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For Immediate Release
4 September 2013
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Contact: Karen Davis 757-678-7875
Rina Deych 718-216-7103
Activists Will Rally In Brooklyn, NY
to Protest Chickens in Kaporos Rituals

Moving Illuminated Billboards, Street Protests, Chicken Rescues!

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos is hosting three 2-hour protest demonstrations in Brooklyn, September 10-12, 2013, to protest the use of chickens in Kaporos ceremonies the week before Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement – in which thousands of chickens are painfully waved by their wings or legs and butchered in public ceremonies by many Orthodox Jews in New York, Los Angeles, Jerusalem and elsewhere.

This year’s Brooklyn protests will feature ILLUMINATED BILLBOARDS on the sides and back of a van projecting the voice of Hasidic Rabbi Yonassan Gershom explaining why suspending chickens by their wings is cruel and why using chickens for Kaporos violates the Torah mandate to show compassion to animals instead of hurting them. Kaporos: A Heartfelt Plea for Mercy.

Sept 9 Illuminated Van, Williamsburg & Boro Park 6-10 p.m.

Sept 10 Protest 6-8 p.m. 792 Eastern Parkway, (corner Kingston Ave.), Brooklyn, NY, 11213. Illuminated Van 7-9 p.m.

Sept 11 Protest 6-8 p.m. 502 Ave. P (corner E. 5th Street), Brooklyn, NY, 11223. Illuminated Van 7-9 p.m.

Sept 12 Protest 6-8 p.m. 792 Eastern Parkway (corner Kingston Ave.), Brooklyn, NY, 11213. Illuminated Van 7-9 p.m.

kaporos poster

The use of chickens as Kaporos (atonements) is a custom from the middle ages. Most observers swing coins while reciting prayers for mercy and peace. The use of chickens violates tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the Torah mandate to show compassion to animals. In the words of Orthodox Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, Kaporos observers “should be cultivating mercy for all those who suffer and not be perpetuating pain on sentient creatures in the name of piety.”

New York State Anti-Cruelty Law, Article 26, states that animals must have fresh food, water, and protection from the elements. But chickens used in Kaporos rituals are held for days in transport crates without food, water or shelter. Brooklyn resident Rina Deych states: “I live in Boro Park. Every year, I see chickens ROUTINELY thrown into dumpsters, the dead along with birds who are dying of dehydration, injury, exhaustion, and pain.”

In “Chicken Tzedakah” in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles Oct. 2, 2012, reporter Pini Herman said contrary to claims that Kaporos chickens are given to the poor, “I estimate that I personally saw at two locations over 50 large garbage bags of dead chickens, some of whom I could feel or see through the plastic.” Chickens “went directly to the Department of Sanitation garbage truck at all the sites I observed in the Pico-Robertson area.” Live chickens with cut throats were tossed into “a large 55 gallon barrel covered with a lid with a chute to prevent many of the still moving chickens from inadvertently getting out.”

This year, anti-Kaporos efforts will be bi-coastal, with street protests in Los Angeles, as well as Brooklyn. On September 8, FAITH ACTION FOR ANIMALS will hold a Compassionate Kapparot Ceremony followed by a demonstration against the killing of chickens as Kapparot during the Jewish season of repentance.

The voice of Orthodox Rabbi Yonassan Gershom will project loudly from our illuminated van in Brooklyn: “Please do not torture a bird this way – this is not a mitzvah, our Torah does not require this, it will not cancel your sins. I beg you, please give money, instead of hurting one of God’s living creatures.”

More and more Orthodox rabbis agree. In 2010, Rabbi Steven Weil, CEO of the Orthodox Union of Rabbis in New York City, told the Alliance that the OU opposes using chickens as Kaporos due to the ritual’s “insensitivity” to the birds and the lack of historical foundation.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Head of Jerusalem’s Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim, stated on video in 2010 that due to the animal cruelty, “It is recommended that one should conduct the atonement ceremony with money.”

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Congress and Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, wrote: “Those who wish to fulfill this custom can do so fully by using money.”

Rabbi Shlomo Segal, Rabbi of Beth Shalom of Kings Bay in Brooklyn, states: “The pain caused to the chickens in the process of performing Kapparot is absolutely unnecessary. Giving money is a more humane method.”

“There is a perfectly acceptable Kaporos practice that avoids animal cruelty, reduces hunger and shows compassion to all,” says the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos. “Money can be given directly to charity. People ask mercy from G-d. The chickens need mercy from us. We urge Kaporos observers to show mercy and use money instead of chickens.”

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos is a project of United Poultry Concerns comprising an association of groups and individuals who seek to replace the use of chickens in Kaporos rituals with money or other non-animal symbols of atonement.

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