By COLlive reporter
Anti Kapparos activists, opposing the age-old Jewish ritual before Yom Kippur, are planning to hold a Yizkor memorial service for the chickens.
The “candlelight vigil” is scheduled to take place in the predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park in sympathy of “the 60,000 chickens killed during the Kaparos ritual.”
Organizers said that want to “acknowledge the suffering of the 60,000 baby chickens tortured and killed in the streets of New York City every year during the ritual of Kaporos.”
Organizers claim that young chickens are stacked in transport crates on city streets, often for days leading up to the ritual, without food, water, or protection from the weather.
They also accuse those following the practice of swinging the chickens “cruelly and painfully by their wings,” while practitioners recite the verses transferring their sins and punishment symbolically onto the birds, who are then slaughtered.
The vigil is being organized by the group “Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos,” an association of groups and individuals battling the use of chickens in Kaporos ceremonies with money or other non-animal symbols of atonement.
“Most people who practice Kaporos swing a sack of money and donate the money to charity. While practitioners claim the chickens’ flesh is donated to ‘the poor,’ it is well-documented that the majority of the birds go directly into garbage bags and landfills,” said Rina Deych, RN, and Founding Member of the Alliance.
“Using chickens not only violates 15 laws and regulations including public health codes, sanitation laws, child labor laws, slaughterhouse regulations, and animal cruelty laws, but also several mandates and imperatives from the Torah and Talmud,” Deych said.
A recent article on COLlive by Rabbi Sruli Schochet of Los Angeles asserts that Orthodox Jews should be aware that these protests are “not just about kaparos.”
“When a Jewish custom is under attack, even something as innocuous as the color of our shoelaces – if challenged on a religious level – one needs to even give up one’s life defending it (Sanhedrin 74a),” Schochet wrote.
“The same people that want to do away with kaparos, want to do away with shechita, with circumcision, with anything that they feel offends their concept of ‘humane.’
“If we don’t take prophylactic measures now to fight this, unify in a mass showing of attending kaparos, ensuring that our holy traditions will not be pushed aside, we may G-d forbid be sitting around in twenty years wondering how we let things get this far,” he wrote.