An animal-rights group targeted Orthodox Jews on the eve of Yom Kippur for conducting a traditional religious practice. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Kaporos literally means “atonement” and has been a religious tradition of Orthodox Jews for over 2,000 years.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, some Orthodox Jews will recite scripture and then swing a live chicken over their head while reciting a prayer like, “This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life.” The chicken is then butchered in the Kosher fashion and the meat of the chicken is then often donated to those in need of food. The ceremony invites the participants to contemplate their own mortality and appreciate the atonement of their sins.
The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaparos does not like this practice. They sued the Jewish community in New York City, arguing that the practice violated sanitation and public nuisance laws.
The Manhattan judge presiding over the case wasn’t buying it. Judge Debra James concluded that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that Kaporos was a public nuisance and she refused judicially stop the 2,000 year religious tradition.
The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos may not like it, but the First Amendment is a high bar protecting even peaceful, minority religious rituals involving chickens. That bar should not be lowered unless there is a clear, compelling reason to do so.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.