Machipongo, VA – June 16, 2014 –
In the U.S. and worldwide each year, millions of chickens are cruelly slaughtered by some members of the Orthodox Jewish community in a ritual called
Kaporos. Experts on constitutional law, theology and animal rights gathered for a historic panel at the New York City Bar Association, Committee on Animal
Law, this past Thursday evening. The standing room only audience heard from experts including Karen Davis, Ph.D., United Poultry Concerns, Kaporos Alliance; Lori Barrett, Esq.,
Committee on Animal Law; Gary Francione, Esq., Rutgers University School of Law; Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., Jewish Vegetarians of North America; and Rabbi
Eliyahu Soiefer, Jewish Vegetarians of North America Rabbinic Council. The panel was moderated by Elizabeth Stein, Esq., Committee on Animal Law.
“We were delighted to see the interest about the topic among the general public, since most people have no idea that this cruel ritual exists,”
said Davis who founded the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos in 2010 to shed light on the practice. “Kaporos, meaning ‘atonements,’ is
a custom in which a chicken or money may be used. Using chickens is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur. Davis described how a rooster (for a
man) or a hen (for a woman) is held above the person’s head and swung in a circle three times in the belief that they are transferring human sins to
the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and may or may not be given to the poor for food. Members of the public have written letters complaining about
animal cruelty on public sidewalks, streets and pedestrian malls, as well as the human health hazards of Kaporos as a result of the blood, feces and dead
or dying chickens left where the ritual is performed.
“The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos is an association of people who seek to replace the use of chickens in Kaporos ceremonies with money or
other non-animal symbols of atonement. The Alliance does not oppose Kaporos per se, only the unnecessary use of chickens in the ceremony,” Davis
said. “It’s plain and simple animal cruelty. Their misery is so compounded that the best thing to happen to them under the circumstances is to
die,” she told the seminar attendees regarding the 2,500 chickens who died of heat stroke, starvation and thirst in the transport crates in Brooklyn
during the 2013 week of Kaporos.
Many religious Jews also oppose using chickens as Kaporos. “Dr. Amir Kashiv, a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, reviewed our
videos of Kaporos,” Davis said. He reported that, ‘…lifting the bird by its wings places an unnatural tension on ligaments, tendons and
bones. Swinging the bird in the air can cause dislocations, tears, ruptures and broken bones. The manner in which chickens are handled during the ritual of
Kaporos is, in my view, painful and harmful and thus inhumane.’ ”
Davis added, “While the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos focuses on Kaporos, our campaign is part of the broader discussion about the way chickens
are mistreated in our society and around the world – just as cruelly and needlessly. When people express horror over images depicting what Kaporos
chickens go through, it provides an opportunity to point out that the chicken on their plate suffered no less.”
Kaporos protests are planned later this year in New York and Los Angeles.
For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://www.endchickensaskaporos.com or www.upc-online.org, Facebook and twitter @upcnews.
Susan Tellem, APR, RN. BSN
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.