Kaporos, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish ritual slaughter of chickens to atone for sins, is underway around Brooklyn in the lead-up to Yom Kippur, but animal rights activists are fighting it through protests and an ongoing lawsuit. Yesterday, one prominent practitioner of the ritual moved its killings into a Lubavitcher school parking lot in Crown Heights to "ensure that opposing forces will not affect the kaporos operation."
With the support of donors including "diamond mogul" Morris Gad, the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education provided chickens for $5 apiece for participants to purchase, swing over their heads three times while reciting prayers to transfer their sins to the birds, then hand off to have their throats slit.
Writing on COL Live, Rabbi Shea Hecht, one of the lawsuit's defendants, explained the move to the school parking lot by saying, "Certain anti-Jewish and anti-tradition forces have come to try and stop the Minhag [custom] of Kaporos with live chickens from taking place." In the blog post, he explained that families should come to the Sunday event, but the Monday one will take place on Eastern Parkway and should be attended by men only. "...Protective tarps will be hung to provide privacy for the Minhag," Hecht wrote.
Last week, a judge denied activists' request in a lawsuit to stop this year's kaporos on the basis that the street slaughter, and the blood, feces, and carcasses it can leave behind are a public nuisance, but the lawsuit is ongoing.
Activists gathered last night in Crown Heights and Borough Park anyway, and one reported on Facebook that ritual participants activated their car alarms to drown out protest chants. Another wrote that she had "rescued" two chickens from the slaughter, though it's unclear by what means (this couple filched a bird from a crate in Borough Park last year and made it a house pet).
As for the confrontation in the photo above, the Daily News reports:
Rina Deych, a local activist, said she and a friend, Vanessa Dawson, were on the streets of Borough Park trying to persuade people that they could follow Jewish law by donating money instead of killing chickens when one young man flipped the bird.
"(Another) man tried to put a poor, tortured chicken on my head and two others cursed at me," she said in an email to the Daily News.
She sent a photo of one unidentified man giving her the middle finger and said it was "a disturbing example of what is being taught to these innocent children. Feces and feathers were everywhere on a public sidewalk and the stench was overpowering."
The groups targeted by the lawsuit said that they had bought 50,000 live chickens to kill in the days before Yom Kippur. Tonight's protest, and a kaporos ritual, are set to take place on Eastern Parkway between Kingston and Albany avenues starting at 7 p.m.