Winter 2016-2017 Poultry Press NEXT
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Alliance to End Chicken Kaporos Campaign Heats Up!

Bicoastal Lawsuits, Media Revelations, NYC City Hall Rally, Chickens Rescued, and More

What is Kaporos?

Kaporos or Kapparot, meaning “atonements” or “substitution,” is a custom practiced by certain Hasidic communities in the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement in the fall. A chicken, money or other token of atonement is waved over the practitioner’s head who chants that this action will bring him or her peace in the year ahead. Kaporos is a custom dating to the 9th century. It is not a Jewish law. The use of chickens as Kaporos – in which a practitioner’s sins and punishment of death are transferred to the “substitute,” who is then slaughtered – has been criticized by rabbis and scholars as cruel, shameful, embarrassing, and absurd.

What Happens to Kaporos Chickens?

The chickens are mistreated in the days leading up to, during, and after Kaporos. In the U.S., Israel and elsewhere the ritual is performed, thousands of birds are trucked in from farms crammed in transport crates and forced to sit, uncared for, for days in their own waste without food, water, or shelter from the weather including pouring rain. During the ritual, practitioners rotate the chickens suspended by their legs or wings over their heads causing pain and potential injury to the birds’ fragile ligaments and bones.

In the performance of Kaporos in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and other sites, a carnival atmosphere prevails. Birds are crying, babies are screaming. Children and teenagers maltreat the chickens for fun. Dead and dying chickens, blood, body parts and plastic garbage bags are strewn in the streets and piled in Dumpsters. When the ritual is over, practitioners leave their carnage for sanitation workers to truck to landfills, while claiming the bodies are given to “the poor.”


kaporos chicken eye

Brooklyn, New York

In 2010, United Poultry Concerns formed the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos with a group of New York City activists. Our goal was and is to expose and eliminate the use of chickens as Kaporos. Our methods include street protests, video documentation and urging mainstream journalists to investigate and report their own findings. This year, for example, journalist Nathan Tempey reported in the Gothamist on October 12th:

“Most Hasidic Jews I’ve spoken to in Brooklyn about Kapparot, the annual pre-Yom Kippur chicken slaughter ritual, say the meat . . . goes to charity. Given the challenges of safely storing and transporting chicken carcasses for human consumption . . . it seems safe to say that if you don’t see some large refrigeration equipment at a Kaporos event, the meat is probably not edible, or shouldn’t be eaten. Indeed, at this year’s large-scale events Monday evening on President Street at Kingston Avenue and on the Eastern Parkway service road, no refrigeration was apparent. Helpers for the ritual slaughterers could be seen tossing the birds, covered in blood and dusted with feces from their time in stacked crates, into trash bags and cans after their throats were slit. The following morning, an animal rights activist recorded this video that seems to show workers throwing out chicken bodies from both sites. The activist counted over 23 full trash cans emptied.” – Nathan Tempey, Gothamist
kaporos biodiesel
kaporos protest

New York City Lawsuit

In 2015, the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court seeking an injunction against Kaporos in Brooklyn. The lawsuit prepared by Alliance attorney, Nora Constance Marino, named the City of New York, NYPD and City Health Department for failing to enforce 15 public health and animal cruelty laws violated by Kaporos practitioners. Marino argues: “There is absolutely no religious exemption for breaking laws designed to protect public health and safety.”

On September 14, 2015, the New York Supreme Court denied our request, and Marino filed an appeal on behalf of the Alliance, which is now pending.

City Hall Rally & Open Letter to NYC Mayor in The New York Times

In October, the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos purchased a quarter-page space in The New York Times. Published October 4, 2016, our Open Letter to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – The Illegal Slaughter of Chickens on Our Streets Must Stop – demands that the City enforce the laws and stop helping Kaporos violators perform their illegal activities: “Each year, the city participates in this illegal activity by providing the practitioners with police protection, barricades and orange [traffic] cones that are used to bleed out birds whose throats have been cut.” In conjunction with our Letter, the Alliance hosted a press briefing and rally on the steps of New York City Hall on October 5th, and held protests in Brooklyn October 9th & 10th.

kaporos city hall rally

Orange County, California Lawsuit

This year, in addition to our New York City campaign, United Poultry Concerns was the plaintiff in a federal Kaporos lawsuit filed by San Diego attorneys Bryan W. Pease and David R. Simon in September against Chabad of Irvine in Orange County. According to Pease, “For more than 20 years, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have mistakenly believed they cannot enforce basic animal cruelty laws against the religious sacrifice of animals. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Fantastic Activism for the Kaporos Chickens!

Activists rallied in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and Southern California like never before on behalf of the Kaporos chickens. The planning, courage and care for these birds, for weeks and hours before, during, and following Kaporos, is hugely gratifying and profoundly inspiring! Several wonderful sanctuaries, including And-Hof, Indraloka, Woodstock and others, are providing permanent care and rehabilitation for the more than 300 birds we were able to rescue this year from Kaporos in Brooklyn, New York.

ex-kaporos chickens and-hof
Ex-Kaporos Chickens Meet Willie the Pig at And-Hof Sanctuary in Upstate New York

ex-kaporos chickens woodstock
Ex-Kaporos Chickens at Woodstock Sanctuary in NY

ex-kaporos chickens little red bird
Ex-Kaporos Chickens at Little Red Bird Sanctuary in CA

Media Coverage!

Through October our campaign against Kaporos received major news coverage including articles in The New York Times, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Gothamist, Public Radio International, and more! To read these articles and watch the videos, visit www.EndChickensAsKaporos.com.


More Good News!

To help cover the cost of our New York City lawsuit, we launched an online Fundraiser at the end of September. We’re thrilled to report that we reached our goal of $25,000 thanks entirely to your support! A matching pledge of $5,000 to the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos gives us $30,000 to continue our fight to force the City of New York to enforce the laws being violated by Kaporos practitioners. If the laws are enforced, there will be no Kaporos.

kaporos blood on hands

Help us win this fight for the birds!

Your check, money order, or online donation will help us win. Simply note “Kaporos” on your check, money order or online donation form, and your tax-deductible donation will be deposited in our Special Kaporos Account. To donate online, go to www.upc-online.org/donate.htm.

Thank You!

Winter 2016-2017 Poultry Press NEXT