Most Orthodox observers of the ritual swing coins symbolizing charitable gifts while reciting prayers for mercy and peace.
But some use live chickens in Kaporos ceremonies the week before Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement – waving the chickens over their heads and butchering them in public ceremonies.
This bizarre Medieval custom violates tsa'ar ba'alei chaim, the Jewish mandate to treat animals with compassion, as well as Article 26 of the New York State Anti-Cruelty Law.
Chickens used in Kaporos rituals are trucked into the city from factory farms and held in transport crates for days without food, water or shelter.
Alliance member Rina Deych, who lives in Borough Park, has witnessed chickens with their wings pinned down -- sometimes twisted backwards -- packed into crates so tight they can't move and left outdoors overnight.
They are held suspended from their wings and treated as though they were not worthy of kindness, mercy or respect. Birds dying of dehydration, injury and exhaustion are thrown into dumpsters along with the slaughtered.
Article 26 of the New York State Anti-Cruelty Law, Article 26 requires that captive animals be provided with food, water and shelter. Using chickens as Kaporos mocks the law.
The claim that the slaughtered birds are distributed to the poor ignores the fact that the birds' cruel treatment renders them non-Kosher.
A growing number of Orthodox rabbis are speaking out against the use of chickens in Kaporos on the grounds of religion, morality, and compassion for animals.
The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, the host of the September 24 rally, is a project of the not-for-profit United Poultry Concerns, formed in New York City in 2010 to promote the compassionate treatment of domestic fowl.
To learn more about the Alliance and its objectives, visit the website.
The press release from Streetsider.