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August 15, 2007

Haredi Rabbis Meet To Regulate Kapparot, Stop Kosher and Animal Abuse Violations, Health Risks – PETA Letter Spurs Change

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, the ethically challenged executive vice president of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinic Alliance of America (see his Security and Exchange Commission record, etc.) devotes his weekly Jewish Press column (that's right, the Jewish Press, the 'voice' of Orthodox Jewry in America,  gives a weekly column to a man with a 30-plus-year record of stock fraud and related endeavors) to the Brooklyn kapporot scandal publicized by PETA. Before we get to what seems to be the good news, let's deal with Rabbi Tannenbaum's grasp of fundamental Jewish history:

Rabbi Karo was born in Spain and, after the Spanish expulsion of 1492, settled in Portugal. In 1497, he moved to Greece and then to Turkey in 1520, settling in Safed in 1535. Rabbi Isserlis was born and lived in Poland and was consulted by the Mechaber (Rabbi Karo) to add a European perspective to the Shulchan Aruch.

This is sheer insanity. Both men wrote codes independent of each other and without each other's knowledge. Rabbi Karo (the Mechaber) got his into print first. Rabbi Issreles (the Rema) was saddened by this. He took his code and rewrote it as a commentary to Rabbi Karo's Shulkhan Arukh. Rabbi Karo did not "consult" with Rabbi Issreles to add a "European perspective" to his code – the Rema simply added that in on his own.

It does not take much to be a leader of Jews these days, and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is a living example of that rule.

Now, on to the Kapporot controversy.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, PETA sent letters to NYC's health commissioner and to the Brooklyn DA and other officials complaining about unsanitary conditions and poor animal handling at kapparot centers in Brooklyn, especially the center in Crown Heights which is especially dirty, poorly run, and practices extremely poor animal handling. PETA included pictures and a video.

Someone who received the letter leaked it to Brooklyn haredi rabbis who initially spouted off about PETA's alleged agenda to stop shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) in America. The rabbis organized a meeting and the leaders of Agudath Israel, Satmar and even Lubavitch (home to the Crown Heights kapporot fiasco) came.

What they were treated to was a presentation on many kashrut-related violations at these street kapporot centers, violations of other halakha (like reusing live chickens over and over again which defeats the purpose of kapparot), health and safety violations and tzaar baalei hayyim violations. The rabbis passed a resolution meant to govern this year's kapparot centers:

…The session directed that all kapparos centers be prohibited from allowing chickens to be in the sun all day, that the birds be protected by an awning or improvised roof, and that the birds be sprayed with ample water periodically. In addition, the session focused on health concerns.

Dr. Yitzchok (Richard) Cofsky of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center Brooklyn, reported that holding a chicken will not impart an infectious disease. However, if chicken feces somehow become embedded under one’s fingernails and are somehow ingested, severe stomach cramps are possible. However, Dr. Cofsky assured the session, chicken feces ingestion will not develop into an infectious disease. In response, the assembled rabbis regulated kapparos centers to have adequate supplies of surgical gloves as well as alcohol hand wipes.…

Will these directives be followed? Who knows. Until PETA's letter, nothing had been done to deal with the problem. Rabbi Tannenbaum notes:

…The KIS 2003 recommendations have been repeatedly circulated. Now is the time to finally heed their alarm. A continuation of kapparos kashrus abuses cannot be allowed to continue. The kosher consuming public must become sensitive to this issue and register its outrage.…

So why would PETA's letter work here but not work as well in dealing with Rubashkin?

Because most of the rabbis have no financial links to these kapporot operations, and receive little if any, money from them. Rubashkin, however, has many rabbis in his employ and he writes many checks that benefit various yeshivot, schools and synagogues. Trite as it is, follow the money. Money may not be able to buy you love, but it can buy you rabbis.

That said, let's hope these guys can stop kapporot abuses. If not, let's hope the government can do that, instead.

The list of participating rabbis, which includes Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Weireb of the OU, the Novominsker Rebbe and many others, is posted after the jump.

So, to is information on reports done by haredi rabbis in 2003 and 2005 which found multiple kashrut, tzaar baalei hayyim, and health violations at street kapparot centers. The report did not stop the violations.

Rabbis attending 2007 meeting
The session was chaired by Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberg and addressed by Rabbi Luzer Weiss:

The meeting of the rabbis, roshei yeshiva, and Chassidishe rebbes took place in the Novominsker Beis Medrash. Participants, in alphabetic order, were: Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, Matesdorfer Rav; Rabbi Moshe Elefant, representing the Orthodox Union; Rabbi Eliyahu Fischer, Rosh Kollel Ger of Boro Park; Rabbi Yosef Frankel, Vyelopoler Rebbe; Rabbi Shraga Feivel Hager, Kosover Rebbe; Rabbi Yisroel Heller, of the Beth Din of Crown Heights; Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, Rosh Yeshiva Philadelphia; Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood; Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, representing Agudath Israel; Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbe; Rabbi Yehoshua Rubin representing Bobov; Rabbi Aaron Shechter, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin; Rabbi Menachem Mendel Teitelbaum, Williamsburg Satmar Rav; Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Orthodox Union Executive Vice-President; Rabbi Moshe Menachem Weiss, Boro Park Pupa Dayan; and Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Agudath Israel Vice- President.

2003 Recommendations from the Kosher Inspection Service of Borough Park

         After having thoroughly investigated the kapparos situation – rather crisis – KIS issued their recommendations. First and foremost, each kapparos center must have a reliable and identifiable hashgachah (kosher certification). The kosher consumer would not purchase food from a butcher or take-out store that does not have an acceptable hashgachah; paying for kapparos at a center that does not have an acceptable hashgachah should be equally unthinkable.

         The hashgachah must oversee that no tza’ar ba’alei chaim (abuse) of chickens takes place; that the shechitah is satisfactory, that a regular bedikah (examination review) takes place, that melichah (kashering) is performed, and that the ultimate disposition of the slaughtered chickens are to poor families or religious institutions.

         Further, repetitive ceremonial uses of the same chickens must be prevented. In addition, separation of men and women at kapparos centers must be upheld.

         The KIS 2003 recommendations have been repeatedly circulated. Now is the time to finally heed their alarm. A continuation of kapparos kashrus abuses cannot be allowed to continue. The kosher consuming public must become sensitive to this issue and register its outrage.

2005

In advance of the kapparos 2005 season, KIS of Boro Park and the Kosher Information Center (KIC) of Flatbush, under the direction of Rabbi Moshe Y. Weiner, issued a number of announcements asking the public to patronize only those kapparos services that conform to total halachic strictures and provide humane handling of its chickens.

         In its report to congregational rabbis following the kapparos 5764 season, it scathingly described an excess of violations as a warning for future activities. KIS repeated its warnings after the kapparos 5765 season. KIC compiled a report of the 5765 performances and expanded its cautionary announcements for kapparos 5766.

         Tomchei Shabbos of Boro Park, a community crown jewel that distributes foods confidentially to needy families throughout the year, has for years declined accepting kapparos chickens as donations, specifically because of the unacceptable handling of the chickens before and after shechitah. In several kapparos centers KIS found that, in addition to chickens being reused repeatedly (literally deceiving the paying public) they were not provided enough room, not fed properly,if at all, were being schechted by unqualified and unsupervised shochtim and improperly disposed of.

         Several situations were reported where proprietors left for Yom Kippur and the chickens were abandoned and died en masse. In several instances, outraged neighbors brought food and water to feed the unattended chickens. This inhumane treatment is clearly prohibited by the Torah (Mishnah Berurah 305:9 and Taz, Hilchos Yom Kippur 605).

         KIS reported that mosdos such as Belz; Bobov; Munkatch; Satmar; Skver; and Vishnitz, adhering to the highest standards, ran reliable kapparos centers. In addition, kapparos centers located on 45th Street at 14th Avenue, 16th Avenue at 56th Street, and 18th Avenue at 52nd Street were found acceptable. However, many other locations were not.

         At the unacceptable kapparos centers, KIS has found that once the chickens were used for kapparos and slaughtered, sometimes they are then distributed to organizations that dispense them to needy families. The chickens, however, are not processed or salted properly, or not at all, relying on recipients to do the kashering.

         However, the recipients are highly unlikely to be familiar with kosher processing and salting and will either assume that the chickens, coming from religious organizations, are already fully kashered or will consume them regardless. That responsibility rests squarely upon the kapparos centers and the distributing organizations.

Comments

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This is a huge step in the right direction. It's interesting that he even used the word "crisis."

I'm skeptical about how much things will be improved, even if we assume that these people have good intentions. I think that Rabbi Tannenbaum's conclusion speaks volumes:

"Reviewing the entire current kapparos situation, using alternatives to chickens such as money to tzedakah, might be a desirable option."

Shmarya, how do you think, whose residense is bigger--Rubashkins on 15th(14th) Avenue or Lubavitcher Rebbe and Patriarch of Moskovy and all Russia Aleksi II in"St"-Daniil Cathedral.(He is a Chairman of the Putin-lovers group where Italian citizen Lazar is a member)

Don't know. I'd assume Aaron has a large home – he can afford it and he has lots of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that visit. His wife is also a famous hostess who feeds many poor people, both at her restaurant and, I think, at home.

That being said, ill-gotten gains are still ill-gotten.

this is why i use the more animal friendly kapparah of money.
I saw once how they treated chickens and decided to never do it.

Enough already with the kapporot shtoos....

I'M OFF TO WATCH ANOTHER RERUN OF MY " SON THE SHVITZER" ON THE SATMAR CHANNEL. TODAY'S EPISODE: NACHMAN MENDEL BECOMES DEPRESSED WHEN HE DISCOVERS THAT THE SHEET WITH THE HOLE THAT HE USED ON MITZVA NIGHT WAS SHATNEZ.

"Reviewing the entire current kapparos situation, using alternatives to chickens such as money to tzedakah, might be a desirable option."

I'd like to paraphrase this, which expresses my own view:

"Reviewing the entire current kapparos situation, using alternatives to chickens such as money to tzedakah, is the ONLY option."


". . . violations of other halakha (like reusing live chickens over and over again which defeats the purpose of kapparot) . . ."

Technically, not true. First, it is not a violation of halacha to reuse a live chicken, because there is no halacha of kapparot. It is a superstitious custom that was a late introduction. It has no basis in halacha. It might be a violation of the made-up rules of the custom, but it has nothing to do with halacha.

Second, as for it defeating "the purpose of kapporot," there is no real purpose of kapporot to defeat. It is all SYMBOLIC. The sins are NOT REALLY transfered to the chicken (or money), and the chicken's death (money's donation) does NOT REALLY atone or remove or do anything to the person's sin. It is supposed to make someone *think* about their sin and the consequences of sin. Which means that these chickens are all killed for a symbolic action that produces no real or mystical result.

The Mishna Berura says that those who perform kapparot should remember that it is not a substitute for true repentance.

According to the Shulchan Aruch of R. Yosef Karo, Jews should not perform Kapporot (though Isserles okayed it in his commentary).

"Reviewing the entire current kapparos situation, using alternatives to chickens such as money to tzedakah, might be a desirable option."

No question about that. Wave a $10.00 bill over the person and donate that. You will provide MUCH more food and help to a person with that then you would with the chicken. Given that simple bit of economics and tzedakah, why WOULDN'T one opt to use money instead?

PETA seems to have moved on from the kappara issue. Now they are busy criticizing Hamas for animal abuse.

Shmarya n"y

Please state clearly what your intentions are.

Qaparoth is a custom that has been followed by orthodox jews for centuries. Do you truly believe that a little noise from a blog will discourage the custom?
I don't think so.

As I posted on many occasions; why don't YOU make the world a better place rather than kvetching about all the ills of the haredi movement?

Shmarya, thank you for remainding me seriously that Rubashkins DO a lot of good deeds but in Boro Park.
I remember a Shabbos in Crown Heights in 1995 or 1996.
Contemptious looks;"a Litvak", thank God without adjective.
BTW, I am from Southern Ukraine, They are themselvs from Lithuania(distance like from NY to Miami).
And you wanted them to save Ethiopian Yidden...
Hell, maybe all this hatred and Putin-love is because of all neveilos and treifos that they eat from Potsville?
I know you don't beleive in this...

"Qaparoth is a custom that has been followed by orthodox jews for centuries."

You said it: for *centuries*, not for millenia, like holidays and festivals like Pesach, Sukkot, Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, or even Purim, or that latecommer Channukah, for that matter. A new innovation with no Torah mandate or precedent. Don't you think that if HaShem really wanted us to do this - or even thought something like this might be important, He would have told us to do it at Sinai . . . or at least through the Prophets?

You said it again: "a custom." Nothing more and nothing less. Something with no real spiritual value. Just something that people have been doing . . . just because.

You should clarify your statement, however. Make that *some* Orthodox Jews have been keeping this custom. Other Orthodox Jews like Maimonides and R. Yosef Karo did not, as they were opposed to it. R. Karo even said it came from *non-Jewish polytheistic sources*.

It seems to me that if one should not drink wine handled by a Gentile because it *might* have been used for idolatry (even though today we can be reasonably sure most/all commercieally available wine has not been used for such purposes), then one should not engage in a ritual or custom if it is possible that it originated with idolators. Also, since it is a much higher probability that Kapporot originated from a pagan practice than the chance that a Gentile offering you a glass of wine had just used it as a libation offering to an idol, it's just good common sense, as R. Karo saw it centuries ago, not to engage in this ritual.


Abe, pleeeease keep me posted about newshour on the Channel when they tell about Iran -going Neturei Karta and Satu-mare itself.
LOL obviously!

Why are you in bed with PETA and their blatantly anti-Jewish agenda? And if you want to tell me that you are not and just reporting everything equally, then you wouldn't refuse to post stories that are critical of PETA as well. Such as those found at www.petakillsanimals.com

Why are you in bed with PETA and their blatantly anti-Jewish agenda? And if you want to tell me that you are not and just reporting everything equally, then you wouldn't refuse to post stories that are critical of PETA as well. Such as those found at www.petakillsanimals.com

Source those stories – many come from a paid PR firm that works for the fast food industry.

And, of course, the fact that a dozen major haredi rabbis had a meeting and duscussed ways to end the abuses PETA made public – and other abuses PETA did not know about, including rampant non-kosher kappparot chicken distribution to Jews – doesn't matter to you, now does it?

http://www.petakillsanimals.com/about.cfm
"PETA Kills Animals" is a project of the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the full range of choices that American consumers currently enjoy. In addition to malicious animal-rights activists, we stand up to the "food police," environmental scaremongers, neo-prohibitionists, meddling bureaucrats, and other self-anointed saints who claim to "know what's best" for you.…"The CCF is run by a food industry lobbyist. It has a history of misrepresenting both PETA's actions and the truth.

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