During the High Holy Days before Yom Kippur, many Orthodox Jews participate in an ancient atonement ritual called Kapparot. For over two thousand years, a live chicken would be grasped by its wings and swung over a person's head three times in a symbolic gesture of transferring the person's sins to the bird.
Nowadays, fortunately, the Kapparot ritual is performed more often using bags of money. Yet live chickens are still used at some synagogues, including the Chabad of Irvine in Southern California.
Although the synagogue says they treat the chickens humanely and don't kill them, the Animal Protection and Rescue League has filed lawsuits against the Chabad of Irvine as well as local police departments, for "protecting the illegal killing of animals."
In these modern, enlightened times, many rabbis have denounced the cruel practice of using live chickens. Rabbi Yonah Bookstein suggests
collecting at least $18 (the price of a chicken), swinging it in a bag over your head, and then donating the cash to help feed people in need in your community.
This seems like a much more humane way to practice Kapparot. Please sign this petition telling the Chabad of Irvine to stop using live chickens.