The Rockland Department of Health said it has met with organizers in previous years to explain the sanitary code requirements and suggest ways to perform the ritual while still complying with regulations. Those meetings have had little effect. "We meet with them ahead of time and explain what they have to do. And it's still awful."
Rockland Health commissioner wants annual chicken ritual scrutinized
By Jane Lerner • Journal News
RAMAPO — The Rockland Commissioner of Health directed officials today to find out where a Jewish group was planning on holding its annual chicken ritual and to meet with organizers to try to prevent the unsanitary conditions that have led to fines in the past.
"Let's get in touch with them and see what the plan is," Commissioner Joan Facelle directed health inspectors at the monthly meeting of the Board of Health.
Health officials told Facelle that no one from the Jewish community had approached them with a date and location for the annual ceremony involving live chickens.
The kapparot ceremony, in which a chicken is held over a person's head and moved in a circle three times before the bird is slaughtered, part of the introspection that takes place in the days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. A prayer is said so the person's sins are symbolically transferred to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and its meat donated to the poor.
Yom Kippur begins the evening of Sept. 17 this year.
A Monsey man who organizes the ceremony for Ramapo's large Jewish population has been fined three years in a row for not adequately cleaning up chicken entrails, feces, carcasses, feet and blood in kapparot ceremonies in Monsey.
Much of the previous years' fines remain unpaid, health officials said.
Members of the Rockland Department of Health said they have met with organizers in previous years to explain the sanitary code requirements and suggest ways to perform the ritual while still complying with regulations.
Those meetings have had little effect, health officials told Facelle.
"We meet with them ahead of time and explain what they have to do," Thomas Micelli, director of environmental health, told Facelle. "And it's still awful."
[Hat Tip: Burich.]