Neta Sela, Roi Mandel
Published 09.28.06, 10:31
Rabbis, animal welfare organizations are calling for an end to the pre-Yom Kippur ritual of slaughtering chickens for Kapparot: 'It is inconceivable that we seek to purify ourselves by slaughtering the helpless'
Sunday morning, a few hours before the Yom Kippur fast, many Jews will perform the Kapparot ritual and will wave a soon-to-be slaughtered chicken around their heads. This ancient Jewish custom, which is meant to transfer divine punishment to the soul of a chicken, has been around for generations. Recently however it has encountered opposition by animal welfare groups and even some rabbis.
First a few words about the practice and its purpose. According to tradition, the father of the house takes a male rooster and the wife takes a female chicken. Each of them holds the animal in his or her right hand and recites a number of verses.
Additional objections to the ritual killing of chickens come from animal welfare societies. Dozens of "Anonymous for Animal Rights"
activists demonstrated at the Carmel market in Tel Aviv against this 'cruel abuse' of chickens.
"Save lives and not a life for a life" and "Don't add another sin to your crimes" were just some of the placards waved at the demonstration. The demonstrators received a frosty reception from the vendors who threw water on them and asked them to disperse. An additional demonstration took place in Jerusalem.
"It does not make sense that we are asking to purify ourselves on Yom Kippur through the slaughter of a helpless animal," says Chedva Vanderbrook, a board member of the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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Karen Davis's response to the article.
Thank you for "Rabbis cry 'fowl' on ritual use of chickens" by Neta Sela and Roi Mandel (9/28/06). Rabbi Gilad Kariv's comment that "slaughtering chickens is an unfit custom" of atonement is right. The mercy ascribed to God by those who seek God's mercy for themselves is withheld from the chickens in Kapparot. The ritual therefore compounds the sin instead of purifying the sinner. A merciless act can never bring absolution or peace to the soul.
Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
12325 Seaside Rd, PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405