Kaporos: A Heartfelt Plea for Mercy
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Photos courtesy Rabbi Gershom, Chabad On Line and Carol Guzy, The Washington Post
This 60-second film concerns the yearly ritual of Kaporos, in which certain Jewish groups needlessly and cruelly sacrifice chickens for human sin in the days preceding Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, who created this film, was formed in 2010 as a project of United Poultry Concerns comprising individuals and groups who seek to replace the use of chickens in Kaporos rituals with money or other non-animal symbols of atonement. To learn more, please visit the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos.
This film features Yonassan Gershom, a Bresov Hasidic rabbi speaking in 2013 on behalf of kindness to chickens and against the use of chickens in Kaporos rituals.
“Shalom, fellow Chasidim! My name is Rabbi Gershom, I live on a farm, and I have been around chickens all my life. You have been told that holding a chicken by its wings that way will make the bird calm and relaxed. This is not true! The bird is terrified, it is playing dead, the way it does if it is grabbed by a dog or a wolf. It is hoping you will let go so it can escape. Imagine somebody pulling your arms back, then hanging you up by the elbows. You would stop struggling, but you would NOT be calm or relaxed! You would be in terrible fear and pain, the same as these poor chickens are now. 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.”