A 39-year-old New Jersey resident was arrested earlier this week after he stole several chickens from a Hasidic center in Borough Park, in what appears to be an animal rights protest against the Jewish penitential practice of kapparot on the eve of Yom Kippur.
The culprit, Hesa Tushar, grabbed a number of chickens from the Sanz-Klausenberger Kapparos Center on 50th Street and 14th Avenue, stuck them in his car trunk and fled, according to The Yeshiva World News.
Tushar was wearing a “Mercy for Animals” t-shirt at the time.
The NYPD, assisted by the local Borough Park Shomrim Patrol, a neighborhood watch group, arrested Tushar several blocks away, and returned the chickens to the center.
The controversial kapparot ritual is set to be performed the morning before Yom Kippur, which is on Friday.
During the ritual, a chicken is lifted in the air and circled around the head of a penitent who recites a prayer to transfer the person’s sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to charity.
Animal rights groups have repeatedly filed complaints against the practice, and maintain the chickens often are crammed into small cages in the end-of-summer heat without food or water.
Last year, an estimated 2,000 chickens died in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, when temperatures climbed into the mid-90s, the New York Daily News reported.
JTA contributed to this report.