Worried that your day-old infant won’t be forgiven on Yom Kippur? Maybe you should wave a chicken over his head.
That’s the route one ultra-Orthodox woman has taken in a video circulating widely on WhatsApp and posted to the internet today by Yeshiva World News.
It’s unclear where or when the video was recorded — one source says Kiryas Joel in upstate New York, another claims Israel.
The video depicts and ultra-Orthodox woman clutching a chicken in a hospital ward for newborn babies and performing the Kapparot ritual over a presumably male infant.
Kapparot usually entails Jewish men circling a chicken over their heads on the eve of Yom Kippur and then having the chicken slaughtered, in a symbolic transfer of God’s judgment.
Performing the ritual over a newborn appears to be highly unusual.
“To think for a moment that me taking a chicken and waving that chicken, that I’m going to receive atonement, it’s foolish,” Rabbi Shea Hecht told the Forward earlier this week. Rather, he said, “It’s meant to give me the mindset that when I enter the synagogue [at the start of Yom Kippur], that I recognize that life is a gift.”
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.
VIDEO: Taking Kapparot Way Too Far