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Even though Jewish law condemns cruelty to animals, every year, thousands of chickens are abused and killed in kapparot rituals on the eve of Yom Kippur. Factory farms transport chickens to kapparot sites in cramped, waste-ridden cages without giving the birds any food, water, or shelter from the elements. Many chickens die on the trip from dehydration, starvation, fear, and exposure to high temperatures. Sometimes, their feet are ripped off from such rough handling.
During the kapparot ritual, participants lift and even swing chickens by their legs or wings, even though it's common knowledge in the veterinary community that holding chickens by their wings inflicts immense pain. Next, a kosher slaughterer cuts open the chickens' necks and puts them in traffic cones to bleed out. In the most crowded and rushed kapparot events, people helping the slaughterers have been observed pulling the heads off the bleeding chickens or stuffing them into garbage bags while they're still conscious. While kapparot organizers claim that the sites donate the dead chickens to feed the poor, eyewitness investigations have found that more than two-thirds of all the slaughtered birds are simply thrown in the trash.
Two of the most influential rabbis in the history of Judaism—Maimonides and Joseph Caro—both argued that kapparot should be abandoned , and today, many Orthodox Jews forgo abusing chickens in favor of waving money. The money is then donated to charity.
Join PETA, United Poultry Concerns, the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, and fellow Jewish animal advocates in speaking out against killing chickens for kapparot. Please e-mail Rabbi Joseph Potasnik at [email protected] and Allen Fagin at [email protected], then use the form below to urge other national rabbinical leadership to use money as atonement instead.