Fall-Winter 2013 Poultry Press NEXT
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Kaporos Campaign Report: A Heartfelt Plea for Mercy
kaporos ny crates
Sept. 2013 New York Daily News photo

“Their misery is so totally compounded that the best thing to happen to them under the circumstances is to die,” said Davis. “They didn’t have to suffer the further pain and indignity” of Kaporos. – UPC President Karen Davis quoted in the New York Daily News, September 12, 2013 regarding the 2500 chickens who died of heat stroke, starvation, and thirst in the transport crates in Brooklyn during the week of the Kaporos ritual.

kaporos poster

Activists In Brooklyn, NY & Los Angeles, CA Protest Chicken Kaporos Ritual
Moving Illuminated Billboards, Street Protests, Chicken Rescues

kaporos use money not chickens
Sept. 2013 Photo by Linda Obuchoska
Our illuminated red van urges Use Money, Not Chickens!


The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos hosted three 2-hour street demonstrations in Brooklyn on September 10-12, 2013 to protest the use of chickens in Kaporos rituals the week before Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement – in which thousands of chickens are trucked to cities each year to be waved by their wings and butchered in public ceremonies by participating Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. The point of Kaporos (which means “atonements” and has various spellings including Kapparot) is to pass the sins and punishment of the sinner onto a chicken to suffer and die in the sinner’s place. Kaporos is a medieval custom, not a religious mandate or mainstream observance. Most Kaporos observers swing packets of coins and donate directly to charity as an expression of mercy and repentance.

kaporos use money not chickens van2
Sept. 2013 Photo by Linda Obuchoska

reina deych red van
Sept. 2013 Photo by Linda Obuchoska
Alliance activist Rina Deych

ny vigil for chickens dead in crates
Sept. 2013 Photo by Miriam Chisholm
Brooklyn Vigil For Chickens Who Died in Their Crates Awaiting Kaporos Torture

Brooklyn protests this year organized by the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos featured MOVING ILLUMINATED BILLBOARDS on the sides and back of a big red 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. In Kaporos: A Heartfelt Plea for Mercy, Rabbi Gershom implores: “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.”

Although New York State Anti-Cruelty Law, Article 26, requires animals to have fresh food, water, and protection from the weather, chickens used for Kaporos are held for days in transport crates stacked on the streets, trapped in their own waste with no water or food. Thursday evening September 12, the chickens were exposed to pouring rain following the intense heat that suffocated 2500 birds earlier that day. No compassion was shown by Kaporos practitioners to the birds who sat shivering and huddled in the downpour.

Slaughtered Kaporos chickens are said to be “given to the poor,” but Brooklyn resident Rina Deych says that, in fact: “Every year I see chickens ROUTINELY thrown into dumpsters, the dead along with birds who are dying of dehydration, injury, exhaustion, and pain.” This year, footage of live chickens writhing on the ground with their throats cut and being thrown into plastic garbage bags by Kaporos butchers in Brooklyn was obtained. It can be watched by clicking on Kaporos in Brooklyn: Behind the Scenes, September 2013 at www.EndChickensAsKaporos.com.

kaporos safe haven
On a kinder note, Alliance activists rescued and found loving sanctuary homes for 176 chickens this
year – our largest rescue since we launched the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos in 2010.

kaporos la caged hens
Tortured battery-caged hens must now bear the sins and
punishment of Kaporos observers in Los Angeles, Sept. 2013

Los Angeles

“We expected to be met with resistance. We expected to see chickens suffering. But we could never have expected what actually transpired. Chickens who were crammed in cages, stepping on each other, bleeding, defecating and laying eggs over each other that would crack open and ooze through the wire cage floor onto the chickens below, becoming caked on what few matted feathers they had. Chickens with nails two inches long. Chickens panting in the 90 degree heat. Chickens with pus-filled holes where their eyes used to be. Chickens who were given no food or water except for the occasional hose-down after enough pleading from activists to ‘please be merciful.’ Workers dumping entrails and blood into storm drains. Workers throwing the hacked up remains of chickens at protesters and laughing about it.” – Vegan Rabbit Blog Post, September 16, 2013

kaporos la protest
Los Angeles activists protest the Kaporos slaughter of “spent” egg-laying hens, Sept. 2013

This year, anti-Kaporos protests took place in Los Angeles as well as in Brooklyn. On September 8, FAITH ACTION FOR ANIMALS, headed by Rabbi Jonathan Klein, held a demonstration that unexpectedly branched into a week of protests, including the rescue of 63 hens.

kaporos la discarded hens
Photo of discarded Kaporos chickens: Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, October 2, 2012

A spring to action in Los Angeles this year were the 2012 disclosures, in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, that contrary to claims that LA’s Kaporos chickens are “donated to the poor,” the LA Department of Sanitation disposed of 20,000 pounds of dead chickens in 2012. Journalist Pini Herman wrote: “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.”

kaporos la spent hens
“Spent” egg-laying hens suffer alone in an alley behind 8701 Pico Blvd awaiting torture
and slaughter for Kaporos. LA Weekly photo, September 13, 2013

Momentum Grows to End Chicken Kaporos

End Chickens As Kaporos As well as more and more animal rights activists getting involved, and potential legal challenges in the works, more and more Orthodox rabbis are publicly condemning Kaporos on grounds of animal cruelty and sacrilege. 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.”

“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 God. 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 individuals and groups who seek to replace the use of chickens in Kaporos rituals with money or other non-animal symbols of atonement. Please support our effort. To learn more and make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.EndChickensAsKaporos.com. Thank You!

la activist carries hen to freedom
LA activist carries a rescued Kaporos hen to freedom. Sept. 2013.
Fall-Winter 2013 Poultry Press NEXT