The Jewish ritual is over 2,000 years old
Kaporos, a Jewish ceremony in which chickens are killed to atone for sins, can go ahead in Brooklyn after a judge ruled that the ritual was not a public nuisance
Ultra Orthodox Jews in New York will be allowed to perform the traditional “Kaporos” chicken killing ritual this year, after a judge in Manhattan rejected a bid to have the practice banned.
Every year in the ten days leading up to Yom Kippur – the holiest day for Jews – thousands of chickens are killed in the ceremony, to cleanse believers of their sins.
Men take roosters and women take hens, and the birds are whirled around their heads. As they do so, they chant: “This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life.” The chicken then has its throat cut, and the meat is handed out to the poor.
The ritual is over 2,000 years old. Many people substitute a bag of coins for a chicken, and then give the coins to charity. Ultra Orthodox worshippers, however, still use live animals and 50,000 chickens have been ordered in Brooklyn in preparation for this year’s ceremony.
In recent years animal rights activists have called for it to be banned, and a group calling themselves The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos took the matter to court.
They argued that the ritual had grown into a “carnival-like and chaotic public nuisance,” as more and more participants inhumanely killed the birds, they claimed, and then left carcasses in the street.
But on Monday Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Debra James ruled that the ritual could go ahead, as there was not enough evidence to prove it was a public nuisance.
“No one has the right to change our religion, and this ruling proves we can’t be touched,” said Yossi Ibrahim, 27, in the Hasidic district of Crown Heights, in Brooklyn.
Nora Constance Marino, the activists’ lawyer, said she was “devastated.”
“I’m beside myself right now,’’ she said. “I’m devastated because this is an egregious event with respect to public-health issues, quality-of-life issues and animal-cruelty issues.
“To be forced to endure opening up your front door annually to a mass animal slaughter is just dumbfounding.”