The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos was in Manhattan court today to back 19 Brooklyn residents who have asked a judge to issue an order to stop the ritual slaughter of chickens on public sidewalks and streets during the run-up to Yom Kippur.
Judge Asked To Stop Public Kapparot Chicken Slaughter Over Health And Animal Welfare Concerns
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos was in Manhattan court today to back 19 Brooklyn residents who have asked a judge to issue an order to stop the ritual slaughter of chickens on public sidewalks and streets during the run-up to Yom Kippur, the New York Post reported.
“This is an epidemic waiting to happen. We just had this Legionnaire’s break out in The Bronx where 12 people died,” Nora Marino, the lawyer for the Alliance, told the court, insisting kaparos (more normally transliterated as “kapparot” or “kapporos”) violates 15 different health and agriculture laws.
Rabbi Shea Hecht, whose Chabad organization in Crown Heights, Brooklyn stages one of the largest kapparot operations in the city told the court the lawsuit is “an attack on our religious freedom.”
Hecht’s operation has repeatedly been caught by activists dumping hundreds of slaughtered chickens in the garbage as blood, feces and feathers litter nearby public sidewalks and streets. But the city has never enforced any of the health or animal welfare laws against it.
19 people from the Borough Park, Brooklyn and Crown Heights filed suit against claiming the “stench, litter, blood, feces and feathers” from these chicken slaughters pollute city streets.
“I am an elderly woman, and this scene horrifies me each year,” said 93-year-old Borough Park resident Frances Emeric. “I saw live chickens with dead chickens and chickens screaming while the people participating in the ritual were holding the birds by their wings.”
Hecht’s attorney, David Jaroslawicz, reportedly derisively called the 19 litigants “vegetarians” and “vegans” who created up “make-believe hysteria where it doesn’t exist.”
Jaroslawicz also claimed that during the past 40 years that Hecht’s organization’s chicken slaughter has taken place, no one has ever been sickened by it. But this claim is difficult to prove, in large part because the people in closest contact with the blood, feces, and other chicken waste are Orthodox Jews – primarily Chabad hasidim – who would be forbidden by Chabad’s understanding of Orthodox Jewish law and by Chabad custom from reporting the illness to authorities.
In the kapparot ceremony, Jews transfer their sins to a live chicken or other kosher animal as they swing it overhead, and then watch as the animal is slaughtered. The ritual is meant to cause Jews to repent. Slaughtered kapparot chickens are traditionally given to the poor, but in actuality most modern day kapparot operations (like Hecht’s) do not have the ability to clean, salt and soak the slaughtered birds, and most families lack the facilities to do so, as well. So the slaughtered chickens are quietly disposed of, usually by dumping them in garbage bins and dumpsters, posing an even further health risk.
Kapparot operators claim to donate a percentage of the income they make from selling participation in the kapparot ritual to the poor, although this often cannot be verified.
In Hecht’s case, the money goes to the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education – the Chabad organization he co-heads.
Many Modern Orthodox and non-hasidic haredi Jews use money instead of a live animal to do the ritual, while others abstain from it altogether because it lacks any biblical source to support it and because it appears to have entered into Judaism from Middle Eastern pagan religions long after the destruction of the second Jerusalem Temple.
Justice Debra James announced that will issue her ruling on September 10, just before the kapparot operations are slated to begin.