Community: Forum: Animal Rights & Animal Welfare

Animal Rights Forum

A Wing & A Prayer - The Kapparot Chicken-Swinging Ritual

Please Help!

"Kapparot is not consistent with Jewish teachings and law. Repentance
and charity can be better accomplished by using money instead of a
slaughtered chicken." – Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren

Kapparot (kaparos), which means "atonements," is a custom preceding Yom
Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement – in which chickens are ritually
sacrificed by many Orthodox Hasidic observers. The observer "swings" the
chicken, held by the legs or by pinning the bird's wings backward,
around his or her head, while reciting a chant in a gesture of
transferring one's sins of the past year onto the bird. The chicken is
then slaughtered, and may or may not be given to the poor. Prior to the
ceremony, the chickens are packed in crates, usually for days without
food, water or shelter, and birds who were not used in the ritual have
been found abandoned, dying in their crates, when the ceremony was over.

Kapparot is not required by the Torah or the Talmud, and the kapparot
"chicken swinging" ritual is not practiced by the larger Jewish
community. Most Modern Orthodox Jews swing money for charity. However,
thousands of chickens are used in New York City alone each year for this
purpose. In 2005, for example, Time Out New York reported "hundreds of
crates stacked high in an idling 16-wheeler," as the slaughter filled
"Brooklyn streets with blood and feathers" and "children's screams"
could be heard for blocks "mixing with the deafening" cries of the

This year (2008), Yom Kippur is on October 8. This means that kapparot
will be practiced in the first week of October. Please help us help the

What Can I Do?

We're asking members of the Jewish community who care about animals:
please write a letter to your local Jewish newspapers expressing your
objection to the use of chickens for kapparot and urging that money be
used instead. Ask them to do an article about kapparot that examines the
ceremony from the standpoint of Jewish teachings that encourage
compassion for animals.

In addition, please ask the Rabbinical Council of America to advocate
that kapparot be carried out with money instead of chickens.

Respectfully request a reply.


Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, President
Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-807-9000
Fax: 212-727-8452

Note: Our brochures, A Wing & A Prayer - The Kapparot Chicken-Swinging
Ritual, are available for a small donation of $3 for 30 brochures.
Please order these and distribute them to your local news media, family,
friends, and others you think could be helpful. To view our kapparot
brochure online, visit

Thank you for your help.

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