tzedek itself, and therefore has no place in an encyclopedia. The many links included on this page to newspaper articles already show there is a difference of opinion. There is no need to add personal speculations about motivations and connections.

Open minded is one thing, standing by while someone is defamed is another. This page is for factual information about Hechsher Tzedek, Hechsher Tzedek came about due to ... by ... from .... It is not a forum for airing grievances against individuals. Such things should be discussed elsewhere and indeed have been.

As far as my 'rosy' view of Hechsher Tzedek? I have only contributed a newspaper link to this page. My opinion about Hechsher Tzedek is expressed elsewhere since I
realize that an encyclopedia is not the place for personal opinions.

Yael2370 01:16, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

I also received this personal message from him to which I did not respond.

I hope that you are open minded enough to tolerate other points of view besides yours. All the statements in the section titled CONTROVERSY have a valid reference, and all I did was summarize portions of the article and write then in that section. I have sent an e-mail to one of the editors about your activities that, if you read the rules, will see are considered vandalism. If you have another view, please, feel free to add it, but do not take away valid points just because they don't fit your rosie view of the Hechsher Tzedek.
Sincerely, C. Carbonera

Blogs are for airing personal points of view, not encyclopedias. Valid references were given for such terms as:

Some people
A particular antipathy

Valid references were given as to who this mysterious OSHA official was who gave the plant a clean bill of health? Was the report containing his name and credentials referenced?

Valid references were given for the speculation about Rabbi Allen’s ‘connections’ to unions or PETA?

I must have missed all of these references….

Yes, there are many questions about how Hechsher Tzedek will be implemented, I have them myself. Attacking the messenger because someone does not like the message is not the way to handle such questions, and just because a task seems daunting and perhaps still quite unclear does not mean we abandon it and carry on with business as usual.

And since the never ending litany of "it's the government's job, not ours" continues, let me refer people to a very different Orthodox response, Jewish Law Says WHAT?.

Am I trying to cover up all criticism of Hechsher Tzedek? Take a look over in the Hechsher Tzedek: Talk On The Net section and you will see links to sites which contain criticism. I do not censor on the basis of comments being for or against since the purpose of that section is to show what people are saying. Take a look at the section Hechsher Tzedek In The News. Links are included to ALL newspaper articles I could find on Hechsher Tzedek whether favorable or not. The full articles are there for all to read; not summaries, not my spin.

I will repeat: there are many forums online for airing opinions, criticisms, and grievances. An Encyclopedia is just not one of them.