An age old animal sacrifice continues… Kapparot

Posted in: Activism



It is once again the time of year when tens of thousands of innocent beings are killed in the streets for tradition. The Kapparot, a customary Jewish atonement ritual, is set to begin the weekend of October 8th in preparation for Yum Kippur. It is a ritual involving chickens that are used as sacrifices to absolve one’s sins. Chickens are bought by individuals to rid them of their sins and then slaughtered in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people. The birds are executed by having their wings held back and their throat sliced open. Since the chickens are broiler chickens they have breasts much larger than they would without genetic mutation. When their wings are pulled back it tears the tendons in their shoulders and the chickens scream in pain just as you or I would if our tendons were forcefully torn. They are then tossed into a trashcan without even having the chance to bleed out. They are still very much alive, necks dripping with blood and wings flapping violently. Soon after, another bird (who shared a similar fate) is thrown on top. With tens of birds sacked on top of each other in the trash they usually die from suffocation before they bleed out.

Not only is their death horrible, but the days before they are killed are full of suffering. Chickens are stuffed into milk crates so tightly that they do not have room to open their wings, much less, turn around. Thousands of chickens are piled in these crates onto trucks and transported hours away to their destination. They are left for days without food or water until it is time for their execution. This tradition kills over 50,000 chickens in less than a week. According to the Code of Jewish Law, the chickens are supposed to be treated “humanely”, however, they are most certainly treated like objects, things devoid of life. They are tortured for days before they are savagely killed. Their flesh is supposed to be donated to feed the poor but because they do not acquire the necessary permits, it is no surprise that they do not slaughter the animals in suitable conditions (or even refrigerate the remains) so the carcasses are thrown into landfills.

Chickens are used in Kapparot as vessels of sin. The prayer that is said follows: “This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. The rooster (chicken) will go to its death, while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and to peace.” Even the smallest of children take part in this violent act; pregnant women have the ritual done once for them as well as for their baby (even though the unborn child has not yet sinned, odd isn’t it?).

Personally, I am not religious but I have no problem with people following whatever religion they want; as long as it does not hurt others. Killing a chicken to atone for one’s sins is ludicrous; the person is the one who sinned but yet the innocent chicken is punished. There is another version of this sacrifice that uses money as atonement instead of a live chicken. The money is then given to charity; however, this version is not practiced as often because using the chicken is more profitable. People pay $40-50 per chicken, it’s all about making money.

As you can imagine, many animal rights organizations oppose this practice. It happens in Brooklyn NY, Israel, Lakewood NJ, and many other places around the world. We, the Animal Advocates, are traveling to New York to protest the event from 10/9-10/11. Not only that, we will be rescuing chickens that would be slaughtered and bringing them to Animal Rescue Inc. There, they will live out their natural lives – cared for and loved. If you would like to visit these beautiful birds – please let us know!

Whether it’s 45 million turkeys for Thanksgiving, 50,000 chickens for Kapparot, or 15,000 dogs for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, killing animals in the name of tradition is wrong. Standing up for animals by actively protesting and advocating for a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle is what will change hearts and minds.

If we can be anything in this world, we should be kind.

-The 15th Dalai Llama

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