LA judge throws out lawsuit against kapparot Yom Kippur ritual

LA federal judge dismisses lawsuit against syangogue for holding kapparot ceremony with live chicken before Yom Kippur.


Kaparot chicken waving ritual
Kaparot chicken waving ritual
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed a lawsuit against a synagogue for holding a kapparot ceremony, a pre-Yom Kippur ritual in which a chicken is swung by its legs and then slaughtered.

District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. ruled in favor of the Chabad of Irvine’s request to dismiss the lawsuit filed in late September on behalf of the Virginia-based United Poultry Concerns against Chabad, the Orange County Register reported Tuesday.

The suit claimed that the practice violates the state’s unfair competition law. But Birotte wrote in his decision, which was released Friday, that the kapparot ceremony is a religious ritual supported by donations, not a “business act” covered by the unfair competition law.

A 2015 lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court that called for an end to the practice based on animal cruelty is still pending. The suit, which was filed on behalf of the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League, alleges that the chickens are crammed tightly into cages and mishandled, and are disposed of and not used for food.

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.