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Brooklyn Chickens Rescued from Ceremony

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Chickens in crates

Crammed in crates before the ceremony

Kapparot (also spelled Kaparos, meaning “atonements”) is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a young rooster or hen. It is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  It is not widely observed, but can most commonly be seen in ultra-orthodox communities where the ceremony is held on public streets. The person swings the chicken around his or her head while reciting prayers, and the belief is that there is a transference of one’s sins symbolically onto the bird.

The exact details of the ceremony vary by region and congregation, but as practiced on public streets in NYC the young birds are either held by the legs or by painfully pinning the bird’s fragile wings together behind their back. The chickens chirp loudly in terror and pain, and in some cases their tiny bones break.  After the ritual, videos clearly show that the birds then have their throats slit or are stuffed back into their cages until slaughter that evening or the next day, right there on the street (See eyewitness video further down the page).  During all of this they do not have access to food or water, and are stacked in cramped cages on the street or in an open truck. >Read more about the ceremony and modern alternatives

Incoming chickens were checked for injuries

Incoming chickens were checked for injuries


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As we do every year, Woodstock Sanctuary welcomed a flock of very lucky birds who were rescued or discarded during and after the ceremonies. They arrived dehydrated, weak and hungry. Some had protruding bones sticking out of their wings, broken bones, open sores, smashed toes that required amputation (from crates stacked on top of one another) and other injuries.

Now safe, they are doing great, are full of spunk and have so much personality!




WARNING: Graphic Video

A coalition of compassionate people have banded together to promote the use of money, instead of chickens, in the ritual of Kaporos.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos seeks to replace chickens in kaporos rituals for 3 principal reasons:

  • The use of chickens as kaporos is cruel. The birds suffer when being held with their wings pinned backward, swung over the heads of practitioners, and in being packed in crates, often for days without food or water leading up to the ritual.  All these actions violate tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the mandate prohibiting cruelty to animals.
  • The use of chickens is not required by Jewish law. It is not a mitzvah but a custom that originated in the middle ages.
  • There is an acceptable substitute that not only avoids cruelty but can help reduce hunger and show compassion. Money can be used as a non-animal alternative, and funds raised can be given directly to charities that provide food for the poor and hungry throughout the year, including 13,000 Jewish families living at or below the poverty line in New York City.


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