An Israeli animal rights group appealed for an end to the use of chickens in the kapparot ritual.
Each year before Yom Kippur, many Orthodox Jews pay to have a chicken swung over their heads in a rite symbolizing penitence. The bird is then slaughtered for food.
Let the Animals Live, Israel’s biggest animal welfare society, sent a letter to former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef this week asking him to urge his followers to opt for a more humane and doctrinally approved version of kapparot in which money is used instead of a chicken and given to charity.
Let the Animals Live argued that the more traditional ritual is unnecessarily cruel and thus contradicts biblical morality.
Yosef, who is considered the spiritual mentor for the powerful Sephardi religious political movement Shas, had no immediate response to the appeal.