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September 06, 2007

When swinging a chicken over your head, treat it with dignity

With the high holidays upon us in about a week, Jews around the world are making final preparations to bring in the new year.
Some might be going to the market to get the freshest apples (honey crisp, obviously) or harvesting their honey (is that what you do with honey?).
Others might be going to wherever you go to buy a live chicken for the kaparot ceremony. During the ritual, which is normally performed between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, an individual swings the chicken above their head as a symbol of tranferring sins from the human to the animal. This tradition dates back to ancient times when the Jewish community would use a goat to bear the sins for the entire community (a scapegoat).
But according to a few rabbis, there is evidence that chickens have been mistreated in previous kaparot ceremonies (really?). The tradition has drawn the attention of animal rights groups in recent years, including PETA. But some members of the Orthodox community brush of PETA's efforts in this case or any other case, according to an article from The Forward.
“In general, I don’t think that PETA is taken very seriously in the Orthodox community, or in any civilized society,” said Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America. “But that doesn’t mean that they won’t on occasion bring up something that is worth being brought up.”

Things got out of hand in Brooklyn last year when 700 chickens were found in an abandoned garage.

Some agree with PETA and movements within the Orthodox community to reform the practice. A new tradition of swinging money, instead of chickens is gaining momentum.

With this extended blurb, I have just scratched the surface of this issue and what the article offers.

Posted by irobi at September 6, 2007 07:34 PM


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