Help Us End the Use of Chickens in Cruel Kaporos Ritual


Our plea is prompted by the horrific cruelty to chickens at Kaporos sites year after year in New York City, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Chicago and everywhere the ritual is conducted. Thousands of chickens are trucked onto city streets from factory farms. They are crammed in transport crates without food or water for as long as four days. They are deprived of shelter from rain, heat and cold. Often their toes and feet are ripped off during the neglectful handling of the transport crates where they sit miserably immobilized in their own feces. Many die in the crates of starvation, dehydration, heat stress, and fear.

This year the ritual takes place the week of September 25-29, 2017.

What is Kaporos?

Kaporos (“atonements”) is a ritual preceding Yom Kippur - the Jewish Day of Atonement - in which chickens are “swung” and slaughtered by certain ultra-orthodox Jewish communities. Practitioners wave the chickens over their heads by the legs or by pinning the bird’s wings backward while reciting a chant about transferring their sins and punishment symbolically onto the bird. The chickens are slaughtered in the open air and claimed to be given to “the poor.”

The practitioners’ manner of holding the birds by their wings has been condemned by veterinarians and animal scientists. Dr. Amir Kashiv, a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, wrote that suspending chickens by their wings “places an unnatural tension on ligaments, tendons and bones. Swinging the bird in the air can cause dislocations, tears, ruptures and broken bones.” Dr. Ian Duncan, Professor Emeritus of Poultry Science at the University of Guelph, states that suspending chickens by their wings is “extremely painful.”

The mistreatment of the chickens before, during and after the Kaporos ritual, when many are left alive, writhing and crying on the ground, violates the New York State animal cruelty law and desecrates the Torah mandate of Tzaar Balei Chayim, which forbids causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals. It violates the Talmudic mandate that one must feed one’s animals before feeding oneself.

Despite claims that the chickens are donated to the poor, most are trashed. A 2016 investigation found that at Brooklyn’s largest Kaporos site in Crown Heights, two thirds of the slaughtered chickens were stuffed in plastic trash bags. Local media filmed slaughtered Kaporos chickens being picked up by a company whose employees said the corpses would be turned into biodiesel. Dozens of trash bags full of dead birds were loaded onto the truck. The lack of refrigeration at most Kaporos sites means that the birds cannot legally be used for human consumption regardless.

What Can I Do?
  • In light of these facts, many rabbis have come out against the use of chickens for Kaporos including some who once used chickens but now use money.Please urge the following associations to join these compassionate rabbis by opposing the use of chickens for Kaporos and encouraging the use of money instead.


    Orthodox Union
    Attn: Mr. Allen I. Fagin, Executive Vice President
    11 Broadway New York, NY 10004
    Phone: 212-563-4000
    All OU executives, titles & email addresses are listed here:

    Rabbinical Council of America
    Attn: Rabbi Elazar Muskin
    305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
    New York, New York 10001
    Phone: 212-807-9000; 212-741-7522
    Fax: 212-727-8452

    Vaad Harabonim of Flatbush
    Attn: Rabbi Meir Goldberg
    1206 Avenue J
    Brooklyn, NY 11230
    Phone: 718-951-8585
    Email via this website:

    The New York Board of Rabbis
    Attn: Rabbi Joseph Potasnik
    Executive Vice President
    136 East 39th Street
    New York, NY 10016
    Phone: 212-983-3521
    Fax: 212-983-3531

    Agudath Israel of America
    Attn: Rabbi Shia Markowitz, CEO
    Attn: Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President
    42 Broadway
    New York, NY 10004
    Phone: 212-797-9000

    Rabbinical Alliance of America
    Attn: Rabbi Mendel Mirocznik
    Executive Vice President
    305 Church Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11218
    Phone: 212-242-6420; 718-532-8720

  • Sign our petition, adding your voice to thousands of other caring people who have signed it!

    If you have access to the Internet, please sign our petition to the above-listed rabbinical groups. Go to and click on the link Urge Jewish Community to Do Kaporos with Money, Not Chickens. Fill out the short form, hit the Signature button, and that’s it!