Fall 2014 Poultry Press NEXT
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Karen Davis, PhD Discusses Animal Slaughter at Historic NYC Bar Association Forum on Animal Sacrifice and "Chicken" Kaporos nyc bar kaporos forum
Photo by Miriam Lucille
Left to right: Rabbi Soiefer, Lori Barrett, Gary Francione, Richard Schwartz, Karen Davis

In the U.S. and worldwide each year, millions of chickens are trucked to urban areas from factory farms to be used in an ultraorthodox Jewish ritual known as Kaporos. On June 12, 2014, experts on constitutional law, theology and animal rights gathered for a historic panel at the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Animal Law to discuss this ritual. The standing room only audience heard from panelists 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., NYC Bar Association Committee on Animal Law.

“We were delighted to see the interest in the topic among the general public, since most people have no idea that this cruel ritual exists,” said Karen Davis who founded the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos in 2010 to replace the use of chickens in Kaporos with non-animal symbols of atonement.

As part of her summary of the Forum presentations, Alliance member, Rina Deych, wrote of Karen Davis’s presentation on the Suffering of Chickens in the Kaporos Rituals:

Dr. Karen Davis put the focus on the chickens with an impassioned description, including PowerPoint images, of the intense suffering of the birds used for Kaporos. She described the misery the chickens endure being stacked in transport crates without food, water, or protection from the elements. Citing veterinary opinions, she explained how cruel it is for the chickens to be yanked out of the crates by their fragile wings (which were never intended by Nature to support their bodies), sometimes being held for very long periods by their wings while practitioners carry on conversations on the pavement holding the chickens as if they were bags of groceries. She described how the chickens are swung by the practitioners and then handed to a slaughterer who cuts their throats, after which they are pushed, face down, into bleed-out receptacles to thrash and choke in their own blood. After that, many of the birds are thrown dead and alive into plastic garbage bags.

rina deych

“Dr. Davis described and showed a photograph of how birds who aren’t used in the ritual are sometimes simply abandoned by the Kaporos practitioners to die in their crates. She noted that when people express horror over the Kaporos ritual and the suffering endured by the birds, members of the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos quickly point out that the chickens on their plates, if they are still eating chickens, suffered no less. She explained that Alliance members advocate veganism every day but that our vegan advocacy includes advocating for these particular chickens and making them and their suffering visible to public consciousness.”

– Rina Deych, Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos. Rina’s entire summary can be read, and an audiotape of the Forum can be listened to, at www.EndChickensAsKaporos.com.

Fall 2014 Poultry Press NEXT