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date: 16 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Zionists once dreamed of a state where Jewish criminals, arrested by Jewish cops, would be tried by Jewish judges. In other words, normalization occurs when all Jewish behavior becomes unremarkable. Jews in America feel differently. Twenty-first-century Jews look out for one another to protect the group's standing in American eyes. In other words, American Jews do not need Jewish criminals to signify their acclimation to American society. Accordingly, many American Jews are horrified to see the bad behavior of fellow “members of the tribe” splashed across headlines. The allegations plaguing Agriprocessors, a kosher meat company owned by the Rubashkin family, are a case in point. The Rubashkin family is Hasidim, the most visibly identifiable of Jews. Regional Iowa newspapers offered a crash course in observant Judaism and attempted to explain some of Agriprocessors' former CEO Sholom Rubashkin's unfamiliar religious practices. This article examines how the mainstream secular press—both regional and national—reported on the Agriprocessors scandal, focusing on the way that Sholom Rubashkin's Jewishness—and specifically his Orthodoxy—factored into this coverage.

Keywords: American Jews, Agriprocessors, scandal, Sholom Rubashkin, Jewishness, Orthodoxy, Judaism, newspapers, Iowa, press

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