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Chabad House Wins Case Over Controversial Kapparot Rite

A Chabad house in California won a legal victory when a judge ruled the controversial practice of kapparot, in which a live chicken is ritually killed before Yom Kippur, does not constitute a “business act” under state law.

U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr., in a written opinion released Friday, did not directly touch on animal rights concerns. He ruled that Chabad doesn’t engage in an unfair business practice by charging for the killing and disposal of chickens.

The lawsuit accused the Chabad house of violating state business law by arguing the ritual was a profit-making venture.

Birotte ruled that the Chabad house “does not participate nor compete as a business … by performing a religious atonement ritual that involves donations.”

In the ritual of kapparot, Jews swing live chickens over their heads to symbolically transfer sins to the chickens — and then slaughter them ahead of the Jewish day of atonement.

“We are overjoyed that the judge saw the wisdom of protecting our ability to practice a cherished tradition of our faith,” Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum, the rabbi of the Chabad of Irvine, California said in a statement, as reported by the blog CrownHeights.info.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

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Chabad House Wins Case Over Controversial Kapparot Rite

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