Animal rights group sues NYC over Yom Kippur ritual
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Animal rights group sues NYC over Yom Kippur ritual

Kapparot rite in which chickens are held aloft before being slaughtered and donated to the poor deemed cruel by activists

Illustrative photo of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man participating in a kapparot ritual, in which a chicken is swung over one's head in the belief that one transfers the sins from the past year into the chicken. (Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man participating in a kapparot ritual, in which a chicken is swung over one's head in the belief that one transfers the sins from the past year into the chicken. (Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)

An animal rights group is suing several rabbis, synagogues and New York City to halt a Yom Kippur ritual in which chickens are slaughtered.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporas filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against the kapparot ritual, which is practiced by haredi Orthodox Jews in the city, New York media reported Monday.

Kapparot involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head three times and reciting a prayer to cast sins to the bird. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor. In recent years, money has replaced the chicken in the rite for many Jewish groups.

The lawsuit calls the practice “barbaric” and accuses the police and health departments of assisting the ritual by blocking off streets and sidewalks, and not enforcing city and state laws that regulate health and animal cruelty issues, the New York Daily News reported.

“Dead chickens, half dead chickens, chicken blood, chicken feathers, chicken urine, chicken feces, other toxins and garbage…consume the public streets,” the group says in its lawsuit. “There is no oversight and no remedy for toxic contaminant-filled debris or clean up…(the rituals) constitute a substantial public health risk that could have catastrophic and epidemic consequences.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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