Chicken Slaughter on Kingston Avenue: Is Crown Heights Kapporos Cruel?


Queens Crap brings up an animal-rights issue we’d never considered: the ritual Kapporos slaughter of chickens before Yom Kippur, which is performed publicly in Crown Heights.

The birds are swung overhead — a hypnotizing ritual we’ve seen performed in Oklahoma by non-Jewish ranchers — and then killed. The video above, obviously made in sympathy with the chickens, questions whether the animals are treated humanely before and after slaughter.

The video shows the chickens packed into small crates before extinction and then, when their slaughter is insufficient, shoved into plastic bags, presumably to suffocate. It’s also alleged by PETA that the dead birds are not disposed of according to sanitary or even kosher laws.

VosIzNeias reports that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education thinks PETA is anti-Semitic. “It’s not New York they’re concerned with,” he says. “They are really targeting Jews in Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, and everywhere else in the world.” Rabbi Shea says he has received “threatening emails,” which police are investigating.

But some of the observant are sympathetic. “Beyond the animal cruelty politics of this issue,” says online rabbi Brant Rosen, “it should be noted that this practice has been criticized by important Jewish sages (e.g. the Rashba , Nachmanidies, and Rabbi Joseph Caro) for centuries.”

This year’s ceremonies are over, but we’ll probably revisit the mishegoss in 2009.