NY court okays Kapparot ritual

NY State Court of Appeals rules ancient Jewish ritual does not amount to animal cruelty.

Tzvi Lev,

Flash 90

The New York State Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that the Jewish ritual of Kapparot does not amount to animal cruelty. The decision upholds a ruling from a lower court.

Kapparot is an ancient practice performed annually by some Jews between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in which a chicken is swung by its legs and then slaughtered.

The lawsuit had been brought by an animal rights group named 'The Alliance to End Chickens as Koporos'. who alleged that the ritual is "cruel unsanitary and in violation of 15 known laws". The group sought a court order mandating the New York Police Department (NYPD) to crack down on Kapparot before next year's High Holy Days.

Following the ruling, the Alliance promised to press on and explore other options. According to the Yeshiva World News, the Alliance said in a statement that "It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you all that the Court of Appeals has affirmed the lower courts’ decisions."

"While we lost this battle, WE ARE NOT DONE HERE; this is not over from the legal angle. We have an amazing legal team and are exploring further options."

Kaparot is a traditional prayer said during the day before the Yom Kippur fast begins in which a person circles his head with a chicken or money, symbolizing that they are substitutes for him and are to be punished for his sins, the chicken to be slaughtered for a meal, usually donated to the poor, and the money given to charity. In recent years, there has been a brouhaha about the use of chickens in the prayer.

In 2016, a Los Angeles judge issued a temporary restraining order against performing the ritual in any format in the city of Irvine, California.