Every year, tens of thousands of chickens are abused and killed in Kapparot atonement rituals for the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur—which seriously makes no sense because Jewish law forbids cruelty to animals.
This is the definition of cruel: Chickens are transported to Kapparot ritual sites from factory farms in filthy, cramped cages without any food, water, or protection from the elements. Many die from dehydration and stress, and they’re often injured because they’re handled so roughly.
When the birds who survive the transport arrive at the site, the ritual participants swing them through the air by their legs and wings, slit their throats, and put them into traffic cones while they bleed to death.
People have been seen pulling the heads off the chickens and piling them in garbage bags while they’re still conscious.
Kapparot organizers claim that the dead chickens are donated to feed the poor—which still wouldn’t make it OK—but eyewitnesses say that many of the birds are just thrown in the garbage.
Two of the most influential rabbis in history—Maimonides and Joseph Caro—said that the Kapparot ritual should be abandoned. Many modern-day Orthodox Jews seem to agree, because they celebrate by donating money to charity instead of by violently killing animals.
Treating animals like this on a holiday that’s meant to atone for sins is just wrong.
Tell the national rabbinical leadership that observing Yom Kippur by killing defenseless animals is unforgivable.
I was appalled to learn that tens of thousands of chickens are abused and killed each year on the eve of Yom Kippur in cruel Kapparot „atonement“ rituals, during which the birds are swung through the air by their wings before their throats are slit. Despite claims that the dead animals are given to feed the hungry, eyewitnesses say that some of the birds are tossed out like garbage!
Leading rabbis, including two of the most influential Jewish leaders in history—Maimonides and Joseph Caro—have spoken out against this practice. In fact, some rabbis who used to participate in the ritual themselves now celebrate Yom Kippur by donating money to charity instead.
The ritual of abusing and killing chickens is not required for Kapparot and does not fulfill the intent of the day. It also violates tza’ar ba’alei chayim—the Jewish law that condemns cruelty to animals—and bal tashchit, the Jewish principle that forbids wanton and wasteful destruction. Donating money to charity is the cruelty-free way to observe the occasion.
I urge you to speak out against the ritual of killing chickens for Kapparot and to encourage people to donate money to charity instead. Thank you for your consideration.