Judge blocks Kapparot ritual in Irvine
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Judge blocks Kapparot ritual in Irvine

Lawsuit alleged chickens are crammed tightly into cages and mishandled, disposed of and not used for food

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)

A Los Angeles federal court judge ordered a preliminary injunction against performing Kapparot, an Jewish pre-Yom Kippur ritual in which a chicken is swung by its legs and then slaughtered.

U.S. District Judge Andre Birrote Jr. granted the injunction Friday in response to a lawsuit filed late last month on behalf of the Virginia-based United Poultry Concerns against the Chabad of Irvine and an unnamed rabbi.

The judge set a hearing for Thursday at which Chabad Irvine is to have the chance to contest the injunction. Yom Kippur begins Tuesday evening and ends Wednesday night, so the ruling essentially prevents the ritual from being performed in honor of the holiday this year.

Kapparot is an ancient practice performed annually by some Jews between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. By performing Kapparot, a person’s sins are said to be symbolically transferred to the chicken and atoned for ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The meat of the chicken is then donated to charity. Some people perform the ritual using money in place of a chicken.

The lawsuit alleged that the chickens are crammed tightly into cages and mishandled, and that the chickens are disposed of and not used for food.

An attorney for United Poultry Concerns told the Orange County Register that it is now considering action against other Jewish centers that use live chickens.

A similar lawsuit filed on behalf of the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League is making its way through the state court system. A lawsuit calling for an emergency restraining order against the ritual was denied last year, according to the Register.

Lawsuits filed last year in suburban Detroit and New York City were decided in favor of holding the holiday ritual.

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