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Yom Kippur, Kapparot And The Jewish Vegetarian

Written by Vegetarian Star on September 25th, 2009 in Animal Issues, Food & Drink.

Ultra Orthodox Jews Perform Kaparot Ceremony

Yom Kippur is approaching and the Jewish ritual known as kapparot may make some vegetarian Jews a little uneasy.

The practice involves taking a chicken and moving it around one’s head, meant to remove the sins from the person to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and eaten or donated to the poor.

Dr. Allen Kornberg, executive director for Farm Sanctuary, gave his thoughts on the matter.

Kornberg says the practice can be done 100% chicken free, but people are still, “swinging the chickens over their heads and then slicing their throats with razors.”

Some rabbis believe that this violates kosher food standards and an Israeli court ruled in 2007 that the practice violates animal welfare laws.

So what’s a Jewish vegetarian to do?

Dr. Kornberg gives this advice:

“Fortunately, celebrating kapparot need not involve animals at all, because Rabbinical law stipulates that there are humane ways to partake of this sacrament. That is, even the most orthodox among us can spare a chicken’s suffering by making a monetary donation to a worthy cause instead of sacrificing a bird, and those wanting to experience an authentic kapparot ceremony can put their material offering in a bag and use it as part of the ritual in the same way they would a live chicken. In contrast to slaughtering innocent animals, practicing kapparot humanely is consistent with the prayers offered up during the high holy days to rachamim (compassion and sensitivity), and is in keeping with the true spirit of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

Or, as one commenter on gothamist.com suggested:

“How about a nice bowl of matzoh ball soup instead?”

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