Animal rights activists across the country and government leaders are raising
their voices against the Yom Kippur eve ritual of kapparot – the swinging of
live chickens over one’s head.
Overwhelmingly, the activists have
expressed that they favor the practice of financial kapparot – achieving
atonement by donating money to the poor – over the practice of swinging the
chickens, which they deem severe animal cruelty. Many of the organizations cite
Jewish rabbis and luminaries from across the ages – such as the Ramban and the
Rashba – as speaking out against the practice.
One animal rights
organization, Hakol Chai, has launched a petition called “Atone in Money and Not
in Chickens” on the petitioning website Atzuma, which its leaders are to be
submitting to Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett.
argues that prior to Yom Kippur, hundreds of thousands of chickens are left in
uncomfortable conditions without water or food, after which they experience
great suffering to their wings and legs during the ceremony itself.
Thursday evening, three days after its conception, the numbers had climbed to
That evening, a protest against the practice and animal
abuse in general occurred in Petah Tikvah’s Kikar Hameyasdim, led by Meretz
Petah Tikva and the Vegan Friendly organization. Ahead of the protest, the
demonstrators called the practice a “pointless and primitive tradition,”
stressing that it must come to an end.
Environmental Protection Minister
Amir Peretz has likewise called for the public to stop using live chickens as
part of their pre-holiday rituals.
Instead of performing the practice of
kapparot – or literally atonement – by swinging live chickens, Peretz suggests
that people perform their redemption ritual by donating money.
to the kapparot service practiced on the eve of Yom Kippur, animals are held in
crowded and difficult conditions, the minister explained.
because many of the chickens are not slaughtered properly according to halacha,
a great portion of their carcasses just end up being discarded, Peretz
Over the years, many rabbis have come out against the practice and
have called upon the public to choose the financial atonement option instead, he
“Yom Kippur is a day of reflection, and especially on this day
there is no place to cause so much suffering to animals,” Peretz said. “There is
the much more humane custom for atonement, and I urge the public to stop this
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), who is behind a bill to ban the
sales of foie gras in Israel, has similar been outspoken against the practice of
the kapparot ritual, for reasons similar to those of Peretz.
organization Anonymous for Animal Rights meanwhile has turned to the chief
rabbis of Israel, calling upon them to take a stand on the issue and encourage
financial atonement instead of the use of chickens. Members of Anonymous have
distributed leaflets and posters at synagogues around the country that read:
“Save souls, and not soul for soul.”
The leaflets and posters quote
prominent rabbis who have come out strongly against the practice due to the
cruelty to animals associated with it, the organization said.
framework of atonement grave suffering is caused to tens of thousands of
chickens,” a statement from Anonymous said.
In addition to the pain
caused to the chickens’ legs, wings and heads while shaking them, additional
suffering occurs when they are left pressed together for lengthy periods in
cages, without water or food, the organization added.
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