Stop the Torture and Slaughter of Chickens During Tradition


Target: Suffolk County Hasidic Rabbi Berel Sasonkin

Goal: Stop the torture and slaughter of chickens during an annual religious atonement ceremony

In order to perform Kaporos, a ritual cleansing ceremony practiced in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, thousands of chickens are shipped in crates to Brooklyn, New York, where they wait to be tortured and slaughtered for no reason. For the ceremony, the chicken is held either by its feet or by its pinned-back wings while it is swung above the head of the man, woman, or child being atoned for, and then is thrust upside down into a barrel at which point its throat is slit and it is left to bleed to death in a horrific torturous display of cruelty.

These chickens are packed into crates and left on the streets, exposed to the elements, without food or water. They are not treated as live beings, but as meaningless sin receptacles. They are then taken from their crates and swung around in the air, only to undergo painful deaths. Not only do the cries of the scared, suffering chickens ring out through the streets, but the carnage left by the event is horrific. Feathers, blood, and dead and dying chickens are left in dumpsters or stuffed into plastic bags and left to suffocate. Unused chickens are abandoned in crates on the streets.

According to the history of the ritual, once the chicken is slaughtered it is theoretically supposed to be donated to poor and needy families, but even this is not happening. In addition, a bag of coins is traditionally considered a perfectly acceptable substitute for the vessel to which sins are transferred, and the money can then be donated to the poor. Speak out against this needless, inhumane slaughter of chickens at future religious ceremonies.


Dear Rabbi Sasonkin,

The brutal mistreatment and murder of chickens, in order to perform the annual ceremonial cleansing of one’s sins during Kaporos in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, must stop. Thousands of chickens are being needlessly tortured and killed every year.

The horrific persecution of chickens is especially heinous because it truly is needless, as it is acceptable and in line with the atonement requirements of the ceremony to use a bag of coins instead of a live animal.

Please save thousands of chickens this year by choosing to atone for your sins using a bag of coins at future ceremonies. Set an example for your community and for the world by saving innocent lives from needless suffering and death.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Timophey Tkachik via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. “Religion” – a ridiculous construct designed MAINLY to control the “underlings” that mindlessly subscribe to whatever ideas their supposed ‘superiors’ toss out there. Do they REALLY think that causing pain and terror to ANY other LIVING (meaning, already infused with the Divine “breath of life”/”nephesh”) creature is the correct path towards a “loving” Source in the universe?

    The Jews, of all people, should KNOW all this:

    Used FIRSTLY in scriptures to describe ANIMALS, not humans..

    Gen. 1:20: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life” (The word “life” here is nephesh–soul).

    Next verse: “And God created great whales, and every living creature (nephesh–soul) that moveth, which the water brought forth abundantly.”

    Verse 24: “The living creature (nephesh) after his kind, cattle and creeping things.”

    Verse 30: “Every beast…every foul…everything that creepeth, wherein there is life (nephesh).”

    The same applies to their word for “spirit.” It is used of both animals alone (and FIRSTLY), then ALSO of men and animals together. Solomon says (Eccl. 3:19) – “Man and beasts…they have all ONE spirit.”

    Num. 31:28 says: “Levy a tribute…one SOUL (nephesh) of 500, both of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses…”

    Then, in Prov. 12:10: “A righteous man regardeth the life (nephesh–SOUL) of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

    HOW IN THE WORLD could they have gotten this most basic concept and teaching SO twisted, when it’s so plainly and deliberately spelled right out??! Brainless twits who don’t use their “god-given” mental and emotional capacities/gifts as intended, or for the benefit of ALL of life/nephesh/soul/spirit!!!

  2. Kaporos is an ignorant callous disregard of the sacredness of all creatures, and you need to have the conscience to end it.

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