NY Court Upholds Kaparos As A Constitutionally Protected Religious Rite

Brooklyn, NY – Live kaparos will be continuing in New York City, at least for now, as a Manhattan Appellate court affirmed a lower court’s decision that refused to ban the practice because of claims that it is cruel and unsanitary.

As previously reported on TOT News, Supreme Court Justice Debra James ruled in 2015 that the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaparos did not present proof that the ritual was inhumane or a public nuisance.

While that earlier decision did not acknowledge that kaporos was constitutionally protected as a religious ritual, today’s 3-2 ruling upheld the practice on religious grounds.

According to the New York Post, Judge Judith Gische wrote a majority opinion that said animal sacrifice is recognized by the United States Supreme Court “as a religious sacrament.”

Judge Gische also wrote that the plaintiffs appeared to be more interested in securing a particular outcome than in enforcing the law.

Writing for the minority, Judge Ellen Gesmer called on authorities to further investigate the matter to see if any violations were taking place in the way the chickens are handled both during, and in the days leading up to, kaparos.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaparos vowed to continue the legal battle, noting that the fact that two out of five justices in the Appellate court disagreed with the ruling opened the door to escalating the case to the New York State Court of Appeals.

“The battle continues,” read a post on the group’s Facebook page. “Stay tuned.”

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    The pre-Yom Kippur ritual of kapparot can continue in New York, a New York appeals court ruled.

    The Appellate Division First Department in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision that declined to block the pre-Yom Kippur slaughter of chickens in 2015, when the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and 19 Brooklyn residents living near where the ritual was performed sued to stop it, the New York Daily News reported.

    Kapparot involves gently passing a live chicken over one’s head three times and reciting the relevant prayer. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor, with a request to G-d that, through the merit of the mitzvah of charity, any harsh decrees be transferred to the chicken.

    The lawsuit, which named several rabbis, synagogues, the New York Police Department and the City of New York, accused the police and health departments of assisting the ritual by blocking off streets and sidewalks, and not enforcing city and state laws that regulate health and prevent animal cruelty.

    “Although they may be upsetting to nonadherents of such practice, the United States Supreme Court has recognized animal sacrifice as a religious sacrament and decided that it is protected under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment,” the appellate court ruling said.

    The Alliance said it would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, saying the 3-2 appellate court vote left the door open to a reversal, according to the report.

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