The strictly Orthodox custom of swinging a chicken around one’s head as a way of purging sin ahead of Yom Kippur was the subject of protests and lawsuits in the US during this year’s High Holy Days.
In New York, animal rights activists sought to sue the practitioners of the slaughter ritual — known as kaporos — on the basis that the blood, faeces, and carcasses it can leave behind on the street are a public nuisance. The judge rejected that argument, however, and the activists lost the case.
Following the judgment, the Orthodox groups targeted by the lawsuit said that they had bought 50,000 chickens to kill in the days before Yom Kippur.
In response, animal rights activists gathered in the heavily Orthodox areas of Crown Heights and Borough Park and chanted their opposition to the custom.
One prominent practitioner moved his slaughter ritual into a Lubavitcher school parking lot in Crown Heights to “ensure that opposing forces will not affect the kaporos operation”.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, Congregation Bais Chabad of Farmington Hills filed a suit against the United States Department of Agriculture, claiming that an order blocking their kaporos ritual — due to take place in a non-certified slaughterhouse — was an “unconstitutional interference with religious practice”.