Kapparos

“There are those who say one should not say it [the blessing on new things, Shehehianu] on shoes or clothing made from animals’ leather, because another animal needed to die before it was turned into a new garment, as it is written, ‘His mercy is upon all His works’ (Psalms 145:9).” – Rabbi Moses Isserles (Rama‚Äô) on Shulhan ‚ÄėArukh OH 223:6

Kapparos is a Jewish religious practice originating in the medieval times where on the day before Yom Kippur a live chicken is swung over a person‚Äôs head three times before the chicken is slaughtered. The purpose of the ritual is for the chicken to symbolically receive all the sins of the person participating in the ritual, and the chicken is supposed to be given to the poor as charity.

Despite only a small fraction of members of the Jewish faith practicing the ritual using live chickens, each year thousands of chickens are kept in harsh and torturous conditions waiting to be used for kapparos. Many are never used and some are left to die of dehydration and starvation. Furthermore, undercover investigations have revealed that ritually slaughtered kosher chickens allegedly earmarked for “the poor” were instead thrown into the trash.

‚ÄčHowever, none of this cruelty is necessary because the ritual can also be performed using coins instead of a chicken and then donating the money. We encourage reframing the custom and turning it into a life-giving, rather than a life-taking custom by donating the money from your kapparos to an animal-advocacy organization and going into Yom Kippur with a mindset of compassion.

We support The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, an association of groups and individuals who seek to replace the use of chickens in Kaporos ceremonies with money or other non-animal symbols of atonement. The Alliance does not oppose Kaporos per se, only the cruel and unnecessary use of chickens in the ceremony.

Here are two texts to use and to provide to anyone wishing to perform this ritual.

Kapparos text 1

‚ÄčThis text affirms that the donation will go to gemilut hasadim, “good deeds,” rather than the more-commonly used term tzedaqah, which, while often translated generally as “charity,” is used in Jewish law to refer only to giving food to those in need. Giving to people in need is obviously very important and holy, but this text allows one to focus their kapparos on helping animal lives during a ritual that usually neglects them.

Kapparos text 2

‚ÄčThis text has the unchanged Hebrew text, with instructions in Yiddish, affirming that the donation will go to tzedaqah, “charity.” Hopefully by using this text, you can help people and animals by doing kapparos with money instead of chickens.

‚Äč”I used to use chickens, but it made a mess in the home and sometimes it died on the way. It was not simple. Hence, I did hataras nedarim and began with using money. Giving money is preferable anyway, since it is not dirty, and we eliminate the issue brought up by the Ben Ish Chai, that a chicken sees the other being slaughtered and becomes fearful and its lung collapses.” – Rabbi Meir Mazuz

RELEVANT ARTICLES AND VIDEOS

From the article, “End Chickens as Kapparos”

RABBI SHLOMO AVINER CALLS ON JEWS TO USE MONEY INSTEAD OF CHICKENS FOR KAPAROT

KAPPOROS INVESTIGATIONS, BROOKLYN, N.Y.

ORTHODOX RABBIS WHO HAVE COME OUT IN OPPOSITION TO THE PRACTICE OF CHICKEN KAPPAROS:

  • Rabbi Yosef Adler
  • Rabbi Joshua Ahrens
  • Rabbi Yitzhak Ajzner
  • Rabbi Dr. Marc Angel
  • Rabbi Aharon Ariel-Lavi
  • Rabbi Daniel Askenazi
  • Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
  • Rabbi Michael Balinsky
  • Rabbanit Nechama Barash
  • Rabbi David S. Bauman
  • Rabbi Joseph Beyda
  • Rabbi Yitzchak Blau
  • Rabbi Yosef Blau
  • Rabbi Aviad Bodner
  • Rabbi Yonah Bookstein
  • Rabbi Shimon Brand
  • Rabbi Shlomo M. Brody
  • Rabbi Avraham Bronstein
  • Rabbi Ira Budow
  • Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo
  • Rabbi Yuval Cherlow
  • Rabbi Michael Chernick
  • Rabbi Max Davis
  • Rabbi Barry Dolinger
  • Rabbi Chaim Dovrat
  • Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson
  • Rabbi Roy Feldman
  • Rabbi Michael Feuer
  • Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
  • Rabbi Eliezer Finkelman
  • Rabbi Aaron Frank
  • Rabbi Avidan Freedman
  • Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman
  • Rabbi Daniel Geretz
  • Rabbi Yonassan Gershom
  • Rabbi Pinchas Giller
  • Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel
  • Rabbi Steve Golden
  • Rabbi Daniel Goodman
  • Rabbi Dr. Mel Gottlieb
  • Rabbi Dr. Alan J. Yuter
  • Rabbi Stu Grant
  • Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg
  • Rabbi Donn Gross
  • Rabbanit Goldie Guy
  • Rabba Amalia Haas
  • Rabbanit Sharona Halickman
  • Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy
  • Rabbi Ari Hart
  • Rabbi Benjamin Hassan
  • Rabbi Dr. Henry Hasson
  • Rabbi Tyson Herberger
  • Rabbi Avram Herzog
  • Rabbi Dr. Richard Hidary
  • Rabbi Eliezer Hirsch
  • Rabbi Dr. Elie Holzer
  • Rabbi David Jacobowitz
  • Rabba Batya Jacobs
  • Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe
  • Rabbi David Jaffe
  • Rabbi Shaul Judelman
  • Rabbi David Kalb
  • Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky
  • Rabbi Ysoscher Katz
  • Rabbanit Rachel Keren
  • Rabbi Tzvi Koren
  • Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn
  • Rabbi Gabriel Kretzmer-Seed
  • Rabbi Daniel Landes
  • Rabbi Michael Langer
  • Rabbi Steven Langnas
  • Rabbi Dr. Samuel Lebens
  • Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz
  • Rabbi Aryeh A. Leifert
  • Rabbi Hayim Leiter
  • Rabbi Aaron Levy
  • Rabbi Yamin Levy
  • Rabbi Dov Linzer
  • Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin
  • Rabbi Eryn London
  • Rabbi Yehoshua Looks
  • Rabbi Haskel Lookstein
  • Rabbi Lawrence Zierler
  • Rabbi Asher Lopatin
  • Rabbi Moshe Mayor
  • Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse
  • Rav Meir Mazuz
  • Rabbi Jair Melchior
  • Rabbi Michael Melchior
  • Rabbi Avram Mlotek
  • Rosh Kehillah Dina Najman
  • Rabbi Yonatan Neril
  • Rabbi Haim Ovadia
  • Rabbi Dr. Joseph Ozarowski
  • Rabbi Dani Passow
  • Rabbi Dr. Ariel Picard
  • Rabbi Yossi Pollak
  • Rabbi Aaron Potok
  • Rabbi Avi Poupko
  • Rabbi Sam Reinstein
  • Rabbi Deborah Renert
  • Rabbi Dr. David Rosen
  • Rabbi Dr. Isaac Sassoon
  • Rabbi Dr. Morey Schwartz
  • Rabbi Shlomo Segal
  • Rabbanit Sarah Segal-Katz
  • Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller
  • Rabbi Leah Shakdiel
  • Rabba Dr. Anat Sharbat
  • Rabbi Jay Shoulson
  • Rabbi Aaron Shub
  • Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein
  • Rabbi David Stav
  • Rabbi Michael Stein
  • Rabbi Chaim Strauchler
  • Rabbi Alana Suskin
  • Rabba Dr. Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz
  • Rabbi Nahum Twersky
  • Rabbi Dr. Jeremiah Unterman
  • Rabbi Vaisrub
  • Rabbi Devin Villarreal
  • Rabbi Avi Weiss
  • Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz