A group of animal-rights activists want the city to stop the slaughter of 50,000 chickens on the streets of Brooklyn in the days leading up to Yom Kippur.
“This is a huge public health threat, a toxic soup,” said Nora Marino, a lawyer who is suing the city to stop the ritual practiced by some ultra-Orthodox Jews. “This is how epidemics start. You can’t just have a make-shift slaughterhouse in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”
“Kaporos” is a 2,000-year-old ritual performed during the 10 days between the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement which begins Tuesday evening. The penitents swing the live chickens over their heads, symbolically transferring their sins to the birds and then slicing their throats.
Last week, Marino and 60 members of a group called the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos held a rally outside City Hall to raise awareness of the health risks.
“Dead chickens, half dead chickens, chicken blood, chicken feathers, defecation, toxins and garbage consume the public streets,” said Karen Davis, a founder of the protest group, in a message on the Alliance’s web site.
They also called the ritual “barbaric.”
Last year, the group unsuccessfully sued a group of Hasidic rabbis and synagogues, along with New York City for what it said was its failure to enforce sanitation, health code and other regulations.
“It’s a First Amendment issue,” said David Jaroslawicz, a lawyer who represented the Hasidic defendants in the suit. “Everyone has freedom of religion unless they are doing something to hurt others.”
Jaroslawicz told The Post that the ultra Orthodox Jews who participate in the ritual clean up after the slaughter, and distribute the dead chickens to poor members of their community to cook for the holidays.
“The people who brought this lawsuit are avowed vegetarians,” he said.
Last week, the Alliance withdrew its complaint against the Hasidic community and in its new court filings is blaming the city for allowing the kaporos practice to continue.