PETA slams N.Y. kapporos ritual

An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapporos in Brooklyn.

For the second year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has complained about the High Holidays ritual of swinging a chicken over one’s head, a sin transference ceremony.

In a letter sent Monday to the state agriculture department’s Kosher Law Enforcement division, PETA alleges that thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in dumpsters after the ritual last year in one Brooklyn center.

The letter singles out the kapporos center run in Crown Heights by Rabbi Shea Hecht, and asks the state to investigate whether consumer fraud occurred. Jews who bought chickens for the ritual expected the birds “to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, the letter states.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty. It spurred a meeting of more than a dozen rabbis in Brooklyn, and they sent out directives to kapporos centers saying they needed full-time rabbinic supervision.

A related letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the Kashrus center’s rabbinic administrator, told JTA that Hecht’s site and others operated by communal organizations are well run.

While there have been problems in the past from “fly-by-night” kapporos centers, Weiner said proactive steps taken by rabbis last year significantly cut down on such problems.

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