U.S. Activist Group Sues California Chabad in Bid to Halt Ritual Jewish Chicken Slaughter

The ancient ritual of kapparot, practiced between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, consists of swinging a chicken from its legs above one's head before slaughtering it.

A man practices the kapparot ritual in Jerusalem, 2012.
Olivier Fitoussi

A federal lawsuit filed in Southern California against a local Chabad called for the halting of kapparot, an annual pre-Yom Kippur ritual in which a chicken is swung from its legs and then slaughtered, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday. 

The lawsuit, filed on September 26 in Santa Ana District Court against the Chabad of Irvine and a rabbi who is not named, asks for a temporary restraining order against the ritual, the report said. It was filed on behalf of the Virginia-based United Poultry Concerns.

Kapparot is an ancient ritual practiced between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in which a chicken is swung over the head and then slaughtered in a symbolic transference of a person’s sins in advance of the Jewish Day of Atonement. The meat of the chicken is then donated to charity. Some people perform the ritual using money in place of a chicken, which is then donated to charity.

The lawsuit alleges that the chickens are crammed tightly in cages and mishandled.

A similar lawsuit filed on behalf of the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League is making its way through the state court system. A lawsuit calling for an emergency restraining order against the ritual was denied last year, according to the Register.

Lawsuits filed last year in suburban Detroit and New York City were decided in favor of holding the holiday ritual.