Bird-Flu Risk for Chicken Swinging Rabbis.

I do not belong to any fanatic anti meat eating group, but I have always believed that the ritual killing of animals known as Kosher or Halal, in which the blood of the animal is allowed to flow from a ritual cut as the creature basically bleeds to death, hung upside down, is amazingly cruel.

It is also extremely dangerous, due to the possibility of all kids of infections that are passed on via the blood of animals and birds.

I believe that it is no coincident, that the majority of the countries in which the Bird-Flu virus has recently been found to have flourished, are those countries, where the Halal ritual is regularly practiced.

So now, Rabbis in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic communities are taking a hard look at an annual religious ceremony in which the faithful swing live chickens over their heads!

This ceramony is called KAPPAROT, the fowl-whirling event occurs each year between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – which take place next month – and is meant to transfer the sins of the believer to the chicken, which is then sacrificed.

Kapparot, which is from the same Hebrew root as Yom Kippur and literally means ‘atonements,’ is a custom which aims to awaken the drive toward repentance while engaging in charity on the eve of Judaism’s central day of prayer.

The practice of kapparot using live fowl entails the following:

A male or female chicken is taken in hand, corresponding to the gender of the taker or family members on whose behalf they are performing the ritual.

Psalm 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24 are recited and the live bird is swung around the person’s head three times.

While swinging the live bird, the person recites the following three times: “This be my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement. This cock (or hen) shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace.”

Recently, as reported by the, after a series of troubling incidents, in which birds were found improperly dumped after the ceremony, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have launched a campaign against the above practice.

“The kapparot ritual must be examined. It is a serious health concern that children handle live, feces-covered and possibly diseased chickens and wade through the blood of slaughtered poultry,” PETA said in a letter sent to the city Health Department.

Earlier this month, a group of about a dozen respected rabbis met to look at the evidence of trouble. Afterward, they called for an upgrade of the process, including how the birds are trucked in, where they are held before the ritual, and how they are slaughtered.

“It’s not going to be stopped,” said Isaac Abraham, a Hasidic community activist. “We have to make sure everything is done in a proper way.”

Abraham said that at least 50,000 chickens are used in ceremonies across Brooklyn.

They are usually gripped by their feet and neck and briefly swung above the head.

The birds are then handed over to be slaughtered. Most wind up as a meal for someone.

Abraham said that the swinging is not cruel.

“It doesn’t hurt them,” he said. “[They are held] just like you see any animal pick up its cubs by the neck.”

PETA and the Hasidic community have long battled over the ceremony, and have even clashed at protests.

PETA spokesman Bruce Freidrich said the chicken swinging is not required, and some Jewish communities have abandoned the practice.

According to The Forward newspaper, some Orthodox groups swing money over their heads instead of chickens.

Also, some historical Jewish thinkers, such as Moses Maimonides, deemed the practice pagan and argued it should be abandoned, the paper said.

The practice was vehemently opposed by various rabbis throughout Jewish history.

The Rashba (Solomon ben Aderet, 1235-1310) relates that he found the custom to resemble the forbidden rites of the Amorites, proscribed by the Torah. “I distanced myself from this custom greatly and instructed that it be nullified, and with grace from Heaven my words were heard and the practice no longer remains in our city,” he wrote.

PETA even invoked the threat of bird flu being spread by mass handling of chickens.“The risk of communicable avian diseases and bacterial contamination is alarming, and the inhumane treatment and mishandling of animals at every stage of the process must be prevented,” the group said.The Health Department did not immediately have a comment on the letter from PETA.Here is a video, watch it, if you have a strong stomach!: 

(Click here to watch)


“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”


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