Come Yom Kippur, the chickens of Crown Heights and Boro Park may still have their heads — if an activist group gets its way.
A new lawsuit filed by a group of agitated Brooklyn residents against four rabbis, several Hasidic congregations and New York City takes aim at Kapparot, the Jewish ritual where chickens are hurled around by their wings and eventually decapitated on the sidewalks, the Daily News reported.
The residents, who call themselves the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaparos, argue the “barbaric” ritual has grown in the past few years, is a public health risk, and is condoned by the city because police block off sidewalks and streets. The lawyers for the Jews argue the practice is a major fundraiser for the communities, and that some of the chickens are donated to poor families.
“Dead chickens, half dead chickens, chicken blood, chicken feathers, chicken urine, chicken feces, other toxins and garbage … consume the public streets,” the suit says.
Affidavits submitted by residents describe a grisly scene evocative of a public slaughterhouse: chickens running around with no heads or half-cut heads; the putrid stench of fresh blood; the terrified screams of birds being flung around in the air.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Boro Park, disputed the gory claims, according to the New York Daily News.
“I represent this community. I live here, walk around here, have an office in the heart of the community. And I don’t know what in God’s name they’re talking about. They make it sound like there’s blood running in the streets. It’s just not true,” he said.
The ritual is said to transfer one’s sins to the chicken, which are then absolved by killing the bird.