At 11th hour, federal judge allows Southern California kapparot ritual
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At 11th hour, federal judge allows Southern California kapparot ritual

A haredi Orthodox man participating in the kapparot ritual in Ashdod, Israel. (Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)

A haredi Orthodox man participating in the kapparot ritual in Ashdod, Israel. (Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)

(JTA) — A Los Angeles federal court judge lifted a temporary injunction against performing kapparot, a Jewish pre-Yom Kippur ritual in which a chicken is swung by its legs and then slaughtered, shortly before the holiday.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Andre Birrote Jr. lifted the injunction before sundown and the start of Yom Kippur in order to allow Chabad of Irvine members to perform the ritual, the Orange County Register reported.

“We are grateful to Judge Birotte for taking emergency action to ensure that the Jewish synagogue members’ First Amendment rights were safeguarded during Yom Kippur,” Matthew Martens, an attorney for Chabad, said in a statement to the Orange County Register.

Birrote had granted the injunction several days earlier in response to a lawsuit filed in late September on behalf of the Virginia-based United Poultry Concerns against the Chabad.

Kapparot is an ancient practice performed annually by some Jews between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. By performing kapparot, a person’s sins are said to be symbolically transferred to the chicken and atoned for ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The meat of the chicken is then donated to charity. Some people perform the ritual using money in place of a chicken.

In its suit, United Poultry Concerns alleged that the chickens are crammed tightly into cages and mishandled, and are disposed of and not used for food.

Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie, the director of the North County Chabad Center in Orange County, told JTA earlier in the week that the lawsuit was frivolous and that kapparot had not been scheduled at the Chabad of Irvine this year, but that the practice would go on as scheduled elsewhere in the Los Angeles area.