Thousands of chickens meant for use in the kapparot ritual done by many haredim with live chickens in the run-up to Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement which begins tonight) died from heat-related causes in Brooklyn Wednesday.
Thousands Of Kapparot Chickens Die From Heat Stroke In Brooklyn
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Thousands of chickens meant for use in the kapparot ritual – done by many haredim with live chickens in the run-up to Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement which begins tonight) – died from heat-related causes in Brooklyn Wednesday, the Daily News reported.
Even though hasidim claimed the chickens had been given adequate food and water, it is likely that is not a completely true statement. Additionally, kapparot chickens are often kept in tiny cages with no room to move in the hot sun with no shad, hundreds of chickens in cages stacked in tiers in the hot sun – sometimes for days.
In previous years, numerous incidents of animal cruelty and neglect have been documented along with rampant health code violations. And thousands of chickens were slaughtered in the ritual and then surreptitiously dumped in the trash instead of being given to the poor to eat as the ritual prescribes.
Skwere Mosdos and Machzikai Hadas seem to have been particularly hard hit. However, no comprehensive survey of kapparot operations was done, so it is impossible to tell how many chickens perished from a combination of unseasonably high temperatures and lack of proper shade, water and food.
A few moderate rabbis have urged hasidic kapparot operators to take better care of the chickens and to follow all health codes and other civil laws, to no avail.
Protests by animal rights activists, a common sight at kapparot operations in recent years, have largely fallen on deaf ears, and New York City officials – working for politicians who are often beholden to haredi bloc votes – have repeatedly failed to enforce the law and minimize or stop this animal cruelty.
In the ceremony – which appears to derive from ancient pagan practice – a live chicken is waved or swung above one's head as a text calling for one's sins to be transferred to the chicken is read. After that, the chicken is slaughtered as the practitioner watches, contemplating that, by all rights, God should be killing him because of his sins, instead of allowing the chicken to be slaughtered by man. The slaughtered chicken is then supposed to be given to the poor as food.
However, in many cases the slaughtered chickens are simply put in plastic garbage bags and dumped in trash dumpsters.
In some cases, live chickens have been put in garbage bags and suffocated to death if they were found to be too ill to be used for kapparot or if there were more chickens than practitioners.
Chickens are purchased from kapparot operators by practitioners for approximately $10 per bird. Large hasidic families may need to buy more than a dozen birds, one for each family member.
Most Modern Orthodox and many non-hasidic haredi Jews perform the ritual with money, swinging the cash as one would swing a live chicken and then donating the money to charity.