Federal Judge Lifts Injunction To Allow The Twirling and Killing Of Chickens To Take Away Sins During Yom Kippur

200px-kapparot_lithographyThere is an interesting ruling in Los Angeles where United States Judge Andre Birotte Jr. has lifted a temporary restraining order against a California synagogue performing Kapparot, a ritual where chickens are twirled in the air and then slaughtered. We previously discussed the controversies surrounding the Yom Kippur ritual.


With the approach of Yom Kippur, animal rights advocates and officials in California have long campaigned to end the ritual of Kapparot, where a fowl is held by the neck and swung around the head of a Jewish person. The sins of the person are then transfered to the fowl (usually a chicken) which is then sacrificed. The practice has been denounced as little more than animal cruelty and many have called for criminal charges under state laws.

Municipal Code SEC. 53.67 states:

“No person shall engage in, participate in, assist in, or perform animal sacrifice. No person shall own, keep, possess or have custody of any animal with the purpose or intention of using such animal for animal sacrifice. No person shall knowingly sell, offer to sell, give away or transfer any animal to another person who intends to use such animal for animal sacrifice. ‘Animal sacrifice’ means the injuring or killing of any animal in any religious or cult ritual or as an offering to a deity, devil, demon or spirit, wherein the animal has not been injured or killed primarily for food purposes, regardless of whether all or any part of such animal is subsequently consumed.”

That would seem to sum up the Kapparot pretty well. Many Jews oppose the practice as tza’ar ba’alei chayim (unnecessary pain to animals). Money is used by most Jews, which is waved around their heads and then given to the poor.

Any crackdown could force an interesting test case similar to the 1993 ruling in Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc,. et al. v. City of Hialeah, where the Court struck down the city’s ban on ritual animal sacrifice as violative of the first amendment’s free exercise clause. Notably, the ritual could still be practiced at a slaughterhouse, an option chosen by some Jewish followers.

Judge Birotte had previously granted the order at the request of an animal rights group called United Poultry Concerns, but then lifted the order after an expedited hearing. The challenge will go on but the group was allowed to perform the ritual in the interim.

62 thoughts on “Federal Judge Lifts Injunction To Allow The Twirling and Killing Of Chickens To Take Away Sins During Yom Kippur

  1. Hey KarenS

    Too funny – just brought in the mail – received a catalog from Heifer International – ironic, huh? Dunno why – never donate to them.

  2. With all that’s happening in the nation we’re talking about chickens.

    OK – “A Jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well.”

    • So, please define “religion”.

      One agnostic prof said “mans pervasive orientation towards life.”

      Even athiests have “religion”.

      If one thinks that by yelling at the team on the television will have an effect, that is a type of godlikeness. Karma and other approaches connote a religion.

      So what religion are ye who deign to begruge others of their pervasive orientation?

      Worship and liturgy are not specific enoygh to the case. A belief in God(s) isnt required either.

      Now please describe what it is that one is to be ashamed of and how is it that one is any less stupid than one who has “religion”.

    • Larry,
      Nonsense? Actually it makes perfect sense. Use what ever word one would like but the practice conveys an aspect of things done and things left undone. We routinely eat animals and wear their skins, but we never, or very seldom as individuals, see the death and carving process leading up to a fine dinner or sow belly slices with our eggs. We think little about it.

      Sin, transgressions including failure to act, is like that. I personally would not want to participate as I.don’t like chickens (I’ll eat them and enjoy the taste.) but don’t like them. However, participation drives home how sin permeats in our lives …btw, I’m Irish heritage and Protestant, not Jewish. But I’m also one who was trained and sent out on river patrols to kill. If twirling a chicken would relieve still present issues, I might try it.

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